Sunday, February 03, 2013

Poetry in Motion – Black Caviar Struts Her Stuff at Caulfield

 black caviar1

It was a lovely day to go to the races, cool but sunny, so forth I went to Caulfield, ostensibly to see the great mare Black Caviar. I arrived shortly after 1.00pm, just in time to see the star attraction arrive at the track.

There was quite a crowd gathered outside her stall to witness her arrival, and then she came, sauntering casually and relaxed, accompanied by Donna her regular strapper.

black caviar_stalls3JPG

Donna walked her all over the place…

black caviar_stalls
At the top of the stalls area

black caviar2
In the walking ring beyond the stalls area.

There were, as you will no doubt notice, plenty of opportunities to see the great lady up close, and quite few people took advantage of this generously granted proximity to take pictures or just admire her style and grace. She looked extremely well, bright eyed and in excellent condition.

Black Caviar’s exhibition gallop was scheduled to occur after race three, so after taking a great many photos of Black Caviar in various locations, I headed for the public lawn, stopping to place a bet on Royal Haunt in race three, the Manfred Stakes.

The Manfred Stakes was probably the most interesting race on the card, with a field of smart colts and geldings. Albrecht who ran second to Epaulette last year in the Golden Rose started hot favourite, but I liked the chances of Royal Haunt, who had won his two previous starts on country race tracks and had the Peter Moody/Luke Nolen/Caulfield factor. He won very convincingly by 4.3 lengths from Force Command and Hosting.  

race3_manfred stakes_palace haunt 
Race 3 finish - Royal Haunt is streets ahead going up the straight.

Having secured a good spot on the fence to watch race three, I and the rest of the die hard Black Caviar fans who were present, stayed to wait the appearance of the champion mare on the course.

Black Caviar’s exhibition gallop over 800 metres, was almost as exciting as watching her in a race. It was a grand occasion and came across as epic in the build up, reminding me of the chariot race scene in the movie Ben Hur. Whilst she was parading in the mounting yard, the big screen recapped her remarkable career.

black caviar4
Black Caviar trots onto the track

Then she trotted onto the track, and Luke Nolen guided her around the course, gradually building up speed as he and Black Caviar progressed, from a trot to a canter and then finally to a gallop. She zoomed around the corner and rocketed down the straight full bore. It was tremendously moving and I‘m sure I was not the only one in the crowd to feel quite choked up with emotion. It was wonderful to see her again and looking so well too.

black caviar6 
Black Caviar galloping down the straight

After that, it was understandably an anticlimax – Black Caviar’s 800 metre gallop was the feature of the meeting -  so I decided to go and get my copy of the Black Caviar book signed by the author, Gerard Whateley. There wasn’t much of a queue, and Gerard hadn’t arrived, so I got talking to the guy in front me. He pointed out an oldish bloke standing to the side. It was Les Carlyon, a famous and esteemed journalist and writer of times past whom Gerard Whateley credits as a major inspiration in his afterword in the Black Caviar book.


Having brought with me, along with the book, a photo of Black Caviar that I had purchased from her website last year, I determined that I should try and find Peter Moody and get his signature. Yeah, elderly groupie stuff. Consulting the race book, I decided the best place to catch Mr Moody would be in the stalls area where he would be preparing one of his runners for the next race on the cards.

Sure enough, he was there as was Black Caviar, being walked after her gallop. I must admit I felt a bit guilty about impinging on Peter Moody’s time – he has openly admitted that the Black Caviar hooplah is a distraction from his main job – but he very generously took time to sign the photo and the book. A good bloke!


After that I lingered on the course for Race 5, placing a bet on the Moody runner Elusive King who managed to run third.

Leaving the course, I noticed that someone had inserted a Black Caviar flag into the hand of one the jockey statues that stand in front of the club rooms. The silk colours are repainted every year to highlight the winners of the Caulfield Cup and the Blue Diamond Stakes.

jockey statue

So what better way to end this post than this photo.

I had a very enjoyable day at Caulfield yesterday and hope to return soon, perhaps next weekend for the Orr Stakes.

As I have no idea how many people would normally attend a race meeting like that run yesterday, I assume that attendance was larger than normal owing to the presence of Black Caviar. It certainly wasn’t crowded with hordes of people, so finding a place to sit down, buy a drink, put on a bet, or watch a race was easy all afternoon. And of course, seeing Black Caviar in the flesh after almost a year, was the highlight for me and doubtless many others.

No comments: