In a country that identifies so readily with sporting
champions, Australia has long had a love affair with its equine heroes.
Although it's almost inconceivable, we can
now add a name that will not only sit comfortably alongside Phar Lap, Carbine,
Bernborough, Ajax and Makybe Diva, but maybe even surpass them.
On every race day, since she approached Phar
Lap's 14 straight victories, the nation has ground to a halt to watch the
Sports and television
networks have scheduled times around her race program, such is the drawing
power of the flashing salmon pink and black silks that have become synonymous
So breaking the magical barrier of 20 successive wins,
surpassing the long-held record shared by Desert Gold and Gloaming, is a
fitting way for Black Caviar to seal her place in Australian racing
Just as the champions of years past, the impact of
"Nelly" reaches far beyond the rails. Everyone knows her colours, the
names of trainer and jockey, the length of her winning streak and even the
factors involved when connections sit down to plan her racing schedule.
She attracts media interest from around the
world and has even had fans make special trips from across the globe to watch
Aside from her striking looks and fan-friendly demeanour,
it's her once-in-a-generation physical prowess that sets her apart.
Black Caviar not only is the world's fastest
horse, she can maintain her top-line efforts for longer than any rival.
She also has a long, seemingly effortless
gait that is far longer than most horses - measured at 8.33m - which allows her
to take 24 strides over 200m at full pace compared to her rivals' 30.
Although she hasn't set any race records in her long list of
wins, it's been widely accepted that she's had her competitors beaten so far
from home that she's rarely, if ever, been ridden hard all the way to the post,
meaning we may never know the full extent of her sublime talents.
But, just as important as unrivalled numbers,
it's the way she has touched a nation for which she'll be remembered.
Fans queue for hours at racetrack gates, carrying signs
lauding her brilliance and cameras to capture their encounter with history.
Because they all know that Black Caviar is a
hero and a spectacle that might never be seen again.
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