Style bible's most controversial model?

Story highlights

  • Vogue Australia features horse on front cover for first time
  • Champion thoroughbred Black Caviar arguably greatest race horse
  • Winning streak and beautiful physique capture nation's imagination
  • Photoshoot in secret location to protect horse worth almost $7m

With her doe eyes, razor-sharp cheek bones, flowing jet black locks and the most talked-about rump in the business, it's no wonder she's on the cover of arguably the world's most prestigious fashion magazine.

But in an unusual twist, the beguiling female bearing all on the front of this month's Vogue isn't a model, actress, or musician. She's not even human.

Instead, the beautiful creature gracing the landmark Australian edition of the magazine is a six-year-old horse called Black Caviar.

Not just any horse, but perhaps the greatest race horse of all time, unbeaten in a staggering 22 consecutive competitions across the globe and worth more than $7 million in prize money.

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Vogue Australia has featured Oscar-winning actresses, princesses and supermodels on its front covers, but now for the first time in the magazine's 53-year history it will be a four-legged beauty looking out from the publication's most important page.

"She's beautiful. And Vogue is about celebrating the beautiful," Vogue Australia editor, Edwina McCann, told CNN.

"What goes on Vogue's cover can create news in itself. It wasn't just that Black Caviar was on the cover of any women's magazine. The endorsement of the Vogue brand is a very big statement."

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Since demolishing the field in her first win in the 2009 Danehill Stakes, an air of mystique has followed the world champion sprinter.

Her unblemished 22-win record is the second highest of all time, only trailing behind Hungarian horse Kincsem, which apparently took 54 races in the late 1800s.

Queen Elizabeth personally congratulated the magnificent mare after her nailbiting win at the prestigious Diamond Jubilee Stakes in July.

It was later revealed the thoroughbred had won the esteemed title with a leg injury -- only adding to her mythical invincibility.

Unsurprisingly, horse racing-mad Australians have taken the champion thoroughbred to their hearts, with diehard Black Caviar fans even traveling to the other side of the world to cheer her on at Britain's Royal Ascot.

"Her allegiance level is phenomenal," Colin Madden, one of Black Caviar's eight owners, said. "She's a powerful horse who just fronts up every time and people really like that consistency."

"I don't know if she'll replace Phar Lap -- the gelding who dominated the Australian racing scene during the Great Depression of the 1930s -- but in the pantheon of equine greats she will stand very tall."

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Vogue had wanted to "celebrate all things Australian" for their December issue, believing Black Caviar vividly embodied the country's unique "fighting spirit."

"Australians are passionate about horse racing. We're the only country in the world that literally stops for a horse race -- the Melbourne Cup," McCann said.

"We love a champion and Black Caviar strives to win even when the chips are down -- those principles are very dear to us."

The photo shoot took place in a secret location in the Dandenong Ranges, just outside of Melbourne.

Australian photographer Benny Horne captured the thoroughbred alongside compatriot model Julia Nobis in a purpose-built outdoor studio.

"Black Caviar definitely realizes when the camera is on her. Her ears go up, she sticks her head out, it's almost like she's posing," McCann said.

"She's such a magnificent-looking animal. Her coat is this extraordinary pitch black, almost like velvet, with this handsomely structured face and that awesome rump that propels her so fast."

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Black Caviar's owners have gone to great lengths to ensure her persona is aligned with sophistication and style.

Everything from her name, to her salmon-colored silks and even her own line of grooming products are modeled on classy femininity.

"Vogue is synonymous with style, glamor, celebrity and exclusivity. That a horse has appeared on the front cover says something about both horse racing and the horse itself," Simon Chadwick, professor of Sport Business Strategy and Marketing at Coventry University, said.

"I think the sports market has now gone beyond simple endorsement," he added. "It's now more a form of strategic collaboration where brands with convergent interests associate themselves with one another."

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It is a momentous cover for the magazine which has largely steered cleared of controversial models.

Among its more historic front pages was the September 1993 issue featuring Elaine George, the magazine's first aboriginal model. However, "This is definitely our most unusual cover," said McCann.

For many aspiring models, gracing the cover of Vogue would be the ultimate elevation to 'It Girl' status. Galling then, that Black Caviar seems to have beaten them to the post yet again.