- Books, Literature, and Writing
Black Caviar: The Horse of a Lifetime
Review of the Black Caviar book by Gerard Whateley
When the Squidoo Book Club held a quest for a Favorite Biography or Autobiography Book, I considered various statesmen and sportsmen, celebrities and Nobel Prize winners. Then I looked across at my pile of Christmas presents and there was this horse racing book that I had been looking forward to reading. I wondered if the biography of a horse would qualify, but since Black Caviar was named Sportswoman of the Year by Sydney's Daily Telegraph in late December 2012, and has appeared as a covergirl for Vogue then I decided she has the qualifications.This is my review of "Black Caviar: The Horse of a Lifetime" by Gerard Whateley.
Who is Black Caviar?
Black Caviar was foaled on 18 August 2006 and at the start of 2013 had raced 22 times for 22 wins. No other Australian racehorse has had such a long run of wins for over 100 years. Twelve of those wins have been at Group 1 level, which are the most elite races. She has become a national icon and draws massive crowds wherever she races. This girl even has her own website (www.blackcaviar.net.au) and her own range of merchandise. Her biographer Gerard Whately is a multi-award winning journalist who is also a racecaller, and has called 15 of her 22 wins.
Update: In February 2013 she notched up win 23 in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes, winning that race for the third consecutive year and smashing a track record that had stood for 25 years.
Have you heard of Black Caviar before?
Buy Black Caviar on Amazon
This meticulously researched book is almost 400 pages long with a mix of black and white and color photographs. Published in 2012 the book begins with a brief word from the owners (page and a half) and word from the trainer (3 pages). It covers the history of her trainer, Peter Moody, which in itself is a fascinating read, then takes us through the breeding, selling and training of the great mare and takes us through each of her races. It is written with emotion and is a powerful story.
Black Caviar makes it 18 straight - Sportingbet C.F. Orr Stakes
The prelude makes it clear that Whateley is a writer who enjoys his horse racing. Every person in Australia must have heard of Black Caviar and her raceday feats, but he begins with the time before dawn when horses are worked and where she has had some of best gallops with very few to watch. He takes on through the journey Peter Moody took to become a trainer and I was surprised to find he had worked with Australia's best trainers - the legendary TJ Smith, father of Gai Waterhouse, Colin Hayes whose son David now trains and Bart Cummings, who has trained a record number of Melbourne Cup winners.
It moves on to her breeding and the price she fetched at the sales, her owners and the troubles with injuries while trying to get her ready for the races. She won her maiden race with ease and Nelly, as the mare is known around the stables, collected her first prizemoney cheque. But the book isn't just about the horse and a blow-by-blow description of her conquests. It is a woven tale of the people that surround her and touches on international horseracing too, for while Black Caviar was stringing together a record number of wins in Australia, Zenyatta in the USA was doing the same thing. She had 19 straight wins and came from an impossible position to just suffer defeat at start number 20, giving Moody and his mare a scary figure to aim for.
Black Caviar has lethal acceleration and makes other good sprinters look as if they are nailed to the fence when she surges past them. She is a national icon and whenever and wherever she races she brings huge crowds to the racetracks. She won 21 races in a row then travelled to England to compete against the world's best at Royal Ascot. Although she won it was a disappointment to the many Australians who got up in the middle of the (Australian) night, as she looked like a tired horse and lacked her usual brilliant acceleration to only win by a nose. The jockey didn't perform at his best either as having started from the outside barrier he stopped riding when he saw they were clear on the inside and was almost beaten as a horse swooped down the outside. Later on Black Caviar met the Queen and that meeting is beautifully told in the book. We find she had massive injuries after that race and the owners are happy to retire her as she has done everything they ever wanted her to.
As a life-long horse lover I loved the book and there are time I teared-up as it is written with plenty of emotional pull. As 2013 begins there are rumours that the mare's career is not over yet and Black Caviar is being prepared for another season of Australian racing. Having read about the people who take care of her I know she won't be racing again unless she is 100% injury free. I'm hoping she'll run again.
Update: She did and she won!
Black Caviar Wins 22nd race at Royal Ascot 2012
Black Caviar Biography Poll - Should Biographies Always Be About People?
Some people think it strange that Gerard Whateley wrote the biography of a horse. What do you think?
Would you ever read the biography of a non-human?
Looking for more Black Caviar items? - Check these out or use the search box to go straight to Amazon!
Also don't forget there is merchandise at the website www.blackcaviar.net.au