By Nicholas Godfrey
Australia: The great Black Caviar will return to Flemington on Saturday to parade before the Group 1 Lightning Stakes on the raceday named in her honour.
The horse dubbed the ‘Wonder from Down Under’, who retired unbeaten after a legendary 25-race career, will be rejoined by her connections, among them trainer Peter Moody and jockey Luke Nolen, as she parade in the mounting yard (parade ring) before the G1 event to which her name is now attached.
Black Caviar won eight races over the famous Flemington straight, including a hat-trick in the Lightning Stakes, the nation’s premier 1,000-metre (5f) event, between 2011 and 2013. She also made her racecourse debut at the Melbourne venue in April 2009.
Since being retired from racing in April 2013, Black Caviar has produced six foals. She is not being served this season.
Pam Hawkes, a member of the Black Caviar’s syndicate owners, explained why the mighty mare was making a rare racecourse appearance.
Speaking to AAP Racing, she said: “‘Nelly’ holds a special place in our hearts and with her taking a break from motherhood, the owners felt that it was the perfect opportunity to reconnect with the fans who fell in love with her during a remarkable career.”
The entire stakes-laden card at Flemington is labelled ‘Black Caviar, The Great Horse Race Day’.
“Black Caviar transcended racing,” said Victoria Racing Club chairwoman Amanda Elliott. “She is a national treasure, a sporting hero who brought Australians together.”
After winning her second Lightning Stakes in 2012, Black Caviar went on to a notorious nail-biting victory at Royal Ascot in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
But she is by no means the only royal-meeting winner to have taken the Lightning Stakes beforehand. Indeed, all four Australian winners of the King’s Stand Stakes – Choisir, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti and Scenic Blast – won the Lightning in the same year.
Odds-on favourite for Saturday’s edition of the A$750,000 contest is three-time G1 winner Nature Strip, for whom Winx’s trainer Chris Waller is considering a trip to the royal meeting in the summer. His six rivals are headed by dual Everest winner Redzel.
• The Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (5.10am GMT) will be shown on Sky Sports Racing in Britain.
• Visit Racing and Sports for more Australian racing