Black Caviar's owners 'nervous'
AFP June 15, 2012 5:56am
BLACK Caviar's connections are beginning to feel the pinch ahead of their top-rated sprinter's date at Royal Ascot next week.
The Australian racing sensation arrived in England last week ahead of her assignment in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on June 23 unbeaten after 21 successive victories.
More than 3000 of her fans are set to fly in to watch her race in front of Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Meeting and Jeff O'Connor, her racing manager, revealed the owners are finding it difficult to contain their anxiety.
"The owners will be so nervous. I've been with them for each of her wins and in the lead-up to her races they are physically sick and just don't sleep," O'Connor said yesterday.
He was speaking after Black Caviar went through a routine piece of trackwork in Newmarket where she is being lodged.
"This will be worse as they'll be on a plane from Australia for 24 hours and all they'll be thinking about will be, 'are we going to be beaten?'"
Black Caviar's victories in 11 Group One races has seen her stock rise in Australia to heights not seen in the sport before.
Phar Lap, who captured the public's imagination there during the Depression, did not have a marketing team surrounding him like Black Caviar, who also has her own website, merchandise and has now also brought out a line of equine cosmetics.
"Probably with social media these days this is the biggest following any Australian racehorse has ever had - Twitter wasn't around for Phar Lap," O'Connor continued.
"Australia had a horse called Makybe Diva who won the Melbourne Cup three times but Facebook and Twitter had really only just started then."
O'Connor has been through all of this before having been part of the team that ran Magnus at the Royal Meeting in 2007 and 2008 but last year their challenge was foiled by injury at the 11th hour when Hinchinbrook was found lame two days before the six-furlong sprint.
Despite this experience which O'Connor stated only served to encourage the owners to try their hand at Ascot, trainer Peter Moody, who arrives in England overnight, is also struggling to deal with his expectations.
"Pete will be a bit nervous," O'Connor added.
"Perhaps I'll take a pack of (Australian) Tim Tam biscuits if I want to get a word out of him tomorrow.
"He'll be on edge because of the whole challenge. Nothing in racing is easy but we've got the hard part, getting her here, out of the way.
"Winning here would mean a lot for our stable, for Peter personally and for the owners to have a great time.
"As far as Black Caviar is concerned this race won't add much to her value and as she can only come out of this negatively.
"If she was 17 from 21 there would be far less pressure."
Black Caviar is long odds-on favourite with British bookmakers to maintain her unbeaten streak in front of her royal audience in the Group One sprint.