Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Killing Time in Covid Times

Our blue eyed boy Bingo

It’s Winter already, though we’ve had plenty of time to get used to it with late May being quite chilly.

That’s not to say I’m looking forward to the next few months of cold weather in this icebox of a house, and being obliged to stay home with the pandemic still limiting movement.

I must admit that even I am getting a bit stir crazy, having not gone anywhere interesting for months; my weekly shopping trips to Victoria Market being the only outdoor diversion I’ve undertaken.

However, I have been keeping occupied with computer games and books, and tinkering with a new design for the Nu Country website.

After finishing the final book in Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy, an extraordinary literary masterpiece, I’ve been binge reading a series of detective novels by Alan Bradley, which feature 11 year old Flavia De Luce.

9780752883212I am grateful to the friend who introduced me to the Flavia books, as I certainly would not have stumbled on them by myself.  He gave me the first book in the series as a present and I  enjoyed it enormously.

There are  eleven Flavia De Luce novels, I was pleased to note after reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, so I’ve stocked up my Kindle with several to keep me tided over with entertaining reading matter, and have become addicted to Flavia’s small village world of the 1950s.

Described as a cross between Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle and the Addams Family, the novels are set in the fictional English village of Bishop’s Lacey where Flavia and her family inhabit  the large manor house Buckshaw.

Flavia is the youngest of three sisters, the others being Ophelia and Daphne, her arch enemies, against whom she tests her knowledge of poisonous chemicals.  For Flavia, as well as being an unusual detective, is also a master chemist having inherited her Great Uncle Tarquin’s fully equipped laboratory in the east wing of Buckshaw.

Full of eccentric characters that include family retainers Dogger and Mrs Mullet, the Flavia de Luce novels are tremendous fun and a great escape from the real world which only seems to be getting worse.

Curiously, one of the computer games I’ve recently played also features a feisty schoolgirl detective called Jenny Le Clue, a fictional creation of successful (fictional) author Arthur Finkelstein.

jenny leclue

This is a charming game with wonderful graphics, great characters and a long involved story. Jenny and her friends and family live in the fictional town of Arthurton and Jenny is the heroine of a series of soft boiled detective novels by Arthur J Finkelstein, solving cases such as missing eyeglasses and test papers. Jenny longs for a real case to solve and soon enough in the game the Dean of Arthurton’s Gumbold University  dies mysteriously and Jenny’s mother is framed for his murder.

The game follows Jenny’s adventures in pursuing the investigation into the Dean’s death to clear her mother and unearthing in the process the many secrets hidden in Arthurton.  It is one of the best and cleverest computer games I’ve played of late.

I also played two rather interesting and creepy supernatural mysteries set in Cornwall – Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle and Barrow Hill: The Dark Path.

On the home front nothing much has changed, with only Bingo the cat recently giving us some worry with his behaviour.  Earlier this week he would disappear for hours and efforts to find his whereabouts were in vain. He also was suffering from a  sore back foot with a wound around the claw area. Heaven knows how he came by it, but it didn’t seem like a cat fight injury.  Happily he has returned to normal over the last few days and his foot is on the mend. Perhaps he was avoiding us in fear of being taken to the Vet, but really who knows what goes through the feline mind.

As public venues slowly open up again I’ve been itching for a change of scene, so have booked to go to the Zoo later this month to see the new Snow Leopard cubs.  My reasoning was that with a limit of 2000 people a day, the Zoo will be sparsely populated, occupying as it does a wide expanse of real estate, so it will be ideal for photography practice and of course viewing the wildlife.

Speaking of photography practice it will be some time before the general public will be admitted to the horse racing - the only sport that continued over the course of the lockdown. Naturally I’m looking forward to the Spring Racing Carnival in whatever format it takes, but hope to be there in person for some meetings.

Friday, April 17, 2020

A 1960s Poem For These Times

Though personally I am not aggrieved or inconvenienced by the social distancing rules that are now in force across the country, I know that many people, unused to bountiful free time, find it hard to cope.

Thinking about those souls who find the lockdown trying,  a poem I read many years ago – back in the 1960s – came into my head, and struck me as being curiously appropriate to the situation of being stuck at home all the time.

It is called Summer With Monica by Roger McGough, a kind of love poem published in 1967.

Summer With Monica
by Roger McGough

They say the sun shone now and again
but it was generally cloudy
with far too much rain

they say babies were born
married couples made love,
often with each other
and people died
sometimes violently.

they say it was an average ordinary moderate
run-of-the-mill common or garden summer
but it wasn't

for I locked a yellow door
and I threw away the key.
and I spent summer with Monica
and she spent summer with me

unlike everybody else we made friends with the weather
most days the sun called and sprawled all over the place
or the wind blew in as breezily as ever
and ran his fingers through our hair
but usually it was the moon that kept us company

some days we thought about the seaside
and built sand castles on the blankets
and paddled in the pillows
or swam in the sink and played with shoals of dishes

other days we went for long walks around the table
and picnicked on the banks of the settee
or just sunbathed lazily in front of the fire
until the shilling set on the horizon.

we danced a lot that summer
bossanovaed by the bookcase
or maddisoned instead,
hulligullied by the oven
or twisted round the bed

at first we kept birds in a transistor box
to sing for us but sadly they died
we being too embraced in each other to feed them.
but it didn't really matter because
we made love songs with our bodies
I became the words
and she put me to music

they say it was just like any other summer
but it wasn't
for we had love and each other
and the moon for company
when I spent summer with Monica
and Monica spent summer with me.

In October when winter the lodger the sod
came a knocking at our door I set in a store of biscuits and whiskey
you filled the hot water bottle with tears
and we went to bed until spring

in April we arose warm and smelling of morning
we kissed the sleep from each other's eyes
and went out into the world
and now summer is here again regular as the rent man
but our lives are now more ordered more arranged
the kissing wildly carefree times have changed

we no longer stroll along the beaches of the bed
or snuggle in the long grass of the carpets
the room no longer a world for makebelieving in
but a ceiling and four walls that are for living in

we no longer eat our dinner holding hands
or neck in the back stalls of the television
the room no longer a place for hideandseeking in
but a container that we use for eat and sleeping in

our love has become as comfortable as the jeans you lounge about in
as my old green coat
as necessary as the change you get from the milkman
for a five pound note

our love has become as nice as a cup of tea in bed
as simple as something the baby said
Monica the sky is blue the leaves are green
the birds are singing
the bells are ringing for me and my gal
the sun's as big as an ice cream factory
the corn is as high as an elephant's
I could go on for hours about the
beautiful weather we're having
but Monica,
they don't make summers like they used to…

Roger McGough was part of a trio of Liverpool poets popular back in the 1960s. I have a copy of Penguin Modern Poets #10, The Mersey Sound featuring a selection of poems by Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten in my personal library.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Easter Weekend–Thank Heavens for Horse Racing

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Winx – QE Stakes 2017

As we’ve never gone anywhere at Easter(or not for many decades), the Covid 19 lock down hardly makes a difference to the Cat Politics domicile, we being content to stay home and kill the time with our usual occupations.

In my case I’ve always enjoyed watching the races which thankfully are still being run, albeit without public attendance.

This Saturday’s race meeting at Randwick marks the first anniversary of Winx’s final race in her illustrious career in the 2019 Queen Elizabeth Stakes. She went out a winner naturally, achieving the rare distinction of winning the QE Stakes for the third time. I was fortunate to witness in person her first QE victory in 2017.

As well as the Queen Elizabeth Stakes there are three other choice Group 1 events on the program – Sydney Cup, Australian Oaks and Coolmore Legacy Stakes.

The Oaks is the first to run and appears a match race between New Zealand filly Probabeel and new filly on the block Colette, with Shout the Bar, Nudge and Toffee Tongue all a good chance as well.

Verry Elleegant won the Australian Oaks last year and is one of the fancied contenders in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes this year. At her last start a fortnight ago she won the Group 1 Tancred Stakes spectacularly by over 4 lengths, though was beaten narrowly by English horse Addeybb in the Group 1  Ranvet Stakes at her previous start.  Addeybb is again one of her rivals in the QE Stakes, so it will be interesting to see if she can turn the tables on him this time round.

Both will have to defeat the classy Japanese contender Danon Premium whose form against such leading lights as Cox Plate heroine Lys Gracieux and Japan Cup winner Almond Eye is excellent.

Overall the 2020 Queen Elizabeth Stakes field is a doozy with the likes of New Zealanders Te Akau Shark and Melody Belle, Melbourne Cup winner Vow and Declare and highly regarded import Master of Wine all in contention. It looks a fabulous race and one not to be missed.

The Sydney Cup like its Melbourne counterpart is run over 3200 metres. Top chances are Young Rascal, Mustajeer and Raheen House, among others.

Run over 1600 metres, the Coolmore Legacy Stakes for fillies and mares has attracted  a top class field that includes shock Doncaster Mile winner Nettoyer, the classy Alizee, Victorian mare Miss Siska, the in form Positive Peace and sole filly Funstar having her first start against the older mares. 

So that’s my Saturday afternoon entertainment settled, even if I can’t be there in person.

Update Sunday Afternoon

It was an interesting afternoon of racing that I watched on my computer yesterday.

Colette, a small but tough filly, a daughter of 2014 Golden Rose winner Hallowed Crown, won the Australian Oaks impressively by a couple of lengths from Toffee Tongue and Quintessa. She’s one to watch for in the spring.

New Zealand mare, Etah James now trained by Ciaron Maher, won the Sydney Cup from fellow New Zealander The Chosen One.

As expected the Queen Elizabeth Stakes was exciting and resulted in British horse Addeybb getting the better of Verry Elleegant once again. The hyped Japanese horse Danon Premium was left wanting on the heavy track and finished third.

The Gai Waterhouse trained, former American mare, Con Te Partiro took out the Coolmore Legacy with Funstar unable to overtake her in the straight. Danzdanzdance, another New Zealander finished third.

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Rest In Peace Might and Power who died yesterday evening after suffering a colic attack from which he could not be saved.

He had an illustrious career on the track winning the rare treble of the Caulfield Cup, Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate, as well as several other Group 1 races.

I was at Moonee Valley when he won the 1998 Cox Plate and still remember the occasion vividly.

He was a long time popular resident at Living Legends and was often to be seen on race days at Flemington, which is where I took the above photo in 2016. He was 26 years old.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Surviving In the New World

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Bingo at the window gazing at the world outside

So far, so good in living in the new reality of the covid19 pandemic. The photo above of Bingo strikes me as appropriate for the lockdown across Victoria – watching the world go by from isolation.

I’ve hardly stirred from the house all week, but on Thursday took a death defying trip to the city to do some shopping at Victoria Market via public transport.

The Ivanhoe Station was deserted – in fact I think I was the only person waiting for the 11.44 am train to the city.

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Deserted station

Likewise with the train – empty!

Empty train carriage

There was one other person in the carriage I travelled in and at every stop there were virtually no people, so the carriage remained empty all the way to Flinders Street.

With the city  pretty well depopulated as well, it was easy to maintain social distance as I walked from Latrobe Street to the Victoria Market. Even so I was not complacent and took care not to touch anything and sanitised my hands frequently.

At Victoria Market there were a few more souls shopping, but numbers were certainly down from a normal Thursday, so I whizzed through the deli, meat, and fruit and vegetables sections and just managed to catch the 1.06 pm Hurstbridge train  home from Melbourne Central.

This train was pretty empty too, so there was no trouble keeping a wide social distance from other like minded commuters.

I’ve been spending most of  the last week playing a new (for me) computer game, an odd Cyberpunk futurist adventure called State of Mind, which has kept me bemused and engaged with its story of transhumanism. I like the off hand references to William Gibson’s Neuromancer and the weird but effective graphics.

Though racing is barred for public attendance, it still continues in Melbourne and Sydney, with the latter forging ahead with The Championships.

This Saturday at Randwick features four excellent Group 1 events, including the great Doncaster Mile and TJ Smith Stakes.

I was going to preview the Doncaster/Derby Day meeting, but time has slipped away and I have neither the time or inclination to write it now.

With the weather turned wintry for the weekend, I am glad to stay inside and watch the racing action on my computer today.

Bingo is thriving and his usual pestiferous self, driving us to distraction with his demands for affection, warmth and food.

We learned recently that he has a remarkable memory, when he was due for his annual booster vaccinations.

He was asleep on my lap on the bed, when B, as quietly as possible, took out the cat carrying cage from a cupboard, preparatory to taking him to the vet.

Bingo heard the faint squeak of Brent lifting the cage lid, freaked, and hid under the bed. He knew what was in store, even though it had been almost a year since his last vet appointment. He totally loathes travelling in the cage, and also knows that he’ll be taken to the vet, where he turns into a different cat – a scaredy puss.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Stayin’ Alive

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Bingo keeping watch on the front veranda

As years go, 2020 has turned into an annus horribilius. We’ve had drought, fires, floods and now pestilence- apocalypse now!

It’s hard to believe that we are now living through a Science Fiction dystopia, though I can’t recall that in any of the SF dystopic novels I’ve read, toilet paper (the lack thereof)  becoming such a big issue as it is in these crazy days.

Being retired there’s no problem maintaining a social distance as I’m not obliged to get up every morning and go to work and mingle with the general populace. I’ve hardly stirred from home for weeks, my only outings have been to the Victoria Market on Thursdays and going to the Super Market every so often for supplies.

Two concerts I was to attend in March have been postponed or cancelled, and forget heading off to the Museum and National Gallery for an art or cultural fix, they’re closed. That also goes for Saturday afternoons at the track.

I was disappointed that fans were banned from attending  the All Star Mile meeting at Caulfield last weekend, but would have felt apprehensive about attending anyway. Alligator Blood ended up unplaced and Western Australian gallopers Regal Power and Superstorm ran the quinella. Melody Belle ran third.

Being in the age group most vulnerable to infection by Covid19, I feel paranoid travelling on public transport, and have become hyper alert about keeping my distance from other commuters and avoiding contact with surfaces likely to be infected.

By chance I happened to be in Chemist Warehouse earlier this week when some hand sanitiser was put on the shelf. It didn't last long, but I managed to grab two containers, which eased my anxiety when travelling to the market yesterday as I could sanitise my hands on the go.

This time last year I travelled to Sydney to see Winx in her penultimate appearance at the track.  I returned with a nasty cold, so I had no desire to attend the Golden Slipper meeting at Rosehill this year. Even if I did I wouldn’t have got into the racecourse; the ATC has banned public attendance.

Who knows how long the racing industry will be able to keep the races going. Sydney’s big Autumn carnival is just starting, Golden Slipper Day kicking it off tomorrow in fine fashion with five Group 1 races on the program.

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2019 Golden Slipper Trophy

The first of these is the Ranvet Stakes, run over 2000 metres. It was won by Avilius last year and he will be aiming to win it again this year. So far this season he has been disappointing, failing to run a place in three starts. Irish horse AddeyBB having his first start in Australia looks a very classy horse considering the quality of opposition he has raced against in the UK and may blitz the local mob.  Verry Elleegant ran a narrow second to Te Akau Shark in the Chipping Norton Stakes recently and is highly fancied to win.

Winx won the past four George Ryder Stakes, so another galloper has an opportunity to win it this year. Top chances are Te Akau Shark, The Bostonian, Alizee and Super Seth.

Shadow Hero, winner of the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes and more recently the Randwick Guineas, is understandably the favourite for the Rosehill Guineas. His main threats are New Zealander Sherwood Forest, Victorian Derby winner Warning, Prince Fawaz, Chenier and Castelvecchio who was disappointing last start.

The Golden Slipper is always a fascinating race. I was fortunate to witness the last two editions in person. Fillies Estijaab (2018) and Kiamichi (2019) won those. So who will win the richest two year old race this year?

Of the boys, the top picks are Tagaloa (Blue Diamond Stakes winner) Hanseatic (Blue Diamond Stakes runner up) Farnan (Todman Stakes winner) and Prague. Fancied fillies are Away Game, Dame Giselle, Hungry Heart and Minhaaj.

The final Group 1 of the afternoon is the Galaxy, a sprint over 1100 metres, won by Nature Strip last year.  Pierata narrow runner up to Nature Strip last year appears the top chance in this year’s edition. Others worthy of consideration are In Her Time with a great first up record, the in form Savatiano, and Kementari , who was a failure at stud and is back racing after a year’s absence, and gelded to boot.

Tonight at Moonee Valley the final Group 1 of Melbourne’s Autumn racing season, the William Reid Stakes, is scheduled to run at 8.30pm. Mystic Journey, whose Autumn season was stymied by a leg infection. makes her first appearance since the Cox Plate in this race. It’s a bit short for her, but it will be interesting to see how she runs in it.

Newmarket Handicap winner Bivouac is the favourite, but he faces a classy field that includes along with Mystic Journey, Loving Gaby, Gytrash, Exceedance and Pippie.

Even though I will be maintaining a social distance at home (pretty normal for me) there are still things to enjoy, such as the racing on TV.

There are  also books to read – I’m currently rereading Hilary Mantel’s first two Cromwell books, preparatory to reading the last book, The Mirror and the Light which I have acquired in a lovely signed hardcover first edition.

Also I have a backlog of purchased computer games I mean to get through over the next few months, waiting for Covid19 to pass. Above all I hope to still be alive at the end of it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Star Power–Super Saturday Review

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Fifty Stars returns to scale after winning the Australian Cup

Travelling on public transport these days seems like taking your life in your hands what with the spread of the corona virus causing generalised panic.

Though I’m not panicking I do however feel a tad apprehensive when taking a train or tram and try to avoid sitting too close to anyone.

This was not enough to discourage me from attending Super Saturday at Flemington last weekend.

It was a pleasant day, warm and occasionally sunny, a perfect day to be out in the open air trackside.

As trains to Flemington were running all afternoon, I took my time getting there, arriving before the fourth race on the program and staying until after the Australian Cup.

The light was lovely for photography, but the inside rail was out by 8 metres making it difficult to get rail free shots even standing on my step.

Race 4 was the Group 3 Schweppervescence Trophy, for fillies and mares, run over 1600 metres.

Paint The Town Two, a 26/1 shot won the bickies from Bam’s On Fire and Fidelia.

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Paint The Town Two & Bam’s On Fire hit the line together

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Paint The Town Two on her way to the barriers

The feature races were the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap and Australian Cup, programmed as races 6 and 8.

Wild Planet was hot favourite for Race 5, the Listed March Stakes, a race over 1400 metres.  Racing on the pace in third spot, Wild Planet won easily by a length from race leader Sirius Suspect with 2019 South Australian Oaks winner Princess Jenni running third, three lengths behind.

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Wild Planet overtakes Sirius Suspect as they charge to the finish line.

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Wild Planet returns to scale

As the Newmarket Handicap was up next, I transferred myself and step to the mounting yard fence to watch the big screen action from Randwick where the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes was about to run. New Zealander The Bostonian won from Savatiano and Mr Sea Wolf.

It was ripper field for the Newmarket, hard to pick the winner out of 11 runners. Three year old Exceedance was the starting favourite, but another three year old colt, Bivouac, ended up the outstanding winner.

Here are some of the main runners parading in the mounting yard.

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Loving Gaby

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The Inevitable

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As is mostly the case at Flemington with sprints down the straight, it is hard to get photos of the finish if the field splits. This time they raced in a bunch down the middle of the track towards the grandstand side.

Bivouac raced near the lead then charged at the 200 mark to win by 2½ lengths from Loving Gaby. Gytrash finished third.

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Glen Boss celebrates Bivouac’s win in the Newmarket Handicap

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Bivouac returns to scale

Sandwiched between the Newmarket and Australian Cup was the Kewney Stakes, a Group 2 race for three year old fillies over 1400 metres. Rubisaki started as favourite and didn’t disappoint her backers winning by 1¼ lengths from Pretty Brazen and Fascino.

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Rubisaki (red cap)  wins the Kewney Stakes from Pretty Brazen

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Rubisaki on her way to the barriers

With the Australian Cup impending I made my way back to the mounting yard fence. The roses along the straight were blooming profusely, perfectly timed as usual for Flemington’s big Autumn finale.

Flemington roses – they have to be seen to be believed

The other Sydney Group 1 race, the Randwick Guineas was played on the big screen after the National Anthem was sung. Shadow Hero beat Microphone, and Brandenburg ran third.

Soon enough the Australian Cup field were parading in the mounting yard, then making their way to the starting gates.

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Avilius – the favourite in the mounting yard

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Fifty Stars

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Regal Power – ran second

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Southern France – Irish Import

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Suzuka Devious – Japanese horse

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Vow and Declare – 2019 Melbourne Cup winner – ran third

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Miss Siska – the sole mare in the race

As with the Newmarket Handicap, the field for the Australian Cup raced down the centre of the straight. Fifty Stars raced wide at the back of the field then charged to win on the line, a half length in front of West Australian horse Regal Power with Vow and Declare close behind, running third.

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Australian Cup finish – Fifty Stars, Regal Power & Vow and Declare in a line.

Normally, the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival would have ended last Saturday, but next Saturday at Caulfield is the All Star Mile, where a classy field has accepted to run, so it’s a bonus for us Melbourne racing fans.

Alligator Blood is the current favourite, but he faces a really tough field, several multiple Group 1 winners such as Melody Belle, Kolding and Fierce Impact will really test his mettle.

Whatever eventuates, it looks a fascinating race, not to be missed.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Alligator Draws Blood in the Guineas

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Alligator Blood wins the Australian Guineas

The Australian Guineas meeting at Flemington last Saturday was run under sunny skies, so it was more pleasurable than my last outing to the big track. 

The expected showdown between Alligator Blood and Catalyst in the feature race didn’t eventuate, but the tough Queensland gelding, niggled most of the way by rank outsider Commodus, won his first Group 1 race comfortably by 1¼ lengths from the fast finishing West Australian gelding Superstorm and Soul Patch. Catalyst failed to fire and finished sixth.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I arrived at  Flemington shortly after 1.00pm where Race 2, the Roy Higgins Quality was in progress. It was won by King of Leogrance from Dabiyr and Naval Warfare.

As there was plenty of time on hand I headed for the stalls area to see who had arrived on course. The Guineas contenders were there and the first I came across was none other than Alligator Blood.

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Alligator Blood looking bright in his stall

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Alabama Express

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Soul Patch

Back trackside Race 3, the Listed Very Special  Kids Plate was next up. Run over 1000 metres it was a race for two year olds and was won quite impressively by Ilovemyself from River Night and Time Is Precious.

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Ilovemyself winning the Very Special Kids Plate

Warm favourite Sylvia’s Mother won race 4, the Group 3 Frances Tressady Stakes from Mamzelle Tess and Fidelia.

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Sylvia’s Mother (yellow silks) wins the Frances Tressady Stakes

Most of the races preceding the Guineas were not terribly interesting, but good for photography practice.

Another Group 3 , race 5 was the Shaftesbury Avenue Handicap and was won by Blazejowski a grey son of Dash For Cash who coincidently won the 2002 Australian Guineas. Morvada finished second and starting favourite Age of Chivalry third.

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Blazejowski, Morvada & Age of Chivalry cross the finish line together

The highly touted Western Australian mare Fabergino, having her first start in the East, led  from the start to the finish to easily win Race 6, the Listed Bob Hoysted Handicap, a sprint over 1000 metres down the long Flemington straight.

She won by over a length from Embrace Me and Haunted.

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Fabergino wins the Bob Hoysted Handicap

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Fabergino returns to scale

As the Australian Guineas was next to jump we headed to the mounting yard for the pre-race parade and watched the running of the Surround Stakes in Sydney on the big screen. New Zealand filly Probabeel stole the prize from Funstar with Xilong running third. Fellow New Zealander and stablemate Te Akau Shark took out the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes later in the afternoon.

Meanwhile back at Flemington the small Guineas field was parading in the mounting yard.

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Alligator Blood

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I’ve described the 2020 Australian Guineas above, and was delighted that Alligator Blood was victorious and glad that I managed to get some good photos of him in action.

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Alligator Blood defeats Superstorm & Soul Patch

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Alligator Blood on his way to the barriers

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Alligator Blood returns to scale – a delighted Ryan Maloney throws his goggles to the crowd on the fence

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A pat from trainer David Vandyke

Alligator Blood’s next race is the All Star Mile at Caulfield on March 14. I do hope his connections don’t burn him out with over racing. I would not be disappointed if he doesn’t run in the ASM. He has after all run and won five races since early December 2019 with hardly a break between.

Next weekend is Super Saturday at Flemington again, featuring the Group 1 Australian Cup and Newmarket Handicap.

As I’ve been writing this post a big truck has been digging a hole in the footpath and making a hell of a racket – very distracting!