Dubai Australian superstar Black Caviar looks set to benefit from a touch of UAE hospitality as she prepares to extend her winning streak to 22 races at next week’s Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The outstanding mare transited via Sharjah International Airport on Thursday en route to Newmarket in England, where she will be a guest at the Abington House Stables owned by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.
Black Caviar has become the talk of the racing world following her phenomenal exploits Down Under, but now faces the ultimate test to prove that she is a true international champion.
She is wearing a custom-made lycra compression suit, recommended to her trainer Peter Moody by Australian 100-metre hurdler and current world champion Sally Pearson, who herself is scheduled to travel to Britain for this summer’s Olympic Games.
Horses can lose up to 3kg an hour during a flight, and with Black Caviar having to endure a 30-hour journey from Melbourne to England, the connections of the horse were taking every precaution to safeguard her from dehydration and a potential shipping fever.
“We are much more educated to the dangers and aware of how to prevent horses from becoming vulnerable,” said Peter Webbon, formerly the Jockey Club’s senior vet and now the chief executive of the Animal Health Trust in Australia, in an interview with The Guardian.
“There will always be a significant risk and horses must be monitored very carefully before, during and after such a journey, but the attendants who travel with these horses will be extremely experienced.
“She’s quite susceptible to soft-tissue injuries and muscle tears. The lycra suit is not exactly standard, but neither is it unheard of,” he added. “The idea is that it protects against changes in pressure in the air and any stress-related injury like swollen ankles that might result.”
Once she arrives in Britain today, Black Caviar will be taken straight to Abington Place Stables, which are frequently used by top South African handler Mike de Kock, Shaikh Mohammad’s principal trainer.
She will then be received by the International Racing Bureau’s Adrian Beaumont, who said: “It’s my role to look after all of the horses and connections while they are over here and make sure that everything is the way they want it.
“We started using Abington Place when a horse from Singapore called Bocelli came over [in 2001] for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. Geoff Wragg was training there at the time and he had some isolated boxes which he kindly permitted us to use that allowed direct access from the yard to the Newmarket Heath without having to cross any roads or anything like that.
“The yard is now owned by Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum and used by Mike de Kock, but they have allowed us to continue the arrangement. It’s an ideal place and there is also a treadmill and a covered ride. All of the recent Ascot winners stayed there: Choisir, Scenic Blast, Miss Andretti.”
Black Caviar will have just one gallop at Ascot in the buildup to next Saturday’s race.
“I don’t want to have to train her,” Mood said. “There’ll be no need to do anything major.”
Among her rivals is the second-favourite, Bated Breath; Moonlight Cloud; Hoof It; Society Rock; and Dubai scorer Krypton Factor.
Latest odds: Diamond Jubilee Sprint
At Royal Ascot, June 23
Black Caviar (1/2) , Bated Breath (8) , Moonlight Cloud (12) , Hoof It (14) , Society Rock (16) , Krypton Factor (20) , Sepoy (20) , Mayson (25) , Nephrite (25) , Wizz Kid (25) , Curren Chan (33) , Delegator (33) , Little Bridge (33) , Ortensia (33) , Power (33) , Dubawi Gold (40) , Fire Lily (40) , Pastoral Player (40) , Reply (40) , The Cheka (40) - Others 50 or more