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Royal approval: Will unbeatable Black Caviar grace Ascot?

By Alysen Miller, CNN
February 13, 2012 -- Updated 1835 GMT (0235 HKT)
Five-year-old mare Black Caviar has been on a sensational unbeaten run, winning all 18 of her races. Five-year-old mare Black Caviar has been on a sensational unbeaten run, winning all 18 of her races.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Australian racehorse Black Caviar is a sensation in her homeland
  • The five-year-old mare has won all 18 races she has entered
  • Black Caviar's latest win came at the Orr Stakes in Melbourne on Saturday
  • This weekend she will try to make it 19 wins in the Lightning Stakes

(CNN) -- Unbeaten in 18 races, Black Caviar has already entered horse racing's history books and become a sprinting superstar in her native Australia. But will the mare be able to translate that to international success this year?

Black Caviar's annihilation of the rest of the field in Saturday's Orr Stakes in Melbourne matched the feats of legendary 18th century racehorse Eclipse, putting them joint third in the all-time list of undefeated thoroughbreds.

Her trainer Peter Moody will now be hoping that history repeats when she defends her Lightning Stakes crown at Flemington this Saturday.

But the bigger tests, and larger plaudits, will rest in overseas challenges.

Her 18th successive win, at the Caulfield course, was a step up in distance to seven furlongs, or 1,400 meters, but it proved no obstacle for Luke Nolen's mount as she pulled away from the field in the closing stages of the race.

Foaled in 2006, the five-year-old bay had only been lightly-raced in her two, three and four-year-old seasons, but she has been busier this campaign with connections now aiming for the glamor Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot for her first foray on English soil.

Although a specialist over the shorter distances of 1,000 and 1,200 meters, the step up for the Orr Stakes was thought to be an attempt to prepare her for the undulating Ascot turf, although the Diamond Jubilee Stakes will be contested over six -- not seven -- furlongs.

The presence of the world's top-rated sprinter at Royal Ascot's showpiece event -- renamed, in 2012, in honor of the Queen Elizabeth's landmark jubilee -- is a mouth-watering prospect for England's most prestigious race course.

"Running the race with the world's top-rated sprinter, Black Caviar, representing Australia in what is historically Europe's most international race would be a wonderful way to begin a new era for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes," said an Ascot spokesman.

Black Caviar is something of a celebrity in her native Australia, where thousands of punters regularly pack the stands to see her race, many wearing her traditional salmon and black colors in tribute.

Her success has sparked a media frenzy in the sports-mad nation, with the country regularly grinding to a halt when her races are shown on TV -- local networks even broke into coverage of last month's Australian Open tennis championships to broadcast her 17th race.

The trip to Britain raises the prospect of a future showdown with top-rated colt Frankel, also unbeaten in all nine of his starts. The four-year-old is the only horse in the world with a higher official rating than Black Caviar.

The Sir Henry Cecil-trained powerhouse out of champion sire Galileo is almost as big a star in England as Black Caviar is Down Under. However, connections for both horses remain tight-tipped about the possibility of a match race.

Frankel aside, all eyes in the Black Caviar camp are surely trained on the ultimate prize of Royal Ascot, with a possible stopover in the Middle East en route for the Dubai World Cup also thought to be on the cards.

But first Black Caviar must overcome her next immediate challenge: Saturday's meet could pit her once again against her principal rival, Hay List -- the only horse who has given her a run for her money so far in Australia, and a top sprinter in his own right.

In addition to Hay List, a clutch of exciting three-year-olds entered for the Lightning Stakes will also be looking to stop the Black Caviar juggernaut in its tracks. Just don't bet against lightning striking twice.

With Black Caviar proving herself over seven furlongs, do you think a clash with Frankel could be on the cards? Who would win?

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