DANIEL SANKEY June 20, 2012
Black Caviar, ridden by Paddy Bell, canters in preparation for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. Photo: AP
English bookmakers have reacted sharply to Ortensia's unplaced effort in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot last night - and Black Caviar fans are reaping the benefits.
Ortensia started a $5.50 equal favourite for the 1000m Group 1 dash, but sweated up before the race and was unable to produce her customary finishing burst on a soft track, eventually finishing midfield behind Little Bridge (ridden by Australian jockey Zac Purton).
As a result, English bookmakers have let the unbeaten Black Caviar drift to $1.30 (from $1.25) for Sunday's Diamond Jubilee Stakes - a price that leading Australian bookmaker Alan Eskander, of Betstar, described as "outrageous".
Eskander, currently in England, attended yesterday's first day of racing at the Royal Ascot carnival and will again don the top hat and tails to cheer on Black Caviar on Saturday (12.45am Sunday AEST).
"The market was pretty much solid at $1.25 before today, but Ortensia's failure at Ascot here has given the local bookies and the local press some confidence to take on Black Caviar," Eskander said.
"Maybe they're trying to draw a line through the Australian sprinters and trying to think they're not as strong as they originally thought they were. But I think trying to compare Ortensia and Black Caviar is chalk and cheese.
"I think the formlines that they're trying to draw are completely flawed. If you've got a price of $1.25 or better on Black Caviar, it's just outrageous."
Eskander said he bumped into Black Caviar's trainer, Peter Moody, yesterday, with the trainer reporting all was well with five-year-old daughter of Bel Esprit.
"I bumped into Peter today - he said the horse has travelled beautifully, he couldn't be happier with her. She's settled in really well, acclimatised really well and the horse is in flying form."
All of which, Eskander believes, points to yet another dominant victory for Black Caviar, who is aiming to chalk up her 22nd consecutive career victory in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m).
"I think that if you watch the races in Australia, I think it'll be much the same. The quality of the field is much the same - if anything, you could argue that the quality of the fields she's tackled in Australia were slightly better.
"So as a consequence, I think she'll win pretty comfortably. They won't hold anything back in this race and as a consequence I wouldn't be surprised to see her win by four, five or six lengths."
Eskander said one Betstar client would be cheering on Black Caviar more than most, having outlaid $50,000 on a double of Frankel winning the Queen Anne Stakes, into Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee.
The punter's first leg was a breeze last night, with Frankel - the world's top-rated racehorse - destroying his rivals by 11 lengths after starting at a price of $1.10.
It was Frankel's 11th win from 11 starts, and will more than likely lift even further his already amazing rating of 143. Black Caviar, at 136, is rated the second-best horse in the world.
Eskander admitted it was awe-inspiring to watch Frankel demolish top quality opposition at a venue that "needs to be seen to be believed".
"It was just breathtaking. You walk in and you see this impeccable mounting yard, people all around it - just a beautiful place to view horses before they go out to the track," he said.
"The grandstand is exactly that - it's a grandstand in its stature and its size and its ability to hold the people and look over the racetrack. Then you've got this straight that's a mile long, so to be able to see Frankel run down the straight over a mile is something that I've never witnessed before and just thoroughly enjoyed."