The enormity of Black Caviar taking her unbeaten record to twenty-two in Saturday's Group I Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6f) at Royal Ascot is, disappointingly, likely to be overshadowed by the narrow margin of victory.
A half the world away and just over three years since Jarrod Noske guided the daughter of Bel Esprit to her first victory at Flemington, Black Caviar (pictured Caroline Searcy) became the third Australian bred winner of the feature sprint after Choisr (2003) and Starspangledbanner (2010). (View the race here)
Luke Nolen dropped his hands on a tiring Black Caviar to allow the French-trained, Maurice de Gheest (G1) winner, Moonlight Cloud (Invincible Sprit) to close within a head of an upset, with another French trained horse, the 3yo filly Restiadargent (Kendargent) a neck back in third. The former Petyer Snowden-trained gelding Soul (Commands), who has a decision over Buffering in the 2010 Danehill Stakes (G2) finished a close-up fourth after leading while last year's winner Society Rock (Rock Of Gibraltar) finished in fifth.
While Luke Nolen was apologetic for his indiscretion on the champion he felt there was little left in the tank.
"She probably wins by three-quarters of a length if I keep riding but I thought I had done enough to win and I was looking after her late," Nolen told At The Races.
"I wasn't easing her, I just let her coast down. I underestimated the gruelling six-furlong straight track.
"She was out on her feet, she was stuffed so that's probably the reason she took me by surprise when I let her coast over the last five strides.
"She really noticeably stopped underneath me.
"But because it was such a test for her, she pulled up very quickly on me and took me by surprise. It was a rookie mistake and one I'm probably lucky I came out the better side of."
Trainer Peter Moody said he knew the 5yo mare had a battle at the half way mark
"We have become so accustomed to this mare winning and winning comfortably and dominating her races," Moody said. "There was no doubt she was not in that dominant fashion today.
"She was a long way off her top and anyone that has seen her races at home would have held concerns as far as three out four furlongs out."
Moody said Black Caviar would enter quarantine on Sunday before her return to Australia after which she will be monitored before a decision is made on her future.
"Viewing the filly post race in the mounting yard she is out on her feet, she's done a tremendous job," Moody said.
"I just think she has had a long season with a massive trip to come over here and I've said all week the owners are to be congratulated. This was always going to be the greatest risk of her career, travelling this far. Every time we take her to the races, for probably her last five or six runs, we've been prepared to risk that it has been her last run and hopefully that's not the case today but if she is as tired and wore out when she returns to Australia you may have seen her grace the track for the last time.
She's done one hell of a job and I'm extremely proud of her as I'm sure everyone in Australia is."
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