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Aussies make Black Caviar pilgrimage to Ascot

By Adam McIlrick, for CNN
June 27, 2012 -- Updated 0822 GMT (1622 HKT)
Australian "supermare" Black Caviar made it 22 wins from 22 races at Royal Ascot on Saturday, but only just. It took a photo finish to seperate Black Caviar and second-placed horse Moonlight Cloud. Australian "supermare" Black Caviar made it 22 wins from 22 races at Royal Ascot on Saturday, but only just. It took a photo finish to seperate Black Caviar and second-placed horse Moonlight Cloud.
Close call
National hero
Royal approval
Peter's pride
  • Black Caviar has won all 22 of the races she has taken part in
  • The Australian "supermare" won the Diamond Jubilee stakes at Royal Ascot
  • A one dollar bet on her last Saturday would have only return a 20 cents profit
  • Black Caviar is a national sensation in her homeland of Australia

(CNN) -- Death, taxes and Black Caviar. Some things in life are just certain.

For the bookmakers, it was not a question of if Black Caviar could win Saturday's Diamond Jubilee stakes at Royal Ascot, it was by how much.

So popular was the mighty mare with punters, a one dollar investment might have earned you 20 cents, providing the bookie was feeling generous.

The Peter Moody-trained sprinter came to England with 21 wins from 21 starts. Race number 22 was Black Caviar's first outside Australia, and thousands traveled with her, invading the typically-British race course.

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Black Caviar's colors of black and salmon pink were worn with pride in frocks, fascinators and ties. Green and gold are Australia's sporting colors of choice but this was the exception, reserved only for an exceptional performer.

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Australian journalist Nat Wallace traveled from Newcastle, New South Wales, to watch Black Caviar sprint to racing royalty.

Wallace, who moonlights as a race-caller and is a thoroughbred owner himself, has followed this story from the time she was a filly and knew exactly what to expect, even if the British did not.

"I've been overhearing people in London streets, in bars, saying how 'the Aussies think they've got this amazing horse' and so I told them, 'we don't think we've got an amazing horse, we know we've got an amazing horse'," said Wallace.

Over confident? Perhaps. Accurate? Definitely. On the back of fantastic form, few surprises were expected but no one anticipated a photo finish. It silenced an otherwise raucous record crowd and, for the moment, history was on hold.

"It was a disappointing finish for Black Caviar," Wallace said after the result was decided by a photo. "She should have won by much more."

It has been revealed a back injury could have slowed the champion mare, but as debate rages over how Black Caviar won, the fact that she did was reward enough for the thousands of ex-pats who had been hearing nothing but great things.

Claire Falconer, a lawyer from Adelaide was among the London-based Aussies watching in the Grandstand. "This is a huge moment ... that's what makes Black Caviar a champion. I'm really glad I'm here to experience it all first hand."

Stephen Pittman, a teacher from the New South Wales Central Coast, says the whole experience was a source of "great national pride."

Now, more than ever before, there is speculation about her future. Will she race again? Will there be another overseas campaign? Questions only the trainer Peter Moody can answer.

The sprinter is now in quarantine, ahead of a marathon trip home, where she returns an internationally-recognized champion.

For the thousands of Australians who watched "The Wonder from Down Under" go round at Royal Ascot, it was not about a financial return.

Black Caviar's crowning glory would be a story to tell the grandchildren, or anyone who will listen. And the bookies cannot put a price on that.

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