06/21/2012 3:22PM

Royal Ascot: Black Caviar on edge for Diamond Jubilee


Frankel held up his end of the bargain, delivering a sensational win in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes on opening day of the Royal Ascot meet. Now it is Black Caviar’s turn, as the second international racing superstar to grace the Ascot meeting takes to the track in the closing-day Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday.

Both horses are unbeaten, both have proven dauntingly superior to anything that has challenged them throughout their respective careers, and both were expected to score handy victories at Ascot. But Black Caviar actually finds herself in a much more demanding spot than Frankel did. England-based Frankel was racing virtually in his own backyard in the Queen Anne, running over a course where he had twice won before. Black Caviar, on the other hand, had to travel halfway round the world to reach an unfamiliar climate while racing over unfamiliar course conditions.

Moreover, Frankel had a pacemaker, Bullet Train, while facing only eight foes in the Queen Anne, a one-mile race with plenty of time for Frankel to sort himself out. Black Caviar has 14 rivals (the largest number she’s faced in a single race) going just six furlongs in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee, and she will be asked to race for the first time in her 21-for-21 career over turf that will be soft and laboring. To top things off, Black Caviar drew post 15 for the Diamond Jubilee, though the draw might not have a great negative impact since the race is run down a straight course and Black Caviar possesses tremendous tactical speed.

Her trainer, Peter Moody, expressed no concern Thursday over the post position or the expected course conditions, saying that Black Caviar had worked on heavy ground several times in her career and had shown no distaste for it. Moody has reason to remain confident: Black Caviar has won all but one of her races in the clear, and never seems to have been asked for her best by regular rider Luke Nolen. Moody, in fact, proclaimed Black Caviar the fittest she’s been in two years going into Saturday’s race.

Her opposition includes the best two sprinters to winter this season in Dubai, Krypton Factor and Hitchens, but the main challenge could come from Society Rock, who won the 2011 Diamond (then Golden) Jubilee – albeit an edition of the race that lacked anything like a Black Caviar.

Colour Vision takes Gold Cup

In action on a rainy Thursday at Ascot, Colour Vision led a one-two Godolphin finish in the Group 1 Gold Cup, where Fame and Glory, the defending champion and race favorite, toiled home seventh.

Colour Vision, ridden to victory by Frankie Dettori, was always prominent in the two and one-half mile stayers’ race, and battled for the lead with his stablemate, Opinion Poll, through the final furlong. The two horses bumped about 150 meters from the finish, occasioning a stewards’ inquiry, but Colour Vision’s half-length victory was upheld.

In the Group 2 Ribblesdale for 3-year-old fillies, Irish invader Princess Highway scored a smashing win, beating well regarded The Fugue by six lengths.

Frankel rated at 140

England’s national handicapper has rated Frankel at 140 following his 11-length win in the Queen Anne, making Frankel the highest-rated horse in England since Dancing Brave, who was rated 141 when he was retired in 1986.