x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Black Caviar sends rivals packing

Trainers withdraw their entries from six-furlong Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot next Saturday.

Black Caviar lost weight during a 30-hour flight from Australia via Sharjah but is fine now. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images
Black Caviar lost weight during a 30-hour flight from Australia via Sharjah but is fine now. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images

NEWMARKET, ENGLAND // It was impossible to escape the overwhelming sense of how good Black Caviar really is in Newmarket today.

Ahead of next week's Royal Ascot meeting, the international sprint brigade were out in force and went through their paces on the town's varied gallops in front of the media, except the assembled pack had come to see just one horse.

Just Black Caviar's presence in next Saturday's six-furlong Diamond Jubilee Stakes was enough to persuade Derek Cruz, the trainer, that Joy And Fun, the 2010 Al Quoz sprint winner, should feature in the King's Stand Stakes on Tuesday instead.

"Why are you running in the five-furlong race?", Cruz was asked. "Because we want to stay away from Black Caviar," the Hong Kong trainer said. "She is a very smart horse and should win again."

Paul Messara, trainer of this year's Al Quoz sprint winner, Ortensia, has already elected to run in the King's Stand, while Danny Shum, the trainer of Little Bridge, another Hong Kong raider, was slightly more diplomatic in choosing the first sprint contest of the five-day meeting.

"It's his best distance," he said, despite that both of Little Bridge's Group 2 successes were over a furlong further.

Only Fawzi Nass, the trainer of Krypton Factor, the Dubai Golden Shaheen winner, showed a hint of defiance. "I am consistently told that Black Caviar will beat us," he said, refusing to concede his charge was second best.

And connections of the unbeaten mare were not in a mood to shield the media from the brilliance of their 11-time Group 1 winner, either. Black Caviar has been safely ensconced in Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa's Abington Place stables since last week, and although she lost nine kilograms during her 30-hour flight from Australia she is in the picture of health as she bids for her 22nd consecutive success.

"If that King's Stand race was run at the Melbourne Spring Carnival it would be the race of the week due to the depth of it," said Jeff O'Connor, the racing manager to the trainer Peter Moody. "Everyone has acknowledged Black Caviar by not wanting to run against her, which is an outstanding accolade."

"If Peter is happy with her and she lines up she won't be beaten.

"There's no risk of not being good enough but it will have to be something like her injuring herself. A horse would have to run well above its highest ever rating to even get near her."

Being blessed with such a horse is not without its problems. O'Connor said Moody would live up to his name when he arrived overnight as he is racked with anxiety, like the mare's syndicate owners.

"The owners will be so nervous," he added. "I've been with them for each of her 21 wins and in the lead-up to her races they are physically sick and just don't sleep. This will be worse as they'll be in a plane for 24 hours and all they'll be thinking about will be, 'are we going to be beaten?'

"This pressure will only stop growing when Peter decides to call it a day and retires her. We'll take a month off then and look back on it all but until then the pressure will be always there as long as she is unbeaten."

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE