The rise and fall of Peter Moody: Black Caviar’s trainer tells all

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Black Caviar with Luke Nolen up winning the William Crockett Stakes.
Black Caviar with Luke Nolen up winning the William Crockett Stakes.

The son of an alcoholic father, product of a ‘broken home’, Peter Moody was raised on a farm in the bush ten hours’ drive west of Brisbane. Horses were part of his family history, ponies part of his youth and his first job was working for an elderly trainer while still at school.

A long way from Wyandra: My story – from the bush to Black Caviar, by Peter Moody with Trevor Marshallsea.
Allen & Unwin, 408pp, ISBN 9781760295202.
RRP $A34.99. Ebook $US10.99.

Then when he was sixteen the opportunity came of employment with Sydney legend Tommy Smith, and with $80 and a bus ticket in his pocket Peter Moody was on his way.

From his experiences first at Tulloch Lodge, then later with Bill Mitchell and on to establishing his own stable, this is the story of hard play and harder work, of attention to detail (that little black notebook!) and of having the courage – or bravado – to back one’s self. It is also the story of those equine characters – Magnus, Markus Maximus, General Nediym, Amalfi, Typhoon Tracy and that other heroine of the turf, Black Caviar.

From the moment Moody spotted her at the sales through to her present life in the broodmare paddock, Black Caviar’s career is laid out here. The hopes and exultation, the frustrations and anxieties of racing are revealed, and as probably the only horse to turn down an invitation to brunch with the Queen gallops into history the other side of that life is exposed – the pressure on the humans responsible for her well-being, the increasing public scrutiny, the drama behind that Royal Ascot challenge and why Luke Nolen dropped his hands.

The book also has its dark side, when a drugs charge results in retirement from a business with a multi-million dollar turnover. With its drive-by shooting, and deception seeming to lurk at the heart of racing’s Integrity Unit, this episode reads like a Dick Francis novel. What makes it palatable is Moody’s willingness to discuss it all and his apparent candour as he makes no attempt to conceal his dismay and his mounting sense of betrayal until in the end he chooses to walk away.

I enjoyed this book immensely. It is related in an entertaining and disarmingly conversational style, with Moody never afraid to tell a yarn against himself, and it affords a tantalising insight into the life and methods of one of Australasia’s most successful modern-day thoroughbred trainers.

Black Caviar with Peter Moody and connections after winning the Lightning Stakes.
Black Caviar with Peter Moody and connections after winning the Lightning Stakes.
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