Did everyone else see Black Caviar curtsey for the Queen last weekend?
That was probably the best way to describe the undefeated Australian galloper's 22nd career victory in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
With exception to the light-hearted question above, which ran alongside a cartoon in one of the Australian newspapers, the mighty mare and jockey Luke Nolen have received more criticism than praise for their win in front of the Queen. Both horse and rider seemed below their best in their first international foray, with Nolen easing her before the winning post, almost costing her victory.
From the Gold Coast casino where I watched it, groans of anguish turned to shouts of relief when replays confirmed she had held on by half-a-head, despite Nolen's apprentice-calibre error in not letting her finish off her run.
Sadly, the historic victory, which arguably secured the Peter Moody-trained mare the title of best sprinter in the world, has been overshadowed by the media focusing on what went wrong instead of what went right.
Allegations of poor preparation, injury, complacency and arrogance should have been swept aside by the fact that the horse did the only thing that mattered – win.
Almost a week has passed and Nolen is still defending his ride.
Instead of celebrating the achievements of a once-in-a-century horse, and the fact they got to witness it, the Australian media have chosen to be negative.
Nolen admitted his ride was poor and that Black Caviar did not seem herself in the minutes before the race but that has not eased the scrutiny he has faced.
Winning when you are not at your best is what defines a champion. Horses have run more tactically sound races and lost. Like New Zealand with the All Blacks, Australia expected the perfect win.
However, like we found out in last year's Rugby World Cup final, sometimes a scrappy win is better than no win at all.
- © Fairfax NZ News