Black Caviar, the world’s top-ranked sprinter, extended her perfect record to 22 straight horse-racing victories by winning the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in a photo finish.
Jockey Luke Nolen eased up the six-year-old mare, the overwhelming 1-6 favorite, in the closing moments of the six-furlong (1,200-meter) race. He realized his mistake just in time to get his horse over the finish line in front of French challenger Moonlight Cloud.
“I probably just underestimated the testing track of Ascot,” Nolen said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. “They’re going to talk about my brain fade rather than her fantastic finish. We just got away with it.”
It was Black Caviar’s first overseas race after winning 21 straight in Australia, where her exploits have attracted record crowds and front-page headlines. Her fan base at home is big enough to have justified showing the Diamond Jubilee Stakes live on a giant screen at Federation Square in Melbourne, where the sprinter is trained. The U.K. race started after midnight local time.
The trip to Ascot began June 6 with a 30-hour flight that took her via Singapore and Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. She wore a specially designed compression suit for the journey.
No. 2 Ranking
Ranked as the No. 2 racehorse in the World Thoroughbred Rankings behind specialist miler Frankel, Black Caviar took the lead with about one furlong left and appeared to be running to an easy win.
As Nolen let up, Moonlight Cloud, the 5-1 second favorite, and 40-1 Restiadargent closed furiously on the inside before Black Caviar held on for her 12th Group 1 victory.
“You’ve only got to win by a quarter of an inch,” winning trainer Peter Moody told the BBC. “She’s 22 for 22. It’s never been about margins, never been about dominance.”
The race was the feature of the final day of the Royal Ascot meeting in Berkshire, west of London, and was watched by Queen Elizabeth II, who celebrates her Diamond Jubilee this year. Royal Ascot is Britain’s richest race meet, with prize money totaling 4.5 million pounds ($7 million).