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A Day At The Races For Two
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Frankel v's Black Caviar, Can They Really Be Compared?

26 June 2012

Frankel v's Black Caviar. Can They Really Be Compared?

Royal Ascot 2012. Probably one of the best meetings ever. Why? Because not only did unbeaten colt Frankel kick off the week in impressive style, Australia’s Darling , Black Caviar ended it, although not as in impressive style as the millions of people around the world watching, wanted.

Before this  there was massive media interest in a possible clash between these amazing animals, Frankel had an entry in the Queen Anne Stakes over a mile on the Tuesday, while Black Caviar was entered in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes over 6f on the Saturday, leaving thousands even millions of people disappointed.

In my opinion this clash was never going to take place, and thank god that media pressure did not make the connections give in and agree to a very unsuitable race, they stuck to their guns and rightly so. Before all this talk of a clash kicked up, Sir Henry Cecil clearly stated that Frankel would be tried over 1m - 1m 2f as a 4 year old while Black Caviars owners were insistent that Black Caviar would stick to 6f races. So if a race was agreed, then exactly what distance would they race at? 6f? 1m? 1m 2f? Whatever distance chosen would hand the other horse an unfair advantage.

One distance both horses have ran over is 7f, you could argue that Black Caviar won with ease and so did Frankel, and that maybe this would be a more ideal distance, firstly I think it would stretch Black Caviar to her limit and Frankel, although he has speed on his dams side, he is a Galileo colt, who are much better over 1m,  1m 2f could be ideal maybe 1m 4f would stretch him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he got that far.

So this brings me to why are people comparing these totally different horses? Who is the best? Well surely you cannot answer that. They are both great at what they do Frankel’s rating is higher at 138 while Black Caviar is rated 133, but I do not think that’s a good enough measure of what both horses have achieved. Black Caviar is now 22 races unbeaten while Frankel is only 11 races.

On Tuesday Frankel destroyed the field; yes he was up against a similar field, to the last couple of times he has raced, which Black Caviars trainer Peter Moody arrogantly pointed out on the morning of BC’s race. But it’s not like Frankel has beaten nothing. His main rival is Excelebration who is a group 1 winner in his own right; he has run 12 races, lost 6 of those. The first race he lost was his very first, he missed the break and was very slowly into his stride, he was very green that day so it can be dismissed as a learning curve, and learn he did. The other 5 races he has lost, he has come 2nd in every one of those, and was beaten into second by Frankel. This horse is a victim of circumstance; he runs the same distance as Frankel. If Frankel wasn’t around then maybe this horse would be seen as the best in the world.

So what has Black Caviar come up against? Well firstly she has won 12 Group 1 races, which is an amazing record. But I think Peter Moody was a bit blindsided when he commented that Frankel comes up against the same opposition in every race. Excelebration and Frankel have met 5 times. Black Caviar and Hay List have met 4 times and Hay List is also a group 1 horse in his own right, has won exactly half his races like Excelebration although it includes more Group 1’s. Hay List’s first race although I have no details, I am guessing probably ran a bit green as well, and then the other 2 defeats he was beaten into second, by horses also beaten by BC. So it seems to me that both Frankel and BC have had similar competition in their races.

So on Tuesday of Royal Ascot, Frankel goes out and wins by 11 lengths, very impressive and nearly beating the track record on good –soft ground. Saturday BC stepped out to show Europe what she was made off. Before the race Peter Moody was telling the world how great she is and that she had no ill effects from the travelling and was happy and settled, great news, it made the anticipation of how far she would win by, even more exciting. Her owners said that if she won this, she would stay to go onto the July Cup, which was great, we would see her again. In the parade ring she took everything in her stride, seeing her the first time myself, I could see she oozed class, more so than Frankel I think. Frankel seemed almost cocky as he walked round, whilst Black Caviar was well, out of this world, she is certainly the biggest horse I have seen, not height wise but muscle, she had an over step which just showed that her stride would be massive  and her action would be so easy. And she didn’t disappoint.

The start of the race and her stride compared to the others was amazing, she looked like she was putting no effort in at all, and was just waiting for her to accelerate. And so she did, when Luke Nolan pressed the button, but it wasn’t the turn of foot that I expected, and only drawing a few lengths ahead, either the jockey had misjudged the line or he thought he was further ahead than he actually was, but for some reason he stopped riding and hadn’t noticed the French horses steaming up behind her, within metres of the line he noticed and urged her forward, and she responded straight away but Moonlight Cloud was gaining and the result was a head. I know I was holding my breath at the end.

As Black Caviar trotted back I am sure she looked lame, but all traces were gone when she started to walk, in my opinion she over stretched when Luke Nolan asked for the final surge, and has nothing to do with the small margin win. The only news to come out of BC’s camp is that she was not 100% after the race, she will now get the next plane home and possibly be retired. The cocky Peter Moody from earlier in the day now seemed very unhappy and his initial reaction looked like he was running scared of Europe’s horses. Poor Luke Nolan seemed so unhappy as well, blaming himself for BC’s near defeat. And although I feel for the guy, I think he badly misjudged something out there, it was his fault she nearly lost. It may sound harsh but when he asked her for that final effort after realising his mistake, she responded instantly, suggesting there was still more to come from her, but at the end of the day a win is a win and we should not dwell on the what, if’s and why’s.

Now us arrogant British are saying, well she isn’t all that good, she was nearly beaten. Well for starters, it was 2 French horses that nearly beat her, not British. There is no mistaking there was still more she could of given if asked, her jockey was at fault not her. And although it looks like the connections are running scared, I very much doubt it. Why risk another race? she has been a wonderful servant, meeting all the demands made of her, she deserves  the retirement. She deserves to go unbeaten, she deserves to be remembered as the true champion she really is, and not to carry on till she does get beat.

Frankel is a champion in his own right too, I very much expect that he will retire, if not in October after he has conquered America’s best in The Breeder Cup, he might be taken to Dubai for The World Cup in March, and after that he will be retired to stud, where like BC, their owners hope to re-create the magic. Maybe this is where they finally meet. Maybe not.

But one thing I do know, is that I very much doubt in my lifetime I will ever witness the likes of Frankel and Black Caviar again, these horses come once in a lifetime, for a previous generation maybe Brigadier Gerard was Frankel’s equal , he was the champion of the early 70's’s and although they ran over different distances Phar Lap and BC can be associated together, both horses captured the heart of the nation.  It has been an absolute pleasure to witness both horses in action. And although you cannot compare them over distances, one thing they both have in common is that they are both champions, and that cannot be disputed.

Many thanks to Heather Saggers for writing this blog.

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