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Wed Apr 23 08:39:10 SAST 2014

Unbeaten Black Caviar holds on for glory

Paul Majendie, Reuters | 24 June, 2012 09:340 Comments
Luke Nolen on Black Caviar (L) wins The Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the fifth day of racing at the Royal Ascot, southwest of London June 23, 2012
Image by: Stefan Wermuth / REUTERS

Australian champion sprinter Black Caviar narrowly maintained her unbeaten record with victory at Royal Ascot on Saturday but was lucky not to lose the race in the hands of over-confident jockey Luke Nolen.

‘The Wonder from Down Under’ narrowly landed the Diamond Jubilee Stakes by a fast-fading head and neck from Moonlight Cloud (5-1) and Restiadargent (40-1) for her 22nd consecutive victory.

Nolen was the first to admit his mistake aboard the 1-6 favourite and Australia’s most famous horse since 1930 Melbourne Cup winner Phar Lap.

“It was an error that every apprentice is taught not to do and I got away with it today,” Nolen, in confessional mode, told reporters.

“I probably just underestimated the testing track.

“It is going to overshadow what was a very good win. They are going to talk about my brain-fade rather than the horse’s fantastic effort.”

Black Caviar took the lead at halfway and moved clear of the field but was caught in the closing stages of the six-furlong sprint, leaving the thousands who had flocked to Ascot to see her, with an anxious wait for the official result.

There were gasps of relief when the photo finish result was announced.

“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,” said Black Caviar’s trainer Peter Moody.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth came down to the paddock afterwards to admire the mighty mare and offer her a pat of congratulations.

Moody said it was quite overwhelming to meet the Queen adding: “There is no doubt that Her Majesty is certainly a horse lover — the two queens of Australia maybe?”

Black Caviar’s 11 000-mile trip from Australia wearing a specially designed equine compression suit had clearly taken its toll and any arguments about her being better than the world’s highest ranked racehorse, Frankel — who won Tuesday’s Queen Anne stakes by 11 lengths — rang hollow afterwards.

About 5 000 Australian racing fans poured into Royal Ascot to watch the much-hyped race, which was also shown live in Melbourne’s Federation Square.

The Melbourne Cup has always been known as the race that halts a nation for the day but on Saturday it was a horse on the other side of the world who did just that.

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