Archive for the ‘Horse Racing’ Category

Black Caviar: A horse

Australia went into a week of mourning on Wednesday as the greatest champion of our proud nation called it a day. She was the most elite of athletes, the one thing that all Australians could be proud of (and in no way is it demeaning to call her a thing, I simply don’t know what other label to use). She was a true Australian, a great leader, and she loved to eat grass.

She was Black Caviar.

Strange, isn’t it, how a horse can have such a profound impact on the lives of so many? There were tears in the eye of hard-nosed trainer Peter Moody as he made the announcement that we would never see the wonder mare known as Nelly run again. Owner Neil Werrett had similarly leaky ducts as he rasped and gurgled his way through the press conference that stopped a nation. Or did it stop the world? With all these pundits around, it’s hard to tell what’s gross exaggeration and what’s just insulting to my intelligence.

It was also clear to all who were at the press conference, and the millions watching this momentous announcement on television, that the great champion herself was sad. Yes, Black Caviar was sad. Never again would she have the honour of running a 1400 metre circle at a gallop. Never again would she eclipse some other horsies who may or may not be good horsies on her way to another million dollar pay day. Never again would she have a dude called Luke ride her wearing the famous salmon and black.

So while Black Caviar cried, salmon worldwide breathed a sigh of relief.

But as you may already be aware, that bit about Black Caviar crying was made up. By me, just now. For not only was she not in camera shot when all this tearing up was going on, but she was probably as happy as ever with her predicament. She was most likely eating hay, or trotting around her stables, flashing anyone that cared to look, for horses don’t wear clothes, you see?

Whatever she was doing, she was none the wiser that she is going to spend the rest of her days being paired up with the finest stallions in the racing biz. Black Caviar will live the horse’s equivalent of the academic life: eating hay, having sex and reading up on her Rousseau.

These things are trappings that humans will provide her with, assuming that this is what a horsey ‘good life’ (in a deeply philosophical sense) looks like.

So while Black Caviar trotted her way around her stable, dozens, maybe hundreds, maybe even thousands of people around Australia cried because she would never gallop on a track again.

But can we just take a step back from this completely bizarre microcosm that we’ve constructed for ourselves around a horse, and I’ll repeat that bit, a horse, and remember that Black Caviar is a horse!

Does anyone else find it odd that we worship her as one of the best athletes in Australia? Or that we talk about the way she has touched the lives of all those who’ve seen her? Is all of this really the case?

Now I’m no horse fancier, and I realise there are people out there who like feeling them up and looking them and down and what have you, but can we stop with the personification and hyperbole about what Black Caviar is?

If you asked Black Caviar what she thought she was, I doubt you would get much of a response at all. Maybe a neigh, possibly some spittle on your face (that’s Black Caviar’s spittle you know, you should rub it in for good luck). Interpret that how you like. And unlike these horse whisperers who think they can interpret her spittle and regurgitated oatmeal patterns as some kind of horsey oracle, I pronounce no such arcane skill on my part. I only speak as a person who realises that Black Caviar is a horse and not Nelson Mandela.

She’s not an inspiration. She’s not a leader. She’s not the best thing to happen to Australia since Phar Lap. She’s not an Australian hero. Neither’s Phar Lap. Neither’s Makybe Diva.

Do you know what they are? They’re horses.

Good horses, I agree. Amazing horse-athletes, or whatever you want to call them; yeah, absolutely. But they’re horses! Horses that have been exposed to a program of eugenics for longer than any of us have been alive. They’ve been bred to run, and if they don’t run they’re not worth a cent. If Black Caviar had broken her leg in her first race she would have been taken out the back and shot.

I could go on a tangent now about the horse industry. I could talk about ethics, and gambling and all that, but I won’t.

I’m just saying that all this lamenting, professing and gesticulating about Black Caviar weirds me out.

It’s a horse.

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair