HE THINKS AND WRITES LIKE A NOV­EL­IST

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Les Car­lyon’s

rep­re­sents, or at­tempt to ra­tio­nalise, quan­tify and clas­sify. This book sings along be­cause Whate­ley has mostly opted for the for­mer. His is al­ways a hu­man voice, in­tel­li­gent and re­laxed, telling a story in prose that, like the horse he is writ­ing about, lifts the spirit. And the pho­to­graphs, par­tic­u­larly those of Bron­wen Healy, com­ple­ment the words sub­limely.

Whate­ley’s book is au­tho­rised by the mare’s con­nec­tions; An­drew Eddy’s The Story of Black Caviar is not, but it doesn’t suf­fer be­cause of this.

Eddy, the chief rac­ing writer for The Age, has de­parted from a con­ven­tional nar­ra­tive. Each of the 22 chap­ters is de­voted to one of Black Caviar’s wins.

Wo­ven through the chap­ters are side­bars crammed with facts and sta­tis­tics that flesh out the story by touch­ing the things that didn’t hap­pen on a race­course, which are of­ten the more in­ter­est­ing things.

We learn, for in­stance, that Black Caviar shares a spell­ing pad­dock with a bossy goat called Billy that looks to have never missed a lunch, and that the mare’s stride is about 2m longer than that of the av­er­age race­horse. The book reads well de­spite its un­usual for­mat. It’s the time of the year when even once-a-year pun­ters take dou­bles. You could do worse this spring than cou­ple up Whate­ley with Eddy.

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