Nobody could doubt my devotion to Black Caviar, after the trouble I went through to see her win her twenty fourth race in succession.
I started out from home at about 7.15pm aiming to catch the 7.20pm bus to Moonee Valley. However, as the bus passes directly by the Moonee Valley racecourse, it was held up in the crush of cars entering the course and didn’t arrive at my bus stop until 7.50pm.
So I was a bit latish getting to Moonee Valley, arriving just before the start of race 6, the Group Two Sunline Stakes. There was no time to put on a bet, but I watched the race in the Bookies ring on a small screen TV. Spirit Song continued her good form with a win, defeating Lights of Heaven.
Before checking out the stalls area, I ventured out to the public lawn – it was packed to the rafters as expected, though I noted there was breathing space at the top of straight, where I might possibly squeeze into a space on the fence.
I then went to the stalls area, hoping for a glimpse of the star in or near her stall (Stall 54).
Her stall was heavily guarded by a group of security guys…
… and there was a horde of people crowded around the fence adjacent to the stall.
Taking photos in the lighting conditions was pretty challenging, but I did manage to shoot a few not too bad photos, e.g. the following photo of Black Caviar in the walking ring close to her stall.
When I arrived back on the public lawn I managed to insinuate myself into a spot on the fence to watch the next race and await the main event.
The practice and patience acquired when waiting to get into concerts, held me in good stead in this case, as it was a long wait after the second last race. From where I was standing it was fairly removed from the interim entertainment, so it really was of no interest to me. My thoughts were “Get on with it already”. They showed a documentary on the big screen, featuring Black Caviar’s racing career, with interviews with Peter Moody and Luke Nolen etc. Then Darryl Braithwaite performed a few songs, which the portion of crowd closest to the action, seemed to enjoy immensely. The girl standing next to me sang along and I thought I would have the lyrics on my brain forever. Fortunately they didn’t take, and I’ve forgotten what they were.
I was surrounded by two groups of rural folks, who had been at the course since 5.00pm and were having a wonderful time. Typical of the crowd, which as I’ve said before, is quite different to other racing crowds.
Finally the moment arrived when Black Caviar trotted onto the track to the accompaniment of rousing cheers. You don’t have to look at the screen when Black Caviar is racing to see what’s happening- the crowd reaction tells all.
She cantered up the top end and I managed to get a photo as she went past. She looks quite sleepy here, but obviously woke up in the race.
And then there was the race, run at a fairly casual pace. Karuta Queen led for most of the way, Black Caviar looming right beside her. After turning into the straight, Black Caviar put the rest of the field behind her in a few strides and won comfortably from Karuta Queen with four lengths to spare.
The crowd were delirious with happiness, having witnessed an historic moment in racing history. Black Caviar, now with 14 Group One races on her CV, equalled the record set by Kingston Town in the 1980s.
As usual, Luke Nolen guided the great mare back up the track to the top of the straight to give everyone a chance to see her, and cheer her.
After such a star act, there was nothing to do but find a way to get home.
Unfortunately the bus to my place stops services at 8.00pm, so I had to think of an alternative method of getting home.
The queue for taxis was a mile long, so I decided to walk up to Moonee Ponds Junction and take a tram into the city. A large crowd was waiting on the tram stop when I got there, and it took at least 15 minutes for a tram to even arrive as traffic jams, caused by people leaving the racecourse, had delayed tram services along Mt Alexander Rd.
I made it home eventually, two hours after I left the course. What an ordeal! But worth it I suppose to see history as it happens.
As remarked before, Moonee Valley was chockers with 25,000 people crammed into the compact course – surely a record for a night meeting and most certainly at Cox Plate levels. They all would have fitted more comfortably at Flemington, but then again Moonee Valley has that special quality all its own.
Saturday’s racing at Rosehill resulted in some surprise long shot winners – Foreteller beat Fiveandahalfstar in the Ranvet Stakes, Appearance won a thriller in the Coolmore Classic, and Pierro beat More Joyous in the Canterbury Stakes. I only had one bet yesterday, on Criterion in the Todman Stakes at Rosehill. He paid $7.50 for the win and won me a tidy $75.00.