BC on BC - It's here - Royal Ascot Day 1 Bruce Clark's Blog
By Bruce Clark
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 5:01 PM
It is the most beautiful of Tuesday mornings. All the fear of rain and cold for the first day of what promises to be the most mouth watering of Royal Ascots is forgotten, just for the moment.
The world’s best horse Frankel awaits to follow the official royal procession with one his own in the first race of the day, but it was at Newmarket in the early hours of chilled sunlight that our queen Black Caviar completed her business to round off for Saturday.
“Happy campers” was the succinct summation from Peter Moody. “Relief” from jockey Luke Nolen who reckons riding her trackwork is the worst part of the job. That is where- to paraphrase Trumby “you can stuff it up”.
Luke already produced his best line yesterday on arrival in Newmarket. “I reckon I drank more on the plane on the way over than she did!” He was spotted in business class, shorts, t-shirts and thongs – as you do.
But Nolen didn’t stuff this one up this morning, and just as this campaign in the UK has gone, it has been all swimmingly – in more ways than one.
Ghosts of Hinchinbrook a year gone were erased after this morning. (It was this gallop last year on the Al Bahathri polytrack) that brought Hinchinbrook’s Royal Ascot dreams undone. It was a sickening blow for Team Moody and they wanted to make sure it couldn’t happen again, especially with so much pride of a nation riding on this mare.
So it was a switch to the famous Limekilns gallop on the Golden Mile with its 300 year old peat moss base and sure footed galloping surface where Black Caviar strode out running her “last 2 in about 25s” said Moody. “Happy days,” said a much at ease trainer seemingly amazed at what – as they say here – rude health – the mighty mare is in.
Vet Peter Angus was back in Newmarket today just to ensure everything that is needed to produce Black Caviar in the peak of her form for Saturday is in place. It has been a meticulous if not costly exercise with trainer, assistant trainer, track jockey, chiropractor, vet, stalls and stalls attendant added to the run on team of 154 Black Caviar connections.
And they will all be off to Royal Ascot today where this majestic festival begins. Blue is the 11/4 colour favourite for the Queen’s Hat today, punters burned last year when she lobbed in the 8/1 green. Sadly the Black Caviar colours of salmon and black appear in the any other category.
But there has been a spotting - pardon the pun – of an London cab repainted in salmon with the black spots around Piccadilly Circus.
And that is what today might just be at Ascot, a circus. Not so much on the track where Frankel is best priced 1/5 to enhance his world’s best racehorse tag or where the other two Group 1’s kick starting the meeting bring big competitive fields but off it, where the horses of Aussies in town for Black Caviar get their first taste of the race-week.
Up to 8000 are ticketed says Royal Ascot for the week, a staggering number and most obviously here for Black Caviar. If they all turn up in car park 2 after the races for the now traditional (not official) Inglis Aussie bbq (though there is not a snag or burger in sight as in you can’t light fires in the car parks) then this is going to get a little messy.
About 200 Aussie fans made the now ‘traditional pilgrimage’ to Manton, the Sangster home in Marlborough yesterday ,to see the fabled grounds and be well hosted by Adam, Guy, Ben and Sam Sangster with tours of the gallops, a parade of stallion Equiano and a mighty impressive fare of two hogs on the roast and a sip of the sponsor’s product, in this case Asahi beer.
The tourists were allowed free roam of Manton walking up to the boxes of the stables stars, including today’s St James’s Place Stakes fancy Most Improved for a gawk and a pat and a photo op before trainer Brian Meehan dragged it and another four key Ascot week horses out for parade and a chat. Methinks Peter Moody would have been aghast, such has been the protection afforded to Nelly.
And a chat it was too at Windsor races last night for senior owner Neil Werrett who lined up alongside loved or hated larger than life presenter John McCririck for an interview on Attheraces live. Whilst warbling on as usual about his hate of Australians, Big Mac was respectful and in awe of Black Caviar and the challenge she has taken up for racing.
There was another interview with Timeform Radio for Neil, a few drinks watching the races then a dash off to have dinner with Sheik “Dunaden” Fahad – as you do – in London at the quite well to do Brown’s restaurant.
Now the curious might argue what Sheik Fahad is thinking with the owners of Black Caviar, while the common sense would tell you he is simply a thorough race fan and that he wanted to put up $1m of his own to get Frankel and Black Caviar together on a race date.
And you can get 1 million to one about that happening but there are countless bet types including this one – Frankel to win and Black Caviar to lose 11/4 or worse, both losing – 16/1. Puhleaz!