Jockey Luke Nolen (wearing red silks and a black cap) rides Black Caviar to an effortless victory in a trial at Sandown. (Vision: Melbourne Racing Club)
Black Caviar returned to the race track this morning without fanfare or media throng for a preparatory barrier trial at Sandown ahead of her return to competitive racing in February.
The unbeaten world champion sprinter was a surprise nomination for the organised trials conducted by the Melbourne Racing Club, and looked in fantastic shape as she breezed effortlessly over 800m in a sizzling time of 45 seconds with regular race-day jockey Luke Nolen sitting quietly in the saddle as the pair established a six-length margin on their opposition at the finish line.
Regular trial watchers were pleasantly surprised by the famous mare's presence at the trials and took to Twitter to spread the word that the world's best sprinter had graced them with an early unexpected morning appearance.
Black Caviar, a winner of 22 races from 22 starts and almost $7 million in prizemoney, has not raced since scoring a narrow win in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in the UK in June last year. However, that victory came not without some controversy, with Nolen dropping his hands in the closing stages and almost losing the race.
It later emerged that the hulking mare had suffered two muscle tears and sustained severe bruising to her hindquarters during the run, necessitating a lengthy spell.
Black Caviar is expected to kick off her autumn campaign in the race named in her honour — the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes over 1000m — down the Flemington straight on February 16. A start in March 9's Newmarket Stakes at
Flemington, a race which Black Caviar in 2011, could be next on the agenda ... although that will depend on the weight allocated to the mare by handicappers.