Luke Nolen has cherished memories of his association with Black Caviar and the jockey marvels at the condition of the retired champion almost seven years after her last race.
Nolen has been reunited with the great mare in the past two days, with the now 13-year-old Black Caviar in Melbourne to make a special appearance at Flemington on Saturday at the race day named in her honour.
“Outwardly I’m not a very emotional person but it’s wonderful to see her again. And to see her in such great shape too,” Nolen said.
“She looks like she’s only two weeks off a trial. She might give the Lightning a shake tomorrow if she was in it.”
Black Caviar won the Group One Lightning Stakes three consecutive times from 2011 to 2013 during her unbeaten 25-start career which included victory in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in England among her 15 Group One wins.
The Lightning was renamed to honour the mare before the 2013 edition and is the feature on Saturday’s Flemington program.
Fans will get the chance to see Black Caviar parade in the mounting yard before the Lightning, her first racecourse appearance since April 2013.
The mare was paraded for media on Friday at Flemington and Nolen, who rode her in 22 of her wins, and some of the mare’s owners relived her racing career.
Nolen recalled the “exhilarating” feeling of being aboard Black Caviar in full flight, saying it was a privilege to be part of her career.
“It’s been a long search for another one since, but I had a chance to ride a superstar,” he said.
“She transcended our sport and put us up in lights for the right reasons.”
Part-owner Gary Wilkie does not need reminding how good Black Caviar was on the racetrack but still enjoys reliving those moments.
“I sit back and watch some of the videos when I’m just there at home by myself and I do get a little emotional,” he said.
“It still affects me but it’s just wonderful.”
Black Caviar is not in foal this year which has paved the way for her owners to allow her to travel from the NSW property where she resides to Melbourne for Saturday’s rare public appearance.
Victoria Racing Club chairman Amanda Elliott says having Black Caviar return to Flemington, where she won eight times, is a “golden moment”.