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It’s closer to midnight than midday when Peter Moody begins the daily ritual of the racehorse trainer.

A coffee, a smoke, a warm jacket and out into the stable yard to check on the horses.

It’s difficult enough at any time dealing with animals worth millions who are liable to have caused themselves all sorts of injuries during the night.

But for the past couple of years Moody has had Black Caviar, the horse of his lifetime, and maybe everyone else’s, in his stable.

And as he approaches her box each morning he admits he holds his breath.

“You worry about all of them,” Moody says.

“You know what can happen, they can get down in their box, or knock themselves, or pick up a cough or a cold.”

But he knows that slow horses can walk away from train wrecks. Good ones get a sniffle or step on a stone, and never run again.

Moody also knows that things can go wrong because they already have.

Black Caviar has a perfect 14-from-14 racing record, but it might have been even more impressive had she not broken down early last year when her unbeaten winning streak had just begun.

“That was gut-wrenching,” the trainer said.

At the time, Black Caviar had won her first five races and was favourite for the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley, the scene on Saturday of her attempt to extend her unbeaten run in the Schweppes Stakes (1200m).

The injury was a strained suspensory ligament in her off-foreleg, one of the most common in horseracing and one which is even more common in horses like Black Caviar.

One of the reasons the champion mare is so good is because she is so big. And when a horse is as big as she is, almost 560kg, they put enormous strain on front legs that are a fundamental flaw in the construction of thoroughbred horses.

“There was no hole in the suspensory which we are grateful for, but they can be tricky things so we don’t take any risks with her,” Moody said.

The suspicion about Black Caviar’s legs and the strain they are under is one reason why Moody and her owners ended her Brisbane winter campaign after she won the BTC Cup at Doomben in May.

This time though, there’s no problem, and another day in the life of Black Caviar, and the team that looks after her, gets underway while sensible people sleep.

Her devoted companion Donna Fisher brushes her, pulls a few strands of straw from her tail and gets her ready for the saddle and bridle.

Her jockey Luke Nolen is legged up and the mare who has the build of Serena Williams and moves with the grace of Evonne Goolagong is led away into the darkness.

She clip-clops along the lane behind the stables and is on the track by 4.15am.

Moody likes to give Black Caviar first use of the track before any lesser horse has pulled a clod of earth out of the ground and left a hole his mare might put her foot in.

For the best sprinting thoroughbred in the world her workout is the equivalent of a brisk walk to the shops.

“She can run the best time of the morning without trying,” Moody said.

“I just wanted Luke to get her heart rate up and make her do a little bit.”

No-one is under any misapprehension that Black Caviar won’t add the Schweppes (formerly the Moir Stakes) to her record on Saturday. She only has four opponents.

But Moody is grateful that they’re not comparing her to Phar Lap, like they did before her last start.

This time it’s the performances of the slightly-less iconic champions, Bernborough and Carbine, who put together 15 successive wins, that are being lined up against the mare.

To Moody, counting is for clerks, and he wishes comparisons weren’t made.

He doesn’t hide the fact that he finds all the attention tedious and often annoying.

But he’s hoping it doesn’t stop for the next year or so.

“It’s a pain in the arse,” he says.

“But I’m glad it’s my arse.”

AAP TURF

 
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