Luke Nolen is grateful to get the chance to set the record straight and rid his mind of the nightmare of almost being beaten on Black Caviar at Royal Ascot last June when the Queen Of The Turf steps out in the Group 1 $500,000 Black Caviar Lightning(1000m) at Flemington tomorrow.
The world’s number one sprinter had just taken her undefeated winning record to twenty-two in a foreign country, beating some of Europe’s best sprinters, but the headlines read that Nolen nearly blew it.
Black Caviar had the Group 1 £500,000 The Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6 furlongs) in her keeping when Nolen dropped his hands close to the finish and the mighty mare started to ease up but was able to hang on to win by the narrowest of margins.
And instead of the headlines being centred on Black Caviar greatest feat, Nolen’s ride was the focus of attention.
“I’ll be honest, the whole experience personally was very tough,” Nolen said.
“I thought there was no bigger talking point than the fact she had travelled half way across the world and had won twenty-two from twenty-two but my ride was the bigger talking point the following day.”
Nolen had always pushed himself into the background of the Black Caviar phenomenon and found it hard to be thrust into the limelight for the wrong reasons.
“I probably had a few sour grapes about it all but that is due to the fact I’ve never let myself become a big part of the story. I’ve been happy to be in the background while she is the star,” Nolen said.
“That was the most disappointing thing for me and that’s the best thing about the fact she is going to have another go.”
Trainer Peter Moody had told Black Caviar’s group of owners that the super sprinter might have run her last race after pulling up with muscle tears and other minor injuries after the tough run down the Royal Ascot straight and Nolen thought that he would never get a chance to end the Black Caviar story the way he wanted to.
Moody has kept a close watch on Black Caviar since she arrived back from England in June and after initially thinking that she had run her last race, was surprised with her recovery and started preparing her for another campaign.
Black Caviar has come through her preparation in great style and looked a million dollars when she galloped in between races at Caulfield two weeks ago.
“She has pleased us the whole way through and that was the reason Pete galloped her publicly on race day to make sure she was the Black Caviar of old with her mannerisms and her attitude in the mounting yard,” Nolen said.
“She has continued to tick every box after that and she is just a very happy horse.”
Nolen has ridden Black Caviar on nineteen occasions while Jarrod Noske rode the mighty mare to win her first two races back in the Autumn of 2009 and Ben Melham filled in once when Nolen was out suspended to win the 2010 Group 1 $750,000 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup carnival.