Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Day At The Races – Cox Plate 2012

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Cox Plate finish – All Too Hard leads with Ocean Park coming hard on his outside.

Yesterday dawned into a bright morning that became overcast with heavy grey clouds in the west threatening rain. But the rain held off, and even though the afternoon was cool and cloudy it stayed fine throughout.

I arrived at Moonee Valley racecourse just before the fourth race, the Telstra Phonewords Stakes, a sprint over 1200 metres. Wending my way through the bookies area, I placed a bet on Hidden Warrior and found my way to the public lawn at the top of the straight to a vacant spot on the fence to watch the race. To my delight, Hidden Warrior won from Haussmann and Chosen Moment.

Race 4 finish from the top of the straight. Hidden Warrior leads by several lengths.

After collecting my winnings – Hidden Warrior paid very well -  I decided to go and watch the Race 5 contenders parade, being particularly interested in It’s A Dundeel. He’s a stunning looking colt by High Chaparral and has a certain presence about him.

It’s A Dundeel (No 1) with Viking Star (No 2) and Super Cool (No 4) on their way to the barriers.

Unfortunately It’s A Dundeel didn’t win - his first defeat in his short career. He raced at the tail of the field for most of the race, and the winner Super Cool was too flash for him in the finish. Viking Star ran third.

Race 5 finish from the top of the straight – Super Cool leads, with If I Could on his outside, It’s A Dundeel is in the middle and Viking Star in fourth spot.

The next race on the cards was the Drake International Moonee Valley Cup run over 2500 metres.  Killing time before the race I checked out the contestants.
Ironstein who ran third

Vatuvei the eventual winner

The Peter Moody/Luke Nolen combination resulted in a win for Vatuvei with Reuben Percival running second and Ironstein third.

Whilst in the parade area I  checked out the stalls and came across Shoot Out and Rangirandoo in adjacent stalls.

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Shoot Out


Rangirangdoo was being kitted out for the next race on the card, the Crystal Mile. I put a small wager each way on him and Solzhenitsyn and they ran second and third respectively behind Silent Achiever.

Solzhenitsyn on his way to the barriers

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Silent Achiever on her way to the barriers

By this time it was about 4.35pm and the excitement was building towards the feature race. Having been on my feet all afternoon, I thought I deserved a quiet sit down, so I went to the parade ground for a rest and waited for the Cox Plate horses to parade.

Pierro was out first long before any of the other runners made it the ring. He appears to be a very well behaved and calm young fellow, as if he’d done it all many times before.


, another of Gai Waterhouse’s runners, was all fired up and toey.


More Joyous, who was very unlucky in the Cox Plate, having to race wide the whole trip, was the third of Gai Waterhouse’s entrants in the Plate.

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More Joyous

The winner Ocean Park

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Ocean Park

All Too Hard was only beaten by a neck in the Cox Plate – so near yet so far, but an excellent run on his part.

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All Too Hard

I had my money on Green Moon, but he was very disappointing in his run, finishing 7th.

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Green Moon

Shoot Out had to be reshod before he took his place in the parade ring, and was the last horse to emerge. He ran 5th in the Cox Plate.

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Shoot Out

Southern Speed ran 6th and I finally managed to get a reasonable photo of her.

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Southern Speed

Unlike last year the weather stayed fine and the sun even emerged for the running of the Cox Plate.

Where I was positioned, on the fence near the top of the straight, the Cox Plate barrier is placed for the start of the race. Thus I was able to snap a photo of the start, and the first rush down the straight.

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Horses jostle for position in the first run down the straight – More Joyous leads in this shot, Ocean Park (red cap, purple silks) is just behind with the main bunch and Linton (grey horse) after blowing the start, is being well held. Southern Speed is on his inside and Shoot Out (red and gold stripes) is on the inside of Southern Speed.

In the end Ocean Park overtook All Too Hard to win on the line with Pierro running third several lengths behind.  And another Cox Plate had been run and won.

I had an enjoyable day at the races, and managed to avoid most of the crowds, having last year figured out that the top of the straight is the place to be. I had no trouble placing bets in the Bookies Ring or finding a spot on the fence to watch the races. I didn’t win heaps, but I didn’t lose much either, keeping my bets modest. I ended up with one win, two seconds and two thirds.

Many young females were huddling under blankets and coats, their flimsy racing costumes unsuitable for the cool weather. I didn’t notice any really outrageous costumes where I was, most people in the area being sensibly garbed.

Actually the crowd didn’t appear to be as large as last year, when Black Caviar was the added attraction. However, the running of the Manikato Stakes on the Friday night before the Cox Plate may have made a difference to the numbers. Speaking of the Manikato Stakes it was great to see the very classy Sea Siren win it in style – about the only Group One victory for the girls this spring racing season.

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Crowd Scene

I didn’t stay for the final race and managed to catch the second last bus home.

It’s a great day, Cox Plate day and I hope to repeat the experience for many years to come.  Francesca Cumani explains it in detail here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More Thrills In The Offing– 2012 Cox Plate
Green Moon – A top pick for the Cox Plate.

Another superb day of racing is coming up this Saturday with Moonee Valley featuring the famous (and my favourite of the BIG three) WFA championship of the spring  - the Cox Plate.  The Cox Plate has attracted a quality field with a mix of tried and true WFA performers and young upstarts. More about that later.

Moonee Valley Racing Club have decided this year to run the Manikato Stakes the night before the Cox Plate. I remember that some years back it was the first Group One race of the Spring racing carnival in mid September, but these days racing clubs change races around at will to fit some vision they have for their club.  I don’t intend to go to Manikato Stakes night, preferring daytime racing. The daytime Cox Plate meeting has a better race card with several fascinating Group Two and Three races occurring before the big event.

The Manikato Stakes however does look to be an interesting race, with Sydney mare Sea Siren making her first appearance this spring. She won the BTC Cup/Doomben 10,000 double in the autumn, defeating Buffering in the latter by a short margin. These two will clash again in the Manikato StakesBuffering is in excellent form, winning his last two starts, .and has the edge, as he’s raced and won at Moonee Valley recently, whereas Sea Siren has not raced in Melbourne ever, yet with her weight advantage Sea Siren may give Buffering a damn good run for the money. Also in with a chance are Bel Sprinter another with winning Moonee Valley form, the always competitive Satin Shoes, Hallowell Belle and Ready to Rip who ran second to Buffering in the Moir Stakes recently.

So on to Cox Plate day…

The first of the Group races is Race 4, the Group 3 Telstra Phoneworks Stakes, a race over  1200 metres for three year olds. Chosen Moment and Hidden Warrior look the top picks, the former having the benefit of Craig Williams in the saddle. It appears to be an evenly talented field with a number of chances – last start winner Cavalry Rose for one, Stars In The Sky also, and South Australian Essay Raider for another.

Things heat up in Race 5, the Group 2 Mitchelton Wines Vase, run over the Cox Plate distance of 2040 metres and also for three year olds. Unbeaten New Zealand star It’s A Dundeel is the top pick and pretty well a dead cert winner (touch wood). He’s having a practice run before tackling the Victoria Derby the following Saturday. Viking Star, If I Could and Super Cool appear to be the next best dressed and could run a place.

The Group 2 Drake International Cup (formerly the Moonee Valley Cup) is run over 2500 metres and is for stayers still trying to qualify for the Melbourne Cup. I must admit I find the field for this race a tad uninspiring. You’ve got the unpredictable Precedence again, Moudre who finished 14th in the Caulfield Cup last week, Reuben Percival. also ho hum, Ibicenco an International runner from the Luca Cumani stable, and probably the pick of the litter along with Midas Touch who has a bit of form in recent races though nothing spectacular.

Race 6 the Crystal Vase is a completely different and more classy Group 2 race run over 1600 metres. Though only 7 runners have accepted it looks to be a very interesting race. Toorak Handicap winner Solzhenitsyn is the one to beat. Good old Rangirangdoo is top weight, but on his day he is very competitive, like his recent second to his stable mate, Shoot Out, in the George Main Stakes and moreover he won this race in 2009.  The consistent Ambidexter cannot be overlooked and Tokugawa has won at Moonee Valley in the recent past.

The Cox Plate will be run slightly earlier this year, so I can relax and not rush for the bus directly after the race as I had to do last year. The change from running the race at 5.35pm to 5.15pm has something to do with the Television coverage. The interval between races will be reduced to 35 minutes as opposed to the usual 40 minutes. Suits me fine as killing time between races can be a bit boring if you’re solo and not partying.

Let us now consider the Cox Plate

A full field of 14 runners will compete in this powerhouse competition. It looks an excellent field this year with outstanding Group One performers like More Joyous, Green Moon, Shoot Out, Ocean Park, Sincero, Rekindled Interest and Southern Speed all in the mix. Then you’ve got the top three year olds of the year, Pierro, All Too Hard and Proisir in with a lightweight chance.  I am torn between Green Moon and Ocean Park as my top fancies, and I would love it if old favourite Shoot Out scored an upset win. He ran in this race in 2010, finishing 4th behind So You Think. Gai Waterhouse is having a disappointing Melbourne spring carnival, with none of her top racehorses scoring a win so far, so I dare say she is hoping one of her three runners can win this prestigious race.

If Pierro hadn’t been beaten in the Caulfield Guineas, I would understand why he is the favourite for this race. At the moment I find it really puzzling. He has never run past 1600 metres and he has not raced in open company before. However, his grandsire Octagonal, who also failed to win the Caulfield Guineas won the Cox Plate in 1995 at the age of three. I was there that day and remember the race vividly. Also, Pierro’s sire, Lonhro, ran in the race in 2002 and 2003, running 6th and 3rd respectively. Remember Helmet last year? He was one of the favourites for the 2011 Cox Plate after winning the Caulfield Guineas and though he ran a game race, he did not feature in the finish. And he didn’t win or place in a race ever again.

The other three year olds All Too Hard and Proisir could be given just as much chance as Pierro, with All Too Hard being the better of the two, no matter what Gai Waterhouse thinks.

The weather on Saturday is expected to be around 17°C with a few showers clearing. The track should be rated good to dead and excellent for racing. I expect the crowd to be large, but as Black Caviar is not part of the action this year, maybe not as crowded as last year.

Whatever the weather and the crowd, I’m really looking forward to seeing my favourite racehorses in action and maybe getting some good photos of Shoot Out in particular.

UPDATE: Saturday night

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2012 Cox Plate Start

What a fab day at the races! Full of interesting events  and not too crowded, at least where I was standing at the top of the straight. New Zealand star Ocean Park won the Cox Plate overtaking All Too Hard just before the line, with Pierro running third. It’s the first time a New Zealand horse has won the Plate since Sunline in 2001.

The other New Zealand star It’s A Dundeel, a striking and attractive colt, was beaten for the first time in his career by Super Cool.

I’ll write a fuller account of my day at the races soon, with more photos.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The First of the Big Ones – Caulfield Cup 2012

Southern Speed winning the 2011 Caulfield Cup

Looking at the field for the 2012 Caulfield Cup, one wonders if it too is going the way of the last few years’ Melbourne Cups, with the bulk of the field being made up of International runners. Last year Adelaide mare  Southern Speed stole the show, but she has been scratched from this year’s race after drawing a bad barrier and is being saved for the Cox Plate.

A full field has accepted for the race, with the favoured International runners, Glencadam Gold, Dunaden and Americain drawing the extreme outside barriers. Local hopes December Draw, Alcopop,  and  mares Lights of Heaven and Secret Admirer fared better drawing middle gates. Whether the barriers will make any difference to the running of the race is yet to be seen.  A very hard race to pick the winner, I’m hoping one of the girls is successful, though Glencadam Gold & Dunaden will take some beating. Others to consider are the widely travelled Jakkalberry, Voila Ici if he doesn’t repeat his bad behaviour as exhibited before the Turnbull Stakes, and Zabeelionaire, a lightweight chance with the Zabeel factor.

Another race of interest on Saturday is the Group Three Norman Robinson Stakes for three year olds run over 2000 metres. Kabayan, who finally scored a black type win in the Stan Fox Stakes in late September, will start favourite. He is the class horse in the field, but will have to contend with the unbeaten Phillipi  and the well performed Hvasstan, and other staying bred contenders.

Mosheen, Streama, Pear Tart and Red Tracer face off in the Group Two Tristarc Stakes, a race over 1400 metres for mares. Mosheen re-established her credentials winning her last start, and has an edge over the other ladies, though Streama cannot be dismissed lightly, and it would be great to see Pear Tart in the picture at the finish. A trifecta perhaps?

The weather tomorrow is expected to be mild and sunny and the track most probably will be rated dead to good.

I’ll be watching it all on television, saving my presence for next week’s Cox Plate meeting.

And finally it was good to see Atlantic Jewel’s little sister, Commanding Jewel, winning the Thousand Guineas on Wednesday, a race Atlantic Jewel won the previous year.  A rare sibling coincidence in racing.

UPDATE: Saturday evening

A great win by Dunaden in the Caulfield Cup and great to see the locally bred Alcopop and Lights of Heaven running the minor places.  I had a small each way bet on Dunaden in the Cup, after tossing around several options in my head, and he came up trumps courtesy of a superb ride by Craig Williams.

I’m now regretting yet again, that I did not follow my own advice in the Tristarc Stakes, boxing Mosheen, Streama, Pear Tart & Red Tracer for a trifecta. Streama won, with Pear Tart running second and Red Tracer coming third. Mosheen, weakened after challenging Streama and finished out of the placings.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Day At The Races – Caulfield Guineas Day

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More Joyous being exercised in the walking ring an hour before her race, the Toorak Handicap.

The weather in Melbourne recently has been pretty awful, so it was pleasant to wake up yesterday morning to sunshine. And sunny in the main it was,  clouds, and a bit of drizzle, moving in later in the afternoon, thus perfect for a day at the races.

I reached Caulfield Racecourse just before the second race, the Blue Sapphire Stakes, where top filly Snitzerland was taking on the boys. She prevailed, beating Fire Thunderbolt by a ½ neck, with Lankan Rupee a ½ head third. Sizzling ran fourth, which made me wonder in retrospect why I didn’t take my own advice (in my preview) and box the first four and win a goodly sum.  However I didn’t even have a bet on this race.

Race two finish – Snitzerland in the centre overtaking Lankan Rupee on her inside with Fire Thunderbolt  running down the outside.

Race Three was the Thoroughbred Club Stakes for three year old fillies. I decided to back Hoss Amor, who started favourite but failed to run a place. Cavalry Rose won, beating Saturn Rock by a head, with Mareeza running into third place 1½ lengths away.

Race three finish – Cavalry Rose leads

A big crowd attended the meeting yesterday, but despite that I found it easy to find a spot on the fence to watch the action. It was a friendly and cheerful crowd – good vibes all round. I failed to take photos of outrageous costumes – and there were a few – but the ones that took the prize were two young men dressed as a cowboy and indian. The indian was tied to a tree, and I noticed the cowboy being interviewed and videotaped as I wandered past.

Race four, the Schillaci Stakes was the first of the Group races of the afternoon. Buffering was hot favourite and he won comfortably from Golden Archer with Stirling Grove running third.

Buffering heading to the barriers prior to the race

The excitement was building for the first of the Group One races the Caulfield Stakes, so after putting my money Ocean Park, I found a good spot on the fence to watch the race.  Ocean Park was one of the few favourites to win on the day, narrowly beating Alcopop by ¼ length with Sincero a nose away third.

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Ocean Park returning to scale after winning the Caulfield Stakes

More Joyous started favourite and top weight in the Group One Toorak Handicap. She tried hard, but the weight she carried got the better of her, as lightweight chances Solzhenitsyn and Spirit Song surged past her and left her in their wake. Solzhenitsyn, a $10,000 bargain buy from Queensland, won narrowly from Spirit Song with Yosei running into third place. More Joyous finished fourth.

Solzhenitsyn in the mounting yard prior to the race

It is now old news that star colt Pierro was beaten by the underrated All Too Hard in the Caulfield Guineas.  After showing no signs of his earlier brilliance in his last three starts, and getting a reputation for missing the start of his races, All Too Hard who is Black Caviar’s younger half brother, surprised everyone yesterday with his gutsy win. The jury is still out on Pierro’s performance and Nash Rawiller’s ride, but it is disappointing that his reputation is now tarnished. We all love a star and he was the great white hope of  Australian racing. Still champs get beaten, and many of the greats of the turf have been beaten in the Caulfield GuineasSo You Think, Denman to name a few.

Back to the race…

I found a good spot next to the mounting yard to watch the parade and snap a few photos.


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All Too Hard


I did not see the finish of the race as I decided to stay near the mounting yard and my view was blocked by owners and strappers of the participants, so at first I thought Pierro had prevailed, but the news that Pierro had been beaten was soon clear.

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All Too Hard sashed after winning the Caulfield Guineas

I stayed for the next race the Herbert Power Stakes which was won by French horse Shahwardi from Excluded and Exceptionally, then called it quits and caught the train home.

It was long day, enjoyable but not profitable. I only had four bets which resulted in one win and one place. The weather was lovely most of the afternoon and I even got slightly sunburnt, but we watched the Herbert Power Stakes in a light shower of rain.

The Caulfield Cup will be run next weekend, but I will not be attending that meeting. Yesterday the crowd was bearable, but I imagine it will be much more squashy next week. I intend to go to the Cox Plate the week later – it has a much more interesting race card.

PS: Click photos for larger view.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Music For A Change – Chris Wilson at Basement Discs

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It has been a while since I last wrote about the Basement Discs in store  performances, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been attending them religiously. As usual, they have all  been wonderful mini shows. Memorable ones include Jordie Lane & Clare Reynolds performing songs from the Grievous Angel show,  Tim Rogers, who surprised me with his off beat self deprecatory wit and a splendid version of Spanish Boots, Mia Dyson and Liz Stringer who performed an exquisite in store a fortnight ago, and Charles Jenkins last week, showcasing his wonderful new CD Love Your Crooked Neighbour With Your Crooked Heart.

At lunchtime today Chris Wilson gave the in-store crowd at taste of his self funded, newly released CD, Flying Fish. Always entertaining to watch and hear live, Chris is a dynamic performer with his rich distinctive voice and his deftness on his chosen instruments – harmonica and guitar, today. He sang about five songs, some old, some new including a terrific song about an alien wanting to go home.

Next Thursday the wonderful Tinpan Orange will be playing songs from their brand new record Over The Sun.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Excitement Builds! Caulfield Guineas Day

Pierro – hot favourite for the Caulfield Guineas

I love this time of year – springtime in Melbourne, at the height of the Spring racing season – days of wine and roses and first class racing. Just don’t mention the weather.

We’ve had the build up, the preludes and the champions resuming; now it’s time to get serious.

The race card at Caulfield this coming Saturday boasts three Group One contests, worth the price of entry alone, plus several intriguing Group Two and Listed competitions.

The first race of interest is the Blue Sapphire Stakes, race two on the card. For three year olds and run over 1200 metres, it stars super filly Snitzerland  taking on the boys by herself. She  ran second to Pierro in the Golden Slipper back in autumn and resumed in August, accruing three straight wins since.

She is pitted against some very smart colts, Queenslander Sizzling among them. He won the Group One  T J Smith  back in June.  Then you’ve got South Australian gelding Fire Thunderbolt and local colt Lankan Rupee who have both won their only two starts by good margins.  All up it looks a great race.

Race four is the Group Two Schillaci Stakes, a sprint over 1000 metres. Black Caviar won this race last year and the year before that. With her out of the picture this year, the super consistent Buffering appears to have the race at his mercy, but the Moody/Nolen/Caulfield combo factor might favour Golden Archer.  There’s also the very much in form Sydney horse Pampelonne and Adelaide runner Stirling Grove who are also worth consideration.

The first of the Group One races is the Caulfield Stakes (2000 metres)  and would have promised a fascinating competition between Manighar and impressive New Zealander Ocean Park, but Manighar has now been withdrawn from the Spring carnival after a setback caused by some sort of arthritic condition. Ocean Park won the Underwood very convincingly from Voila Ici and December Draw and on that score appears to be the one to beat. Sincero is the next best in the race, though he has failed to win beyond 1600 metres.  Sabrage and Vatuvei have a chance if the track is on the slow side as does old Alcopop.

More Joyous is the star attraction in the Group One Toorak Handicap, and rightly so. She is the best performed horse in Australia behind Black Caviar, having now won 21 races from 28 starts, eight of which were at Group One level. She won the Toorak Handicap in 2010 carrying 58 kg (a record for a mare), but this year is obliged to tote 60 kg. She has had three runs so far this season and won them all, though arguably they were considerably easier races than this. Her closest rival is King Mufhasa who won the race last year, has a slight weight advantage over the mare and appears to be in good form, with a last start win in New Zealand . Others in contention are the lightweights Solzhenitsyn, Spirit Song and Tokukawa along with old Glass Harmonium and fellow mares Steps In Time and Yosei. I’d love More Joyous to win, but she is vulnerable with that weight.  Still, underestimate her at your peril.

If ever there was a certainty, outside Black Caviar in a race, it has to be Pierro in the Caulfield Guineas, a race for three year old colts and geldings over 1600 metres. This son of Lonhro has the potential to be as special as the aforementioned champion mare. He’s already got 8 wins under his belt, three of them at Group One level and is yet to be beaten.  Also in the field, but unlikely to beat Pierro, is Golden Rose winner Epaulette, the best of the rest. All Too Hard has been most disappointing this spring so far, but even when he was in top form he couldn’t beat Pierro in the Sires Produce Stakes back in autumn.  Fighting for a place will most likely be Ashokan, Awesome Bro and Let Go Lenni, otherwise it looks to be a one horse race.

One for the stayers, is the Group Two Herbert Power Stakes run over 2400 metres. It has a fascinating field of acceptors the majority of them being overseas contenders, the classiest of that lot being Gatewood (UK) and Shawardi (France). Local hopes rest on staying mare Exceptionally,  Excluded and the unpredictable Precedence.  Other top chances are Bianmick who won the JRA Cup at Moonee Valley at his last start and Reuben Percival who ran third in the Metropolitan last Saturday. Not an easy race to pick the winner, but worth watching for future reference Cups wise.

As it’s cold and wet in Melbourne as I write this post, it is unclear what  condition the track will be in on Saturday. Let’s hope the rain clears tomorrow, and that Saturday is warm and sunny.

UPDATE : Saturday night

What a day! Three favourites saluted and Gai’s stars bombed. More tomorrow with photos.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Caulfield Guineas Barrier Draw

On this nice sunny day in Melbourne, I felt inclined to venture out and do something different for a change, so I decided I’d go and watch the Barrier Draw for the Caulfield Guineas at Federation Square in the city.

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Shows barrel with horse names to be drawn and little stone plinths with barrier number on the base.

It was moderately amusing and interesting to witness the draw. The Caulfield Guineas had only eight acceptors, and hot favourite is the unbeaten colt Pierro, who drew barrier 7, represented by his lucky owner G. Kolivos.

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Pierro’s owner choosing Pierro’s barrier.

The final draw looks like this:

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This afternoon’s outing was just a teaser for the main event on Saturday. I plan to attend and have pre-purchased a ticket (it was cheaper to buy online than pay at the gate) so I’m pretty well obliged to go. Not that I would miss the race meeting in a fit, as it looks to have a ripper of a race card and I am so looking forward to seeing Pierro & More Joyous in the flesh - not to mention Manighar and Ocean Park and a number of the international Cup contenders.

I’ll try and write a preview before week’s end and of course describe my day at the races, after the  event (with pics).

And speaking of Australian Horse racing, check out this wonderful post on a small grey mare called Alice Hawthorne who took the colonial Australian horse racing scene by storm in the 1850s. It’s a great Australian story and told in an interesting way.  Thanks Ms O’Dyne for alerting me to it.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Mourning Ravens

Yesterday I noticed some interesting behaviour on the part of the local tribe of ravens.

Overnight one of their number had apparently been killed after sitting on the power box that controls a conjunction of power lines over the laneway near our house. There it was, a tatter of glossy black feathers on the ground at the foot of the power pole – one defunct raven.

dead raven

Later in the morning I heard a commotion of ravens in the street. There were a number of them sitting in the plane trees close to the scene of the tragedy calling to each other, back and forth.

Raven in plane tree

I wondered, as I observed their behaviour, if they were discussing the death of their companion. It certainly looked and sounded as if they were.

Spring Racing in full swing

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Rekindled Interest – Moonee Valley 15/9/12

A splendid program of racing is on the cards this weekend, with a total of five Group One races plus a number of interesting Group Two and Three competitions.

At Flemington, a good pointer to the cups and Cox Plate, the Turnbull Stakes is the feature race.  Run over 2000 metres the Turnbull Stakes  has been won by some seriously good horses – Let’s Elope, Sunline, Makybe Diva, Vo Rogue etc etc. December Draw won it last year, carrying a light weight, before being sidelined with an injury. He’s in the field this time and demonstrated he was getting back to his best, running third in the Underwood a fortnight ago. Voila Ici, the horse that accompanied Black Caviar back to Australia after her Ascot jaunt, could steal the show. He ran second  in the Underwood, narrowly beaten by impressive New Zealander Ocean Park, who is not in the Turnbull field, .  Other top chances are Linton who will appreciate the extra distance after beginning his spring campaign in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes and running fourth, and his stablemate Winchester an US import. The winner of that race, Happy Trails cannot be dismissed out of hand, nor can Green Moon who ran second to him. Rekindled Interest managed to run third in the Dato Tan, a race he won in 2011.  It’s a tough race to call, as most of the field has potential, like Australian Derby winner Ethiopia, and the consistent Southern Speed who beat Manighar in the Makybe Diva Stakes and finished fourth in the Underwood.

Mosheen will be contesting the Group Two Blazer Stakes (1410 metres). Worth watching to see if she has recovered her form.

On to Sydney for the Epsom Stakes meeting…

The first of the Group One races is the Spring Champion Stakes a 2000 metre race for three year olds. It seems to be a race between the Gai Waterhouse trained  Proisir and New Zealander  It’s A Dundeel, rather favouring the latter who is a son of High Chaparral and a Zabeel mare. He is unbeaten in four starts, just as Proisir is over three. Throw in Honorius, Lunar Rise and Lazer Flash as possible challengers  for the minor placings.

The Flight Stakes for three year old fillies is the next on the card. Run over  1600 metres, Dear Demi will probably start as the favourite.  Longport, Norzita and Jade Marauder fought out the finish in the Tea Rose Stakes so must be considered good chances, so too the Waterhouse trained Urban Groove who has won her only two starts, albeit in weaker company.

Can Shoot Out win the Epsom Handicap?  There’s every chance that he can. It’s run over 1600 metres and on his favourite track and he appears to have resumed in fine form, winning the Group One George Main Stakes first up. Quite an achievement! His stable mate, consistent old trooper Rangirangdoo who ran second on that occasion is running in this as well. Can Chris Waller score the quinella again?  Secret Admirer ran third in the George Main and is once more a serious contender and likely to run a place.  Whether the likes of Ambidexter and Rolling Pin, who are in great form, are up to the class of the aforementioned is yet to be seen.  For some reason Fat Al is favoured – the Waterhouse factor, no doubt – but he has been a bit disappointing of late.

The Metropolitan, a race for stayers trying to qualify for the Melbourne Cup is run over 2400 metres. Efficient was top weight, but  it was announced yesterday that he was being retired, due to injuring his leg once more. Sorry to see him go, as I have fond memories of his 2007 Melbourne Cup win, but I am glad as well that the old boy will now lead a peaceful life in the paddock -  a five star paddock according to Nick Williams -  with his old friend Zipping.

So who are the main chances in The Metropolitan?  Well, Lamasery is the top pick followed by Glencadam Gold who is in great form. Other chances are Stout Hearted, Kelinni and Buxted who all have good form over the distance.

The final race on the cards at Randwick is the Group Two Premiere Stakes and it has attracted a super field.  You’ve got Rain Affair, Streama  and Satin Shoes for a start, and I’m really pleased to see Pear Tart back on the track. She was impressive during the Queensland winter carnival winning the Queensland Guineas and the Tatts Tiara, so I’m really interested to see how she goes in this race.

So that takes care of my Saturday afternoon entertainment.  More interesting than usual as I’ve entered once more in  Sky Racing’s Star Stable competition and also a similar one on Sportal.  Neither are as good as the original Super Stable  competition on Racing & Sports, but they do offer monetary rewards, rather just fame and glory.

Update:  Saturday night

As expected it was a fantastic day of racing. The major races were taken out by Green Moon (Turnbull), It’s A Dundeel (Spring Champion), Norzita (Flight Stakes), Fat Al (Epsom) & Glencadam Gold (Metropolitan).

Mosheen demonstrated that she was back on track winning the Blazer Stakes, but Pear Tart was unsuccessful in the Premiere Stakes.

Another big Saturday is coming up next weekend with the Caulfield Guineas meeting, starring Pierro & More Joyous, and no doubt several others.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

In The Interim…

I have indeed been slack in posting of late. Blame the renovations as they distracted me more than I thought possible and made me disinclined to write.

Anyway the renovations are long completed, all the furniture moved back in and the boxes unpacked.  The new floor is a 100% on the old one – polished boards vs carpet looks far better and is easier to clean.

Here’s a before and after photo of the living room.

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The old fire place is gone and a new flame fire gas heater has replaced it.

A large ornate Art Nouveau dresser used to dominate the right hand wall of the living room, but now it stands in the spare (aka computer)room, along with my sweet little escritoire and an antique oak chair I souvenired  from a flat I rented in the 1960s, when the building was about to be demolished. These three items of furniture appear to go together nicely.

Actually, I’d forgotten what the escritoire looked like, as it had been hidden in the bedroom for years, covered with B’s clothes. So it was a surprise to rediscover it and find it a pleasing and pretty piece.

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Art Nouveau Dresser

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Chair and escritoire.

So the computer room is a mix of old and new – antique furniture with metal filing cabinets and a computer of course.

Willy the cat coped well with the renovations, hardly stirring a whisker at the turmoil and noise. These days he’s become more sedate in his habits, spending the bulk of the day asleep on the bed or on my lap  (if I let him) pestering me until he gets his way.  Today, while eating his  breakfast he was monstered by a mob of Indian Mynahs, forced by the birds to abandon his plate and flee, and yesterday he caught sight of the feisty young Piccolo in the back yard and slunk back inside, reluctant to tackle her head on.

Here’s a photo I shot of him yesterday evening.


Despite not writing my usual previews of the Spring racing, I have been following them closely and have attended a few race meetings.  First I went to Caulfield on a soggy day in August for the PB Lawrence Stakes and did manage to get a photo of Heart of Dreams, who has since been retired.

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Heart of Dreams

In September I attended Dato Chin Nam Stakes day at Moonee Valley and was interested to see that Linton’s coat has lightened considerably. Here are two photos of him, one taken in February 2010 after he won the Alister Clark Stakes, the other taken this September.

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Linton  - February 2010 Linton – September 2012

Most of the horses I planned to follow this spring have resumed  quite a few with wins. More Joyous, now 6 years old, has accounted for her opposition easily in two runs back.

Shoot Out started his Spring campaign in the Group One George Main Stakes with a striking win. He will be contesting the Group One Epsom Handicap this coming Saturday and could well be successful again. He’s the last of the High Chaparral boys of 2010, the others, Descarado, Monaco Consul and So You Think all having retired to stud. 

Star colt Pierro has had two runs this season and won them both. He raced at Moonee Valley last Friday night in the Bill Stutt Stakes. He handled the track as if he’d been racing there for seasons, and blitzed the rest of the field with his stunning turn of foot, winning by 5 lengths. I contemplated going to the meeting, specifically to see Pierro, but the miserable weather put me off. I might attend Caulfield Guineas day in mid October, which is next on Pierro’s agenda. He has now won all eight of his starts and is yet to be beaten.

All Too Hard has been very disappointing this spring, failing to gain a place in his last two runs. Also Mosheen has failed to fire so far, perhaps not fully recovered from a throat operation she underwent mid year. And Manawanui has been banned from racing for three months after bleeding in his first run back.

The good news is that Black Caviar will return to the racetrack next autumn, all going well.

There are five Group One races scheduled this coming Saturday which will no doubt give some early pointers to likely winners of the BIG three – Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup.

And lastly, I’m currently reading (for the second time) Michael Chabon’s new novel Telegraph Avenue, a wonderfully written exuberant novel set in the Berkeley/Oakbank area of California that covers such arcane subjects as 1960s/70s black music, jazz, funk, and blaxploitation movies. The novel is centred around a second hand vinyl record store called Brokebank Records, run by two friends Archy Stalling and Nat Jaffe, which is under threat from a projected giant multimedia development called Dogpile to be built close by.

Telegraph Avenue is replete with dazzling prose and colourful, likeable characters, one of which is a parrot. There is also a cameo appearance by Barack Obama and a 12 page sentence that is quite extraordinary to read. No wonder I felt like reading the book twice in succession.