Trainer Peter Moody says Black Caviar may have been scratched from the Schweppes Stakes at Moonee Valley had stewards not taken the unprecedented step to alter the barrier draw.
Barrier rogue Here De Angels drew the outside of the five-horse field in Saturday’s Group Two 1200-metre sprint but will now start in barrier six with an empty gate between him and Black Caviar in barrier four.
Moody said that after acceptances on Wednesday he expressed concerns to chief steward Terry bailey about Here De Angels being drawn alongside the unbeaten champion, but did not ask him to reallocate barriers.
“I didn’t make any request for my horse to be loaded last or anything,” Moody told Radio Sport National.
Moody said he was so concerned that Here De Angels may have harmed Black Caviar that he was prepared not to run her.
“I certainly didn’t threaten to, but I would have suggested to my owners that I would have had grave concerns about running the mare if she was in a barrier next to him,” Moody said.
“I would have left the decision solely to them whether the mare took her place in the race but my recommendation would have been that I would not have been prepared to take the risk for $180,000 (first prize).”
Here De Angels has twice been banned because of bad barrier manners and Moody last Saturday watched him on television being fractious in the gates and missing the start in Sydney.
Black Caviar is $1.04 with TAB Sportsbet to remain unbeaten and post her 15th career win on Saturday.
Moody said Bailey offered to speak to connections of Here De Angels with a view to move a stall out.
“I gratefully took that on board and I congratulate him on being proactive on doing that,” Moody said.
He said Here De Angels had a long history of barrier problems and he would have had the same concerns for any of his horses drawn alongside him.
“He has been through two of the best stables in the land in that of Lee Freedman and Mark Kavanagh and they couldn’t overcome his problems,” Moody said.
Moody said he was sympathetic to Goulburn trainer Wendy Roche who is the latest to take on the eight-year-old who has won 11 of his 34 starts.
“I have had barrier rogues too and there is nothing more annoying and plays on a trainer’s mind,” Moody said.
“I congratulate Ms Roche if she has overcome his problems and I hope he jumps three lengths in front and doesn’t turn a hair for their sake.”
However everything points to Black Caviar winning again after training on impressively from her first-up success in the Group Two Schillaci Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield two weeks ago.
“She is going into it in great shape on Saturday but I think she is still open to a little bit more improvement with one or two more runs this campaign,” Moody said.
Moody also has Doubtful Jack in the race and, while he is hopeful he will be competitive, he isn’t expecting him to upset his stablemate.
“She will pull him inside out,” Moody said.