The Great Mare and the Beast


Saturday brims with options for the musically inclined, the sporting minded and the thirsty.

At nightfall and no doubt coinciding with a sizeable drop in temperature, Rockin Rod will rock the Rock. Nothing syrupy appears on the impressive play list as Rockin Rod plans to tap into the era of the Faces.

Alas, I can’t be there. Not even the weirdness of quantum mechanics or the possible existence of multiverses are of any assistance.

I am however in Echuca, within an MS Dhoni straight hit from the mighty Murray, where Lanie Lane, Mick Thomas and Mark Seymour will play amongst the Jack-and-the-beanstalk river gums.

Down south at Flemington, it’s the much-awaited clash of the Beast, Hay List, and the Great Mare, Black Caviar.

Lanie begins her set.

On cue, a few males, possessing varying racing knowledge but similar mindset re fluid intake, bid adieu to their lovelies and make the short walk to the Echuca Workers and Services Club for a schooner and approximately 56 seconds of galloping perfection.

The Great Mare saunters around the Flemington Mounting Yard. She seems in a trance. The game face is on. Massive hind-quarters and rump show with each deliberate slow stride taken.

I catch a glimpse of the Beast.


The John McNair pre-race spruiking now makes sense.

The Beast looks scary. Like one of those mad cartoon bulls with the nose ring and steam emanating from the nostrils.

Peter G Moody must be having a dart and juggling his lucky dollar coin.

The supporting cast are no slouches.

Buffering always shows toe and fortitude. The crack three-year-old, Foxwedge, very nearly nosed out Sepoy in the spring and forms part of many an exotic bet.

While Temple of Boom’s past exploits down the straight have been known to encourage some middle-aged desperates to channel their inner Paul Lekakis. Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back to My Room) being ‘sung’ triumphantly in the Nursery car park’s Trans-Australian Bank queue is one such instance of the fiscal joy this horse has brought its followers.

The Lightning Stakes field enters the barrier.

Phelan Ready isn’t.

The crowd in the Workers Club gather around the television monitors. The patrons are quiet though it’s not quite pre-Stawell Gift quiet.

The Great Mare has her Linus barrier blanket on. It serves to calm before the maelstrom.


The Great Mare jumps beautifully.

So does the Beast.

After a furlong, it’s apparent they’re flying. No they’re really flying.

In last week’s farce of a race, The Great Mare’s head pointed to the ground while exhibiting that unique skipping-style action.

Today the head is bolt upright with ears pricked.

The same can be said of the Beast.

The Beast, on the outside, just leads the Great Mare with Buffering close at hand on the inside.

These three horses have read the speed map. It seems they know its one gear and one gear only.

Schofield on the Beast and Nolen on the Great Mare both sit high up and both are as still as possible. They’re experiencing the equine equivalent of Ken Warby on Blowering Dam. Aerodynamics could play a factor in a tight contest.

I said to the boys at Barwon Heads on Friday that at some stage The Beast will look the winner.

That moment, and it’s only for a moment, comes off a staggering 9.98 second split for the 200 metres (600 metres to 400 metres). That’s an average speed of approximately 20 m/s or 72 km/h.


This ‘cruising’ speed was formerly an equine asymptote. This might be the fastest that any two thoroughbreds have ever galloped.

Temple of Boom is left in the wake of a sonic boom. Phelan Ready is feeling stuffed.

Schofield gets to work on the Beast. Nolen responds on the Great Mare. For three strides, a gasp could be heard.

What must Nolen be thinking?

Has the Beast got her?

A breath.

The Great Mare responds. However the latency of the response catches a few by surprise.

The Great Mare has to dig deep.

She does and heads the Beast. Buffering is brave, under the whip and racing for third.

Counter-intuitively, The Great Mare outstays the Beast to score by about a length and a half. The last 100 metres provides a short time to savour one of the best races ever staged in Australia.

The Great Mare’s outstanding gallop stopped the clock at 55.53 seconds. It’s just outside Special’s north-wind assisted track record. The Beast also betters 56 seconds.

The Beast is the Prince Darius of the day. The Great Mare is the Tulloch.

Gripping sport can be played out over wide variations in time. Compelling Test matches can last five days. Gripping Grand Slam tennis finals can last five hours. A piece of Gary Ablett magic can unfold in the blink of an eye. This one played out in under a minute.

We arrive back in time to hear Lanie sing Bang Bang.

The Great Mare certainly did.


  1. John Butler says

    Flynny, even a philistine like me can appreciate that.

    Top stuff.

  2. Andrew Fithall says

    Well done PJF. I too would have liked to be at Headquarters. We were at a wedding at Clarkes Hill (Ballarat- Daylesford Rd). Ceremony done at 4.05 in time for congregation to filter into the grounds and cluster around various car radios. Bride a bit disconcerted to look around and think everyone, including her new husband, had disappeared.

    Also would have liked to be at Echuca – we are booked to go to their Winter Blues Festival later in the year. Saw Lanie Lane at Queenscliff and she did a very good job. Her appearance on the ABC “In Gordon St” last week wasn’t up to her standard. Booked to see her again at Golden Plains in March and also at The Corner in May.

    Currently on high rotation is Jim Keays’ (yes he of The Masters Apprentices) new album Dirty Dirty – an excellent collection of rock and roll covers.

  3. PF – I saw a replay of the race. Magnificent sport. Perhaps because I knew the outcome, but I never thought, even for a moment, that the Beast had the Great Mare covered. She always looked in control, though it was good to watch her work for the win.

  4. Perfectly captured Pete. At “that moment,” a gasp and a, “He’s got her” flashed into my mind. It’s only the second time I’ve seen her “grind” out a win. Magnificent.

  5. Brilliant, Pete. I’d love you on Offsiders – you’d be perfect on that couch. See if John can have a word with Barry Cassidy.

  6. PJF,
    Excellent stuff. The Great Mare has the unique ability to unite
    myself, Mrs Smokie, and our three teenage boys for a
    minute of awestruck silence. Providing he stays sound, Hay List will
    go on and win many races.

    Mick Thomas still in good form?

    Lanie Lane most disappointing on Gordon St.

  7. Peter Flynn says

    Thanks Punters.

    Mick Thomas was very good.

    Anne enjoyed Lanie in Echuca and was disappointed with her on TV , particularly in duet with P Kelly. Nerves?

  8. Flynny,
    One of the bonuses of Her cramped odds and broad appeal is that the betting ring shuts down prior to Her races and I get the chance to go out and watch.
    It was a great win.
    I have to say that at no stage did it even occur to me that She did not have the race under control. She was closer to Haylist than in any speedmaps…unlike the epic T.J. Smith.
    Newmarket win my top vote. T.J….maybe this 3rd.

  9. Peter Flynn says

    I reckon that’s fair Crio (and Dips previously).


  10. Loved it, Flynny.

    Superb report–and wonderful use of asymptote.

  11. David Downer says

    Late out of the gates here Flynnie, but great read old cocko.

    A more than worthy addition to Chapter 19 of the Black Caviar manuscript.

    I was on course in the Hill Stand, and while the expanses of Flemington didn’t provide for quite the same intimacy of a smilar sized crowd at Caulfield the week prior, the stand was brimming – plenty of “racing first timer” conversations overheard. The last two weeks have been a completely different on-track racing experience, an entirely different scope of crowd in attendance for “the horse” itself – not the booze, the dress-up or even the punt. Bar the last point perhaps, it’s been quite refreshing.

    A pity for us in Caulfield striking distance that the record-breaking Chapter 20 won’t be written this week – she’d murder that Futurity field. But they’ve never taken a risk with her, and with the major carrot always being Royal Ascot, really no surprise they won’t start taking risks now. And unlike the Orr stakes, she bloody well earnt that one last week!

    Brisbane/Adelaide are in for a lock-out when she resumes in a couple of months time.


    PS: Special mention to Channel 7 here too. I heard a noble service was undertaken, with the interruption of their scheduled programming (the James Belushi cinematic epic “K9”), to provide coverage of the race – and then post-race reverted straight back to the all-important car chase scene!

  12. You’ve added some Champagne to the Caviar, oh Mighty one. Great read.

    No-one sounds good on Gordon St. They need to turn the amps up. Lanie Lane was close to BOG at the Nick Cave tribute (Kram’s Red Right Hand in the mix).

    I’m tipping her to bounce back at The Corner. Will see you there AF. We should be able to squeeze in the Pies v Crows in the front bar before the thin lady sings.

  13. Peter Flynn says

    Thanks Daff, DD and MOC.

    ABC production values MOC?

    Moody’s planning is exemplary.

    And I’m impressed that other cities get the chance to see that galloping action.

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