You are here Racing But will Black Caviar also be a champion mum?

But will Black Caviar also be a champion mum?

Citizen Journalists

Daniel Miles
Citizen Journalist

Written on Friday, 22 March 2013 10:08

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The attention of the racing world turns to Moonee Valley this Friday night as Victoria bids farewell to its home-grown hero, Black Caviar.

In what will be the final Victorian leg of her farewell tour, Black Caviar will attempt to make it 24 wins on end in the G1 William Reid Stakes, before contesting races in Sydney and Brisbane as part of a preparation that is likely to end in retirement after the Brisbane winter carnival.

If victorious, the great mare will write yet another entry into the racing record books, joining the mighty Kingston Town as the only Australian horse to record an incredible 14 group one victories. Such a feat will leave her just two victories shy of the world record of 16, which she may yet lay claim to if her unbeaten streak carries her through to Brisbane, as anticipated.

However these last few races - and the chance to break the Group One record - were the furthest thing from the minds of the Black Caviar Team last year, with the mare seemingly set for retirement after her narrow Royal Ascot triumph. As the rest of the nation pined for the return of their international star, part-owner Gary Wilkie had resigned himself to Black Caviar's departure to the breeding barn - and the job of finding her a suitable stallion.

''There was no talk (of her racing again) after Ascot,'' he said. ''We went there and won and it was all over and as far as we were concerned, she was going to the breeding barn.There was no discussion about a next race or a comeback, it was all about finding a stallion for her.''

Gifted with an incomparable acceleration and will to win, Black Caviar's first progeny are sure to cause a stir when received in the yearling rings.

But, the question has to be asked: does her pure brilliance mean her offspring will be surefire, rolled-gold winners?

When three-time Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva's retirement was announced, the breeding world was sent in to a flurry. The matchmaking process began, with breeders jumping over themselves to find the perfect mixture of speed and stamina to take to Australia's greatest staying mare.

Epsom Derby winner Galileo was the suitor chosen and the resulting colt was snapped up at Inglis' Easter yearling sale for a cool $1.5milllion. The anointed colt, given the name Rockstardom, was sent to Danny O'Brien's yard where he went on to be the winner of two of his 12 starts, amassing a total of $29,015 prizemoney in an underwhelming career. The now gelding can now be seen in the catalogue for Inglis' March Thoroughbred sale on Friday, an expensive experiment for his badly burnt owners.

Makybe is not the first champion mare to fail to pass on her brilliance, though, with fellow Australian Horse of the Year Sunline also failing to live up to the hype expected of her in the breeding barn. Despite being serviced by proven stallions Rock of Gibraltar, Zabeel and Hussonet – the champion middle distance horse failed to produce any stakes-winning progeny.

And they are by no means alone, with Let's Elope, Research, Bounding Away and Emancipation all being crowned Australian Champion racehorse of the year before failing to produce anything that looked like emulating their Group One success on the track.

What makes a champion is their ability to give it all on the field, or the track; often, it has nothing to do with their breeding. Whether it's an AFL superstar, a heavyweight champion or a mighty racehorse, the ability to push harder, dig deeper and find that will to win is what separates the champions from the good, ordinary performers. However there is a theory that such exertion in mares is what, more often than not, leads to a lack of results in the breeding barn.

However, as with most rules, there are exceptions. While they do belong to an overwhelming minority, there have been a select crop of Group One-winning mares that have produced G1-winning offspring. Most notably, Circles of Gold, the winner of the 1995 AJC Oaks went on to produce G1 winners Elvstroem and Haradasun in her time in the breeding barn. Furthermore, Danelagh, the 1998 Blue Diamond stakes winner produced Hong Kong Champion Vengeance of Rain and Dizelle.

Yet, it hardly needs to be pointed out that neither Circles of Gold or Danelagh were of the same class as Black Caviar, Makybe Diva or Sunline.

In the lottery that is thoroughbred breeding there is only one thing we can be sure of - that a champion comes from more than just bloodlines. No amount of study can create a great athlete. Black Caviar is not the freak she is as a result of the genetic perfect match. The unbeaten mare is a champion because of her unmatched courage and unwavering will to win.

And, for Victorians, tonight's meeting at Moonee Valley represents the last chance you'll have to witness that once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.

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