Article Date: 23-June-2012
Australia’s great Black Caviar completed her 22nd straight victory when winning the Diamond Jubilee Stakes today at Royal Ascot, but she was below her best and may have run her final race.
Trainer Peter Moody hinted that was a possibility after she held on for a head and a neck victory over France’s Moonlight Cloud and Restiadargent. Moody said the mare appeared jaded, and if she does not show sparkle after returning home she could be retired.
Black Caviar’s jockey, Luke Nolen, stopped pushing the mare near the post, but as she began to falter he galvanised her one more time.
Moody said: “I believe she was probably out on her feet a furlong and a half out. She never travelled as keenly and strongly as she does at home and I had concerns half a mile out. Only her grit and ability got her home - Luke was trying to look after her, and while he nearly got caught short he got the job done.
“She just didn’t travel like she can, she didn’t have her ears pricked - I thought she was always in control of the race, but she wasn’t up on the bridle. You’ve seen her race at her lowest ebb - fortunately she got the job done - but that was the lowest ebb for 10 or 12 starts. She just didn’t show the zip, and post-race she’s out on her feet so she’s done a tremendous job.
“This mare has carried us for a long time, but I was asked last night if she was at her absolute best and I said I don’t think she’s ever been to the races at that peak because she’s had a lot of niggly injuries - throw a 10 and a half thousand mile trip into the mix and she’s done one hell of a job.
“She’s done Australia proud and she’s undefeated. Whether it’s by a quarter of an inch or a quarter of a furlong they are not going to give us any more [prize money]. She’s had a long season followed by a long trip, and I’ve said all week the owners are to be congratulated.
"This was always going to be the greatest risk of her career and for the last five or six runs we’ve been prepared to accept it might be her last. Hopefully that’s not the case today, but if she’s as tired and worn out when she gets home she may have graced the track for the final time.
“I won’t hesitate in any shape or form, but let’s not put the cart before the horse. We would love to bring her up for the spring at home and that’s been our intention which is why it’s never been about dominance, margins or ratings because we want to look after her as much as we can. If we had pushed for ratings her career might have been over eight or nine runs ago.
“I’m extremely proud of her - she’s been one hell of a horse who has carried us throughout her career. I’m slightly disappointed for your public that they haven’t seen how great this filly is and that will give doubting Thomases some material, but you don’t win 22 from 22 being moderate.
“I think I saw the finest performance I’ve ever seen on a racecourse on Tuesday in the winner Frankel. I think maybe if I’d had this mare here last year I would probably have said the same thing.
“Now we’re nearer the end rather than the start and she’s not getting any better - she’s a six-year-old by your time, five by ours, but I’m so proud of her.
“Australians are pretty resilient people and they will have been watching her in eight degrees and drizzle back at home, but while it was a little bit of heart-in-mouth stuff she didn’t let us down.”
Luke Nolen, her jockey, said: “I probably just underestimated the testing track of Ascot. I was kind of late and she had enough and that big engine throttled right down.
“It’s quite unfortunate because it is going to over-shadow what was a very good win - they are going to talk more about my brain-fade rather than the horse’s fantastic effort.
“I underestimated the testing straight six here but we got away with it.
“We won and it doesn’t matter, does it? It may overshadow what was a fantastic run by the horse. Hopefully, my performance hasn’t overshadowed what was a great effort by the whole team.”
Peter Moody, Black Caviar’s trainer, said: “You have only got to win by a quarter of an inch. That’s what we were prepared to come here and win by - we have got the job done.
“We never expect dominance, we have never asked her for dominance - she gets the job done. We are more concerned about her next run than we are today.
“We are extremely proud of her - she’s 22 from 22 - and it’s never been about margins and it’s never been about dominance.
“I am extremely proud Aussie. Words can’t describe the feeling - just to be here and take it all in. It’s an unbelievable feeling and it’s very befitting that it’s with a horse like this."
Moonlight Cloud, trained in France by Freddy Head, came within a head of bagging her second Group 1, when finishing a close second under Thierry Jarnet.
Moonlight Cloud created a big impression when sprinting clear to win the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest last August, but was unlucky over today’s course and distance in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint in October when finishing fifth.
Head said: “When Black Caviar kicked my filly couldn’t change gear. Moonlight Cloud has run a marvellous race but the trip is a wee bit short for us as she prefers seven furlongs. That is why she finished so strongly like that.
“I don’t think she will come back to Britain for the July Cup, but we will talk to Mr Strawbridge about the plans.
Jarnet added: “Moonlight Cloud ran a superb race. We had a good position and she showed good acceleration in the last furlong. I am very happy with her.”
A delighted Alex Pantall, trainer of third-placed Restiadargent, commented: “I am very happy with her run. She is only a three-year-old against monsters like Black Caviar. We were expecting fourth or fifth so third is wonderful. She is only a baby right now and she is only just coming to herself so we are very happy. Next would probably the Prix Maurice de Gheest and maybe Moonlight Cloud again.”
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