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Video Courtesy of AtTheRaces.com

Undefeated Australian superstar Black Caviar came to Royal Ascot on Saturday, and as she has done in every one of her previous races, she conquered. The winning margin, however, was far too close for comfort.

Black Caviar took charge with about two furlongs remaining under Luke Nolen and barely held off Moonlight Cloud for a narrow victory in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Eng-G1). It appeared jockey Nolen misjudged the finish line and eased up on the star sprinter, but Black Caviar held on gamely to win by a head and keep her unblemished record intact.

"I underestimated the testing track of Ascot. She'd had enough and that big engine throttled right down,” Nolen told England’s Press Association. "It's unfortunate, because we're going to talk more about my brain failure than the horse's fantastic effort. We won, but it may have overshadowed what was a fantastic effort by the horse. We got away with it."

The Bel Esprit mare extended her unbeaten streak to 22 races in her first career start outside of her native Australia with a frighteningly close call in the six-furlong race. 

Trained by Peter Moody for a partnership, Black Caviar won her 12th–career Group 1 race. But Moody said after the race that there was cause for concern about Black Caviar.

"Black Caviar was not 100% in the race. We'll look at her when we get home and she might be retired," Moody told Racing Post.

Black Caviar appeared to take an awkward step shortly after the finish line and Moody reportedly said she did not pull up well following the victory. He subsequently said he thought the great mare was simply tired and that no injury was apparent.

"Guts, grit and determination got her home," Moody told Racing Post. "She'll be back in quarantine tomorrow and be back in Melbourne in 28 days."

Black Caviar completed six furlongs in 1:14.10. Moonlight Cloud finished second, a neck in front of Restiadargent.

The Royal Ascot meet started with England’s undefeated star Frankel turning in a dazzling performance in the Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-G1) and was bookended by Black Caviar’s victory in her highly anticipated European debut. If, in fact, the Jubilee was Black Caviar's swan song, what a memorable race to cap a brilliant career.



Photo courtesy of HorsePhotos.com

Sea Moon Dominates Strong Hardwicke Cast

Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Sea Moon, runner-up in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), flashed his top form on Saturday at Royal Ascot with a 3 ¼-length romp in the Hardwicke Stakes (Eng-G1).

After winning his 4-year-old debut in what his connections deemed a somewhat disappointing effort — a victory by a head at Goodwood on May 26 in the Tapster Stakes — Sea Moon unfurled an explosive finish kick to overwhelm 11 challengers in the Hardwicke. Jockey Ryan Moore gave the Beat Hollow colt his cue with about three furlongs left in the 1 ½-mile Hardwicke, and Sea Moon shifted gear and roared to the front.

Sea Moon powered free to the visually impressive runaway victory, completing the Hardwicke in 2:29.60 on turf rated as good to soft.

“I was disappointed with his performance at Goodwood, but there was mitigation for it. Today, he settled nicely and picked up so well. I'm thrilled with him,” winning trainer Sir Michael Stoute told England’s Press Association.

“It was tight with two [furlongs] to run at Goodwood. Ryan said he was never going to get beat, but I wasn't so sure. Ryan said he couldn't ride him like that again, he doesn't want to be in front. He will come back here for the King George [VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Eng-G1) on July 21].”

Moore said he was pleased with the progress Sea Moon made from his season debut to the Hardwicke.

“I thought he might have his work cut out but I was delighted with him. He travelled smoothly and picked up real well,” Moore said of Sea Moon, second to St Nicholas Abbey in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf. “He progressed as the season went on last year and hopefully he will again, but this was a very good performance.”

Sea Moon is a three-quarter brother to English classic winner and sire Brian Boru and to Soviet Moon, the dam of Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) winner and champion Workforce.

Runner-up Dunaden finished powerfully but never seriously threatened the victor. Dunaden won a pair of major international races in 2011 — the Melbourne Cup (Aus-G1) and Hong Kong Vase (HK-G1) — and appeared to be rounding back into top form as well in the Hardwicke.

Irish classic-placed Group 2 winner Red Cadeaux, second in the 2011 Melbourne Cup, finished third. Group 2 winner Aiken and Group 1 winner Jakkalberry rounded out the top five in an accomplished 12-horse field.


Courtesy of HorsePhotos.com


Black Caviar Warms up for her European debut with jockey Luke Nolen aboard.


Joy of victory or look of relief from jockey Luke Nolen after the win?


Trainer Peter Moody and jockey Luke Nolen hold up the winner's trophy.

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