ASCOT, UK - Black Caviar, the great mare who they call ‘The Wonder from Down Under’, will make her first public appearance in the Northern Hemisphere when she takes on Europe’s best sprinters in the six furlong Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday 23 June. Black Caviar has won each of her 21 starts in Australia, but even though she is already an immortal in the history books, a win at Royal Ascot would further enhance her glittering reputation.
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes takes place on the fifth and final day of Royal Ascot, but it is probably the most hotly-anticipated race of the week as Frankel will be facing the same rivals as usual in the Queen Anne Stakes and the Ascot Gold Cup is no longer the race it once was. Even if results go against the bookmakers in the lead-up to the Diamond Jubilee, the bookies will still be eager to lay Black Caviar, especially on a Saturday when punting turnover will be going through the roof.
Black Caviar is currently best-priced at 4/9 (bet £90 to make £40 profit) with Ladbrokes and Paddy Power to win her first start in Britain, but she could be even shorter on the day of the race. She is currently rated the second best horse in the world behind Frankel, and most punters believe that she just has to turn up to the Berkshire track to win. She arrived at Heathrow yesterday and settled into her Newmarket base last night, and it bodes well that she has already done the bulk of her training for her Royal Ascot date back home in Australia. At 4/9 she rates as an attractive bet for many considering she is regularly sent off at odds of 1/10 and 1/20 back at home, in a country which tends to produce the top sprinters.
Another positive for her fans is that the UK sprinting division looks particularly weak at the moment, as we had Sole Power win the Nunthorpe Stakes for Ireland two years ago at 100/1, and just recently at York Tiddliwinks won the big sprint at 25/1. In addition Aussie sprinters have a good record coming over to the Royal meeting, as Choisir, Takeover Target and Scenic Blast have all landed wins in the previous decade.
Having said that, this is the first time Black Caviar has raced abroad, so there are feasible grounds for taking her on. Her trainer Peter Moody is no slouch, but his sprinter Magnus failed to win at Royal Ascot in three attempts, including getting beaten by the Spanish no-hoper Equiano. Black Caviar is clearly in a different league to Magnus though, and the straight course at Ascot should be fine for her, as she is 7-7 on the Flemington straight.
However one more thing to bear in mind in that Australia actually has a poor record in the Diamond Jubilee, as the only Aussie to win it since Choisir in 2003 was Cape of Good Hope, but when the race was moved to York. It could be that the stiff course at Ascot stretches their stamina and suits the ‘failed milers’, as the Star Witness was only third last year at 4/1 in this race. You could make a case for including Starspangledbanner in that sample, as he was bred in Australia and won two years ago in great style.
Second in the betting is Bated Breath, who is 8/1 with Paddy Power and Sportingbet, but the vibes in England suggest he will go for the King’s Stand Stakes on the opening day. Roger Charlton’s horse is arguably better over six furlongs, but connections are keen to bag a Group One for him before packing him off to stud. Bated Breath is already five-years-old and looks an ideal stallion for Juddmonte Farms, and got the better of the (now!) top-class Sole Power in the Group Two Temple Stakes. He will be a popular each-way bet if he lines up, but for the time being it is best to hold your bets as no firms are offering a non-runner no bet concession at present.
Even if Bated Breath does run, the second best horse in this field on the Timeform weight-adjust ratings is the flying French filly Moonlight Cloud. The daughter of Invincible Spirit had Classic aspirations at the end of last season, but failed to really stay eight furlongs against Europe’s best milers, so she dropped down in trip to devastating effect. Moonlight Cloud’s best moment last year was winning the Prix Maurice de Gheest over 6½ furlongs, in which she beat true Group One horses like Dream Ahead, Zoffany, Society Rock and Wootton Bassett with a bit to spare.
Moonlight Cloud (pictured) is priced at 12/1 with Boylesports and Bodog to upset the Black Caviar party, and that looks a good each-way bet after trainer Freddy Head declared her an intended runner in this following a smooth win in the Group Three Prix du Palais-Royal last Saturday. She had to concede weight to good horses like Smooth Operator and Aesop’s Fables but she cut through the field like a very smart filly, and her record in races between six and seven furlongs reads: 114121151. That fifth was at British Champions Day last year when she was unlucky in-running, but fortunately she does not have to tackle Deacon Blues again, as he is on the sidelines this year. Her big target is Deauville, a place Head loves, but he has won at Royal Ascot before with Goldikova.
Defending champion Society Rock is priced at 14/1 with William Hill but is more exposed that Moonlight Cloud, and whilst he could grab a place (especially if the field cuts up), it is hard to believe he can win.
Hoof It is 16/1 with Sportingbet but has been weak in the betting since his flop at York, but in fairness his stable was out of form then.
Elsewhere Krypton Factor is an intended runner and is 20/1 with Coral, and he is interesting given that he beat Rocket Man at Meydan this year, but he was disappointing at Kranji on his last start, even if he hated the soft ground.
Finally The Cheka is 40/1 with Paddy Power to win, and could go close providing he is not bumped again like at York. Hitchens is 50/1 with bet365 but has been cut in a place today, whilst Lethal Force is consistent at a lower level for Clive Cox and could take his chance at 100/1.
Paddy Power go 10/11 that both Frankel and Black Caviar win this month, and it is 7/2 that Australia win both the big sprints.
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes is at 3.50pm BST on Saturday 23 June and is live on the BBC.