ANOTHER obstacle was yesterday removed from world champion sprinter Black Caviar's proposed bid to race in Dubai early next month, allaying trainer Peter Moody's fears she would not be able to follow her usual pre-race routine.
Moody had been concerned she would not be permitted to wear a barrier blanket before the race, and be barred from having an attendant in the barriers. But officials at the Dubai Racing Club said the five-year-old would have the same pre-race adjustments as in Australia.
Managing director for racing at the Dubai Racing Club, Martin Talty, said yesterday Black Caviar's needs would be easily accounted for. ''The barrier blanket is fine and as for having a man up in the barriers with her that is no problem - the only thing is that it must be a member of our race day staff,'' he said.
''But having said that, they are some of the most skilled horse people in the world and the same practice is adopted in Australia, outsiders are not permitted to just jump into the barriers. So she [Black Caviar] will miss out on nothing racing here compared to being at home in Australia.
It seems likely Saturday's group 1 Futurity Stakes at Caulfield will be the point Black Caviar attempts her 20th consecutive victory and Cox Plate winner Pinker Pinker is one of 17 entries set to tackle the mighty mare.
The world's highest-rated sprinter will be out to better champion US mare Zenyatta's run of 19 consecutive wins from debut as well as the Australasian record she shares with Gloaming (1919-21) and Desert Gold (1915-17)
''Fingers crossed that Black Caviar runs on Saturday,'' Melbourne Racing Club's media manager, Jake Norton, said. ''In our favour is that she pulled up well after the Lightning Stakes and the owners are keen to get the 20 wins up before she goes overseas.''
There were 17 nominations for the group 1 Futurity (1400 metres) but several are dual entries, with connections awaiting a decision from Moody on a Black Caviar start which he has said will play out over the week.
Moody will monitor her condition closely and make a decision on whether she starts for the third weekend in a row before Wednesday's 10am Futurity Stakes acceptance deadline.
The uncertainty regarding the champion mare's Futurity status has meant trainers who might not previously have had the race on the agenda are now considering it. Sydney sensation Rain Affair, a winner of his past eight starts and nine of 10 overall, has been entered for the Futurity along with the $250,000 group 2 Apollo Stakes over the same distance at Sydney's Rosehill Gardens.
The Chris Waller-trained Shoot Out, David Payne's Centennial Park, Niwot from the Team Hawkes stable and the Todd Howlett-trained Star Of Octagonal are the others nominated for both the Futurity and the Apollo. The horses closest to Black Caviar (130) in the handicapping ratings are reigning Cox Plate winner Pinker Pinker (118) and Kiwi star King Mufhasa (118), winner of eight Group One races including the Toorak Hcp (1600m) at Caulfield last spring when he shouldered 58 kilograms.