The fairytale ended last week as a teary Peter Moody and owners of Black Caviar announced they would be retiring the national icon, with her amazing unbeaten stretch stopping at 25.
I was lucky enough to be at Randwick for her last run, although the 28,000 spectators there didn’t know at the time. Premier Barry O’Farrell had earlier in the week clamboured for headlines with his misjudged quote, “The only thing better than a Black Caviar victory will be if Sydney is known as the place where Black Caviar was beaten by a horse with Jim Cassidy on its back.”
But for a nation where state lines are most divisive in the sporting arena, where the tall poppy syndrome is a celebrated part of our national culture, nobody at Randwick that day wanted to see her lose.
Sure the GFC isn’t The Great Depression, nor the War Against Terror the Great War, but Black Caviar came at just the right time like the preeminent people’s champion Phar Lap. And during these times, everyday people start to believe in fairytales. It’s in our nature.
Black Caviar wasn’t considered much of a horse, from not much of a lineage. She was casually bred, broken, and put up for auction. And as the huge mare circled the pens at auction, she only turned one head. Young, ambitious trainer Peter Moody. He convinced a conglomerate of prospective owners to invest $210,000 to secure the horse with one of them, Pam Hawkes, asking one major question.
“She’s lightening,” Moody replied.
And the rest is history.
And last Saturday in Randwick in her last race, she blew the field away, and the crowd cheered like never before.
We don’t hold the Ashes, we don’t hold the Rugby Union World Cup, or the Rugby League World Cup, or the Football World Cup.
But we had the fastest horse in the world, perhaps the fastest ever. And I’ll never forget the roar of the crowd as that great champion galloped down the straight for one last time.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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