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Kiwi twist to Black Caviar tale

To say Black Caviar’s heart-stopping victory at Royal Ascot has been well documented would be something of an understatement. Not least, of course, jockey Luke Nolen’s actions in the shadows of the post.

It was, therefore, fascinating to read an email from an old Kiwi mate highlighting eerie similarities with New Zealand Hall of Famer Mainbrace – winner of 17 straight in the late 1940s-early ’50s.

“Although Wikipedia says Mainbrace won 23 of his 25 starts, and ran 2nd in the other two, the biography of Grenville Hughes, regarded as one of NZ’s best jockeys, ‘Grenville’ by Jim Knight, says that Mainbrace ran 3rd at his debut,’’ he wrote.

“He had 24 more starts, all ridden by Grenville Hughes, and won 23 of them.

“In 1950, on the final day of the Auckland Cup meeting, Mainbrace won the Royal Stakes over 6 furlongs, by a head. Here’s an extract from that biography:

‘‘‘He should have won more decisively. Hughes dropped his hands inside the final furlong when Mainbrace seemed to have his opposition under control. ‘To my dismay,’ Hughes recalled, ‘Correspond flashed up on the inside and all but caught me. It gave me the fright of my life. I had time to give Mainbrace only one kick and one hit with the stick to get him going again. I’d never have forgiven myself had I been beaten’.”

Fair to assume, I guess, that Luke Nolen hadn’t read ‘Grenville’.

— Peter Thomson




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