Thursday, September 30, 2010

2010 Spring Racing Season – Week 10 – Turnbull Stakes Day & Randwick Super Saturday

Shoot Out (left) - photo from The Age
The remarkable and surprising draw in the AFL Grand Final last weekend has forced the VRC to run Turnbull Stakes day on Sunday instead of Saturday, which will of course be dominated by the Grand Final replay in Melbourne.

Sydney however will be featuring a spring Super Saturday at Randwick with four Group One races on the cards as well as several Group Two competitions. The feature race is the Epsom Handicap over 1600 metres.

But first let’s consider the Turnbull Stakes, a Group One race over 2000 metres. It has a very classy field despite So You Think and Whobegotyou not being nominated. Shoot Out, Typhoon Tracy, Metal Bender and Shocking are among the quality runners, so it should be a fascinating race. I’m looking forward to seeing if Shoot Out, over the longer distance at Flemington, can redeem his reputation. He’ll have to beat Shocking of course, who loves Flemington and can certainly run the distance. Typhoon Tracy will be racing over 2000 metres for the first time in her career. She failed last year over 1800 metres in the Underwood Stakes, but her trainer seems confident that this year is different. Metal Bender, in his first race in Melbourne, managed to run third in the Underwood, but may appreciate the famous Flemington straight. He’s too good to leave out of the main chances.

Dariana who ran second to So You Think in the Underwood Stakes is likely to be competitive, and can’t be dismissed out of hand. The field also has Sydney Cup winner Jessicabeel, Victorian Derby winner Monaco Consul and Descarado, another son of High Chaparral, who ran second to Shoot Out in the AJC Derby earlier this year and Faint Perfume who, though failing to exhibit her usual brilliance so far this spring, may fire over the longer distance. In a word, a super field for what should be a super race. It was won last year by Efficient, who alas has been discounted from running this spring by the niggling injury that scratched him from the Melbourne Cup last year and the year before.

Former champion Weekend Hussler, after a long, injury forced, break, returns to racing in the Group Two Gilgai Stakes, a sprint over 1200 metres. Current sprinting star Hay List is entered for this race as well and will be hard to beat again. Let’s hope the Hussler comes back in good form and remains injury free.

Considering the Turnbull field, the Randwick Group One races seem lacking in class, not that you can really discount Danleigh or Black Piranha in the Epsom Handicap, or Trusting who ran a very good second to More Joyous last Saturday in the George Main Stakes, but it seems weak by comparison.

The Flight Stakes a Group One race for three year old fillies over 1600 metres looks much more interesting. More Strawberries and Parables staged a great battle for the lead the last time they met in the Tea Rose Stakes, with More Strawberries prevailing on that occasion. They meet again in the Flight Stakes and one would expect the same outcome, with perhaps Parables turning the tables on More Strawberries this time. Throw in Yosei who beat a bunch of talented colts in the Group One Sires Produce Stakes earlier this year, and you have another classy contender, along with Sasa who may also figure in the finish.

The Metropolitan – a Group One race over 2400 metres has the Gai Waterhouse trained Herculian Prince out to redeem his shocking run last weekend in the Colin Stephen Quality which was won by old timer No Wine No Song who is also entered in this race. The field in all is rather dull and uninspiring so I will not even attempt to speculate on its likely outcome.

The fourth (though not in the order of running) Group One at Randwick is the Spring Champion Stakes over 2000 metres for three year olds. Peter Snowden has a high opinion of his runner Retrieve in this and he certainly looks the top pick, followed by Erewhon and Praecido and Giresun.

Super Sydney mare Hot Danish showed she’d lost none of her dash when resuming two weeks ago, winning the Premiere Stakes by 2½ lengths. How can one go past her in the Group Two Lexus Shorts (1200 metres) this Saturday? Her main, though hardly threatening, competition appears to be Albert The Fat who won the BTC Cup in autumn, Demerit , Tickets, Shellscrape and fellow mare Montana Flyer.

Despite Grand Final fever continuing, though in a lower key fashion than last week, a good weekend of racing is in the offing.

Go Pies! Go Tracy! Go Shoot Out!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Strike a Light! Cat Politics has a Kindle

My brand new Kindle arrived today from Amazon and I’ve been exploring its capabilities.

It’s a pretty object and looks even more handsome in its leather cover.

This is what it looks like before you switch on the power…


The picture changes every time you turn the Kindle on and off.

This version of Kindle has free Global wireless, so I could instantly log onto the Amazon Kindle store and browse the Kindle books on offer.

I selected a childhood favourite, Treasure Island and it downloaded instantly.


You may wonder at me, a dedicated book worm, and devotee of the physical book, succumbing to an ebook reader, but I figured it was about time I got with the trend. I do not have a mobile phone nor an ipod, let alone an ipad, so as gadgetry goes the ebook struck me as my sort of thing. Think of the shelf space and forests it will save!

I have been exploring the Project Gutenberg site and have discovered a veritable treasure trove of old, out of print and hard to get novels. For instance, all Josephine Tey’s detective novels are available for free in ebook format on the Australian Project Gutenberg site. I can send the text files to my Amazon Kindle account and have them converted to Kindle format for free.

I look forward to exploring the world of ebooks and testing my Kindle further.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Footy Fever Relief – Mick Thomas & Michael Barclay at Basement Discs

mick_thomas 1
At lunchtime yesterday, Melbourne’s city streets were teeming with thousands of footy fans decked out in the colours, black and white and black, white and red, of the two teams who are fighting out the Grand Final as I write this piece. The traditional pre final parade was about to happen.

I managed to avoid most of the crowds by weaving down lane ways and streets off the main thoroughfares to Basement Discs, my objective being to see Mick Thomas and Michael Barclay performing an in store, and not watch the parade.

It was a wise choice. Mick Thomas is a consummate performer, witty, wry and musically delightful. He of course needs no introduction to Australian readers, but for those who read this blog beyond the Antipodeans’ shores, Mick Thomas was the front man of popular rock band Weddings Parties Anything in the 1980s and 90s and later with The Sure Thing.

He was touting his new CD entitled A Head Full of Road Kill recorded inadvertently in Germany. Inadvertently, as Mick explained, because they had no intention of recording a live album, until they ended up in a studio (they thought they’d been booked for a gig) and it all happened.

Ripper stuff! The duo performed several songs from the new album to the large enthusiastic audience.
Mick Thomas is one the great Australian song writers. His songs are pithy, witty and name check familiar suburbs of Melbourne and sites around Australia.

Michael Barclay is a long time associate of Mick Thomas and vocalist /drummer in Weddings Parties Anything. Yesterday he played the box he was sitting on, and provided very tasteful backing vocals.

Yet again another very enjoyable musical interlude in the working day.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

2010 Spring Racing Season – Week 9 – The Manikato Stakes

Hay List at Moonee Valley 11/9/10
As the AFL Grand Final is to be contested in Melbourne on Saturday, the Group One Manikato Stakes will be run on Friday night at Moonee Valley. It used to be run on the same day as the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, but in their infinite wisdom, the MVRC split the accustomed program into two meets, no doubt hoping to augment their coffers. I’ve never been to a night meeting, but I believe they are quite well attended and as much fun as a day meeting, but I prefer the sun shining on the jockey silks and the glossy coats of the equine contestants.

A small but select field will be contesting the Manikato Stakes, a sprint over 1200 metres. Highly regarded seasoned sprinter, All Silent returns in this, but he’ll have to be pretty much up to scratch to beat the brilliant Hay List who I recently saw in the McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley, where he won convincingly.

Reward For Effort who came third on that occasion has a chance to redeem himself as the track is likely to be rated good with little rain falling this week, suiting a horse who prefers it on the dry side. Other good runners who may surprise with an upset are Love Conquers All and True Persuasion. Hay List looks the winner on paper, despite his trainer having doubts about his ability to perform at night.

The race card at Moonee Valley looks very good over all with the Group Two JRA Cup over Cox Plate distance (2040 metres) giving stayers an opportunity to show off their talent. It’s good to see that Linton is part of the field. He’s won at Moonee Valley before, in the autumn, when I saw him win the Alister Clarke Stakes. Other familiar names are Alcopop, one of the favourites for last year’s Melbourne Cup, Precedence, Belscenica and last week’s Naturalism Stakes winner Rainbow Styling.

The Group Three Champagne Stakes, a race over 1200 metres for three year old fillies has a very classy field with the likes of Military Rose, Chance Bye, Solar Charged and Shaaheq all scheduled to run. Pretty tough picking the winner as the above mentioned fillies are all evenly matched.

In Sydney on Saturday, Randwick hosts the Group One George Main Stakes. Two Gai Waterhouse runners will, for the first time, be going head for head. Old warhorse Theseo and super mare More Joyous both tackle the 1600 metre race. It’s a small field that also includes Danleigh and Black Piranha. Can More Joyous, who blitzed the Theo Marks field winning by 3½ lengths, beat her stable mate Theseo? It will certainly be interesting watching her try.

Last week, So You Think was spectacular in the Underwood Stakes. Is he the new superstar we’ve all been waiting for? A magnificent looking horse, he seems to be invincible this spring. His stable mate Dariana was also impressive with her fighting second in the race, narrowly beating Metal Bender, who got a bit lost in the reverse going of the Caulfield circuit.

As for the AFL Grand Final on Saturday which will transfix most Melburnians to their TV sets, I’m hoping Collingwood can defeat St Kilda and win their first final for twenty years. Though I don’t as a rule follow football, it can’t be totally ignored in Melbourne, being embedded into the culture of this city. If people ask who my favourite AFL team is I always say the Magpies (Collingwood); contrarily the most loved and the most hated team in the league.

I still remember the last time Collingwood won in 1990. We were flying out to the Solomon Islands the morning after the game, and the airport was full of hung overed fans stumbling through the metal detector, still dazed after the celebration.

Update - Saturday evening

WOW! The AFL Grand Final ended up in a draw, so the footy season is not over yet. The Final will be recontested next week.

As for the racing, the two winners of the Group One events this weekend won easily.

Hay List slaughtered the Manikato Stakes field in sensational fashion. What a brilliant sprinter he is!

More Joyous won the George Main Stakes by several lengths. She will eventually be contesting the Cox Plate. Look out, So You Think!
The spring racing carnival is shaping up to be one the best in years.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Que Paso at the Basement Discs

Indeed, you may well ask “what happened” (in Spanish) at Basement Discs today. Chris Altmann and band Que Paso rocked the socks off a select audience in a lively lunchtime in store.

Playing songs from Chris’s new album Que Paso, Chris and his cast of thousands (it seemed) band delivered a foot tapping set of feel good rock n roll, with a touch of country rock thrown in for good measure.

With three electric guitars, a saxophone, and drums, you’d be right to assume that it was not exactly a quiet set, but a very enervating performance of classic rock songs, all written by and sung by Chris Altmann. He’s a talented guy!

The band at Basement Discs today comprised Chris Altmann on drums and leading vocals (yes, a singing drummer), Mike Hager (once an employee of Basement Discs), Paul Thomas and Cal Walker all on guitar, Sam Boon on saxophone with Suzannah Espie providing backing vocals.

Melbourne is truly the music capital of Australia – good bands such as Que Paso seem to be forming all the time. I like the mix and match nature of the Melbourne music scene, musicians and singers seem to be in demand across several musical outfits.

Check out Chris and Que Paso at his
My Space Page

Thursday, September 16, 2010

2010 Spring Racing Season - week 8 – Underwood Stakes Day

So You Think
The feature race this coming Saturday is the Group One Underwood Stakes, run at Caulfield over 1800 metres. Once again a top field has accepted and includes potential star of the spring So You Think, Sydney’s star performer Metal Bender as well as Makybe Diva Stakes winner Shocking, and Heart of Dreams who has returned this spring in very good form and was the Underwood winner last year. What a race it will be!

So You Think looks the one to beat, though Metal Bender is sure to be very competitive. His former trainer Jack Denham declared Metal Bender to be as good as Might & Power, so that’s something to consider. Shocking has already been declared by some pundits the 2010 Melbourne Cup winner, so cannot be taken lightly in this race. Flemington is his favourite track, but who knows Caulfield may suit him just as well at the longer distance.

As well as the Underwood, the Group One Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes is also on the program and has attracted another class field. The super Peter Moody runner Doubtful Jack will most likely start favourite, but he has stiff competition with the likes of Rightfully Yours (full brother to Heart of Dreams). The South Australian Derby winner Kidnapped begins his spring campaign in this race and classy Sydney filly Sister Madly will be having her first run in Melbourne. She has good form against More Joyous who stunned everyone with her win in the Theo Marks last Saturday. The beautifully bred La Rocket beat a handy field of middle distance runners in the autumn, though it is unlikely that he’ll succeed in doing that again here.

The Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Preludes, one for colts and geldings, and one for fillies are of interest as well. Toorak Toff looks the one to beat in the colts’ race, with Anacheeva, Skilled and Kudakulari being the other likely goers. The fillies’ race is a more open affair with smart fillies like Yosei, Willow Creek, Panipique, Ringa Ringa Rosie, Divorces and Pinker Pinker all in with a chance.

I’ve been following a colt called Altius who is running in the first race at Caulfield this Saturday. He’s a half brother to Elvstroem and Haradasun, being out of Circles of Gold by Redoute’s Choice, and has shown he has inherited some of the family ability by winning his first two races on rural race tracks and running second to the smart Hollowlea at his last start at Flemington.

Speaking of famous racehorse families, Sunline’s last foal, a filly by Hussonet called Sunsett, is due to debut on a racetrack shortly, after a promising trial.

Rosehill this weekend features the Tea Rose Stakes a Group Two race for three year old fillies over 1500 metres. It has a super field of Sydney’s top fillies – More Strawberries, Parables, Amber’s Waltz, Gybe to name the prime candidates. Another interesting runner is Fibrillation, a grey filly by Diatribe who, earlier this month, won her debut race in heavy going by 6½ lengths.

Also this weekend at Rosehill, Sydney’s favourite mare Hot Danish makes her first appearance for the spring in the Group Two Premier Stakes. It’s a small field, so she should easily win this one.

So yet another excellent day’s racing to look forward to this weekend. What a super spring racing season it has been so far! It’s nice to know that it will get even better as the big rich races come round and competition gets stiffer.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Day at the Races Spring 2010

The weather couldn’t have been better than it was yesterday, a perfect mild sunny day – not too hot, not too cold, and despite thinking I had underdressed for the day, I was comfortable all afternoon. The threatened showers didn’t eventuate, though the public lawn was soggy, especially near the outside bar - the racing equivalent of a sticky carpet I suppose.

But that’s all beside the point. I arrived at Moonee Valley in time to place a bet on the third race, the Curran Chemicals Stakes, a 1200 metre race for three year old fillies. I figured the favourite Dutchy’s Lass was the one to go for. Unfortunately she over raced, leading the field at a blistering pace, but by the turn was noticeably tiring and dropped out. The race was won by Sussuro having only the second race of her career, and possibly one to watch for in the future.

Very few favourites won as was borne out in the fourth race. I had my money on Miss Octopussy and Avionics (pictured below).


The race, the Sphinx Hotel Handicap, for mares, also over 1200 metres, was won by 26/1 shot Venus World.

race4_venus world

The fifth race, the Pulse Pharmacy Handicap, true to the afternoon’s form was won by outsider Pertubo (15/1)
Was I on him? No.

It started getting more interesting as the quality races drew closer, and the Group 3 McEwen Stakes was next on the agenda.

I ventured out to the parade yard to photograph some of the contestants.


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Reward for Effort

Hay List

Hay List was the outstanding winner, totally blitzing the rest of the field with Catapulted running second and Reward for Effort, third.

Race seven the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes was the feature race, the one we’d all been waiting for. I decided to try and get some snaps of the runners most especially Shoot Out and Typhoon Tracy.

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Shoot Out - a magnificent bright bay horse – very pretty.

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Typhoon Tracy – I was expecting her to be dainty, but she is quite a hefty girl - bigger than I thought she’d be.

A stunning good looker – Rundle

Whobegotyou – the winner!

An hour before the Dato Tan was due to run, it was announced that Typhoon Tracy would not be running on the pace (i.e. taking the lead) contrary to everyone’s expectations. Hissing Sid ended up taking the lead and Tracy raced mid field. Shoot Out was positioned on the inside in about fourth place, a mistake as it turns out as he was blocked in when it mattered. Tracy and Whobe emerged from the pack at the turn, but Whobegotyou was too good, beating Typhoon Tracy by a couple of lengths, with Shoot Out running third. Pretty much the result expected, with the top three horses filling the places.

My luck certainly wasn’t in yesterday – I didn’t pick any winners, and ended up with three thirds and a second. So much for following the form – it was anybody’s guess in most cases who the winner would be.

I stayed for the Stock Stakes, and had my money on the class runner Faint Perfume, who came ninth. Avienus, a 12/1 outsider was the winner.

So it was a disappointing day, betting wise, but otherwise a pleasant afternoon’s entertainment in the sun, soaking up some much needed Vitamin D after the grey wet days we’ve been having lately.

There was a bigger crowd than I expected, but it was not overwhelming, mostly drunk young men in party mode, who seemed to feel a need to dress up in silly costumes. Take this bloke, dressed as the Tooth Fairy.


He was having a great time with his mates, posing for photographs with police crowd control officers at one stage.

I caught the bus home, and enjoyed a conversation about racing with an old bloke I met on the bus stop all the way home.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Heaven Among The Yearlings – Sweet Vibes at Basement Discs

The Yearlings are an alt country duo from South Australia , and being heavily influenced by the music of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, coined their name obviously from the Gillian Welch album Hell Among The Yearlings. That’s not to say they are complete copycats, despite the sensibility of their music being closely aligned to the back woods Americana sound of that other famous duo, The Yearlings have their own seductive style and write their own distinctive songs.

I know I’ve been cynical about The Yearlings in the past, but they won me over again with their short set at an in store at
Basement Discs at lunchtime today.

The Yearlings are husband and wife team Robyn Chalklen and Chris Parkinson, and they have a fine new CD called Sweet Runaway, several songs of which they played today.

It was a set of great sweetness - beautiful songs, great accompaniment and divine harmony singing.

Check them out on their website or
My Space.

If you’re partial to artists like Gillian Welch or The Audreys, you’ll love The Yearlings.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

2010 Spring Racing Season – Week 7 – Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes

Typhoon Tracy
As I will be attending the races at Moonee Valley this coming Saturday, it’s pleasing to see it boast an excellent program of racing with two Group Two races, the feature race being the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes.

Formerly known as the Feehan Stakes, this race over 1600 metres (a mile in old parlance) has always been a good indicator for the Cox Plate being almost a mini Cox Plate itself. This year it has attracted a top class field of eight runners that include Whobegotyou, Shoot Out and Typhoon Tracy. Alas, So You Think is being saved for next week’s Turnbull Stakes, so I won’t get to see him in the flesh. However, I’ll be more than compensated by seeing long time favourites Shoot Out and Typhoon Tracy.

Whobegotyou won this race last year, beating Mic Mac with Singapore mare Jolie’s Shinju running third. He faces tougher competition this year, though Shoot Out will be racing at Moonee Valley for the first time. He was taken to Moonee Valley for a gallop earlier this week, and it was observed that he didn’t handle the track all that well. Of course that may change on race day when he’s got some opposition to chase. Typhoon Tracy, recently awarded the 2009/2010 Champion Racehorse of the Year, is a winner on the course and has drawn an inside gate which will pretty well ensure she takes up a forward position without expending too much effort, so may this time give Whobe a run for his money.

One of Lloyd Williams Melbourne Cup hopefuls, Rundle, looking at his form, could surprise as could the other Williams runner, old warhorse Zipping, who runs well fresh. Bart Cummings’ stable is represented by Brightnight and Precedence, but the 1600 metres could be a tad too short for both of them.

Whatever the result it looks a top notch race, though of course my heart will be with Tracy & Shoot Out.

The Group 2 Stock Stakes, also run over 1600 metres is restricted to mares four years old and upwards. I’m looking forward to seeing Faint Perfume and her arch rival Valdemoro racing, but they face real competition with the in form Ghostmilk from Peter Moody’s stable. Ghostmilk loves the wet, has won on the course so is top choice and will probably start as favourite.

Though it hasn’t rained as much this week as it did last week, the Moonee Valley track will most likely be rated slow at best, with the weather bureau predicting showers for Saturday - hopefully not too many in light of my attendance at the track.

As well as the two Group 2 races, the Group 3 McEwen Stakes, a sprint over 1000 metres has attracted top sprinters Reward For Effort and Hay List as well as speedy mare Rostova, so along with some interesting Listed races the racing card for Saturday is of excellent quality.

In Sydney at Rosehill the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes is the feature race. More Joyous, who began her spring campaign a fortnight ago with a win in the Sheraco Stakes, is one of the main contestants in the field, along with Sniper’s Bullet, Black Piranha and Brilliant Light.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

And the winner is…

Julia Gillard!


Yes folks, Australia now has a Government after weeks of suspense (??), watching the Independents make up their minds.

It is my preferred outcome; I did vote for Labor after all. And Julia Gillard, now Prime Minister for real, is a refreshing change from the god botherers of the past. Besides living in sin, and being childless, she is also an atheist. What more could you ask of a Prime Minister!

However, she won’t have an easy time of it, bedding down as she must with a group of very independent Independents and a hostile Opposition. Challenging I’d say. Let’s hope she’s up to it and manages to go full term.

It will interesting to see what unfolds in the coming weeks, months and years.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Aussiecon 4 – A brief review

I don’t know why I bothered going to the Science Fiction Convention, as I must admit I found it rather a tedious experience. I failed to find any of my old friends from my days at Space Age Books back in the 1970s, other than Justin of Slow Glass Books who had a table in the dealer’s room.

In order to enjoy these sort of conventions, I guess you have to be part of the fan scene or a writer in the genre. I eschew clubs and fan type activities, being something of a lone wolf, and even if I do enjoy Science Fiction and Fantasy, it’s not the only genre I read.

I consulted my old diary last night to see what my impression of the 1975 World Science Fiction Convention was. Apparently I was less than inspired then as now.

However, here’s a photo from the costume parade of Aussiecon 1 in 1975. I am the one in the middle, dressed as Kali the Destroyer from the Roger Zelazny novel Lord of Light.

Back to the future … I did manage to capture some of atmosphere of Aussiecon 4 in photos…

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The Convention Venue in the Melbourne Convention Centre

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The Dealers Room where you could purchase books, t-shirts, posters and assorted paraphernalia.

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There was a table displaying an array of old Hugo Awards. This one struck me as being quite striking and beautiful with an Art Deco style .

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Pretty well de rigueur, you’d say, someone dressed as a "Star Wars" Storm Trooper outside the dealers room, who kindly posed for this shot.

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Cat girl or demon? She obliged me with this pose.

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A few more Storm troopers collecting for charity.

I attended a book launch for Deborah Kalin – an excuse to sit down, as my legs were aching from being on my feet for three hours. Old age is setting in. Deborah was launching Shadow Bound the second book in her fantasy series The Binding, which I must admit I have not read.

After that I decided to call it a day, caught a tram to Elizabeth Street and dropped into a TAB to watch the running of the Makybe Diva Stakes - which by the way was won by last years Melbourne Cup winner Shocking -before catching another tram home.

So a change of scene for Saturday, not overwhelmingly exciting, but interesting I suppose.

Next Saturday I’m going to the races at Moonee Valley to catch the action of the turf. More my speed than Science Fiction Conventions methinks.

Moody Acoustic Music for a Rainy Day in Melbourne

gin_club 013

For a change, instead of a week day, Basement Discs presented an excellent Saturday afternoon in store performance by Brisbane band The Gin Club yesterday.

They were worth the trip into the city despite the nasty weather – a windy wet day, though not particularly cold for once.

The Gin Club are a seven or eight piece outfit, and each of the band members appear to be multi skilled, swapping instruments, and taking turn about to lead the singing. Band members are Ben Salter (pictured above), Adrian Stoyles, Scott Regan (also above on the right), Brad Pickersall, Conor Macdonald, Bridget Lewis (on cello), Ola Karlsson, Dan Mansfield and Angus Agars. Not all of the abovementioned were present yesterday.

So how would one describe their music? It’s kind of dark and moody, and reminded me a bit of the Willard Grant Conspiracy, sort of folk rock, quite beautiful with the songs having engaging melodies and offbeat lyrics.

All the vocalists (most of the band) were blessed with great voices and the harmonies were swooningly lovely.

It was yet another superb Basement In Store. Check out The Gin Club on their web page or My Space.

Friday, September 03, 2010

2010 Spring Racing Season – Week 6 – Makybe Diva Stakes

So You Think - photo by Pat Scala/The Age
I won’t have much time this week to study the form or even write with any detail on the racing this coming weekend, despite there being some fantastic races scheduled - five Group 2 races, the Makybe Diva Stakes over 1600metres, the Danehill Stakes over 1200 metres and the Let’s Elope Stakes over 1400 metres at Flemington and the Chelmsford Stakes (1600 metres) and the Furious Stakes (1400 metres) at Randwick in Sydney.

I should have guessed last week that So You Think was the one to beat, despite the track conditions. He’s a splendid looking animal and showed his outstanding class winning the Memsie Stakes, out gunning Whobegotyou and Shoot Out. I was disappointed that Shoot Out didn’t win – serves me right for being sentimental about him and Typhoon Tracy, though neither was disgraced in their runs, finishing as they did in the first four. I look forward to the rematch at Moonee Valley in a fortnight, where I hope to have the pleasure of witnessing the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes in person.

Anyway, the Makybe Diva stakes looks almost as interesting a race as the Memsie Stakes. The acceptances include Rebel Raider, Heart of Dreams, Danleigh, Vigor (who won this race last year) and Monaco Consul to name a few of my favourite horses competing in it. Another heavy track is on the cards, as it has rained again this week and is supposed to bucket down on Saturday. The drought is definitely over in Melbourne, after years of fast tracks while it lasted.

Star Witness takes on top filly Military Rose in The Danehill Stakes. He was beaten by Toorak Toff in his last run, and Toorak Toff won the Golden Rose last weekend. Still I do reckon Star Witness has a chance to redeem that loss in the Danehill Stakes, as long as he can hold out the likes of Soul, and Buffering , not to mention Military Rose.

The Let’s Elope Stakes is for mares and Dariana, who did not run in the Memsie, is nominated for this. She probably needs it longer but will be worth watching. You can’t underestimate the old master Bart Cummings as was proved last weekend.

Also running at Flemington is Linton resuming in the Sofitel, a listed race over 1400 metres. He’s one of Lloyd Williams Melbourne Cup contenders, and although only lightly raced, is a talented young stayer who I had the good fortune to witness winning the Alister Clarke Stakes in autumn at Moonee Valley.

Speaking of Melbourne Cup hopefuls, it’s great to see 2010 Sydney Cup winner Jessicabeel beginning her spring campaign in the Group 3 Tramway Handicap at Randwick. 1400 metres is probably too short for her, but it sure will be interesting to see how she runs from a Melbourne Cup point of view.

Metal Bender will be facing off with Theseo and Triple Honour in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes and Parables seems to have the Furious Stakes field at her mercy.

I won’t be able to watch much racing tomorrow, as I will be otherwise occupied on Saturday afternoon, firstly with an In Store performance by Brisbane band The Gin Club at Basement Discs, then a visit to the World Science Fiction Convention which is being held in Melbourne this year.

Aussiecon 4, as it is designated, has been going since 2 September. I had no great desire to attend the whole shebang, so bought a day ticket for Saturday, where I hope to catch up with old friends from the Science Fiction scene of long ago. Aussiecon 1 was held in 1975, and was the first World Science Fiction convention held in Australia. I attended that one, and remember being on a panel with Ursula Le Guin who was the guest of honour that year, and also won the Hugo for her novel The Dispossessed.

So good blogging opportunities abound this weekend. More later