Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Last hurrah for horse racing's returning superstar Black Caviar?

February 15, 2013 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Australian mare Black Caviar may have been out of action for eight months, but she still remains one of the top-rated race horses in world, boasting an unblemished 22-win record. Australian mare Black Caviar may have been out of action for eight months, but she still remains one of the top-rated race horses in world, boasting an unblemished 22-win record.
HIDE CAPTION
Back on track
By a nose
Road to recovery
Royal reception
Lightning strikes twice
Fan club
Aussie army
Future Frankel?
Phar lap's successor?
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Horse racing's greatest sprinter, Black Caviar, returns to track after long absence
  • After nailbiting Ascot win, Australian mare competes for first time in eight months
  • Depending on outcome at Lightning Stakes, it could be one of her last races
  • Champion thoroughbred could have profitable future as breeding mare

(CNN) -- She graced the cover of Vogue, launched a best-selling biography and was named Australian Sportswoman of the Year.

Quite impressive, considering this was her "time off work." Even more so, given she's a race horse.

Champion thoroughbred Black Caviar hasn't competed since her dramatic win at Britain's Royal Ascot eight months ago but that hasn't diminished the hype surrounding the world's greatest sprinter, who remains undefeated in a staggering 22 consecutive races.

Now, after a long absence due to muscle injury, the six-year-old mare is set to return to the track in what could well prove her D-Day race.

Black Caviar extends winning streak
Black Caviar fans flock to Royal Ascot
Black Caviar meets the British media

"We're all hoping she wins on Saturday," co-owner Colin Madden told CNN. "But the real benefit is she doesn't read the newspapers so she doesn't know the pressure is on."

Her performance at the Lightning Stakes, in her hometown of Melbourne, will determine if this is the last hurrah of a stellar career.

"If things go really well, we've got around two or three more races left in her," Madden said.

And if she doesn't live up to expectations?

"We'll just have to see. The fact she got 22 wins without losing, and the affection Australians have for her, means our respect for her is so high. None of us want to see her race if she can't present herself well."

Read: 2012 -- How horse racing became cool

It will be a defining race for a horse who appeared "tired and cranky" in her most recent win at the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in June.

Black Caviar, worth almost $7 million in prize money, barely nudged ahead of the tightly fought pack. It was later revealed she had muscle strain in her legs which would put her out of action -- until now.

"She was courageous the way she won at Ascot," Madden said. "It was at the end of a very long run of competitions -- she'd had five races that year and a trip to the UK."

Healed and rested after an eight-month break, Madden says we'll see a return to the Black Caviar of old on Saturday -- not the mare who scrambled over the finishing line in front of a sellout crowd of 80,000 at Ascot.

Man + horse + skis = ??
Portrait of endurance horses

"She's fully recovered. She's got a glint in her eye and her mind and body are strong," he added.

She appeared back on top form during a training run in Melbourne last week, with bookmakers already placing the two-time Lightning Stakes winner as the favorite for Saturday's race.

Depending on her performance, Black Caviar could next compete at a handful of races across Australia in the coming months, including Newmarket in Melbourne and the T.J. Smith Stakes in Sydney, said Madden.

But a return to Ascot was unlikely, he added.

Read: Whodunnit? Sport's greatest unsolved kidnapping 30 years on

Since demolishing the field in her first major win at the Danehill Stakes in 2009, an air of mystique has followed world champion thoroughbred.

The superstar mare, who even has her own Twitter handle, has not just won all 22 of her races -- with the exception of Ascot she has won them by staggering margins, destroying world-class fields to become one of the top-rated race horses on the planet.

Her unblemished record is the second highest of all time, trailing behind only Hungarian horse Kincsem, which apparently took 54 races in the late 1800s.

Read: Roll over Freud -- Rise of animal therapy

Hong Kong's celebrity jockeys
First lady of Australian horse racing

Beyond the track, Black Caviar may also have a profitable career as a breeding mare, with managing owner Neil Werrett last year hinting that champion British thoroughbred Frankel could be a good match.

Frankel, who wrapped up his stellar career in the Champion Stakes at Ascot with an unblemished 14-win record, has now been put out to stud -- with big returns expected for owner Saudi Prince Khalid Abdullah.

The top-rated race horse in the world is expected to start his new duties this month, commanding a fee of $160,000 each time he sires a foal.

Read: Tall, dark and handsome muse ... is a horse

Win or lose on Saturday, one thing is certain -- Black Caviar has already cemented her place in the hearts of Australians.

More than 10,000 people packed into Melbourne's Federation Square to watch her Ascot triumph on the big screen in June, her biography has sold 50,000 copies, and in December she became the first horse to grace the country's Vogue magazine.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Winning Post's Francesca Cumani is impressed by the all-round multitasking skills of Ireland's champion trainer Aidan O'Brien.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1325 GMT (2125 HKT)
Now in his 50s, one of the world's most successful jockeys explains why he gave up acting to return to the sport that nearly crippled him.
June 7, 2014 -- Updated 0853 GMT (1653 HKT)
 An infrared camera was used to create this image.) A horse and exercise rider head to the main track for morning training at Belmont Park on June 4, 2014 in Elmont, New York.
More people have walked on the moon than have won the fabled Triple Crown of U.S. horse racing. California Chrome is seeking to square that score.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 1137 GMT (1937 HKT)
A long history of controversy made him the "enfant terrible" of horse racing, but veteran jockey Kieren Fallon is looking for redemption.
May 27, 2014 -- Updated 1131 GMT (1931 HKT)
Joel Rosario on Animal Kingdom competes to win the $10 million Dubai World Cup, the world's richest race, at Meydan race track in Dubai on March 30, 2013. The 2011 Kentucky Derby winner (11/2), trained by American Graham Motion and ridden by Rosario, beat home English raider Red Cadeaux by two lengths while another English-trained runner Planteur was third.
With owners ranging from presidents to sheikhs and queens, horse racing is known as the "Sport of Kings" for good reason.
May 12, 2014 -- Updated 1320 GMT (2120 HKT)
Buy for the right price and you could make millions. Get it wrong and it could be one of the most expensive mistakes you ever make.
May 5, 2014 -- Updated 1207 GMT (2007 HKT)
Mine That Bird, the 2009 winner of the Kentucky Derby, is having his incredible story told on the silver screen.
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 1035 GMT (1835 HKT)
Amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen is perhaps best known for helping to resurrect Prince William's relationship with Kate Middleton.
March 28, 2014 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Meydan Entrance
The $10 million Dubai World Cup takes place at the Meydan Racecourse, which is a suitable setting for the world's richest horse racing day.
March 28, 2014 -- Updated 1650 GMT (0050 HKT)
He's created some of the world's biggest shows, so it's only fitting Andrew Lloyd Webber will be in the limelight on Dubai's big-money day.
March 26, 2014 -- Updated 1011 GMT (1811 HKT)
The world's richest horse race is the highlight of Dubai's social calendar, attracting 60,000 fans from around the globe.
March 20, 2014 -- Updated 1203 GMT (2003 HKT)
Former champion jockey Richard Dunwoody has gone from riding winners to traveling the world in his second career as a photographer.
ADVERTISEMENT