A grand Friday night of Cats and Caviar

THE bride aside, the two greatest joys in life are watching the equine athlete in battle and investing on the outcome (the punt), along with watching the mighty Cats in full flight.

As the Geelong faithful enveloped the stands at the G on Friday night and belted out We Are Geelong The Greatest Team Of All across town a few minutes earlier another fan club was bestowing similar adulation.

Pink and black flags replaced the woolly scarves as the Moonee Valley Colosseum played host to scenes more reminiscent of the war years of the 1940s than 2011.

If asked to break into song I’m sure even the hardened race goers would have linked arms  with the people off the land, who had boarded courtesy buses across the breadth of the state, and belted out an equally vigorous rendition of I Am Black Caviar The Greatest In The World.

The parallel between a champion football team and a horse of similar ilk was palatable.

As jockey Luke Nolen saw the need to get busy on Black Caviar for the first time in her career with  600 metres to go, she was chasing other horses and an uneasy feeling descended on far better judges than me.

The inflection in race caller Greg Miles voice echoed the incredulous momentary disbelief that the horse rated the best sprinter in the world would lower her colors for the first time in a stellar career.

It was the fear of the unknown.

Nolen had never asked the mare to respond in such a vigorous manner 

For 10 out of 10 trips to the races the petrol tank had always been full and a gentle dig of the heels was all that had been required.

Now it was a stern thrusting of the reins with feet likewise as the leaders threatened to scamper away and leave Black Caviar behind around the tight Valley circuit.

Had trainer Peter Moody forgotten to fill up on the way to the track? Was the gauge nearing empty ?

Normality returned quickly.

It was the work of an instant as the mare grabbed the bit and within a few bounds  Black Caviar  reeled in the leaders and put her customary three lengths on them.

11 from  11.

As those who should know better were happy  to harbour doubts about a champion racehorse, so has anyone with an opinion on footy been quick to do likewise with the Cats over the summer.

The battle-weary side with the oldest  list in the competition were set for a slide of considerable proportions if you wish to believe experts such as Tim Lane.

‘The Cats slide from the top part of the ladder will be a significant one’ predicted  Lane in last Sunday’s Age.

You would think given the Cats response to a similar claim (14 unanswered goals) against the hapless Bulldogs in Round 20 last year at Etihad Stadium, Lane would know better. 

It is here, however, that  I must cut Lane some slack.

With a solitary goal on the scoreboard mid way through the third quarter even the late Sir John Button would  have been moved to nudge St Peter and requested he open the pearly gates to allow a pathway to goal.

Button’s request was favorably received when Corey, Wojo and Duncan converted within quick succession.

With wheelchairs on order, the game’s best player sunning himself on the Gold Coast  and without the captain (Ling) and heir apparent (Selwood) along with prime playmaker Chapman, the Cats were long odds.

After all they were up against the tough nuts; a side that had played in the past three Grand Finals.

“They have an intense dislike that people think they are better than them,” coach Chris Scott claimed after the game.

And if horses could talk …….


  1. At least we know that the Cats will be hard to beat. They might not be at their peak anymore, they might not have Ablett to give them spark, but they’ll give all the teams a horrible fright. It was a mighty victory in a pretty terrible game.

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