OK, we might be showing our true colours, but Brian Russell’s homage to Victorian breeding is worthy of a rehash.
Accepting that Black Caviar, now unbeaten in her 17 outings following her success at Moonee Valley in the Australia Stakes, is qualified and is heading in due course for listing in the Hall of Fame, she is the third leg of a trifecta of giants of Australian racing who were bred in Victoria and offered at their yearling sales.
The earlier two legs were provided by the roaming Gloaming, a 1915 born foal produced on a cross of two imports, the Flying Fox sire The Welkin and the Eager mare Light, who challenges as the greatest ever bred Australian racehorse, and the Tommy Smith trained hero of the 1980s, Kingston Town. Both have niches in the Hall of Fame.
Bred by E.E.D. Clarke at his Melton stud at Melton, a short distance west of Melbourne, sold to New Zealand for 230 guineas ($483) at the Melbourne sales and raced in both countries, Gloaming was eulogised 70 years ago by the Keeper of The Stud Book W.J. McFadden in his book The Australasian Racehorse as undoubtedly one of the greatest racehorses up to a mile and a quarter ever foaled, ‘and his incomparable record has earned for him and undying place in the traditions of the sport,’ he wrote.
Shipped 15 times across the Tasman and raced from three to nine years, the gelded Gloaming finished only twice out of the first two in his 67 starts, the lapses being a third and when he fell at the start of his sixteenth and final appearance at three. It was a year in which he won 13 races, including the Chelmsford at Randwick on debut, the AJC and New Zealand Derbys, and twice defeated New Zealand wonder galloper Desert Gold.
All told Gloaming won a massive 57 races (nine in Australia) at high level, ranging from four furlongs – once in Australasian record time – to a mile and a half, and strung together a sequence of 19 wins (one in Australia). If it had not been for the fall and two seconds, he would have succeeded in 34 in succession.
As it is, his 19 successive wins is a shared standing Australasian record for first class racing.
Meanwhile, Kingston Town (by Bletchingly) was bred by Melbourne businessman David Hains using a mare he picked up in Italy.
Fortuitiously, Hains could not get $8,000 for the horse who was to become the superstar Kingston Town when he presented him at the Melbourne sales, so he raced him, kicking off a golden era of his involvement in breeding and racing.
Kingston Town’s best winning sequence was 11, but during his 41 start career, he won 30 races, placed in seven others and became the first in Australia to earn a million dollars. He won at Group 1 level on 14 occasions, including three Cox Plates, two each George Main Stakes and Caulfield Stakes and appearances in the AJC Derby, Queensland Derby and Sydney Cup. He was beaten a neck when second in the 1982 Melbourne Cup.
Black Caviar, the newest of the trifecta of superstars, is a 5YO daughter of Bel Esprit, a Royal Academy leading 2YO and a champion at three located at Eliza Park, Kerrie, Victoria, her pedigree includes a double of Victorian bred Vain, and her grandam is by Snippets.
Also, Black Caviar’s grandam Song of Norway, was another horse bred by David Hains.
Now with 17 wins on the board, all at 1200m or less and comprised by 14 outings in Melbourne, two in Brisbane, one in Sydney and seven Group 1s and earner of $4,459,050, Black Caviar is the first unbeaten winner at first grade of that many races in Australian history.
If she wins her next two starts, as confidently expected, she will knock another icon off his perch as the holder of the longest sequence of wins in Australian racing. Always a star but suffering defeats at two and three, Ajax (by Australian champion Heroic) was going for his 19th successive win when he got rolled at 40-1 on in a three horse race at Rosehill. Through his 46-start career, he won 36 races (about a dozen Group 1s) and was runner up on seven occasions.
Eliza Park has a massive 64 yearlings, including a selection by Bel Esprit and their young sire Magnus, a close relation by Flying Spur to Black Caviar, in the 790 lot catalogue for the 2012 Melbourne yearling sale February 27 to March 1.