Saturday 24 March 2018

Society can keep Caviar up to task

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

The decision to shuttle the Australian wonder-mare Black Caviar halfway across the globe to compete at Royal Ascot has been a gift for racing in this part of the world.

From the moment she first donned her spandex travelling suit a fortnight ago, the sensational six-year-old has attracted a remarkable level of interest.

Unbeaten in 21, her times are exceptional, and it's a measure of just how much she has achieved that many Aussies now hold her in even higher esteem than the legendary Phar Lap.

Moreover, her straight-talking trainer Peter Moody has been great value with some real gems. This week, a British press, buoyed by Frankel's rout on Tuesday, wondered how far she might be capable of winning, but Moody wasn't buying into the circus.


"The Poms have used Australians for cannon fodder for 150 years," he quipped, "so we're not going to put on a show just for them. If we're going to let her rip, we'll do it at home. If she wins by a quarter of an inch, it'll do us."

On YouTube, there is an enlightening interview with Moody back in April. Today's Golden Jubilee was already Black Caviar's prime target at that stage, but the manner in which Moody said that he may as well run her in a pair of $250k Grade Ones to get the famously gross superstar fit for Ascot was an insight into just how superior she is.

There wasn't so much as a hint that either contest would tax Black Caviar in the slightest, the possibility of defeat not even discussed. Sure enough, she wasn't remotely extended, latterly bringing her top-level haul to 11 in May.

The question now is whether or not she can replicate that utter superiority on rain-softened ground at Ascot.

Generally speaking, Australian sprinters have excelled on their travels to Europe, with Choisir, Starspangledbanner, Scenic Blast and Takeover Target all enjoying decent success at the Royal meeting in recent years.

Others such as Ortensia and Star Witness have not fared as well, but, on a line through Star Witness, which finished third to Society Rock in this afternoon's Group One last year, Black Caviar really will be a formidable opponent.

On the three occasions that Star Witness raced against the mare, four lengths was as close as he ever got.

Thus, in as much as we can correlate the form, Black Caviar ought to take some stopping this afternoon, and it will be a massive anti-climax if she doesn't live up to the hype.

Still, with conditions as testing as they are, she is no betting prospect at 1/4. If there is value to be had, it is surely Society Rock at up to 12/1. France's Moonlight Cloud, which reopposes, readily beat James Fanshawe's charge when in receipt of eight pounds at Deauville in August, but that was over her best trip of seven furlongs.

Moonlight Cloud has never won over today's six-furlong distance, and is now five pounds worse off with Society Rock, which has done all his winning over six.


Having obliged in the soft here 12 months ago, Johnny Murtagh's mount is fancied to at least make the frame on the back of an encouraging reappearance third at York.

Earlier, Memphis Tennessee can upset Sea Moon in the Hardwicke Stakes.

Placed in the St Leger and Breeders' Cup Turf last year, Michael Stoute's Sea Moon made a winning reappearance at Goodwood, but Ballydoyle's Memphis Tennessee is an improver that will relish conditions, having sluiced up in the mud at Chester last time.

Move To Strike and Maarek appeal as two others that might be suited by the going. Jim Bolger's Move To Strike tackles the Chesham after bolting up in similar ground at the Curragh, while Maarek flashed home to score at Newmarket in early May.

Although David Nagle's charge is up another six pounds now, he is a live each-way option in the Wokingham at 14/1 under Joseph O'Brien.

Best Bet: Society Rock (e/w)

Irish Independent

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