If your natural inclination is to look for reasons to take on a short-priced favourite (guilty), then Black Caviar is for you.

She is an Aussie phenomenon, unbeaten in a remarkable 21 races, the fastest thing on four legs since Skippy carried the little girl away from the blazing barn. (Do kangaroos have four legs or two?) She has won 11 Group 1 races and seven Group 2s, all of them without really breaking sweat, and it is great for racing that she has crossed the equator.

The balance of probability says that the Aussie sprinters are generally vastly superior to the Europeans, and they tell us that Black Caviar is as good as they have seen Down There in a long time. Even though collateral lines of form are thin on the ground, all the figures suggest that she is the best horse in the race by a furlong. Australian punters will think they are buying money today when they back her at 1/4 given that she has been sent off at 1/20 in four of her last seven races, and at 1/10, 1/25 and 1/33 in the other three.

There are three uncertainties around Black Caviar, however, and where you have uncertainties you have chinks of light from a betting perspective. Firstly, she has travelled half way around the world and, while she has reportedly travelled well and settled in, you just don’t know how much that can take out of a horse until he or she races.

Secondly, there is the rain-softened ground. Ascot does drain quickly, but today’s ground will probably be the softest ground on which Black Caviar has ever raced, and we just don’t know if she can show her blinding speed on easy ground. And thirdly, there is the uniqueness of Ascot, the straight six furlongs, downhill a little then uphill a little, racing flat out on the unique sand-based turf track that is Ascot’s all-new straight track. Some horses act at Ascot, some don’t, and we just don’t know yet if Black Caviar does.

Of course, she could have so much in hand of her rivals that it is possible that she won’t handle the track, won’t handle the ground, and that she will still win doing handsprings. She could win by half the track, but you don’t get paid more if she does win a distance instead of by a nose, and there is also a chance that, if some of those unknowns count against her, she could struggle. Given the uncertainties, I would prefer to lay her at 1.26 on Betdaq than to back her at 1.25.

There are alternatives. Krypton Factor is a player, he is a classy sprinter, and Pastoral Player loves Ascot, but, if the favourite is to get beaten, it is probable that either Moonlight Cloud or Society Rock will win the race.

Moonlight Cloud is a high-class sprinter. Sent off as favourite for last year’s 1000 Guineas on her only try at a mile, it is over six and seven furlongs that she has since proven herself to be top class. She won the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last August over six and a half furlongs, and she gave the impression that she had progressed from last year by easily landing a Group 3 contest at Longchamp on her only run this season.

She proved that she could handle Ascot’s terrain last October when she was an unlucky and running-on-finishing-full-of-running fifth behind Deacon Blues in the Group 2 British Champions Sprint Stakes, and Freddie Head has had this race in mind for her for some time. She could be even better than she has been able to show us to date, she remains progressive and she looks primed for a career-best today.

Society Rock does not have the scope for progression that Moonlight Cloud does, but he is a top class, continually under-rated sprinter who loves Ascot and who won this race last year. He ran a cracker to finish a close-up third in the Duke of York Stakes on his debut this term when he might well have won if he had enjoyed better luck in-running, and the winner Tiddliwinks proved the merit of that run by coming out and winning a decent contest at The Curragh subsequently.

Of course, that is still a long way shy of what is required to win a normal Diamond Jubilee, not to mind to beat Black Caviar in one, but Society Rock is certain to come on for that York run. You can be sure that James Fanshawe has been training him since last year with a repeat bid in today’s race in mind. This is his season’s goal.

Society Rock’s record at Ascot is exemplary. He won a listed race and finished second to Starspangledbanner in the Diamond Jubilee in two runs there as a three-year-old, and he won the Diamond Jubilee there last year as a four-year-old. He did disappoint in the British Champions Sprint last October on his only other run at the track, but he was drawn poorly that day, and didn’t have the run of the race, and he had probably had enough for the season by then anyway.

He goes into today’s race a fresh horse, just one run this season to put him spot on for this. Any easing in the ground will be in his favour, and he could just put it up to the Australian superstarette.

Of course, with such a short-priced favourite, there is a really good each-way shape to the race. Even if Black Caviar does follow the script and perform as the whole racing world expects, two other horses will probably finish second and third.

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