Could this be a sign? The day I arrive in Australia, my second favourite Australian bids to cement her place in history. Black Caviar is a 620kg thoroughbred mare who will be going for her 24th straight win in the Grade 1 William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley Racecourse.
She has never been beaten.
Now that Frankel has been retired, she must surely be the best racehorse in the world. In Australia, she is a national heroine, and because she’s a horse, there’s no chance she’ll let us down by doing things like cheating on wives, shooting girlfriends or taking performance-enhancing drugs and lying about it. Black Caviar gives her best every time. If you have any doubt about the power of a brand, take a look at her website – you can buy anything from a Black Caviar iPhone cover to Black Caviar can coolers and everything in between. If you like, you can order Black Caviar merchandise personalized with your name.
I first heard about Black Caviar in 2011. In June last year, I tackled three experimental paintings of Black Caviar using lipstick. Horses can be tricky to paint because the reflections on their glossy coats are so fiddly. You can see the results in this post – all three paintings were sold via Twitter to fellow horse lover Claire Van Zuylen, who has given them a good home.
Australians are mad about racing – there’s no experience quite like the first Tuesday in November, when the entire country stops to watch the Melbourne Cup.
When I was nine years old, I watched a movie of the great Phar Lap, and it made a huge impression on me. I’m hoping Black Caviar makes it 24 out of 24, and I’ll be able to experience a national outpouring of joy. It’s not every day you get to celebrate true greatness.
(In case you’re wondering, my favourite Australian is Justin Spratt, the CEO of Quirk Johannesburg, where I freelance. I’ve never attempted a painting of him in lipstick and eyeliner though.)