Sunday, June 19, 2022

Sophie–AKA the kitten from hell

sophie_patio 5
Sophie in the back garden

Sophie has now been a part of the household for two months, and during that time has grown and looks more like a small cat than a kitten these days.

Admittedly she does have a healthy appetite and loves food,  eating everything we have given her.

Those innocent blue eyes belie her feisty aggressive nature, more often than not she resorts to biting and scratching and smooches are a rarity. Our hands and arms look like we’ve been infected with a pox, though since her last visit to the vet for booster shots, it’s not quite so bad. The vet obligingly clipped her claws, so they’re not as sharp. I don’t really agree with claw clipping, but in Sophie’s case it has made a difference, and the wounds are healing.

We mostly keep her indoors, allowing her out under supervision every so often.

Her nature tends to veer towards the fierce Bengal side, rather than the talkative Siamese, though like a typical oriental she takes a keen interest in everything we do around the house, “helping” hanging out the washing, by playing with the pegs for instance.

As she is the first kitten we have adopted who has not had to deal with an already resident cat, I think emphasises her aggressive tendencies, as previous kittens expended a lot of that sort of energy on the resident cat and let us be.

We can only hope that when she grows up she will be a more restful and companionable beast.

Other than raising a crazy kitten, not much else is happening, though we are saddened by the death of my sister in law on 11 June 2022.

She was a lovely person, kind, thoughtful and loving to her family, a pleasure to know and will be greatly missed. It is such a shame that most of the last year of her life was spent undergoing treatment for melanoma, which indeed was the death of her.

We will be attending her funeral next Thursday.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Wickedness with Whiskers

sophie_may 4
Sophie

To be accurate, Sophie at present is pretty quiet and not what we perceive to be her usual  lively self

This is because yesterday she received her first vaccinations and that has caused a reaction whereby she has become quite subdued. Bingo last year also had a negative reaction to his annual  jabs, but was back to his punchy self the next day.

Sophie  has now been part of the domicile for two weeks, so we’ve got to know her tricks and tendencies quite well.

She is generally a bundle of energy and very playful, even retrieving one of her toys when you throw it for her. And she’s a scratcher, a leg climber and a distracting small beast where she insists on human participation in her play.

Her wickedness comes from her attempts to claw her way up fly screen doors and  sharpening her claws on the stereo speakers, which B has now turned to the wall to prevent her doing so. She also drags the tea towels to the floor when they’re hanging on the oven door.

Now about 11 or 12 weeks old, she has grown a bit, but is still very small. Though not a greedy cat, she does mostly like a variety of food and unlike Bingo doesn’t bolt it down.

sophie_may 1

She hates her photo being taken, so you have to be patient and wait for an opportunity to capture her image.

Whatever, she’s certainly enlivened our usual routines with her presence.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Here’s Trouble

Sophie
Sophie

With Bingo now gone missing for eight months, B had a strong feeling last Wednesday that he would find the perfect replacement on Gumtree.

The prices for pedigree oriental cats is astronomical these days, over $2000 in some cases, but on Wednesday there was an advertisement for a Siamese/Bengal cross kitten at a reasonable price. The kitten looked very much like a Siamese with blue eyes and points, so he rang the seller and consequently  arranged to drive all the way to Wantirna to purchase the kitten. She was the only kitten for sale, and the seller said that he was minding her for someone else. As she has not been vaccinated or microchipped explained the reduced price, and on first sight we liked what we saw – an exceptionally  cute and pretty kitten.

So we now have a new feline companion and her name is Sophie and she is about nine weeks old and very small.  Her mother apparently was Siamese and her father a Bengal, so she could grow into an interestingly patterned cat, with any luck she might develop spots and stripes.

I wanted to call her Dido, but I’ve been overruled and she is now Sophie, which is OK by me.

Anyway back to the kitten, Sophie has settled in well and loves warmth and affection, and has a vocal opinion about everything. We have discovered she likes cooked chicken, though she is not a greedy cat as Bingo was.

Being female we hope she won’t have a desire to wander. We plan to keep her inside for the most part, still mindful of Bingo’s disappearance.

The next few months should be more interesting than normal, distracting too with kitten mayhem and madness.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Zaaki – A Class Act in the All Star Mile

all star mile_zaaki 9
Zaaki winning the All Star Mile

With the All Star Mile scheduled at the relatively early time of 3.40pm it wasn’t what you would call a marathon session trackside on Saturday at Flemington.

The trains to Flemington were running at 20 minute intervals with the last train to the course expected to run at 1.40pm, so I took my time getting there, arriving around 2.00pm.

As the support card was not all that interesting I didn’t bother to watch Race 4, but headed for the stalls area to get some photos of the All Star Mile runners in their stalls.

Not all were present at that time, but I found a few in both the lower and upper areas.

stalls_callsign mav 2
Callsign Mav

stalls_cascadian  1
Cascadian

stalls_lunar fox  2
Lunar Fox

stalls_mr brightside  2
Mr Brightside

stalls_pinstriped  1
Pinstriped

stalls_sierra sue 2
Sierra Sue

stalls_zaaki  1
Zaaki

After tarrying in the stalls area I figured I should get some action photo practice in Race 5, the Country Mile, a 1600 metres race for all comers, so headed to my favourite spot on the Front Lawn

This resulted in a win for Glassey Miss who won narrowly from Gracias Amigo  and Intellective. I’ve never heard of any of the aforementioned I must admit.

race 5_country mile _finish 2
Glassey Miss wins the Country Mile

race 5_country mile_glassey miss 1
Glassey Miss on her way to the barriers

The weather gods were kind on Saturday and the afternoon was bright and sunny, quite hot in fact, and certainly a pleasant contrast to the relentless rain last year at Moonee Valley.

I made sure this time that my camera was set correctly and was glad that I managed to get some good photos of the star performer.

As previously mentioned it was a short afternoon trackside, as the All Star Mile was the next race on the card.

Before that happened there was a bit of pomp and ceremony that involved flags and drums in the mounting yard, which I couldn’t be bothered watching having seen it all before in 2019.

Soon enough the runners were heading onto the track.

Zaaki whizzed out first, so I had to be fast to get photos of him going to the barriers.

all star mile_zaaki  2
Zaaki

all star mile_i'm thunderstruck  4
I’m Thunderstruck

all star mile_streets of avalon  3
Streets of Avalon

all star mile_inspirational girl 3
Inspirational Girl

all star mile_lightsaber  2
Lightsaber

all star mile_sierra sue  1
Sierra Sue

all star mile_mr brightside 1
Mr Brightside

all star mile_pinstripe  1
Pinstriped

all star mile_tofane  2
Tofane

Zaaki jumped from the widest barrier, but a pearler of a ride from Jamie Kah had him up on the pace shortly after the race started. Callsign Mav and Lightsaber led the field early, but Zaaki took over as they raced down the straight and won convincingly from I’m Thunderstruck and Streets of Avalon.

all star mile_zaaki 8
Zaaki – full speed ahead

all star mile_finish 3_runners up
Runners up – I’m Thunderstruck, Streets of Avalon & Mr Brightside

I called it quits after the All Star Mile, catching the first train back to the city and was home by 5.00pm.

The Melbourne Autumn  Carnival is now over, except for the William Reid Stakes next Friday night at Moonee Valley, so I won’t be going to any more race meetings until the Spring, which hopefully this year we will be able attend.

I enjoy my excursions to the races, but will be content to watch the Sydney Group 1 races on my computer from now on.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Seeing Stars

all star mile_finish 3
Mystic Journey winning the 2019 All Star Mile

This coming Saturday I’m looking forward to attending the All Star Mile meeting at Flemington, and hopefully getting better photos than I  managed on Super Saturday last weekend.

Imagine my horror when I viewed my photos last week and discovered that most, if not all of them, were blurred and unfixable, but such was the case.

newmarket_rock 'n' horse 1.
Roch ‘n’ Horse – 100/1  shot winner of the 2022 Newmarket Handicap

After much thought on what may have caused this problem, I finally realised that the Auto Focus button on my lens was turned off. I must admit I was puzzled when looking at the settings on my camera that the Auto Focus options were greyed out and inaccessible, but thought little of it at the time as my photos on the camera screen seemed to be OK.

Anyway it was a waste of a sunny day and a salutary lesson I won’t forget in a hurry.

Goodness knows how the Auto Focus button came to be turned off as I always leave those buttons well alone. An inadvertent slip of the finger perhaps resulted in this grievous error.

This year will be the fourth running of the All Star Mile, and I’ve attended all but one – in 2020 Covid restrictions prevented public attendance at the event.

Last year the All Star Mile was run at Moonee Valley and it was a miserable rainy day, so hopefully the weather will be kinder this year; forecast to be partly cloudy and a dry 26°C.

A field of 15 runners will be contesting the race, headed by star performers Zaaki and Inspirational Girl who clashed in the Blamey Stakes recently with Inspirational Girl proving the winner on that occasion. Also in the mix are Group 1 winners such as I’m Thunderstruck , Tofane and Sierra Sue, as well several three year olds – Captivant, Lightsaber and Pinstriped.  Alas Hitotsu’s connections did not accept his  wild card nomination.

The rest of the card is bit ho hum, but at least will afford an opportunity for photography practice.

I’m pleased to see that the All Star Mile will be run mid afternoon at 3.40 pm, so it won’t be a terribly long day trackside.

It’s Golden Slipper Day at Rosehill this Saturday, so it will break up the afternoon pleasantly watching the Sydney racing action on the big screen.

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Inspirational Guineas Day at Flemington

australian guineas_finish 1
Hitotsu wins the Australian Guineas from Lightsaber

Early Saturday morning it bucketed down with rain in Melbourne, but by the time I arrived at the big track it had cleared somewhat, though was overcast in the afternoon.

Quite a change from the sunny days of the previous weeks race meetings. At least it wasn’t hot though it was humid.

As trains were running at 20 minute intervals all afternoon to Flemington, for a change I could take my time getting there, so arrived as Race 3 was in progress, and in plenty of time to watch the fillies and mares  contest Race 4, the Group 3 Frances Tressady Stakes.

After acquiring a race book, I decided to head up the stalls area and try and get a photo of star performer Zaaki who was engaged in Race 6, the Group 2 Blamey Stakes.

Zaaki’s presence at the track was bonus, as I have never seen him in the flesh before, his previous races in Melbourne being over the Spring Racing Carnival, which due to Covid restrictions I was unable to attend.

During the Melbourne Spring, Zaaki won the Group 1 Underwood Stakes and Mackinnon Stakes and was hot favourite for the Cox Plate, before his shock scratching on the morning of the race.

Up in stalls area most of the Guineas contenders had already arrived, so I got some photos of them in their stalls as well.

The first horse I came across was Apache Cat, one of the Living Legends special guests for the meeting. Apache Cat won the Australian Guineas in 2006, so his presence was perfectly appropriate.

stalls_apache cat  2
Apache Cat

stalls_forgot you 1
Forgot You

stalls_profondo 1
Profondo

stalls_pascero 1
Pascero

stalls_lightsaber  1
Lightsaber

I eventually found Zaaki’s stall…

stalls_zaaki 2
Zaaki

and Inspirational Girl was close by.

stalls_inspirational girl  2
Inspirational Girl

Back track side it was almost time for the Frances Tressady Stakes where Annavisto romped in, winning by over 3 lengths from Vespertine and Electric Girl.

race 4_frances tressady_annavista 2
Annavisto wins the Frances Tressady Stakes

race 4_frances tressady_electric girl_vespertine 1
Vespertine and Electric Girl

Flemington was nowhere near crowded and the kid zone was concentrated up the Elms end of the lawn and even had a Ferris Wheel.

ferris wheel
Ferris Wheel

Race 5 was the Inglis Sprint and Overpass was the hot favourite and didn’t disappoint winning fairly easily from Spellcatcher with The Art of Flying two lengths behind running third.

race 5_inglis sprint_finish 5
Overpass overtakes Spellcatcher to win the Inglis Sprint

race 5_inglis sprint_overpass  3
Overpass returns to scale

race 5_inglis sprint_spellcatcher  1
Spellcatcher returns to scale

As the Blamey Stakes was up next I decided to grab a spot on the Mounting Yard fence for some photos of the runners parading.

race 6_blamey stakes_zaaki 4
Zaaki

race 6_blamey stakes_inspirational  girl 1
Inspirational Girl

race 6_blamey stakes_lunar fox
Lunar Fox

race 6_blamey stakes_mr brightside 1
Mr Brightside

The Blamey Stakes is a race over 1600 metres and of course Zaaki was the hot favourite. It was a slowly run race and Zaaki raced on the pace in third spot. He was briefly blocked for a run,  but broke clear to take lead, only to be run down late by Inspirational Girl who pipped him at the post to win by a nose. Corner Pocket ran third.

race 6_blamey stakes_finisht 6
Zaaki and Inspirational Girl fight out the finish in the Blamey Stakes

race 6_blamey stakes_inspirational  girl  6
Inspirational Girl returns to scale

Then it was onward to the feature race of the day, the Australian Guineas. Last year Lunar Fox won it at odds of 300/1, but this year 2021 VRC Derby winner Hitotsu, having his first start since that victory, won the prize.

Profondo was the much hyped favourite for the race, but failed to handle the Melbourne way of going and finished  third last.  Pretty boy Lightsaber raced up near the speed and ran a great race to lose out to Hitotsu by a narrow margin. Sole filly in the race Bon’s A Pearla ran third.

australian guineas_finish 3
Hitotsu, Lightsaber and Bon’s A Pearla as they finished

australian guineas_hitotsu 4
Hitotsu returns to scale

australian guineas_lightsaber 2
Lightsaber on his way to the barriers

australian guineas_bon's a pearla 5
Bon’s A Pearla returns to scale

Hitotsu became the first horse since Mahogany in 1993/94 to win the VRC DerbyAustralian Guineas double – a rare achievement that I am glad I was able to witness in person.

Next Saturday the racing action is again at Flemington with the Australian Cup and Newmarket Handicap the feature Group 1 races. The All Star Mile is scheduled to run the Saturday after.

The latest All Star Mile news is that Hitotsu, Lightsaber and Pinstriped are the wildcard entries, which certainly adds to the allure of the race, which already boasts a quality field of contestants.