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Clash between Australian sprint sensations still on the cards
Not only Australia, but the whole racing world, has its fingers crossed that the other outstanding antipodean sprinter Ortensia in the Grade 1 Lightning Stakes at Flemington will face the sensational Black Caviar on February 16.

Black Caviar, who is unbeaten in a remarkable 22 career starts, hasn’t been seen in action since just lasting home at Royal Ascot in June in a pulsating renewal of the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes. The presence of the darling of Australian racing created a press frenzy at the normally refined Berkshire meeting as the daughter of Bel Esprit was sent off at the prohibitive English horse racing odds of 1/6 with operators such as Titan Bet.

But after appearing to have everything go to plan as she swept through into the lead a furlong from home, Black Caviar’s regular partner Luke Nolen seemed to ease off in the last 50 yards and was very nearly caught on the line by the flying French filly Moonlight Cloud, eventually holding on in photo to score by just a head.

Many people expected trainer Peter Moody to retire the great mare after that, but after giving the matter a great deal of thought he has persuaded connections to keep her in training and her first task may well be to lower the colours of Ortensia, who also made a big name for herself last season.

Trained by Paul Messara, Ortensia travelled to Dubai last March and got the better of Sole Power in the Grade 1 Al Quoz Sprint before taking time to acclimatize to British racing last summer when beaten on her first two starts. She came good with a vengeance though in landing the Group 2 King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, then came with a flying late burst under William Buick to beat Europe’s best in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes, defeating Spirit Quartz by a neck.

The prospect of Black Caviar and Ortensia in the same race at this stage of their careers seems sure to put thousands on the gate at Flemington.
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