Monday’s announcement that Black Caviar would be returning to Australia immediately after contesting the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot next month put an end to any lingering hopes of a clash between the mare and Frankel.
The lure of the two taking each other on at Goodwood in the Sussex Stakes led the sponsors of the race, Qipco, to offer to increase the prize money from £300,000 to £1 million if both horses took part in the race. Jeff O’Connor, speaking for Black Caviar’s trainer Peter Moody, said, “We understand it would have been a great selling point for Glorious Goodwood and we appreciate the more than generous offer from Qipco in getting the conditions of the race to where they are but we will have to decline on this occasion.”
Yesterday Moody put down a first marker that the race at Ascot might turn out to be Black Caviar’s final run. Whether that turns out to be the case depends on a whole host of factors, and you can be pretty sure that victory at Ascot would strengthen the chance that she retires unbeaten after 22 races.
Moody, though, is thinking more about the impact a 30-hour flight to Britain will have on the mare. Speaking to Australian horseracing channel TVN yesterday he said, “The travel does worry me. It is daunting. It’s certainly exciting but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit tentative, a bit nervous about it all. I’d much rather be going round here in far more suitable races in our own environment, but sometimes I suppose we have got to take the cotton wool off and go and do these things.”
His plan to maximise Black Caviar’s chances is to complete as much of her training at home before the flight to England. His assistant trainer Tony Haydon and stable vet Peter Angus will travel with Black Caviar, but even with their knowledge of the horse, Moody is still concerned she might not handle the flight well. In that case, he says, “I suppose we run the risk that she might have run her last race in Australia if she goes there and something goes pear shaped or she doesn’t cope with it well. That would be very disappointing for me, and probably Australian racing in general, but let’s hope that’s not the case. She’s in great form and going every bit as well as she ever has.”
That may be so, but I can’t help feeling that Moody is getting his excuse for defeat in early.