And in this Budding Champions instalment, we talk to a man with more than his part to play - as well as an exclusive look at a magnificent new painting of the champ.By Alan McLean
Like all elite athletes, thoroughbred horses are prone to injury. Whether budding champions or the world’s best, horses are susceptible to bruises, muscle issues, tendon problems and weaknesses to hocks, knees, hooves and fetlocks.
Sometimes horses have hind legs stripped when galloped on by other horses, in races, in training or even when being frisky in a paddock. Others are plagued by chronic hoof problems.
Former Nagambie and now Murchison man Peter Clarke has an enviable reputation for repairing the delicate and the wounded. Viewers of ABC television’s Australian Story on Black Caviar may recall reference to Clarke’s care of the mighty mare.
To be fair, that reference could well have been the lead angle in the programme, so much time did the champion mare spend at the Murchison property during her unbeaten 25-win career.
Black Caviar first won at Flemington in April 2009, following up with a second win in May at Caulfield. Some of the following 16 weeks were spent with Clarke, his wife Margaret and their daughters Ally and Kendall.
Stresses and strains associated with wins in August and September prompted another 20 weeks off, much of it at Murchison.
She won again at Moonee Valley in January 2010 before another 31-week holiday. This pattern was repeated throughout her career. Her busiest phase was four races between February and April of 2011.
During the careful management process, I watched Clarke in action on several occasions. He was able to identify ‘‘some bruising here, a muscle weakness there, some heat in that joint’’, running his hands over the mare. His treatments included a special handheld percussion machine designed to relax muscles and stimulate circulation, rather like the popular vibrating massage chairs used by humans.
Black Caviar also had daily sessions in a ‘‘water-walker’’, the name given to a circular pool in which a horse is partly immersed to complete 10 or 12 minutes on a sand base, pushing through the metre-deep water, meeting water pressure and resistance, but with the natural buoyancy taking weight off the horse’s legs.
Australian Story highlighted her paddock companion, a rather whiffy Billy the Goat, a Clarke family pet. While Billy may have assisted Black Caviar’s piece of mind, it is not suggested that he contributed anything further to her rehabilitation.
‘‘He made a very noisy fuss the day the mare left our farm for the final time,’’ Clarke said this week.
‘‘It may sound weird but I reckon he knew.’’
Clarke regularly has about 30 horses in residence for leading trainers such as Peter Moody, Luke Oliver, Colin Little, John and Gerard Moloney. All are receiving individual attention for a range of weaknesses and injuries, in peaceful green paddocks of the former dairy farm known as Willowood.
Clarke’s ability first came to prominence associated with Thin and Crispy’s win in the 2006 Seymour Cup. Thin and Crispy was a delicate and troubled horse which spent long periods away from the racetrack recovering from injury. Trainers from around Australia made contact to learn how Clarke had restored the gelding after his Cup win. Black Caviar’s trainer Peter Moody was one such caller.
‘‘We will always be fond of Black Caviar, who we call Princess,’’ Clarke said.
‘‘She was a pleasure to work with and her easy-going nature helped her cope with round-the-world flights which got her to and from the Diamond Jubilee race at Royal Ascot in June 2012.
‘‘All visiting horses get equal care and attention here, but I admit that Princess generally was given the paddock closest to the house, for obvious reasons,’’ he laughed.
‘‘She was never far out of our line of vision And why not? Though you and I have only read about the media and public interest in Phar Lap 80-odd years ago, Black Caviar is the horse which has come closest to becoming an Australian favourite in the fashion of Phar Lap.’’
Whatever the Black Caviar statue ultimately looks like it will have to be good to be better than this magnificent painting of the mighty mare pictured with Peter and Margaret Clarke, who commissioned it. Entitled Black Caviar - Our Princess, it was done by renowned equine artist Lyn Beaumont based on a photo taken at the Clarke's Murchison property by equally-renowned photographer Bronwyn Healy.
The mighty mare Black Caviar is only interested in the food in Peter Clarke's pocket as he talks to Alan McLean in a photo taken in November 2012.
Showing a bit of leg - the Black Caviar statue is unloaded at Jacobsons Outlook, Nagambie, on Monday. It will be kept under wraps until tomorrow's launch.
A car was stolen from the Chemist Warehouse carpark in Shepparton on Saturday while the owner was shopping for Christmas presents.
After a tennis career spanning 62 years, of which the last 35 years have been as a coach, Yarrawonga's Jon Coleman is set to retire at the end of 2013.
The recent Kyabram Master Pairs, played over six days with crack sides from near and far, attracted some talented bowlers eager to win the prestige event.
'Suttonsville', a minitature version of Echuca-Moama made out of gingerbread at Moama's Sutton Bakery, has a growing number of admirers.
Three Goornong Fire Brigade firefighters recently completed a CFA course on safety surrounding urban firefighting and using breathing apparatuses.
Kyabram Lawn Tennis Club’s annual junior singles tournament again attracted good numbers from across the district.
But have opponents given up the fight?
Tocumwal Pre-School students are proudly flying their KITE at the Tocumwal Lions Community Hostel.
Tooborac Fire Brigade visited Tooborac Primary School last Tuesday to help the school complete its bushfire emergency management plan.
Residents urged to renew fruit fly baits to support local orchards.
A Korean company has a proposal with the NSW Government to built a $90 million ethanol plant in Deniliquin.
SPC Ardmona, is sending eight containers loaded with $250,000 of fruit and vegetables to cyclone ravaged Philippines.
The hunt is on for a buyer for Benalla and Mansfield Toyota after the business went into receivership last fortnight.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.