Racing fans around the nation are eagerly awaiting the upcoming Melbourne Spring Carnival like never before, anticipation building daily over the return of the ‘world’s best’ racehorse Black Caviar.
Victorian-based horseman Peter Moody made the shock decision last week to withdraw his stable star Black Caviar just one run into her Brisbane Winter Carnival campaign in favour of longer spell ahead of her highly-spruiked spring preparation.
Bel Esprit mare Black Caviar drew a capacity crowd of screaming fans to Doomben on May 14 for her Queensland debut that saw the four-year-old crush a quality field or rivals for the 13th time in a row.
Black Caviar’s BTC Cup success was also her sixth elite level win, the queen of the turf smashing a plethora of records along the way.
Set to start the raging favourite for the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) this Saturday, Moody announced his golden girl would instead be sent to the paddock.
While the action of the Brisbane Carnival continues in the sunshine state, already many have turned their attention to the impending spring season and when and where Black Caviar will next race.
The next start for the ‘Black Flash’ will be monumental as the current people’s champion attempts to equal the 14 race winning streak of a past great, the mighty Phar Lap.
Moody is keeping a tight lid on his spring plans for Caviar leaving followers to debate whether she will be restricted to the sprints or even be sent overseas for an overseas crusade.
Last year Black Caviar ran first-up in the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1000m) and at that stage was unbeaten in five.
She extended that to six with ease in the Schillaci, which was her third Group win on the trot.
This year a run in the Schillaci Stakes looks unlikely, with just $200,000 in prize money on offer.
It was a relatively short spring prep for Caviar last year, her other runs and wins being in the Group 2 Schweppes Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley and of course her emphatic four-length success in the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) – her maiden Group 1 victory.
The 2011 Patinack Farm Classic is almost a given for Black Caviar to defend her title in this spring.
Not only has the prize money for the Emirates Stakes Day sprint feature risen to a lucrative $1 million, but the possibility of international raiders including Sunday’s Krisflyer Sprint winner Rocket Man travelling down under for a stint at the $600,000 Global Sprint Challenge bonus attached to the Patinack Classic makes this an unmissable challenge for her.
“It’s a logical target, given she won the race last year and the extra money makes it an even more logical target,” Moody said of Patinack Farm Classic for Black Caviar.
The Victoria Racing Club’s chief executive Dale Monteith is preparing to take full advantage of Black Caviar mania in the spring, capitalising on the mare’s amazing ability to draw a full house of fans wherever she races.
“We believe the increase in prize money for the Patinack Farm Classic and the bonus will result in the world’s best sprinters coming to Melbourne to take on Black Caviar,” Monteith said.
In her inaugural year of racing, 2009, Black Caviar broke her Group maiden taking out the Group 2 Danehill Stakes (1200m) at Flemington in early September.
With connections hinting that she will be ready to return and dominate the headlines again in September this year, the Danehill Stakes running on September 3, could make the ideal first-up run for Black Caviar.
“She’ll probably have four to six weeks (in the spelling paddock),” Moody said.
“She’ll be ready to go in September.”
If Moody doesn’t bring her back until the end of September, the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 23 would be her likely return to the turf.
Last year’s Manikato Stakes was the opening Group 1 win for John McNair’s hulking sprinter Hay List.
Considered Australia’s second best horse behind Black Caviar, Hay List has faced the number one thoroughbred four times for four defeats to date.
Moody also commented on rumours that he would head overseas this year with Black Caviar.
“It’s never been on my radar, all I’ve said is that Hong Kong would be the first possible option,” he said.
“You’ve got races like the Orr and the Futurity and the Ryder and the Queen Of The Turf in the autumn next year.
“If she goes to Hong Kong, we probably lose the opportunity to run in those.
“Do we go to Hong Kong and forsake three or four Australian Group One races in the autumn next year?
“Or do we just stay at home and do the easy thing?
“There’s just so many options here and have a look at what she’s doing for Australian racing.
“I don’t think you’ll see the 20,000 that were at Doomben sit up late at night and watch her on TV on the other side of the world.”
Truth is, they probably would, but fans will just be thankful they won’t have to.