Black Caviar Just Holds in Ascot Nail-Biter
The six-furlong contest was the highlight of the closing day of the Royal Ascot race meeting. A crowd of approximately 80,000 gathered at Ascot to watch her triumph, including Queen Elizabeth II, who is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee to mark her 60-year reign.
The 6-year-old mare by Bel Esprit has now won all 22 of her races, although it almost didn't end up that way. Jockey Luke Nolen dropped his hands and stopped riding the heavy 1-6 favorite several strides before the wire, allowing 5-1 second choice Moonlight Cloud, who was flying on the outside, to almost catch her at the finish.
Black Caviar has now been saddled to 12 group I wins.
A field of 13 went to the post in the Diamond Jubilee, and the rival thought likely to give the Aussie champ most trouble was Freddy Head's filly Moonlight Cloud, winner of the 2011 Prix Maurice de Gheest-Goldikova (Fr-I).
The duo of Bogart and Soul went to the front at the outset while Black Caviar sat just behind them in third, clear on the outside after leaving from the extreme outside barrier. At the halfway point of the race, Black Caviar cruised to the lead, and edged away from her rivals to take a convincing lead.
Several strides before the finish line, however, Nolen stopped riding Black Caviar, thinking that she would be able to coast the rest of the way to the wire. But Moonlight Cloud and Restiadargent were flying up along the outer rail, and Nolen quickly got back to work aboard Black Caviar. The tiring champion responded with just enough left in the final jumps to hold on for the victory. Moonlight Cloud was clearly in front two strides past the wire.
The official winning margin was a head, with Restiadargent another neck back in third. The final time for the six furlongs was 1:14.10 over a course listed as good.
After the race, a sheepish Nolan told reporters, "I probably underestimated the testing track of Ascot. It is quite unfortunate because it is going to overshadow what was a good win. I underestimated the straight six here."
"It was pilot error, but I got away with it," Nolan added, saying he thought Black Caviar would have won by three-quarters of a length were it not for his mistake.
Winning trainer Peter Moody refused to condemn Nolen's ride, saying, "You've only got to win by a quarter of an inch; we got the job done. We never expect dominance, we never ask her for dominance; we are extremely proud of her."
Moody added that he didn't feel Black Caviar was 100% fit for the race, and that she may be retired after they return home. According to the British Horse Racing Authority, the Australian Horse of the Year passed a post-race vet check without issue.
Black Caviar was bred in Australia by Ric Jamieson. She is owned by Mr. and Mrs. G.J. Wilkie, et al, and is out of the Desert Sun mare Helsinge.
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