Thursday, 10 March 2011

A Rare Delicacy at 3.35 in the Morning

Maybe it’s because I’ve spent most of the winter watching 0-60 handicaps worth less than £2,000 to the winner or maybe it’s because she really is very, very good, have a look at the video of her in action to see for yourselves, but I haven’t looked forward to seeing a horse in action as much as I am looking forward to seeing Black Caviar on Saturday morning for a long time.

Hopefully most of you are up to speed with her, but if not, I’ll give a quick synopsis of her career so far. She’s won all of her nine starts, including four Group 2s and two Group 1s. The latest of those is the Lightning Stakes at Flemington over 5f last month. The video will do that run more justice than I’ll ever manage with my vocabulary, but we’re simply not used to seeing top-class sprint races won in such fashion, duck-egg coups around Southwell by the likes of Michael Wigham yes, but not top-class sprints.

Black Caviar is bidding to create history in the Newmarket handicap, no mare in the last hundred years has carried more than the 58 kilograms that she is burdened in the race, whilst she is also bidding to break the record for an unbeaten start to a career in Australia. Her Lightning Stakes win equalled the record of nine, joining Mollison, Rancher, Eye Liner and the 1880 Melbourne Cup winner Grand Flaneur. The last-named retired unbeaten but Black Caviar is strongly fancy to claim the record outright. Despite the race being a handicap, Black Caviar is likely to start around the 1/3 mark. The good news is that the race will be shown live on ATR at 3.35am Saturday morning UK time, so make sure you set the Sky+ folks.

Sadly it seems Black Caviar is unlikely to head over to the UK anytime soon. Considering she’s already rated higher than the likes of Choisir, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti, Scenic Blast and Starspangledbanner, and will probably post another career-best on Saturday, it’s difficult to think that an appearance at Royal Ascot would be anything other than a procession. Still Flat racing is very much a global sport these days and hopefully another victory this weekend can help her to get the wider recognition she deserves. It won’t be for lack of trying from me anyway.

Once we get this weekend out of the way it is virtually upon us. You’ll see back in one of my older blogs that I’m no fan of how the entire jumps season seems to revolve around the Festival these days, but now it’s so close I’m certainly looking forward to it. I’ve got a mixed-bag of ante-post vouchers, nice prices on For Non Stop in the Coral Cup and something I’d never heard of in the Fred Winter until I went out for a drink with some friends and colleagues last Monday. Although a trixie involving Big Buck’s at 4/7 and a less-than-sparkling Imperial Commander (if you believe the whispers coming from the preview nights) hardly has the layer trembling at present. Hopefully the NR No Bet guarantee will become Best Odds Guaranteed once he’s got there safely, but I won’t hold my breath.

Good luck to all over the next week and whilst the punting is always going to be vital to most of us, try and remember whilst your doing your brains why we all love this sport. We’re all looking to spot the next Black Caviar before anyone else.

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