Black Caviar lands 19th victory in Lightning
Report: Australia, Saturday
Flemington: Coolmore Lightning Stakes (Group 1) 5f, turf, 3yo+
THE brilliant Black Caviar (Peter Moody/Luke Nolen) duly won again as she cut back in trip to 5f at Flemington on Saturday - but the Lightning Stakes was a rarity for the mare as she was made to work for a victory that equalled the Australasian city record of 19 consecutive wins.
Only a week after a bloodless victory on her first start at 7f in the CF Orr Stakes at Caulfield, the five-year-old won her ninth Group 1 contest back at the minimum in the nation's premier 1,000-metre event, which is also the first leg in the Global Sprint Challenge.
However, on this occasion Black Caviar was forced to work for her victory after she traded blows in the A$750,000 (£510,000) contest with old rival Hay List (gave 2kg), a top-class sprinter in his own right.
After breaking well between Hay List and Buffering, Black Caviar produced an amazing sectional under the 10-second mark halfway through the race which took her to the lead.
Dual Group 1 winner Hay List got back to her flank at the furlong marker and looked distinctly dangerous before the dual world champion sprinter pulled out more to score by a length and three-quarters in front of a jubilant crowd of 22,806.
"He had me a worried for a couple of strides - I was little concerned," said jockey Luke Nolen.
"I just want to take my hat off to that mare, because she really toughed it out and she touched me today," he added. "The chips were down and she showed a lot of courage.
"She has been a bit of a protected species, especially the way she goes about winning her races, and it was great to see that when the chips were down, how much courage she had.
"It was her toughest assignment. If she had have been set for it then it would have been a different story but she had a couple of hurdles to overcome and itwas first time in her life she has ever backed up and she was coming back from 1400 to 1000."
Buffering took third as 1-10 shot Black Caviar stopped the clock in a time of 55.53s, 0.03s outside the track record. The last 600 metres was timed at 31.82s (including that jawdropping sectional of 9.98s from 600-400 metres).
Trainer Peter Moody's initial response was to rule out an intended run in next weekend's Futurity Stakes before heading overseas for theDubai Golden Shaheen and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
"I would pretty much say that she won't be there next week," Moody said. "For her to be there next Saturday, she probably had to have it softer today, so we will let the dust settle but she needed to have it softer today to butter up three weeks in a row.
"I'll sit down with the owners, but if she goes to Dubai she has probably run her last race in Australia this prep."
Looking at Saturday's race, Moody added: "She's an equine freak I suppose but she's the best horse and Luke rode her accordingly. She loves the straight - she's a champion.
"It'sthe first serious task I've set her and I said to Luke, ‘I feel a bit sorry for her and you because it's the first time I've ever placed either of you under pressure'.
"But she shone through like the top horse that she is. Anytime she has been up for a fight, he [Hay List] is the only horse that has made her fight. With all due respect, he is a great horse, but it's just unfortunate that he's run into a freak. She was pushed by a great horse but she is a champion.
"She ticked every box all week so we were happy to be here. It certainly wasn't the most dominant win but it's probably the closest she's ever been to a course record."
Black Caviar's 19th victory means she has earned a share of the Australasian record for consecutive victories at top-level tracks, held jointly by New Zealanders Desert Gold (1915-17) and Gloaming (1919-21).
However, both Miss Petty and Sava Jet won 22 on the spin at low-grade Queensland bush tracks.
Hay List's rider Glyn Schofield paid tribute to his gallant runner-up, beaten for the fifth time by Black Caviar.
"He's probably run the race of his life and got beat," he said. "He's run super - he's come back in great form. We've said all along we think he's come back probably a more sounder animal.
"It's a long way to come to get beat but at least he gave her a proper race today and she had to stretch and she had to stretch hard. She wasn't doing anything easy at any stage of the race.
"At the furlong I knew she had just edged marginally in front of me and I knew it was going to take a lot for my fellow to run her down because she had race-fitness on her side and obviously she's yet to taste defeat."