x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

'There is no sprinter like Black Caviar'

Mare's stride is the equivalent of Usain Bolt next to a child.

Black Caviar with trainer Peter Moody, left.
Black Caviar with trainer Peter Moody, left.

When Frankel destroyed the Queen Anne Stakes field by 11 lengths on Tuesday what was the most striking aspect of his fluid victory was his raking stride. Sir Henry Cecil, his trainer, has long pointed out Frankel's almost cheetah-like ability to eat up ground, and this is shared by Black Caviar, the second-highest-rated horse in the world.

Black Caviar's bid today to become the first mare to win the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot since Posada in 1988 hinges on her proficiency at utilising this weapon on a piece of turf that was re-laid in 2005.

The six-year-old mare's stride has been measured at 8.33 metres, which means she takes only 24 strides per 200m while other horses take around 30 to cover the same distance. It is the equivalent of a child trotting alongside Usain Bolt in an effort to keep up.

Frankel's performance saw Prince Khalid Abdullah's colt hit the fastest speed he has ever clocked when he covered 200m in 10.58 seconds. Black Caviar, who has been ridden by Luke Nolen in all but three of her 21 victories, confirmed that age will not weary her when in February she hit a shade under 45mph and covered 200m in 9.98 seconds in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes.

"There is no sprinter like her," said Glen Boss, who partnered Choisir and Fastnet Rock, two of Australia's most outstanding sprinters of the past decade. "She has the capabilities to run two sectional times during a race that are five to six lengths superior to any horse in the world.

"You go out in every race to win. If the odds are stacked against you, well, you find a way of winning. But you scratch your head and think, 'How do you beat this speed machine?'

"Luke can ride her back in the field or up the front of the race, anywhere for that matter, and still they never seem to get to the bottom of that massive engine."

Australian horses have farmed the King's Stand Stakes since Choisir scored in both sprints at the Royal Meeting in 2003. Following up Choisir in the King's Stand Stakes was Takeover Target (2006), Miss Andretti (2007) and Scenic Blast (2009), and last year Star Witness was second. All of those horses boast a career-best split of at least a second off Black Caviar.

Britain has rarely had sectional timing like at Meydan Racecourse, but during the British Champions meeting in October Whizz Kid recorded the fastest 200m split out of any sprinter on the card at 10.8 seconds - slower than Frankel.

Racing is a sport that lives on the oxygen of uncertainty, however, and the steep incline of the Ascot track that rises 20m is one imponderable that faces connections of the world's best sprinter.

That the record of foreign sprinters in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes is poor compared to the first sprint of the week is another. And then there is the great British weather. Black Caviar has never run on soft ground. Will the forecast rain on Black Caviar's parade?

sports@thenational.ae

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