Sally Pearson – London Olympic gold medallist and golden girl of Australian sport – has been pipped at the post for Sportswoman of the Year by a racehorse by Sydney's Daily Telegraph.
Sportswriters Phil Rothfield and Darren Hadland named Black Caviar as the best female athlete this year as part of their annual top 50 moments of the year column.
"The mighty mare took on the Poms on their own turf and still beat them. Let's see Frankel do that. That's right, they were too afraid to bring him here," they wrote.
While Rothfield maintains the column is a "light hearted" review of the year in sport, the decision to snub a human being for the award has been mocked on social media as sexist and an insult to many female athletes, especially Pearson, whose win in London was roundly considered a highlight of the games.
Channel Seven AFL commentator Tom Harley tweeted it was "plain offensive to all the inspirational sportswomen of Australia".
Comedian Wil Anderson was one of hundreds of people to tweet their disgust, saying: "If a horse can win Sportswoman Of The Year then surely a man can now marry a horse? Oh no, Cory Bernardi was right…"
Rothfield defended the award and responded to the online backlash by telling critics to "pull your head in".
"Caviar is a girl and new Phar Lap. She stopped a nation."
It wasn't enough to stop the criticism, with "tele", "Black Caviar" and "sportswoman" trending on Twitter.
Fellow News Limited sports journalist Mark Robinson condemned the so-called award, calling it "utterly embarrassing".
By contrast, Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke was named Sportsman of the Year for his four double centuries this year.
"His 329 against India at the SCG was incredible. Well played, Pup."
Other prominent female athletes who were snubbed include members of Australia's only Olympic gold medal in the pool, Alicia Coutts, Cate Campbell, Brittany Elmslie and Melanie Schlange, plus cyclist Anna Meares, who also won gold in London.
Earlier this year, News Limited stablemate The Australian listed the nation's 50 most influential people in sport.
Only four were female, including another horse.