Black Caviar must bow out on top
THE decision to rest Black Caviar this spring instead of chasing purses and bonuses of more than $2 million is a wise one, as should the pending announcement on her racetrack future.
The end comes quickly for elite athletes, for various reasons. Injury, wear and tear and mental tiredness, but, for the very best, other rare factors such as the absence of mountains to climb can bring down the curtain just as swiftly. Black Caviar falls vaguely into the first category and squarely into the second.
Today, Black Caviar turns six – an age for a racehorse where improvement is difficult to find and rarely obtained. If she is to race on in February, she will be five months short of seven. She will have come off an extended break from racing following an arduous yet ultimately successful international foray to Royal Ascot. She will be facing a new generation of brash, young sprinters yet to be taxed by the rigours of training and racing.
There is one overwhelming reason why Black Caviar is unlikely to again face the starter: her unbeaten status must be protected. Her achievements – and there are numerous aside from her 22 straight wins and 12 group 1s – will be immediately tarnished if she races again and is beaten. The fact that Black Caviar has never been beaten, whether it be at the races, in trials, jumpouts and trackwork, underpins all that is great about the mare. To take that away would be to dissolve the aura around her and irreversibly deflate her reputation as being unbeatable.
In September, Black Caviar will be overwhelmingly voted as Australian Champion Racehorse for the second year to join a long list of past female winners such as Miss Andretti (2006-07), Makybe Diva (2004-05 and 2005-06), and Sunline (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2001-02). The end came for these great mares as well with Miss Andretti and eventually Sunline succumbing to age and wear and tear while Makybe Diva was afforded the dream send-off after her third Melbourne Cup success.
Moody has said often that he would be the one to blame if Black Caviar were beaten, but until this moment, that has not truly been the case. Black Caviar had to race on to register an international win to cap her achievements and she did so in spectacular manner. That was the final mountain to climb, and Moody, more than anyone else, knows it.
Sure, next year she could win a third Lightning Stakes and maybe travel interstate to the delight of her fans, but she could also be beaten. She wouldn’t be the first autumn six-year-old mare to suddenly struggle to find her best form.
Every elite athlete eventually gets to know defeat. Let’s hope the appendage reads ”except, of course, Black Caviar”.