Caviar arrives in fine fettle

LONDONThere aren’t many females who feel up to a bit of flirting after 26 hours on a plane.
But there aren’t many like Black Caviar, either.
Maybe it was the pressure suit she wore to stop her lovely long legs swelling (it worked). Maybe it was the hourly attentions during the flight of her unusually large retinue: veterinarian Peter Angus, track rider Pat Bell, assistant trainer Tony Haydon and also an expert in transporting thoroughbreds such as herself.
But the world’s fastest sprinter was full of life when she was decanted from a mobile stable and into an exercise yard at the animal reception centre at Heathrow Airport on Thursday night. Ears pricked and eyes bright, she tried to peer out of the back of the metal container and into the grey chill of a London evening.
As the back opened she would have tossed her head with impatience — she had been constrained such a long time — were it not for the men holding her bridle.
Once on solid ground again she agreed to stand still long enough to have her Lycra pressure-suit and leg-wraps taken off. Equine vet Peter Angus ran hands over those multimillion-dollar legs, the ones that have brought her 21 consecutive race wins and which might bring her victory at Royal Ascot this month.
“She’s very bright,” Angus said. “After a journey like this they can be so tired that sometimes their eyes are dulled, but she’s as bright as a button.”
Horses can lose up to 3 kilograms an hour during flight and also face the risk of injury, but Black Caviar was glossy and unscathed. “She seems to have eaten and drunk on the flight and is in very good condition. She doesn’t look to have lost much weight, looking over her hindquarters. The next couple of days will tell but she seems very settled and relaxed.”
The good news will probably lead to her already prohibitive odds shortening for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 23.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald.