A handful of lucky onlookers at Tuesday's Sandown barrier trials left the track with smiles from ear to ear after a surprise appearance from world champion sprinter Black Caviar as the unbeaten mare draws closer to her racetrack return and a final campaign.
She had a jump-out over 800 metres at Sandown with long-time partner Luke Nolen in the saddle, and thrilled those lucky enough to witness her prove that neither injury nor the rigours of last year's campaign had slowed her stunning speed.
Nolen was unsurprised following the workout, despite a sizzling time of 45.58 seconds, and said Black Caviar was exactly where trainer Peter Moody would want with four weeks to go until a first-up run in the Lightning Stakes over 1000m at Flemington.
"She felt pretty good to me," Nolen said. "She probably needs one more serious gallop and that's all, she's pretty close."
Although the identities of her eight rivals were unknown to many - it was an unofficial jump-out program held by the Melbourne Racing Club - Black Caviar seemed as powerful as ever as she effortlessly cruised away from the field as Nolen sat motionless for the final 200m.
And any mention of Black Caviar's supposed battle with the bulge was quickly dismissed following the gallop, as Nolen put some perspective on reports she had stacked on the kilograms during a recent spell.
"That fat talk is in reference to her weight in England when she was at her lowest weight ever, she came back heavier than that weight but she had to. Her normal racing weight is around 585 kilograms and she's not far off that now," he said.
Black Caviar's farewell campaign is expected to take in feature sprints in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane - Moody's home state - during the next five months.
- Sydney Morning Herald