Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Australian Guineas – Easy for All Too Hard

all too hard3
All Too Hard – Caulfield 23/2/13

Tomorrow is officially Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, and the weather today, after two weeks of 30C plus temperatures, has cooled down considerably to mark the change of seasons.

More appropriate one would think for the Melbourne Autumn racing carnival, which continues this weekend at Flemington, featuring the Group One Australian Guineas

It is a race for three year olds over 1600 metres and has attracted a full field of 16 youngsters willing to take on All Too Hard. He is certainly living up to his big sister’s accomplishments, so far this season being unbeaten with two Group One races on the trot. He should be able to add the Australian Guineas to his record on Saturday as he is the standout performer in the field. He has drawn Barrier 14, but that shouldn’t be a problem as he usually runs towards the middle or end of the field, then storms home late.  The best of his opposition appear to be Philippi, Sheer Talent, Force Command, Ajeeb and sole filly You’re So Good who will possibly be fighting for the minor places.

In Sydney at Rosehill the Group Two Hobartville Stakes (1400 metres) is the most interesting race of the day. It has a super field with triple crown winner Pierro resuming, as well as Proisir. It’s A Dundeel, Rebel Dane, Mulaazem and Sacred Falls, all very smart colts, will ensure that it is an exciting race. Gai Waterhouse insists that Pierro is better than All Too Hard, and so we all thought until All Too Hard beat Pierro in the Caulfield Guineas.  Whether the two colts will meet again in competition remains to be seen.

I will not be attending the races this weekend, but think I might go along to the Newmarket/Australian Cup meeting the following weekend. I’ve never been to it, so should at least experience the autumn super Saturday at Flemington at least once in my life.

Meanwhile, here at home, renovations are in full swing. I won’t elaborate here, but write a separate post soon.

Update Sunday:

All Too Hard was scratched from the Guineas early yesterday morning, reportedly suffering from a cold.

The race was won by Ferlax, not one of the fancied runners with filly You’re So Good running second and Sheer Talent coming third. Ferlax was having his first city run, though he had previously won his first three runs on country tracks. I must say I dismissed him as a likely chance when I looked at the form. That’s horse racing, as they say.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend – Miracles of Life wins the Blue Diamond Stakes

Miracles of Life does a victory walk of the mounting yard after winning the Blue Diamond Stakes

This post is named for a song that was created for the musical version of Anita Loos novel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which was made into a film in 1953. The song was performed in the film by a famous blonde – Marilyn Monroe.

It seemed appropriate to associate this saying with Miracles of Life’s wonderful victory in the Blue Diamond Stakes yesterday. As you can see Miracles of Life has a very long blonde forelock and mane, so she could have been nicknamed Lorelei after the dippy blonde heroine of Anita Loos book.  However, Barbie is a good alternative and better known in popular culture.

Yes, I went to the races again yesterday, and again it was a memorable occasion. What a brilliant season of racing it has been so far!

I got to the track shortly after 1.00 pm after a much smoother trip on public transport this time – only two trains.

It was a very hot and sunny afternoon, bad for taking photos, but I managed to get pictures of the main contenders and stars of the turf, all of them somewhat shadowy and dark.

First off I decided to check out the stalls area and found Miracles of Life standing placidly in her stall with quite a few interested punters standing around.

Miracles of Life in her stall

All Too Hard was cruising back and forth and was pausing in his stall when I took this photo.

all too hard _stalls2
All Too Hard in his stall

He has grown considerably since the last time I saw him Cox Plate day last year. He’s a big boy - powerful and muscular and a magnificent looking horse. His head is not as pretty as his big sister’s, but he looked a picture all the same.

Race 4 was the Autumn Classic, a Group Two race over 1800 metres for three year olds. I was interested in seeing Fiveandahalfstar in the flesh. He won the Victoria Derby in the spring and had recently run second, first up, in the Autumn Stakes. He was parading in the mounting yard, so there I went to get a look at him.

Fiveandahalfstar parading in the mounting yard before the Autumn Classic

His great rival Super Cool was also in this race and I decided to have a small wager on him, as his odds were slightly better than Fiveandahalfstar’s. Super Cool ran second in the Victoria Derby and was third in the Autumn Stakes. However, this time he won.

Super Cool in the mounting yard.

Fiveandhalfstar took up a forward position in the race, but was overtaken by Super Cool in the straight. Subiaso ran third.

The next race on the agenda was the Group Two Peter Young Stakes, also over 1800 metres. Classy West Australian Mr Moet started second favourite…

mr moet
Mr Moet on his way to the barriers for the Peter Young Stakes

… but he was beaten into second place by long shot Foreteller with Budriguez running third. Mawingo, the favourite, ran fourth

The first of the Group One races for the afternoon was the Futurity Stakes which had attracted an interesting field that included Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon

green moon5
Green Moon being led onto the track prior to the running of the Futurity Stakes

…and All Too Hard, among others.

all too hard4
All Too Hard on his way to the barriers

All Too Hard won easily by several lengths from Glass Harmonium and King Mufhasa. Green Moon finished fourth- a good run, which indicates he’ll be ripe for the Australia Cup in a fortnight’s time.

race 6_finish
Futurity finish – All Too Hard streets ahead in the straight.

It was worth the cost of entry to see All Too Hard win his third Group One, stamping himself as the top three year old in the country. He will be contesting the Australian Guineas next week at Flemington and appears to have it at his mercy.

all too hard5
All Too Hard returns to scale after winning the Futurity Stakes

The papers are calling it a fairytale come true, and I suppose it is. But it was also an event that epitomises how one comes to love horse racing. It’s a great story. The little filly, the girl jockey, the small time trainer, the emotional scenes post race – it had the works.

It was a privilege to be present at such a heart warming running of the Blue Diamond Stakes.  As evidenced by the good wishes yelled from the crowd to Lauren Stojakovic as she rode her friend Miracles of Life around the mounting yard, it was a really popular win from the game little filly.


And Lauren’s ride was perfect – patient and beautifully judged, getting Miracles of Life off the fence at the right time and into the open, then taking advantage of a gap, to urge her filly through and blast off for a very convincing win - as I predicted in my previous post - several lengths clear of runners up Fast N’ Rocking and Godiva Rock

The response from the spectators was as warm and enthusiastic as that  accorded to Black Caviar and just as emotionally satisfying. There were tears of joy from Lauren’s family and Lauren herself, and even her interview after the race with TVN was broadcast and applauded.

After the exhilarating Blue Diamond, the final Group One race,  Oakleigh Plate could have been an anticlimax, except that it was dramatic with hot favourite Barakey being scratched at barriers, after he had got himself tangled in the gate. He looked fine in the mounting yard and on his way to the barriers, but during a delay, caused by Shamal Wind playing up in the gates and being vetted, he obviously became overwrought. A pity, as I was really looking forward to seeing him race.

Anyway, I did manage to photograph him on his way to the barriers.


The race was won by long shot Mrs Onassis with Facile Tigre running second and Spirit of Boom third. Who knows whether Barakey would have won if he had run.

The course was pretty crowded, but as it was hot and sunny the majority of spectators stuck to the shade, so it was easy to get a position next to the fence to watch the races. The crowd was completely different to that of last week. More drunken revellers and silly costumes.

There was a fashion show too – The Fashion Stakes -  but that side of racing does not interest me in the slightest. I did however pause to take a photo of the show in progress for all you fashionistas out there.

fashioon comp

It was yet another fabulous day at the races and one for the girls no less.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Miracles Can Happen – Blue Diamond Stakes Day 2013

Miracles of Life – photo by Atkins Daily Telegraph

The Melbourne Autumn racing carnival really takes off this coming Saturday with Blue Diamond Stakes day at Caulfield. It has a stellar racing card with three fascinating Group One competitions and a selection of equally interesting Group Two races as well.

The stars will be out in force, not Black Caviar, who won’t be racing again until 22 March in the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley.

Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon, who will only be having a few starts this season, will be racing in the Group One Futurity Stakes (1400 metres) against star three year old All Too Hard and a good field of weight for age stalwarts like King Mufhasa, Niwot,  Shanghai Warrior and Lights of Heaven.  All Too Hard has a very good chance of winning this, thus making a family affair of Group One victories on alternate weekends.

The Group One Oakleigh Plate ( 1100 metres) has the exciting West Australian sprinter Barakey having his first run in the East. He is unbeaten with 11 wins from as many runs. Can he keep his winning streak intact, in this his hardest assignment to date? He’s up against super sprinting mare Ortensia, back from winning a couple of races in the UK, recent winners Sea Lord and Adebisi and the very talented filly Shamal Wind.who with her light weight could surprise, despite only having three starts, which she won stylishly, hence her presence in this race.

The feature race is of course the Blue Diamond Stakes, a race over 1200 metres for two year olds.  There are equal numbers of fillies and colts contending for the prize, with several fillies having the edge, most notably the South Australian filly Miracles of Life. She will ridden by her regular rider *Lauren Stojakovic, who retained the ride over more  experienced jockeys, the filly’s owners having faith in her affinity with the filly. Miracles of Life is nicknamed ‘Barbie”, so called because of her long blonde mane and tail and girly behaviour around the stable.  She has won her only three starts in sensational fashion and has a remarkable turn of foot. She has drawn Barrier 1, which could be a blessing or a curse, but if Lauren, despite her inexperience, can position her well, I think she’ll thrash the rest of the field. Her main rivals are fellow fillies Guelph and Metastasio who both have good wins under their belts, Guelph winning the Blue Diamond Prelude and Metastasio beating the boys in the Chairman’s StakesDissident and Crack A Roadie are the best of the colts. Whatever, it will be a good race to watch.

Of the Group Two races, the Peter Young Stakes (1800 metres) looks the most interesting. Mr Moet, another talented West Australian, who ran a ripping race in the Orr Stakes coming from near last to win third place, will be hard to beat this time round.  His major threats appear to be Mawingo who came second in the Orr Stakes, and in form South Australian Eclair Surprise who has won his last four starts.

In Sydney at Warwick Farm, old favourite Shoot Out will be starting his autumn campaign in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes.  He won the Group One George Main Stakes first up last  spring and could well win the Apollo Stakes first up this time. He ran second in this race last year to the classy Rain Affair, before winning the Chipping Norton. Gai Waterhouse runners, Glencadam Gold and Lazer Hawk represent his main threats. Good old Danleigh, Shoot Out’s stable mate could run a place.

I am attending the meeting on Saturday at Caulfield and am looking forward to seeing Miracles of Life in the flesh, as well as Barakey Mr Moet, All Too Hard, Ortensia and Green Moon.

*Check out Lauren Stojakovic’s blog on the Racing Victoria website – it’s a simple and quite engaging view of her chances on Miracles of Life in the Blue Diamond.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lightning Strike No 3 – Black Caviar’s Winning Streak Continues

black caviar_sashed
Black Caviar in her winning rug after the Lightning Stakes

It was one of those times when you feel privileged to have been present at an extraordinary event.

Flemington put on a spectacle to treasure and remember and it was all because of Black Caviar, Australia’s darling of the racetrack. Again, she was front page news this morning in ‘The Age’ and no doubt other newspapers throughout the land.  She had won her 23rd race in succession and had also become the first horse to win the Lightning Stakes three times in a row. Not only that, she broke the course record in doing so. Special, another great sprinting mare, had held it since 1988.

After a very complicated trip by public transport – train/bus/train/ train – I arrived at Flemington Racecourse about 1.30pm, along with a big crowd who also took the Flemington Racecourse special.

Having plenty of time on my hands, I decided I’d explore Flemington racecourse more thoroughly than I have done before. Getting to know where everything is at a racecourse is essential if you want the best vantage points for watching races and checking out the facilities. Flemington covers a wide area, so I seemed to have walked for miles around the place and was footsore at the end of the day.

Locating the stalls area, I decided to check out Black Caviar’s stall, in case she was there. A largish crowd was gathered awaiting her arrival, and soon enough there she was. Rather than staying in her stall on such a hot and muggy day, she was walked by Donna around the walking ring, observed by interested fans.

black caviar_walking ring3
Black Caviar in the walking ring

I eventually made it to the public lawn, which is trackside beside the long Flemington straight. The VRC had organised all sorts of Black Caviar activities, such as getting your nails painted in Black Caviar’s colours, or having your photo taken with a virtual Black Caviar.

There was also a Black Caviar Walk of Fame, where signs detailing each of her 22 wins were strung along a path on the lawn.

bc wof_sign 
Walk of Fame sign

The lawn was also dyed at various intervals with her colours, as was the central section of the mounting yard.


One handy thing about the Walk of Fame signs was that they threw a bit of shadow, so sitting in the shade of each were various members of the public seeking relief from the relentless sunshine. The public lawn is very exposed and lacks shady areas.

I watched a few races while waiting for the main event – the Vanity Stakes, which was won by Alzora with You’re So Good running second and Petite Diablesse, who missed the start, flew home for an eye catching third and the CS Hayes Stakes where long shot Sheer Talent scored from Force Command and Hosting.

After the CS Hayes Stakes, excitement was building for the feature race and I sought a good position near the mounting yard, on the fence beside the path where the horses proceed to the track.

gate_mounting yard
Mounting Yard Gate – a very ornate piece of work with roses climbing up each side.

The fans were massing along the fence. It reminded me of standing only rock concerts, where there is surge to the front when the main act is about to start. I ran into some people who were part of the Black Caviar Cheer Squad last year. They’d pegged out their spot close to the fence (had been there all afternoon) and vigorously defended their position when another person tried to muscle in.

crowd scene
Crowd Scene on the fence opposite from me.

Whilst the horses were parading in the mounting yard the big screen replayed all Black Caviar’s previous victories and the excitement mounted to feverish pitch.

Then the field came trotting out in order, and all were wearing saddle cloths in Black Caviar’s colours.

A big cheer erupted when the great mare came out, a different horse from the relaxed beast strolling around the walking ring earlier in the day.

black caviar_track 
Black Caviar trotting out to the track before the huge crowd.

And then there was the race, run at a sizzling pace.

Black Caviar jumped well, and was cruising effortlessly close to the lead for most of the race before bursting away from the pack to score by an easy 2 or so lengths from stable mate Moment of Change with the other Moody runner Golden Archer running third. 

The crowd roared and clapped when she ran to the post, and cheers continued as she made her way back to the mounting yard.

black caviar_return
Black Caviar returns victorious after winning the Black Caviar Lightning in  record time.

Alas for the also rans, returning en masse in her wake …

lightning_also rans

Black Caviar  paraded in the mounting yard for a short while after, and was greeted by a very happy Peter Moody…

bc_peter moody

…and given a bucket of water.

black caviar_drink

After Black Caviar left the scene, the was nothing much else to do but go home.

Before I did so, I photographed two other very famous racehorses – Makybe Diva and Phar Lap. I dare say there will be a statue of Black Caviar before too long, most probably at Caulfield her home track.

makybe diva
Makybe Diva statue on the Public Lawn

phar lap
Phar Lap statue near the main entrance.

It was one of the best days I’ve had at the races. Even though there was a big crowd, it was civilised and polite. I did not witness any loutish behaviour. It was made up of families and people down from the country for the day. There was a friendly and cheerful atmosphere - nothing like the drunken hilarity of the Spring Carnival bunch - and everyone was there for one thing – Black Caviar – the rock star racehorse.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Welcome Back! The Black Caviar Lightning

black caviar_headshotJPG
Black Caviar headshot – Caulfield 2/2/13

Can Lightning strike three times? Well, champion mare and Australia’s racing darling, Black Caviar, will be aiming for her third Lightning Stakes victory and her 23rd overall win this coming Saturday at Flemington Racecourse. If she succeeds she will be the first horse in Australian racing history to win the Lightning Stakes in three successive years.

Of course it is unthinkable that she could lose a race. Looking at the field of acceptances for the 2013 race, which has now been renamed the Black Caviar Lightning, it seems highly unlikely. Seven other acceptors will be vying for second place, among them Black Caviar’s stable mates Golden Archer and Moment of Change, the speedy Satin Shoes, First Command and Shamexpress, all with a chance to run a place.

I’ll be at Flemington on Saturday to witness this historic event, to take in the vibe and soak up the atmosphere occasioned by Black Caviar’s first race start since returning from Ascot. Hopefully the crowds will not be over the top, though Flemington is so large it probably won’t be all that squashy as I observed at last year’s event.

There are a few other races of interest on the card, principally the Group 3 C S Hayes Stakes, a race for three year old colts and geldings over 1400 metres.  Focus will be on Philippi and Royal Haunt who are both unbeaten with three wins each. Judging by the way Royal Haunt thrashed his rivals in the Manfred Stakes a fortnight ago, I give him the edge in the competition.  Albrecht and Hosting look the next best dressed with the Bart Cummings trained Lunar Rise who, on second thoughts, would probably prefer a longer race.

The Vanity is the fillies equivalent of the CS Hayes and though I haven’t been following any of the contestants, a quick glance at the form leads me to the selection of Petite Diablesse as my top pick, closely followed by You’re So Good and Spending, who is a full sister to Shopaholic who won this race last year. Considering how these days, siblings appear to be winning the same races that their older brothers and sisters were successful in, it’s not all that far fetched to imagine Spending taking out the Vanity.

Speaking of siblings, Black Caviar’s little half brother All Too Hard won the C F Orr Stakes last weekend in fine fashion setting to rest any doubts as to his real ability and marking him as the top three year for the 2012/13 season. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shadow Cat – Talya Update

talya 010_crop

The other day – late afternoon – Talya plonked herself down on a patch of sunlight in the living room, as cats are wont to do. Sitting there observing her, I thought that the cat and shadow would make an interesting photo, as indeed it does. Her silvery fur and elegant shape are perfect for the ambient light flooding the picture.

In fact (I realised today-Wednesday) she looks like an Egyptian cat in that pose.

egyptian cat

It is now three weeks since we adopted Talya, and things are working out well. She is certainly living a more interesting life, having become an indoor/outdoor cat. As she grows more confident in her new surroundings she gives every indication of being a lively and happy cat.

The politics between her and Willy are still touchy, but they are becoming more tolerant of each other.

It’s the other neighbourhood cats who are causing her more grief. She and Monty had a run in a week ago, and this evening Pickle from up the road took a dislike to her and was seen to be advancing threateningly before we chased her off.

Anyway, it is fortunate that Talya has settled in so well, as stage two of the renovations are due to start early next week.

Yes, chaos is set to resume; with the dining room, kitchen, laundry and back bathroom scheduled for a complete transformation. We’ll be without a washing machine or cooking facilities for three weeks or so. Looks like we’ll be eating a lot of barbeques and salads.  The best way to look at it is to pretend we are camping. At least the computer, bathing and sleeping arrangements will be unaffected, so no squashy camping out in that respect.

Willy coped well with the renovations last year, and Talya knows how to escape excessive noise and disruption having several hiding places in the garden or under the house, so we hope she will not be too distressed by the building works.

Fortunately it’s not cold at the moment in Melbourne, in fact it’s hot and sunny and will probably continue to be so for the next month.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

If You Read One Book This Year…

…it has to be The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. 

When I wrote in my recent review of Barbara Kingsolver’s new novel Flight Behaviour, that it would take a really special book to knock it off the top my list of favourite reads for 2013, I didn’t expect one to come along so soon.

The Orphan Master’s Son was actually published last year and my attention was drawn to it in the Washington Post’s 50 Notable Works of Fiction for 2012 list.  I made a note of it at the time and downloaded the Kindle version recently. 

orphan master's son

Set in North Korea during Kim Jong Il’s reign, it is the story of orphan Pak Jun Do, who is variously a tunnel fighter in the DMZ, a kidnapper and a radio interceptor on board a fishing ship at sea. It is also a chilling portrayal of the 1984 world that is present day North Korea.

However, the novel is not as grim and depressing as you might expect. In fact some parts of it are very funny and others are heartbreakingly sad. It has scenes of gross brutality, but beauty and self sacrifice too.

Some of my favourite writers were also taken with the book.

David Mitchell writes that it is “An addictive novel of daring ingenuity; a study of sacrifice and freedom in a citizen-eating dynasty; and a timely reminder that anonymous victims of oppression are also human beings who love. A brave and impressive book.”

Zadie Smith writes “The Orphan Master’s Son performs an unusual form of sorcery, taking a frankly cruel and absurd reality and somehow converting it into a humane and believable fiction. It’s an epic feat of story-telling. It’s thrillingly written, and it's just thrilling period.

I totally agree with David Mitchell, Zadie Smith and the following critic, whoever he is:

“I've never read anything like it. This is truly an amazing reading experience, a tremendous accomplishment. I could spend days talking about how much I love this book. It sounds like overstatement, but no. The Orphan Master's Son is a masterpiece.” —Charles Bock

Let it be noted that The Orphan Master’s Son is destined to be a classic, cult, or otherwise, and it’s a rare thrill to discover such a marvellous new writer.

The Orphan Master’s Son has joined my list of all time favourite books. This time, while reading the novel, I realised that it was the first time I was reading a novel I would reread over and over again, and savoured it as such. You never re-experience that thrill of reading a masterpiece for the first time, ever again, though subsequent readings reveal new insights and depths unseen initially.

You can get the physical book very cheaply in Australia. I found a copy of the paperback at The Book Grocer for $10.00, as a present for a friend, though I have sourced and have purchased a signed hard cover first edition for myself.

Friday, February 08, 2013

The Autumn Racing Season Begins Once More

all too hard_guineas

Racing fans rejoice!

The first Group One of the autumn season is to be run this Saturday at Caulfield, with several interesting Group Two races on the cards as well.

The Group One C F Orr Stakes has been part of the Melbourne autumn racing season since 1925 and is usually run the second Saturday in February. It has been won by many of Australia’s racing greats; Black Caviar won it last year, and Typhoon Tracy the two years previously. Other notable winners are Redoute’s Choice, Saintly, Lonhro, Vo Rogue (three times) and Manikato (also three times) to name a few.

So who will win it this year?

There are nine acceptors, among them top three year colt, Black Caviar’s little half brother, All Too Hard. He will be kicking off his autumn campaign in the Orr Stakes and he has a good chance of winning. His last race was the Cox Plate where he ran an excellent second to Ocean Park and a few weeks before that he  beat Pierro in the Caulfield Guineas.

However, he will have to contend with tried and true performers such as King Mufhasa who has several Group One wins under his belt, and the well regarded West Australian Mr Moet having his first start in the East. The other interesting runner is Callanish who has a picket fence next to his name in the form guide, having raced eight times for eight wins. He faces his toughest race yet, but to my mind represents an excellent chance at attractive odds.

I was going to write more about the card at Caulfield tomorrow, but I’ve run out of time. I was contemplating attending the meeting in person, but have decided to wait until the following week, when Black Caviar will be contesting the Lightning Stakes for a third time, and aiming for her 23rd win in succession. This event is at Flemington, so it will make a change of scene from Caulfield and Moonee Valley.  Last year, as a member of the Black Caviar Cheer Squad, I attended this meeting and recall having a good time and incidentally witnessed All Too Hard winning his first race.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Poetry in Motion – Black Caviar Struts Her Stuff at Caulfield

 black caviar1

It was a lovely day to go to the races, cool but sunny, so forth I went to Caulfield, ostensibly to see the great mare Black Caviar. I arrived shortly after 1.00pm, just in time to see the star attraction arrive at the track.

There was quite a crowd gathered outside her stall to witness her arrival, and then she came, sauntering casually and relaxed, accompanied by Donna her regular strapper.

black caviar_stalls3JPG

Donna walked her all over the place…

black caviar_stalls
At the top of the stalls area

black caviar2
In the walking ring beyond the stalls area.

There were, as you will no doubt notice, plenty of opportunities to see the great lady up close, and quite few people took advantage of this generously granted proximity to take pictures or just admire her style and grace. She looked extremely well, bright eyed and in excellent condition.

Black Caviar’s exhibition gallop was scheduled to occur after race three, so after taking a great many photos of Black Caviar in various locations, I headed for the public lawn, stopping to place a bet on Royal Haunt in race three, the Manfred Stakes.

The Manfred Stakes was probably the most interesting race on the card, with a field of smart colts and geldings. Albrecht who ran second to Epaulette last year in the Golden Rose started hot favourite, but I liked the chances of Royal Haunt, who had won his two previous starts on country race tracks and had the Peter Moody/Luke Nolen/Caulfield factor. He won very convincingly by 4.3 lengths from Force Command and Hosting.  

race3_manfred stakes_palace haunt 
Race 3 finish - Royal Haunt is streets ahead going up the straight.

Having secured a good spot on the fence to watch race three, I and the rest of the die hard Black Caviar fans who were present, stayed to wait the appearance of the champion mare on the course.

Black Caviar’s exhibition gallop over 800 metres, was almost as exciting as watching her in a race. It was a grand occasion and came across as epic in the build up, reminding me of the chariot race scene in the movie Ben Hur. Whilst she was parading in the mounting yard, the big screen recapped her remarkable career.

black caviar4
Black Caviar trots onto the track

Then she trotted onto the track, and Luke Nolen guided her around the course, gradually building up speed as he and Black Caviar progressed, from a trot to a canter and then finally to a gallop. She zoomed around the corner and rocketed down the straight full bore. It was tremendously moving and I‘m sure I was not the only one in the crowd to feel quite choked up with emotion. It was wonderful to see her again and looking so well too.

black caviar6 
Black Caviar galloping down the straight

After that, it was understandably an anticlimax – Black Caviar’s 800 metre gallop was the feature of the meeting -  so I decided to go and get my copy of the Black Caviar book signed by the author, Gerard Whateley. There wasn’t much of a queue, and Gerard hadn’t arrived, so I got talking to the guy in front me. He pointed out an oldish bloke standing to the side. It was Les Carlyon, a famous and esteemed journalist and writer of times past whom Gerard Whateley credits as a major inspiration in his afterword in the Black Caviar book.


Having brought with me, along with the book, a photo of Black Caviar that I had purchased from her website last year, I determined that I should try and find Peter Moody and get his signature. Yeah, elderly groupie stuff. Consulting the race book, I decided the best place to catch Mr Moody would be in the stalls area where he would be preparing one of his runners for the next race on the cards.

Sure enough, he was there as was Black Caviar, being walked after her gallop. I must admit I felt a bit guilty about impinging on Peter Moody’s time – he has openly admitted that the Black Caviar hooplah is a distraction from his main job – but he very generously took time to sign the photo and the book. A good bloke!


After that I lingered on the course for Race 5, placing a bet on the Moody runner Elusive King who managed to run third.

Leaving the course, I noticed that someone had inserted a Black Caviar flag into the hand of one the jockey statues that stand in front of the club rooms. The silk colours are repainted every year to highlight the winners of the Caulfield Cup and the Blue Diamond Stakes.

jockey statue

So what better way to end this post than this photo.

I had a very enjoyable day at Caulfield yesterday and hope to return soon, perhaps next weekend for the Orr Stakes.

As I have no idea how many people would normally attend a race meeting like that run yesterday, I assume that attendance was larger than normal owing to the presence of Black Caviar. It certainly wasn’t crowded with hordes of people, so finding a place to sit down, buy a drink, put on a bet, or watch a race was easy all afternoon. And of course, seeing Black Caviar in the flesh after almost a year, was the highlight for me and doubtless many others.