Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Black Caviar: The real queen of horse racing?

By Alysen Miller, CNN
updated 1:49 PM EDT, Thu June 14, 2012
Australian racehorse Black Caviar wears a compression suit as she arrives at Heathrow airport ahead of Royal Ascot. Australian racehorse Black Caviar wears a compression suit as she arrives at Heathrow airport ahead of Royal Ascot.
Australian royalty
VIP treatment
Ascot bound
Media darling
Perfect 21st
  • Black Caviar arrives in England to compete in Royal Ascot next week
  • Set to make English debut run in Diamond Jubilee Stakes on June 23
  • Australian mare has undefeated career statistics of 21 wins from 21 starts
  • Overseas trip has drawn comparisons with Phar Lap

(CNN) -- London is bracing itself for a deluge of sporting egos as the best athletes in the world descend on the British capital for the Olympic Games. But an hour away, in the sleepy town of Newmarket, Suffolk, the biggest diva of all has already landed.

When the best sprinter in the world rolls into town, you would expect a hefty entourage to follow. But even Usain Bolt doesn't come with an official traveling party of 150. However, Jamaica's Olympic champion is not Black Caviar.

Black Caviar is the epitome of a modern sporting superstar: athletic, invincible, marketable. The only thing out of the ordinary about this athlete is that she is a horse.

The world's most popular racehorse has arrived in England to compete at this month's Royal Ascot -- arguably the world's most recognizable race meeting and avidly watched by the Queen of England.

Black Caviar arrives for Royal Ascot
Black Caviar meets the British media
Australian superstar mare Black Caviar will make history if she wins her 20th race in a row at Morphetville on Sunday. Australian superstar mare Black Caviar will make history if she wins her 20th race in a row at Morphetville on Sunday.
Galloping towards 20/20
Australian super mare Black Caviar Australian super mare Black Caviar

The queen of the turf made the long journey off the back of an undefeated career of 21 wins in 21 starts in her native Australia. She has inspired a fanatical following in the sports-mad country, where she has her own Twitter account, Facebook page, blog and shop, where fans can purchase such necessities as Black Caviar's own-brand shampoo (How do you keep your tail so shiny?)

As such, the horse has been accorded VIP status for her first trip away from her home country; most "air stables" (the adapted cargo pallets which routinely transport racehorses around the world) accommodate three animals. Sometimes, just two horses travel together, a sort of equine business class. One horse per stall is considered first class. Black Caviar made the 30-hour journey solo, the only horse on the plane.

Royal approval: Will unbeatable Black Caviar grace Ascot?

Boarding the jet in her now-famous body suit (inspired by the compression suits used by human athletes such as Aussie hurdler Sally Pearson), Black Caviar -- who is affectionately known as "Nelly" -- was accompanied on the flight by her personal track rider and veterinary surgeon to make sure she remained relaxed during transit.

The overseas tour has inevitably drawn comparisons with Phar Lap, the legendary New Zealand-born stayer who became one of the earliest stars of the television age when he traveled to the Americas to seek his fortune after dominating Australian racing in the early 1930s. But even Phar Lap never commanded the frenzied attention that accompanies Black Caviar's every move.

Do racehorses get jet lag?
Phar Lap: Australia's greatest?

When she took her first tentative steps off the Singapore Airlines 747 at Heathrow last week she was probably only dimly aware that she had flown into the biggest media circus the racing world has seen since the days when the Francois Boutin-trained Arazi drew crowds of reporters from both sides of the Atlantic when embarking on his three-year-old campaign in Europe in 1992.

Black Caviar cannot be said to be unaccustomed to the attention; thousands of fans flock to see the wonder mare every time she races, many dressed in her signature salmon and black silks (the distinctive black dots represent the "caviar" in her name).

It's a scene that is likely to be repeated when she makes her English debut in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 23, when a record crowd of 80,000 people is expected to pack the Queen's racecourse.

A sizable Australian contingent will be out in force, but for once it won't be the ubiquitous gold and green colors that accompany Australian athletes of every stripe as they exert their sporting dominance around the world, but salmon and black.

Get ready, Royal Ascot -- the queen of racing is coming to you.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:41 AM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Sculptures in driftwood
You may have heard of Glorious Goodwood, but what about glorious driftwood? Meet the artist turning beach detritus into stunning sculptures.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
He's won six Olympic medals on two legs, but Bode Miller's future will ride on four -- can he replicate his skiing success in the "Sport of Kings"?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
As a jockey, Philip Blacker lived for the thrills and spills of horse racing. As a sculptor, his work captures the horror of World War I.
updated 11:12 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Ever thought zebras couldn't be tamed? Think again. Gary Witheford has a remarkable way with wild animals -- which he proved after a pub boast.
updated 10:35 AM EDT, Thu October 9, 2014
The internet went wild for so-called "horse yoga" -- but there was something deeper going on that reconnects humans with the animal world.
updated 9:23 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
The going is always soft and the only permanent building is a toilet block. It's the antithesis to the pomp of Royal Ascot ... welcome to Irish beach racing.
updated 7:07 AM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Each August, over a thousand tents and hundreds of horses converge on Little Big Horn River in Montana for the Crow Fair and Rodeo.
updated 5:57 AM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
Show me the money! Hollywood star Tom Cruise was a big hit when he visited the Glorious Goodwood festival.
updated 8:41 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Little-known outside the tribes of the Rocky Mountains in the American northwest, Indian Relay is a "magical" horse-racing relay.
updated 9:25 AM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
Now in his 50s, one of the world's most successful jockeys explains why he gave up acting to return to the sport that nearly crippled him.
Winning Post's Francesca Cumani is impressed by the all-round multitasking skills of Ireland's champion trainer Aidan O'Brien.
updated 4:53 AM EDT, Sat June 7, 2014
 An infrared camera was used to create this image.) A horse and exercise rider head to the main track for morning training at Belmont Park on June 4, 2014 in Elmont, New York.
More people have walked on the moon than have won the fabled Triple Crown of U.S. horse racing. California Chrome is seeking to square that score.
updated 7:37 AM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
A long history of controversy made him the "enfant terrible" of horse racing, but veteran jockey Kieren Fallon is looking for redemption.