Dubai Six weeks from now the fastest men on the planet will line-up to battle for the coveted 100 metre gold medal at the London Olympic Games. On Saturday the equine equivalent of that event will be played out at Royal Ascot, the greatest stage for thoroughbred flat racing in the world.
Fifteen of the planet’s best horses, including the near mythical Australian superstar Black Caviar, will face the starter in the £500,000 (Dh1.8 million) Diamond Jubilee Stakes, the most celebrated sprint race on the British racing calendar.
Uunbeaten in 21 starts in her native Australia, Black Caviar comes into the race as one of the hottest favourites in its history at cramped odds of 2/7. She is the second highest-rated horse in the world behind the great Frankel and is the first horse in Australia to break ten seconds for 200 metres in an official race, giving her a top speed of 72.14 km/h.
She has won her 21 races by a combined total of 70 lengths. She is nothing short of a celebrity in Australia, where she is regarded as the greatest racehorse since the legendary Phar Lap, who died 80 years ago. There is even a range of Black Caviar merchandise from T-shirts and baseball caps to ties and key rings.
But all that will be put to the test when she makes her first ever start outside Australia, having travelled more than 17,500 kilometres from her base at Caulfield Racecourse in Victoria to Newmarket in England.
Black Caviar is trained by Peter Moody, who acknowledges that a victory in the 1,200 metre Diamond Jubilee Stakes against some of Europe’s best sprinters will cement her reputation as one of the greatest ever.
Weighing up Saturday’s race, where his star will break from the outside gate of the 15-runner field, Moody told Australia’s Herald Sun: “I don’t think it really matters where she draws. She’s got the tactical speed to put herself in the right spot.
“She’s trialled on very heavy ground and got through it okay so I’m not really worried.
“She’s the fittest I’ve had her in the past 24 months. Her work has been very pleasing since arriving here. I couldn’t be happier.”
The horses that look to have the best credentials to challenge Black Caviar are French raider Moonlight Cloud and the James Fanshawe-trained Society Rock, winner of this Group One prize 12 months ago.
Krypton Factor can’t be ruled out of the equation following a successful campaign in Dubai earlier this year, where he won the lucrative Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) in sensational style. The fourth foreign challenger is Restiadargent.
Hughie Morrison runs Haydock winner Pastoral Player, while others hoping to test Black Caviar’s armoury are Hitchens, The Cheka and Genki.