Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Miss Andretti Wins at Ascot and Murder and Mayhem in Melbourne

Great news for Australian horse racing last night (Aussie time), was the win of outstanding sprinting mare Miss Andretti at Ascot in England. She set a course record and won by a good margin.

She was my pick, though I didn’t have any money on her. I was fortunate enough to see her race last year in September at my annual day at the races.

The photo above is one I took of her sashed after winning the Manikato Stakes, the first group 1 race of the Spring. I remember a young man standing next to me at the fence, casting aspersions on her ability to win the race. I hope he’s eating his words today. She actually hasn’t lost a race since that day in September last year.

It is only in the past decade that Australian racehorses have been sent with any regularity to compete on the world stage. Overseas horses have been competing in the Melbourne Cup for some time and several of them have been successful, most notably the two Japanese horses that came first and second in last year’s Melbourne Cup. Australasian horses have been quite successful overseas with the great New Zealand mare Sunline winning in Hong Kong, Elvestroem, Haradasun’s big brother, winning in Dubai, Choisir and Takeover Target winning races in England and Horlicks (another New Zealand mare) and Better Loosen Up both winning the Japan Cup.

The most famous Australian racehorse to race overseas was Pharlap. He died in America under mysterious circumstances and it was a common feeling that it was deliberate.

On to something completely different…

Murder on Melbourne Streets

On Monday a person shot three people early in the morning on one of Melbourne’s main streets. This caused half the central business district to be closed down as police searched for the killer. It happened at the other end of the city from where I work, so I was barely affected by it. I was however apprehensive about hanging around outside.

It turns out the guy was a member of the Hells Angel motorcycle club and is still at large. He sounds a very nasty and dangerous customer. The whole incident is dramatic in a tacky sort of way involving a stripper, a party girl and a all night bar. Two of those shot, one fatally, were bystanders who ran to assist the party girl when the gunman was trying to drag her from a taxi by her hair.

I’ve been lucky not to be in the wrong place several times over the years when incidents of extreme violence were happening. At the time of the Russell Street police station bombing of 1986 I had just been picked up by B to go to the market at lunchtime, when a very large explosion rocked the car. The explosion was actually a couple of blocks away, but very powerful. Amazingly, only one person died in that incident, in that it was lunchtime and the streets were full of people.

The Hoddle Street massacre of 1987 was close to home – a few blocks south and east of our street. We could hear the gunshots and the police helicopter going up and down our street looking for the gunman, made it all seem very immediate. That same night a man went on a rampage down the street after being jilted by his ex girlfriend who lived next door to us. He smashed the windscreen of a car down the street and also bashed a neighbour with an iron bar. It was a pretty stupid sort of thing to do, considering the overwhelming police presence that night. It frightened the wits out of us residents lurking fearfully inside. At the time there was no news of the gunman being apprehended so it was a nervous night.

I can only imagine how terrible it must be to live in a State where such violence is commonplace.

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