Trainer Peter Moody would not rule out a final autumn campaign for his unbeaten star Black Caviar, but today conceded the mare would have to return in outstanding order for her to extend her career next year.
While the mare's managing owner said there was a chance she might not race again, Moody said Black Caviar needed an extended break after returning from her successful raid on the Royal Ascot carnival, and with rest and recuperation could yet return for the autumn sprint riches.
"Autumn is certainly the best time for sprinters and so we're not ruling it out at this stage," he said.
But Moody said Black Caviar "would have to come back as well if not better than ever" for him to contemplate another campaign for the winner of 22 races.
Black Caviar, now a 12-time dual hemisphere group 1 winner and recognised worldwide as the premier sprinter, has only been back in Australia for three weeks and after serving quarantine for two weeks on arrival in Melbourne, the most photographed of all thoroughbreds over the Royal Ascot carnival was taken away to a secluded hideaway to get away from it all.
It was obvious to Moody that Black Caviar could not go back into training immediately as she must if she was to contend for races in the spring.
"She was pretty flat and in need of a good break so that's what she'll have and we'll wait and have a look at her," Moody said.
The mare's managing owner, Neil Werrett, said "it is 50-50" as to whether Black Caviar would race again.
"This will give her four or five months off, if she comes back," Werrett said.
"Her last win was her hardest and most heroic and she deserves a good break.
"We are not telling anyone where she is because we want her to have a good break. If people know where she is they will just turn up to see her."
Werrett said Black Caviar had recovered from the muscle strains that appeared to hamper her efforts at Royal Ascot but that a decision on her future would not be made until all owners came together.
"We want everyone there when we make the decision because it so important. We will all sit down and make this decision together," he said.
"We have always done what is best for her and if she is bouncing around the paddock in a month it will be an easy choice. But we will be guided by Peter and his team."
Werrett said no stallion had been chosen for Black Caviar as yet, should she be retired, but "the top five stallions in country all have appeal".
If Black Caviar is to return to the track she could do a farewell tour of Australia.
"Really there is not much for a sprinter like her in the spring," Werrett said.
"We were looking at the Manikato and Patinack Classic only. In the autumn there are races in Melbourne starting with the Lightning Stakes [that she has won twice], Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.
"There are plenty of options."