Australians get a racing treat
Black Caviar, the world’s best sprinter, undefeated in 19 races and the sport’s own box-office phenomenon.
More Joyous, plain and slight, but as genuine and game as they come and a born winner.
And Atlantic Jewel, freakishly talented, yet to be tested in six starts and the heir apparent.
This trio of equine superstars are all racing on Saturday, each favourite to win another Group 1 race.
To think there are three such outstanding female racehorses competing on the same day!
Australian racing has been blessed with some champion mares in the modern era, with eight of the last 12 Horse of the Year titles going to the females – Sunline (2000-01-02), Makybe Diva (2005, 2006), Miss Andretti (2007), Typhoon Tracy (2010), Black Caviar (2011).
You can make that nine because Black Caviar is virtually assured of retaining her title this season despite the achievements of her contemporaries, Atlantic Jewel and More Joyous.
It’s difficult to recall an era when females were so dominant.
During World War II, champion mares Flight and Tranquil Star each won two Cox Plates between 1942 and 1946. They clashed in six races with Flight winning five times.
But has the sport ever been so blessed with three such wonderfully gifted females racing at the same time?
“I’ve never known there to be three great mares racing together,” The Daily Telegraph’s respected racing columnist Ken Callander said.
“There have been plenty of top mares like Sunline, Emancipation and others but not three at once like we have with Black Caviar, Atlantic Jewel and More Joyous.
“I don’t really know why this is the case. The mares are well treated under the weight-for-age scale and perhaps the 2kg allowance they get can be reduced to 1.5kg or 1kg but otherwise, it just is a different era.”
Callander has always rated Vain as the greatest sprinter of them all but concedes Black Caviar is now his equal.
“Vain was the best horse I’ve seen but Black Caviar is up there with him,” he said.
“Atlantic Jewel has the potential to be just as good plus she will get over a longer distance.
“More Joyous would be No.1 in any other era but unfortunately she is probably No.3 in this era.
“Even though she is lauded, I still think More Joyous is slightly underrated because she has come along at the same time as Black Caviar and Atlantic Jewel.”
Racing personality Ron Dufficy says it is amazing racing fans have the opportunity to watch three such outstanding female gallopers racing on the same day.
“When other trainers start talking about horses at trackwork, you know something special is happening,” Dufficy said.
“Every time Black Caviar walks on to the track in the morning, everything else stops and everyone watches her.
“It is the same with Atlantic Jewel because the trainers know they will see something none of their own horses can do.
“Black Caviar stands alone but Atlantic Jewel rattles off sectionals like the great mare. What Atlantic Jewel did to win at Randwick two weeks ago was just so arrogant.
“More Joyous is a super mare but it is unfortunate she is racing in the same era. I still call her a champion but what are the other two – freaks!”
Black Caviar, unbackable favourite at $1.04 to win the $400,000 Robert Sangster Stakes at Morphettville on Saturday, is already regarded as an all-time great. Barring bad luck or unforeseen circumstance, Black Caviar should have nothing more than a working gallop to win a record 20th consecutive race, including her 10th at Group 1 level.
She is widely acknowledged as the world’s best sprinter and her Timeform rating of 136 ranks her equal third highest with Vain on the Australian rankings behind Tulloch (138) and Kingston Town (137).
Ratings guru Gary Crispe said Black Caviar’s Timeform figure also makes her the equal highest-rated filly or mare in Timeform history, alongside Habibti, the superlative British sprinter of the 1980s, and Allez France, the mighty French mare of the 1970s.
It is difficult to imagine Black Caviar, a rising six-year-old, can improve further on her extraordinary performance so far – a point trainer Peter Moody alluded to during a press conference at his Caulfield stables earlier this week.
“I don’t think there is any sign of her coming down the mountain,” Moody said. “Is she going to improve? I don’t know. I think she is going every bit as good as she ever has.
“To suggest improvement would be pretty cocky. I’ve always maintained her five-year-old season would be her peak performance and we are two-thirds of the way through that and she’s going pretty good.”
Crispe conceded Black Caviar may not be able to improve her lofty 136 Timeform rating.
“Black Caviar’s form is fully exposed,” Crispe said.
“She is currently equal top-rated filly or mare in Timeform history which dates back to the late 1940s, so I would think there is not much upside for her rating.”
More Joyous is also a rising six-year-old but she produced a career-best effort last week winning her seventh Group 1, the Doncaster Mile, taking her Timeform rating to 128 – equal fourth among Australasian fillies and mares behind Black Caviar (136), Sunline (129) and Makybe Diva (129).
“Her 128 Timeform rating effort to win the Doncaster was just a pound less than the 129 recorded by Sunline who won the 2002 Doncaster renewal,” Crispe said.
“On the international scene, More Joyous on 128 now rates favourably alongside such great European mares as Goldkova (14 Group 1 wins, Timeform rated 129), Snow Fairy 128 and Immortal Verse 126.”
More Joyous is trying to stretch her brilliance to 2000m against a crack field including Manighar and Americain in the Group 1 $500,000 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Also at Randwick, Atlantic Jewel faces her first weight-for-age test when she contests the Group 1 $400,000 All Aged Stakes (1400m).
Atlantic Jewel is still a three-year-old filly and has raced only six times with her only Group 1 success in the Thousand Guineas – but such is her obvious ability and stunning racetrack performances, she has already earned a 128 Timeform rating, placing her right alongside More Joyous.
Crispe said Atlantic Jewel had achieved better ratings as a three-year-old filly than what Black Caviar and More Joyous achieved at the same stage of their careers.
“Atlantic Jewel earned a Timeform rating of 128 with her breathtaking Wakeful Stakes win, which she won by seven lengths idling to the line,” Crispe said.
“At the conclusion of her three-year-old career Black Caviar had raced just five times, winning two listed races and two Group 2 races, and ended that season with a Timeform rating of 122.
“The great Sunline has raced 13 times for 11 wins as a three-year-old including two Group 1 wins and a Timeform rating of 125, while More Joyous has six wins from nine starts including one Group 1 win and a Timeform rating of 120.”
Atlantic Jewel’s Sapphire Stakes win ignited debate about how good the three-year-old filly is, with suggestions she could be a serious rival to Black Caviar.
Black Caviar, More Joyous and Atlantic Jewel haven’t crossed paths yet, and possibly never will, but what would be the outcome if they ever met in a race?
Form expert Dominic Beirne, using his IWS computer ratings system, had the three champs racing each other over 1400m at weight-for-age with Black Caviar proving too good.
“Black Caviar wins by 1.4 lengths from Atlantic Jewel with More Joyous a further 1.6 lengths away third,” Beirne said.
Crispe took it a set further, setting up a hypothetical contest between the great sprinting females over 1400m at weight-for-age with today’s celebrated trio lining up against Sunline, Dual Choice, Maybe Mahal, Miss Andretti and Emancipation – and the Timeform technology had Black Caviar reigning supreme again.
“Black Caviar defeats Atlantic Jewel by 1.3 lengths,” Crispe said.
“Dual Choice and Sunline could not be separated for third, finishing a length behind, and just in front of More Joyous, Maybe Mahal, Miss Andretti and Emancipation.”
by Buford Balony