Thatcher who? Aussies mourn departure of 'other' leading lady

Story highlights

  • Australian super mare Black Caviar retires after undefeated 25 wins
  • Country's political leaders tweet accolades
  • News bulletins lead on the 'Wonder from Down Under' celebrity horse
  • Yet more riches await in new career as a breeding mare, Frankel possible mate

"She has an incredible legacy," Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard tweeted.

The Labor leader wasn't talking about Britain's Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher, whose funeral on Wednesday was dominating headlines around the world -- she was referring to a race horse.

Accolades have been streaming in for Australia's champion mare Black Caviar as the horse was retired after an impressive undefeated 25-win career.

"It's emotional, a lot of people are in shock," co-owner Colin Madden told CNN. "She's a remarkable horse with a remarkable career and it just seemed that the time was right."

"In my lifetime, she's certainly the greatest race horse I've ever seen."

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The six-year-old sprinter, worth almost $8 million in prize money, bowed out after claiming her quarter century victory at Sydney's TJ Smith Stakes on Saturday.

It marks the end of a record-breaking career for the "Wonder from Down Under" who transcended the sports pages to become one of the country's most beloved sporting celebrities.

The super mare wasn't just a powerhouse on the track -- she was a treasured personality who appeared on the cover of Vogue, launched a best-selling biography and was named Sportswoman of the Year by Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

Unsurprisingly, the retirement of the world's top-rated racehorse led news bulletins in Australia, with Gillard tweeting: "We've never seen anything like Black Caviar before and may never again. She has an incredible legacy."

Similarly, Australian Liberal opposition leader Tony Abbott tweeted: "Congratulations Black Caviar. You've done Australia proud, both here and overseas. A remarkable racing career."

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The mare's retirement ensured journalists rushed to the stables of Melbourne trainer Peter Moody.

"At the end of the day we believe she's done everything we've asked her to do and she could possibly have done no more," Moody told the media throng.

"It's a job well done, and something we can all be extremely proud of. She really gave her all and we thought what else can we achieve? She's been a great shining light for racing."

Read: Flying high -- From 'cattle-class' to 'horse-class'

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

The wonder mare, who even has her own Twitter handle, has not just won all 25 of her races -- with the exception of Britain's Royal Ascot she has won them by staggering margins -- destroying world-class fields to become one of the world's top-rated race horses.

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

Read: Upping the stakes -- Royal Ascot offers record $7.5 million prize money

Black Caviar will now enjoy around three weeks to "take it easy," said Madden, before embarking on the next lucrative chapter of her career.

"She'll spend some time in a grass paddock under the sun and the stars," he said. "This is the end of her racing career and the start of her new life as a breeding mare."

"We'll make a decision sometime in the next two months but at this stage it's most likely she'll stay in Australia."

Read: The mating game -- Will Frankel and Black Caviar breed superhorses?

There had been speculation Black Caviar would mate with champion British thoroughbred, Frankel.

The colt, who wrapped up his stellar career in the Champion Stakes at Ascot with an unblemished 14-win record, has now been put out to stud -- with big returns expected for owner Saudi Prince Khalid Abdullah.

Madden didn't rule out the possibility of a "Brangelina" courtship for the racing supercouple, saying "He's an extraordinary horse and it could be a wonderful match -- but nothing's been decided and it's something we're still assessing."

One thing however, is for certain -- in her four-year career the unbeatable horse with a luxury name cemented her place in the record books and the hearts of a nation.

BBC racing journalist Frank Keogh perhaps summed up her appeal best: "Built like a bulldozer, performed like a ballerina - Black Caviar is a racing champion who became a cover star."

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