All hail the king and queen of Ascot
THE HARD WORD | Please can we give up on the misguided attempts to pigeon hole incredible animals like Black Caviar and Frankel, and refrain making unfair comparisons. Can’t we simply just celebrate their striking beauty and phenomenal achievements and leave them be.
THE Aussies and the Brits love a good rivalry. I mean really, really enjoy any type of banter that surrounds anything Australian competing against anything or anyone British.
And so queue the latest round of hysteria that greeted the arrival of Australian horseracing royalty in Black Caviar last week, as she prepared for her big run in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at the home of horseracing – Royal Ascot.
For those that aren’t familiar with horseracing, those that couldn’t care less, or have lived under a rock and have never heard of this mare – let me indulge you.
The five-year-old sprinter went into Saturday’s showdown unbeaten over 21 starts, 11 of them at an elite Group One level, and is considered by many to be the best racehorse in the world, having consistently won by more than four lengths. The trained horse has amassed a staggering $6 million in prize money, and is considered the Ferrari of horse racing. The ‘Caviar’ brand is seriously big business Down Under. Memorabilia, books, documentaries and merchandise have all been flung at the champ by companies eager to cash in on her success. Broadcasters have reported surges in interest for races in which ‘Nelly’, as she’s more intimately known, is competing in.
And while she attracted all the attention in the lead-up to the final day of this most prestigious event, it was Frankel who dominated the headlines yet again with a stunning 11 lengths win in the Queen Anne Stakes on Tuesday. The British four-year old has won all 11 of his starts and has earned plenty. He is the pride of British horse racing, ‘conservatively’ valued at 100’s of millions of pounds, and is rated by the respected Timeform organisation as the ‘ultimate racehorse’.
Of course the (yawn) predictable comparisons have been made as to who is the better horse. But any attempt at comparisons for this scribe are misguided.
They’re very different horses, and run different lengths. While Black Caviar only runs over 1,000 metres, Frankel runs in races that are over 600 metres longer. Any trainer will tell you it is impossible to compare the two, as Frankel’s trainer Sir Henry Cecil so eloquently put it immediately after his star’s barnstorming run at Ascot last Tuesday.
The rather desperate BBC ‘pundits’ were determined to push Sir Henry on the issue, declaring Frankel a vastly superior horse to anything Black Caviar could ever achieve, because of the length at which he won.
“I don’t see how people can judge horses from different generations and countries over different distances and put a horse a pound in front of another,” Sir Henry rightly said. “You can’t compare him with Black Caviar and I’m a great admirer of hers, so let them be champions in their own right. They are good for racing all over the world.”
Too right! It’s important to remember that Frankel runs over a far greater length, and is always extended over the final two furlongs. This scribe is convinced that Peter Moody is yet to really extend the ‘Cav’ over the closing stages, simply because she blitzes the field each and every time over such a short race.
It’s also worthwhile keeping in mind that Black Caviar’s result aside, other Aussie horses have come before her and succeeded on this most hallowed turf. The first Australian sprinter Choisir achieved glory here nine years ago. Since then – Takeover Target, Miss Andretti and Scenic Blast have all enjoyed similar success in the sprints.
So, please can we give up on the tired old, misguided attempts to pigeon hole these incredible animals, and stop making unfair comparisons. Can we simply just celebrate their striking beauty and phenomenal achievements and leave them be.