TRAINER Peter Moody was protective of his princess. Champion Australian racehorse Black Caviar would parade for the media for no longer than two minutes, he barked, and she would wear her protective suit to shield her from the weather.
People with umbrellas were to keep their distance. “Umbrellas and racehorses don’t mix,” he warned.
So a dozen reporters and cameramen dutifully stood in driving rain at Newmarket — while Black Caviar went through her paces — for an update on how the five-year-old mare was doing before her first international race in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot tomorrow. Moody said she was “the fittest I’ve probably had her in the last 24 months”.
The track tomorrow will be heavy and Black Caviar has never raced on an extremely wet track, but Moody said she had trained and trialled on them in Australia. “This track is one of the best rated tracks … I’m not worried at this point … the big concern for us was the travelling aspect and we appear to have overcome that.”
Moody said Black Caviar was doing so well he had to give her “a little bit of work” on Tuesday, although the plan had been to avoid heavy training.
Thousands of Australians have travelled to Britain to watch the mare. “This is our turn on the world stage,” Moody said. “It’s our Olympics.”
He said the owners should be applauded for their decision to bring her out of her comfort zone to Ascot. “These owners have had the balls to put this mare on a plane and bring her three-quarters of the way around the world.”
Moody said Black Caviar was bold enough to take whatever position she wanted in the field. It would be great if she won by several lengths, but she would not be pushed to do so.
“The Poms have used Australians as cannon fodder for 150 years … We’re not going to let them put her to the sword.” If she won “by an inch” it would do him, he said.
Asked whether he expected the mare to improve her performance, Moody said: “Five years old, 22nd start … I put the question to you: does she need to?”
Asked by a British reporter if Prime Minister Julia Gillard had sent her best wishes, he joked “she’s one of yours” and might be barracking for a British horse.
But Moody said there had been huge interest from American TV and Asian TV and radio. He hoped Black Caviar would meet the Queen.
Black Caviar’s jockey, Luke Nolen, said he had been stunned by the attention she had received in Britain. “It is in another stratosphere,” he said.
Nolen was in the saddle on Black Caviar on Tuesday.
“I rode her in her last gallop before leaving Australia and she was in good nick then and she is better now,” he said.
“It is a bit different over here but we know how good she is and want her to show it. She seems to have settled in all right but we won’t really know until Saturday. I will take a win by any margin. It would be a long way to come to lose.”First published in The Age.