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Nolen Admits "Pilot Error, But I Got Away With It"

Monday, 25th June 2012

Summing up Black Caviar's close call, racingpost.com commented: "The Australian sensation was less imperious than her 1-6 odds & massive reputation suggested, but she was heading for an easy victory after powering a length clear of front-runner Soul. Yet to the horror of the thousands of Black Caviar fans watching at Royal Ascot, on big screens back in Australia & on TV screens around the globe, (Australian jockey Luke) Nolen stopped riding out even as 2 rivals crept up on his inside. Only in the shadow of the post did he begin riding out again, flashing past the post amid a cacophony of noise coming from a packed Royal Ascot grandstand awash with Black Caviar's black & salmon colours. And another immense roar went up moments later when the official result announced Black Caviar had hung on by the skin of her teeth. The Wonder From Down Under was still undefeated - just." Nolen "having come so close to tarnishing his career in a manner that would have been reminiscent of Mike Smith's infamous Breeders' Cup Classic ride on Zenyatta, was understandably contrite in the aftermath". The jockey admitted: "I probably under-estimated the testing track of Ascot. It is quite unfortunate because it is going to over-shadow what was a good win. I under-estimated the Straight 6 (furlongs track) here. It was pilot error, but I got away with it."  Thoroughbred Daily News commented: "It was far tighter than expected, but Black Caviar clung on after her jockey Luke Nolen caused a few minor heart attacks. . . . . In another stride Moonlight Cloud would have done the unthinkable. Sent to the front with a quarter mile remaining, the 1-6 pick looked to have it in safe keeping before being eased down prematurely near the line, which came in time as she held on to win by a diminishing head margin from the French raider. The final yards were as dramatic as any finish in the Royal meeting's history. Nolen gave her one more push as he realised his error with the French fillies bearing down & luckily the post came in the nick of time. Luke Nolen was in humble mood afterwards, admitting: 'That big engine throttled right down. It's quite unfortunate, because we're going to talk more about my brain fade than the horse's fantastic effort'." Nolen also explained to the BBC: "Because I under-estimated the uphill Ascot straight, she pulled up more quickly than usual on me & caught me by surprise. It was a rookie mistake. She should have won by 3/4-quarters of a length."

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