Her owners are being coy on her behalf, with the claims of many other suitors likely to be pressed by the world’s top stud farms. Now that they have retired Black Caviar, however, only one stallion can remotely match her CV as one of the great achievers of the modern Turf. And a foal produced by a tryst between the giant Australian mare and Frankel would surely be one of the most priceless in the 300-year history of their breed.
Each bestrode a hemisphere in an unbeaten career at the highest level. Frankel, saluted in Europe as a champion without precedent after 14 spectacular wins, was retired last October to the same Newmarket stud where he had been foaled, and commands a fee of £125,000 per mare. His owner, Prince Khaled Abdulla, is furnishing him with around 30 mates, and Frankel will also “cover” about 100 others commercially – equating to some £12.5 million from his debut stud season, which started in February.
Black Caviar, meanwhile, reeled off a sequence of 25 wins – including one, last summer, at Royal Ascot. Luke Nolen, her jockey, was so accustomed to cruising home that he came within an ace of wrecking her immaculate record by easing her up. His panic, as he suddenly spotted a rival closing in the final strides, caused pity and amusement but would have become an indelible blot on his career had the photo finish not gone his way. It turned out that she had torn muscles in her back, and the Australians were adamant we had not seen their darling at her best. Certainly Nolen’s lucky escape seemed the least her connections deserved for their adventure, in bringing her halfway round the world. Peter Moody, her trainer, had not hesitated to draw a contrast in the relatively conservative campaigning of Frankel.
It was never practical for the pair to meet on the track. Black Caviar was a sprinter, and Frankel ran over longer distances. But the possibility of a liaison in their new careers had been raised as a feasible sequel to a return to Ascot, either this year or next, as a presumed swansong. Her abrupt retirement made a date with Frankel, 10,000 miles away, a far less practicable privilege.
And the bottom line is that the stakes are probably greater than the odds warrant. For the global breeding industry, which turns over billions every year, both hangs and falls on the fitful reliability of its eugenic principles. Frankel and Black Caviar could achieve a genetic apogee; and they could produce a dud.
Black Caviar’s own mother never raced, injured shortly after being purchased as a yearling. In a game so full of pitfalls and imponderables, even the most phenomenal racing record brings no guarantees. When Frankel’s sire and dam were mated again, they produced a decent but by no means outstanding runner.
Some of the most expensive young horses in history have proved useless. Snaafi Dancer, bought as a yearling for $10.2 million during the reckless bloodstock boom of the 1980s, was described by his trainer as “a nice little horse but unfortunately no bloody good”. He never ran, and an attempt to eke out some return on his golden pedigree took matters to an ignominious nadir when he was tried at stud. He was infertile.