Seventeen straight for Caviar

Black Caviar extended her unbeaten run to 17 claiming her second Australia Stakes.

World champion sprinter Black Caviar did not let her army of fans down at Moonee Valley tonight when she stretched her amazing winning streak to 17.

With crowds reminiscent of a Cox Plate Day wildly cheering her on, racing’s pin-up girl was untroubled to secure her second Group 2 $200,000 Essendon Mazda Australia Stakes (1200m).

The 2010 Australia Stakes winner, who was sent out a prohibitive $1.05 favourite, coasted to a four-and-a-quarter length victory over five rivals to maintain her record unbeaten run.

Despite jockey Luke Nolen barely releasing the brakes the five-year-old went within 0.11 seconds of claiming another Australian Horse of the Year, Miss Andretti’s, track record.

It was the perfect start to a year that will see Peter Moody’s mare enter unchartered waters with her first appearances beyond 1200 metres and her first foray onto the world stage.

“Hopefully it’s the start of a wonderful six months,” a relieved Moody said alluding to a campaign targeted at the UK’s famous Royal Ascot meeting in June.

“It’s just wonderful to see her back in great shape. She’s really pleased us at home and it’s great to see that come to the races.”

Nolen parked the champion mare third behind eventual placegetters Zedi Knight and Doubtful Jack before easing her around the leaders at the 400 metres before cruising to victory.

“It wasn’t the strongest competition she’s met, but she relaxed nicely off an even speed and towed up nicely before the Tabaret (400m mark),” he said.

“I just gave her a squeeze because there was a bit going on here tonight, I didn’t get complacent, just to make sure she took full benefit of the gallop.

“I’m not going to say she’s better than what she was, but she didn’t have to improve,” he added.

“Physically she’s a bit more mature now, she felt great underneath me and I felt off the back today there’s improvement in here.”

She’ll now face a new challenge when she steps up to 1400 metres for the first time in the Group 1 Sportingbet Orr Stakes at Caulfield on 11 February, but Moody and Nolen hold little fears about the rise in distance.

Talk naturally turned to her international plans after the win, but Moody was reluctant to look beyond her next two starts at Caulfield in a fortnight and again over 1400 metres on 25 February.

Victoria’s premier trainer drew inspiration from legendary AFL coach Kevin Sheedy, who raced Black Caviar’s sire Bel Esprit, when he told the media throng that he’ll take it “one match at a time”.

A humbled Moody again said he was proud to be a part of Black Caviar’s fairytale journey.

“She’s just terrific for our sport. We know Melbourne is probably the greatest sporting city in the world, but to see people turning up and enjoying the evening like this is just tremendous,” he said.

“We’re usually getting a kicking if we’re on the front page of the newspaper. This filly puts us on the front page for the right reasons and it’s just great to be a part of.”

Black Caviar’s victory saw her join 1950s New Zealand star Mainbrace and modern day Hong Kong hero Silent Witness on 17 consecutive wins.

When she ventures to Caulfield for the Orr Stakes she’ll be striving to join 1940s Australian great Ajax on 18 straight wins.

FIRST COMMAND ALL CLASS IN KENSINGTON STAKES

First Command will head to the Rubiton Stakes and could have a crack at the Oakleigh Plate after a solid win in today’s listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) at Flemington.

Positioned off the hot speed for much of the race, First Command quickened nicely when asked by Steven Arnold to hit the front and then held out his rivals for a strong win.

The win was the fourth in stakes class for the classy Commands gelding who is now prepared by Anthony Freedman.

First Command was previously trained by Anthony’s Hall of Fame brother Lee – the man who purchased the outstanding sprinter for $170,000 from the 2007 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

With 10 wins and six minor placings on his record from just 24 runs, First Command has earned over $736,000.

“We won’t go over the tip with him,” Freedman said.

“1200 metres might stop him now, so 1000 metres to 1100 metres, we’ll tick along around there and he’ll keep winning hopefully.”

“The 1000 metres today was perfect, 1100 will be perfect but the Newmarket (over 1200 metres) will be pretty hard for him now having had a wind op.”

“I’m keen on putting them where they can win – not getting ahead of myself.”

“There are some other nice races around – I will just look at those races off the top – perhaps the Rubiton Stakes next for him,” Freedman added.

A son of leading Darley sire Commands, First Command is one of two group winners produced by his dam, the Hurricane Sky mare River Serenade.

A winner over 1000 metres and full sister to the Group One winner River Dove, River Serenade is also the dam of the star Hong Kong sprinter One World – a winner of eight races and over A$2.26 million.

PUNCH ON WINS GUINEAS FIGHT

Local trainer Peter Balzen scored the biggest win of his training career at the Gold Coast today when unheralded filly Punch On won the $1 million Gold Coast Magic Millions 3YO Guineas (1400m).

Perfectly ridden by Paul Hammersley, Punch On came with a perfectly timed run to nab fellow local Easy Running and win by a nose.

Happy Hussy was a further length and a quarter back in third place.

“I didn’t want to come down until the number went in the frame,” Balzen said. “It was a very close finish.”

“I was very happy with her run – I couldn’t have been any happier with where she was after 100 metres.”

“The luck came our way and she got there – it’s pretty good.”

“Paul (Hammersley) rode her a treat I’m very pleased for both the horse and the rider.”

Connections will resist the temptation of a Sydney autumn campaign with more Queensland riches in mind.

“She will be in the paddock on Monday,” Balzen said. “We’re going to set to her for the Queensland Guineas – it is over 1400 metres and will be right up her alley.”

Balzen said the win was a career highlight – although he has had wins in races including the Tea Rose Stakes, Bernborough Handicap and Gimcrack Stakes.

“It is a great thrill for sure – this is the home track and it (the Guineas) is a big race,” Balzen added.

Punch On is yet another great success story from the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale having been purchased from the Raheen Stud draft for just $16,000 at the 2010 auction. She was sold through the draft of Raheen Stud.

Having started just 12 times, the filly has already earned her connections over $800,000.

Punch On, a daughter of Danehill’s Group One winning son Tiger Hill, is one of four winners from four to race for her dam, the Geiger Counter mare School Blue.

Further back his pedigree takes in high class international gallopers including Bigstone, Little Treasure, Empowering, Beaux Arts and Bon Vent.

DRIEFONTEIN WINS SENSATIONAL MAGIC MILLIONS CLASSIC

Originally second past the past, Driefontein’s record remained unblemished when she was awarded today’s $2 million BMW Magic Millions 2YO Classic after a protest hearing.

Australian racing’s first lady, the Hall of Fame horsewoman Gai Waterhouse, was always going to win Queensland’s richest race having prepared both the first and second runners past the post.

For over 15 minutes history was made when No Looking Back flashed past the post first – the first “winner” of the race at just its second start.

But after a few anxious moments the protest siren sounded and connections were ushered into the stewards room.

“Did you have to stop riding at any stage?” Rawiller asked Berry in the hearing.

“Probably the last 70 metres I had to put the stick away,” Berry answered.

The stewards panel, chaired by Wade Birch, agreed and reversed the placings giving Driefontein the race.

“She probably got a bit lost on the corner but the class horse won on the day,” Berry said

“I had a speak with Gai and it was yes, no, yes, no. It doesnt matter how it happened we got it in the end.”

“It was disappointing having to do it against Nash he’s been a great mate of mine since I’ve been at Gai’s. It’s really hard doing it against him as a good mate,” he added.

The result was yet another feather in the cap for one of the Magic Millions’ biggest fans, Gai Waterhouse.

“Unbelievable that was alot of fun,” Waterhouse exclaimed prior to the protest hearing in the moments after the race.

“Two very well bred horses, one by Redoute’s Choice and one by Fastnet Rock they were literally flying out of the turf.”

“It was fabulous fun I thought I was riding them myself.”

“They’ll both head to the Slipper – they could well be wearing one each – it will be just like Cinderella.”

At the presentation Waterhouse thanked organisers and stable staff for all playing their roles in a memorable day.

“This is what racing is about. These owners around me – you don’t have to have a lot of money to get involved.”

“You couldn’t do this in America or England and certainly not Russia or China – we’re very lucky and this is what it is all about,” she added.

Driefontein is yet another successful syndication product for Star Thoroughbreds’ Denise Martin.

While Martin has syndicated many Group One winners from the Gold Coast sales including Theseo, Danni Martine and Sebring, she was yet to win a BMW Classic.

Driefontein, a $75,000 purchase for team Star from the Widden Stud draft (on behalf of Bylong Park Thoroughbreds), is one of five winners, from five to race for the stakes winning mare Follow Gold.

A winner of two races at two, Follow Gold is a sister to the stakes winner Export Gold – the dam of Asian star Forest Gold.

Driefontein is one of 24 stakes winners for her sire Fastnet Rock – the sire of this week’s Magic Millions Yearling Sale top seller for $960,000.

AUSSIES ROCK THE WORLD RANKINGS

Australian horses have made a huge impact in the latest World Thoroughbred Rankings and in an unprecedented result, Black Caviar, Sepoy and Atlantic Jewel all topped their respective categories.

The number of Australian-bred horses recognised by the International Federation of Horse Authorities continues to grow, with no less than 53 making the 2011 ranking list.

These include 15 Aus-breds trained internationally.

The list includes all horses assigned a rating of 115 or higher and in the latest release, five Aus-breds netted a figure of 120 or better.

“It’s always satisfying to see our horses recognised internationally and clearly we have much to be proud of for our 2011 achievements,” Aushorse Chairman Antony Thompson said.

“We have seen momentum build in recent years with the international handicappers recognising the feats of our horses and the weight of numbers continue to grow. The icing on the cake is to have a swelling number of horses at the top end of the list and to have three horses top their respective categories is a wonderful achievement.”

Black Caviar was afforded an interim rating of 130 after her Newmarket Handicap win under 58kg in blinding time in March but the panel deemed her overall feats were even more meritorious, settling on a final figure of 132.

That puts Black Caviar in a league of her own on three different counts. She is the highest rated sprinter ever (exceeding Oasis Dream’s previous benchmark of 125), the highest rated mare ever (topping Goldikova’s 130) and the highest rated Australian trained horse (eclipsing So You Think’s mark of 126 last year).

Sepoy was assessed at 123, making him the Champion 3YO Sprinter in the World last year.

Atlantic Jewel has been assessed at 121, meaning she is the Champion Filly in the intermediate distance category and shares the title of Champion Filly in the mile category.

Hay List (123) and Whobegotyou (120) also topped the 120 mark.

Australia’s highest ranked overseas trained runner was Rocket Man, at a figure of 125.

“The 2011 World Thoroughbred Rankings again confirmed Australia as a major player in World Racing and are a stunning advertisement for the quality of Australia’s racing and breeding industries,” Australia’s representative on the WTR Committee Greg Carpenter said.

No less than 47 Australian-trained horses made the list this year, up from 43 in 2010.