Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Moody Stable Confident About Black Caviar

Black Caviar, the unbeaten Australian sprinting sensation, exercised in Newmarket this morning, Thursday, June 14, during a Royal Ascot media morning ahead of racing in the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes over six furlongs on Saturday, June 23.
Even at 5am, she attracted a big turnout of camera crews, journalists and photographers eager to see the six-year-old mare, who is unbeaten in 21 starts.

Black Caviar cantered up the Al Bahathri Polytrack gallop and looked relaxed when led back to her temporary English home, Abington Place Stables, in Bury Road, Newmarket.

Jeff O'Connor, racing manager for her trainer Peter Moody, said: "Everything has gone to plan so far with her, the boys have been happy and she has been eating and sleeping normally.

"We've covered a lot at home and achieved everything we wanted to achieve there. Coming here is not about the prize money, there's a prestige in winning at Ascot that is a pretty big thing.

"We've been here before with two horses - one was placed (Magnus) and the other (Hinchinbrook) didn't get to run. So it's something for Peter to tick off personally as a horse trainer.

"Peter has said he doesn't want to train forever, going on into his 70s or 80s, so it would be a great thing to have an Ascot winner.

"The two boys here, Tony and Pat, have done a great job with Black Caviar and are enjoying it.

"I don't think we ever expected to deal with this sort of level of interest we've seen this morning - it's massive. We are seeing a lot of media crews that aren't normally racing followers today and that's growing and growing.

"We didn't know what to expect on that front but, seeing the turnout this morning, the interest next week is probably going to be a lot bigger than we thought.

"She's come here extremely fit. What we could gather from the record of Australian horses that came over and did well at Ascot was that they were horses that had been racing in the lead-up.

"She has a big engine. Her big stride is probably the most significant thing she has got. Her stride has been measured and is longer than most horses.

"It was her first time travelling on a plane. We were hoping to go to Perth (in Australia) to run in the Ascot race that Paul (Messara) won (with Ortensia) because that would have involved a flight.

"Knowing how the horse had coped with everything , we thought we had the right animal to take to England. The flight was good.

"Pete will be here in the next 24 hours and have a look at her and see if she needs a gallop. Perhaps she could have one little breeze-up and that would be it.

"We're eight runs in (this Australian season) so it has been a long drawn-out plan getting here. The three gallops she did before coming over were as good as I've seen, the tracks were just a bit softer so she wasn't running her normal freakish times, but they were enough to say she was 100 per cent.

"We wanted to make sure we had everything in the tank for Ascot so she had the two races at Morphettville and it's all gone to plan. The signs we're getting are that there are no concerns.

"She took the flight all in her stride. She lost 9-10 kilos coming over which is normal and is eating and drinking well. She has not quite put the weight back on yet which is why she will do very little for the next couple of days.

"It's odd that's she's never been on a plane before and suddenly has to handle 30 hours in transit. She has a very laidback style at home. She puts up with a lot of media, so this is nothing new to her, and she doesn't mind the cameras.

"The owners will be as nervous as I've ever seen them and won't sleep much before the race. But we're fortunate that we have a lot of runners from the stable every week so it's another day at the races for us, just with more attention.

"We've never said this horse only runs to maintain her unbeaten record. We've picked her races and announced them and if rival trainers want to take their horses there they can or they can look for other races. That's probably the most respect she's got that other trainers will abort her races as soon as they know she's there. That's the best accolade you can get, the unbeaten run has just come with that.

"I pretty much believe there isn't a horse that can beat her but anything can happen on any given day in racing, horses get beat and jockeys fall off. Something going wrong out of our control is our biggest scare, and I don't really want to deal with that but if it happens we will have to.

"Newmarket is the home of racing, the gallops are amazing and it's a fantastic place to bring a horse. Any trainer in Australia would be proud to be based here.

"She's not a princess, she's a bit like a colt. She's not demanding but knows she's a bit special but doesn't push it too far.

"She's never raced on a slow or heavy track at home but we've seen her have a lot of gallops at Caulfield on those winter mornings and she's coped with that every time. She had a race trial at Cranbourne before she started racing and did a super time in the heavy going that day. Because of that, we have been confident she would cope with soft ground. Every time she has run, she has brought good weather with her and hopefully that will be the same next week.

"The race is there in July (Darley July Cup) but this comes down to a horseman's call. It is a perfect time frame - three weeks after Ascot - but Pete and his boys, Tony and Pat, need to sit down and make a decision. We are mindful that we do want to go home and race Black Caviar in the spring. With the trip here, there is the question mark about whether we will be able to get her back to race at Melbourne in October.

"We are focused normally on training the horses, which is a massive operation to deal with. I am on leave - my holidays - here and I am starting to see what it is all about. When you step back and see all the focus on her, it is definitely getting bigger and bigger - it is a bit of a cult.

"At home it is business as usual. Me and Pete will thrash out a lot of issues with a lot of horses and Black Caviar probably gets the least amount of time. We spent a lot of time on the plan detailing how we would get her here but during the week I might just get a grunt off Pete and I have to decipher that. I will send an email to the owners and turn a grunt into a paragraph.

"We don't put her above any other horse in the stable as regards assessing them and the owners appreciate that.

"A lot of Australians want to be here to see her run. They will have a lifetime memory, hopefully of her winning, and being here to cheer her home.

"There is the sort of passion you get from football fans - we hear a lot of advice from her fans - what to do and where to run her. They are very passionate fans.

"I would never mention something from a fan to Peter - I would probably get slapped around the ear. Things like should we try a different shoe on her - a lot of it is amusing and many put a lot of thought into their emails and their advice.

"If people get to know she is having a barrier trial at Caulfield, it is pretty much standing room only. We generally don't tell anyone which trial she is in - I feel a little bit sorry for the other horses. Sometimes they are un-raced maidens. It can work both ways as an-unraced maiden who gets within 10 or 12 lengths of her might be alright. We use these barrier trials as a training tool before a race - to get that last fitness. We don't like to run our horses and use a race as an improvement as regards fitness.

"We know we are closer to the end rather than the beginning of Black Caviar's racing career and she is rising six in southern hemisphere time. There is nothing left for her to achieve as a racehorse and she might tell us one day that she wants a bit of peace and quiet. At the moment she loves the camera and enjoys being a racehorse, but one day she might just turn up and say I have had enough - that will be a tough time.

"If you gave me a 100 dollars I would not put it on Black Caviar or Frankel next week as I would not make a lot of money. I would rather put the 100 dollars on odds that someone could offer about Frankel covering Black Caviar one day. From what I have seen of him, he is an outstanding racehorse and she deserves the best.

"Pete will be a bit nervous when you see him tomorrow. I would advise taking a packet of chocolate biscuits if you want to get a chat out of him. I think he will be a bit on edge because of the whole challenge. Nothing is ever done easily in this industry and we have been here before and it hasn't always worked out.

"Magnus was trying to establish a stallion career and it was positive to be placed. We could not have been any more confident with Hinchinbrook last year before he injured himself. We know Black Caviar is a better sprinter than him so we are quite confident on ability but everything needs to fall into place and it will be a nervous time for the next week.

"We don't need any setbacks or issues coming here for this race. If you are an English horse aiming for Ascot and you have a setback, there will be something else later on in the season, We don't want that - we want to go to Ascot and win so we need everything to go right.

"Peter is pretty adamant that if he is 110 per cent happy with her and she lines up she won't be beaten. It is not so much a question of being beaten on ability, it could be bad luck or injuring herself. We probably shouldn't be discussing this. A horse would have to run well above its highest rating to get near her on her current form.

"It would mean a lot for our stable, for Peter personally and for the owners to win the Diamond Jubilee but as far as she is concerned there is probably not a lot to be achieved over and above what she has already done. We know she is a champion. She can only come out of the race negatively if something goes wrong. If she was 17 from 21, there would be less pressure for sure.

"If she is beaten, I don't think Luke would even come back to the mounting yard - I think he would just keep going and find a little barn outside Ascot or Windsor and put her in a stable there and just hide.

"Ascot has been outstanding for racing for a couple of hundred years. Whether Australians enjoy the Queen's association with Australia or not, it is still great to be associated with her this year in her race for what she has done, not only for racing but during her life.

"The owners will be so nervous next week. I have spent a lot of racedays with them and they are OK then. It is the lead-up to a race where they don't sleep and this will be even bigger after a 24-hour flight here. All they will be thinking about is can we be beaten, will we be beaten and that kind of thing.

"The pressure will only ease once Black Caviar retires. The day Pete says that's enough, I think we will all take a month off and look back. The plan is not to retire her immediately unless she tells us to and I can envisage her racing for another year or longer.

"Black Caviar's track work is almost better than any of her races. A lot of time she does not run up to her track work because she has an easy time as she is a 100 per fit from the track work.

"When horses come into the stable for the first time as youngsters, they are given a random nickname and she just happened to get Nelly which was perfect for her. I dare say she will be the last Nelly we ever have. She will be the only horse to wear her colours too.

"If she had been a colt, she probably would have been retired by now. She puts on weight easily and as she gets older it may become harder and harder to get that off. Her racing weight is around 570 kilos - it can get down to 560 and she can get up to 620 in the paddock. We worry a bit when she gets up to that level because it is too much pressure on her legs.

"Eventually she will have some niggles and tell us she has had enough or that she will not be at her best. If she cannot be at her best, she won't race any more. She has always been very strong ever since Pete was in love with her at the yearling sales.

"We went into her first start very confident and we knew on her second start that Black Caviar would go on and be special.

"I am really happy at the welcome Black Caviar has got in England. For me it is not about Black
Caviar beating the poms, an angle which has been put forward. I am thrilled that Black Caviar and Frankel are racing at Royal Ascot in the same week and we can adore them both. We just want to turn up and compete."


Derek Cruz is hopeful that nine-year-old Joy And Fun can fly the flag for Hong Kong in Tuesday's King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot although the trainer admits the recent rain could prove a concern.

"My horse likes a firm track or good to firm but I think he will handle ground that is yielding or just a bit on the soft side," said Cruz. "He seems to be striding out well in his work and has acclimatised well to Europe.

"He was very unlucky on his last start in Dubai when he half missed the start, hopefully it will be a closer race on Tuesday, when Brett Doyle will ride him.

"I think Ortensia is again the one to beat, but if mine runs up to his normal races then he should be in the firing line.

"We are staying away from Black Caviar by going for the King's Stand and I like to take it one race at a time with him but the Darley July Cup at Newmarket could be on his agenda."


Also representing Hong Kong is Little Bridge, who heads to Ascot on the back of two victories for trainer Danny Shum.

"I wanted to come here because England is a fantastic country for horseracing and it is a local Hong Kong trainer's dream to be here," said Shum. "He will run (in the King's Stand Stakes) over 1,000 metres because he is very good at that trip. His best distance is a straight 1,000 metres although he can handle a turn over six furlongs.

"I hope he can handle the track and run a good race for me at Ascot. It's very hard to compare the ground here with Hong Kong, where the track is usually good to firm. I would like to walk the track on Monday with my jockey and my owner. I'd like good ground.

"This is his first trip away since he came from New Zealand (where he was bred) to Hong Kong. It is a long trip but he has acclimatised well - the vets and Clive Brittain helped look after him when he arrived. It's quite hard to get used to the weather here and the new training facilities in Newmarket but he is working better each day in the run-up to the race.

"When he came sixth to Joy And Fun, I made a mistake because I put blinkers on him and he didn't like them. But after that he has run well without blinkers.

"He will not run on Saturday because we plan to run him in Japan in September so he will go into quarantine on Friday in Newmarket then go home to Hong Kong."


Bahrain-based owner-trainer Fawzi Nass is another keeping an anxious eye on the weather as he targets Krypton Factor at the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday week. The four-year-old was an excellent winner of the Dubai Golden Shaheen in March before finishing fifth in the Krisflyer International Sprint in Singapore in May.

"We were confident of a good run in Dubai but to win in such a fashion was a bit of a surprise," admitted Nass. "We didn't see the best of Krypton Factor in Singapore and I put that down to two things. Firstly he didn't travel over there so well and secondly the ground turned very soft on the raceday, which he didn't enjoy.

"Unfortunately, we've come to a wet country here and we hope for a nice summer week next week. We still have to see him perform on turf at this level. He did well on grass as a two-year-old when trained here by Sir Mark Prescott and also scored on it in Dubai but not at this level.

"Unfortunately, we have Black Caviar in our race, I keep being reminded we are running for second spot and it will certainly take a hell of a horse to beat her. Kieren Fallon will ride."


Australian trainer Paul Messara admits there is a chance that the mare Ortensia could line up in both the King's Stand Stakes on Tuesday and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes four days later at Royal Ascot.

"We had trouble travelling Alverta when we came over a couple of years ago so we decided to bring Ortensia here as early as we could this time. That way if there were any problems we could get her settled. She travelled brilliantly from Dubai and is in top order. Even with this weather, she has managed to keep a pretty good coat.

"She was the best she had been before Dubai and I feel she is coming into this race in the same sort of form.

"The ground is a concern, she has mixed form on rain-affected tracks and is better on top of the ground. She has a devastating turn of foot on a quick surface.

"If we were running on a drier track I'd be confident but four or five of the horses in the betting also prefer it firm so it could be an open race. I'd prefer this weather to blow away. I've had a really good look at the form and I think we have most of them covered. If we got good ground, I'd assess her chance very well.

"She is likely to run in blinkers on Tuesday and we look at how she is going into a race before deciding if she will wear them. She's very relaxed going into this so a little focus will help her.

"I will always put the horse's welfare first but if she came through the race fine and the weather was fine then I'd consider running her on Saturday as well. But Black Caviar is the best we have ever seen in the sprinting division.

"I think a stiff five at Ascot would be perfect, although six furlongs in the Darley July Cup would be her limit

"This is a special week and we're thrilled to be here to compete, it's the championship of racing around the world."

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