Friday, March 29, 2013

Sydney Racing Carnival – Rosehill Guineas

It’s A Dundeel at Moonee Valley -  Cox Plate day October 2012

Chaos still reigns supreme on the home front with the renovations yet to be completed, so I endeavour to put a little order in my life by following the races in Sydney, which appear to be just as interesting as the Melbourne summer/autumn carnival was. They’ll even have a chance to see Black Caviar in a couple of weeks contesting the T J Smith Stakes. It is highly unlikely that we’ll see her in action again in her home state as plans to return to Royal Ascot are on the horizon, after which a mating with UK champion Frankel is being mooted, though nothing is definite other than the T J Smith.

This weekend, however, Rosehill will be hosting two fascinating Group One races – the Rosehill Guineas and the Galaxy.

The Rosehill Guineas is a race for three year olds over 2000 metres. The small, but select field includes top colt It’s A Dundeel who won the Randwick Guineas a fortnight ago. Ridden differently in the Randwick Guineas, closer to the speed than normal, and wearing blinkers for the first time, it worked like a charm. No doubt the same strategy will be applied this time. He made the mistake previously of several times leaving his run too late or letting the leader get too far ahead.  Other runners in with a chance are Hvasstan and Twisted Emotions who are both promising young stayers.

The Galaxy (1100 metres) has attracted a full field of quality sprinters. Hay List headed the weights, but he has been scratched. He returned from a long injury forced break a couple of weeks ago, but was outrun by light weighted filly Snitzerland and finished out of the placings. I’m astounded his connections still want to continue his racing career after all the injury alarms, some of them near fatal, that he has given them.

So, Snitzerland will start as favourite for the Galaxy, but it won’t be as easy this time. Super talented sprinting mare Sea Siren resumes in this race and she runs well when fresh. She’s my pick as the potential winner. I’m also interested in the wonderfully named Isabella Snowflake, a classy Melbourne filly, who has four wins from five starts. Of the male contenders, Bel Sprinter and Golden Archer look the top chances along with Unpretentious.

Also of interest is Race 8, the Ajax Stakes where the Queen’s horse Carlton House will be having his first start in Australia for Gai Waterhouse. How he’ll go against the likes of Lamasery, Havana Rey and Monton is yet to be seen. It’ll be worth watching the race just to see Carlton House’s jockey, Hugh Bowman, decked out in the Queen’s colours - Purple, Gold Braid, Scarlet Sleeves, Black Velvet Cap, Gold Fringe.

The final race on the card at Rosehill the Birthday Card Stakes   for fillies and mares over 1200 metres, is of interest to me mainly because a couple of the runners are in my black book. Grey filly Catkins, won me a goodly sum when she last raced, and I follow Emotional Circus because her name appeals to me. She’s also quite talented and has won her share of races and could start favourite in this race.

In other racing news, Cox Plate winner Ocean Park will be taking on the world at Meydan Dubai in the Dubai Duty Free. Wishing him luck, and hope he wins.

Good Friday has to be the most boring day on the calendar, so at least contemplating the form for Saturday’s races fills the time nicely.

I celebrated Good Friday with a cold Hot Cross Bun. We’re still without a kitchen, so no chance of toasting it. Still, it wasn’t too bad and quite delicious.

Happy Easter everyone and hope the Easter whoever indulges your sweet tooth. 

Update Saturday night

It’s A Dundeel was spectacular, winning the Rosehill Guineas by 6¾ lengths from Sacred Falls and Tatra. He raced at the back of the field, but, nearing the corner for home he came belting down the outside and sustained that run to the post.  It reminded me of Makybe Diva, and how she could round a field and storm home on the outside from a long way out. Have we got a new superstar? We’ll see when he competes in the Australian Derby in a few weeks.

Bel Sprinter won the Galaxy in a similar sensational fashion, storming home late at great speed and whizzing past Snitzerland who looked the winner, to score by a couple of lengths. Sea Siren was most disappointing failing to even run a place.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Moonee Valley Spectacular – Black Caviar Wins Again

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Black Caviar cruises to victory in the William Reid Stakes

Nobody could doubt my devotion to Black Caviar, after the trouble I went through to see her win her twenty fourth race in succession.

I started out from home at about 7.15pm aiming to catch the 7.20pm bus to Moonee Valley. However, as the bus passes directly by the Moonee Valley racecourse, it was held up in the crush of cars entering the course and didn’t arrive at my bus stop until 7.50pm.

So I was a bit latish getting to Moonee Valley, arriving just before the start of race 6, the Group Two Sunline Stakes. There was no time to put on a bet, but I watched the race in the Bookies ring on a small screen TV.  Spirit Song continued her good form with a win, defeating Lights of Heaven.

Before checking out the stalls area, I ventured out to the public lawn – it was packed to the rafters as expected, though I noted there was breathing space at the top of straight, where I might possibly squeeze into a space on the fence.

I then went to the stalls area, hoping for a glimpse of the star in or near her stall (Stall 54).

Her stall was heavily guarded by a group of security guys…


… and there was a horde of people crowded around the fence adjacent to the stall.

Taking photos in the lighting conditions was pretty challenging, but I did manage to shoot a few not too bad photos, e.g. the following photo of Black Caviar in the walking ring close to her stall.

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Black Caviar being walked as she waits for her race to begin.

When I arrived back on the public lawn I managed to insinuate myself into a spot on the fence to watch the next race and await the main event.

The practice and patience acquired when waiting to get into concerts, held me in good stead in this case, as it was a long wait after the second last race. From where I was standing it was fairly removed from the interim entertainment, so it really was of no interest to me. My thoughts were “Get on with it already”. They showed a documentary on the big screen, featuring Black Caviar’s racing career, with interviews with Peter Moody and Luke Nolen etc. Then Darryl Braithwaite performed a few songs, which the portion of crowd closest to the action, seemed to enjoy immensely.  The girl standing next to me sang along and I thought I would have the lyrics on my brain forever. Fortunately they didn’t take, and I’ve forgotten what they were.

I was surrounded by two groups of rural folks, who had been at the course since 5.00pm and were having a wonderful time. Typical of the crowd, which as I’ve said before, is quite different to other racing crowds.

Finally the moment arrived when Black Caviar trotted onto the track to the accompaniment of rousing cheers. You don’t have to look at the screen when Black Caviar is racing to see what’s happening- the crowd reaction tells all.

She cantered up the top end and I managed to get a photo as she went past. She looks quite sleepy here, but obviously woke up in the race.

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Black Caviar on her way to the barriers

And then there was the race, run at a fairly casual pace. Karuta Queen led for most of the way, Black Caviar looming right beside her. After turning into the straight, Black Caviar put the rest of the field behind her in a few strides and won comfortably from Karuta Queen with four lengths to spare. 

The crowd were delirious with happiness, having witnessed an historic moment in racing history. Black Caviar, now with 14 Group One races on her CV, equalled the record set by Kingston Town in the 1980s.

As usual, Luke Nolen guided the great mare back up the track to the top of the straight to give everyone a chance to see her, and cheer her.

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Black Caviar on a victory walk after winning the William Reid Stakes

After such a star act, there was nothing to do but find a way to get home.

Unfortunately the bus to my place stops services at 8.00pm, so I had to think of an alternative method of getting home.

The queue for taxis was a mile long, so I decided to walk up to Moonee Ponds Junction and take a tram into the city.  A large crowd was waiting on the tram stop when I got there, and it took at least 15 minutes for a tram to even arrive as traffic jams, caused by people leaving the racecourse, had delayed tram services along Mt Alexander Rd. 

I made it home eventually, two hours after I left the course. What an ordeal! But worth it I suppose to see history as it happens.

As remarked before, Moonee Valley was chockers with 25,000 people crammed into the compact course – surely a record for a night meeting and most certainly at Cox Plate levels. They all would have fitted more comfortably at Flemington, but then again Moonee Valley has that special quality all its own.

Saturday’s racing at Rosehill resulted in some surprise long shot winners – Foreteller beat Fiveandahalfstar in the Ranvet Stakes, Appearance won a thriller in the Coolmore Classic, and Pierro beat More Joyous in the Canterbury Stakes.  I only had one bet yesterday, on Criterion in the Todman Stakes at Rosehill. He paid $7.50 for the win and won me a tidy $75.00.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Black Caviar – Win Number 24 Coming Up


Moonee Valley Racing Club has been touting the Friday night William Reid Stakes meeting as Black Caviar’s final race in Victoria and flogging off prepaid tickets left, right and centre on this basis.  However, Peter Moody yesterday intimated that Black Caviar could well race on and that her up and coming “farewell” tour of the country will not be her last.

As I have a prepaid general admission season’s ticket for MVRC I figure I should take advantage of it for the opportunity to see Black Caviar race again. After all I’m a BIG fan, so I’ll be at Moonee Valley on Friday night.

Six other horses have accepted to run against the great mare in the William Reid Stakes and include another of my favourites, Karuta Queen who is now part of Peter Moody’s stable.  She has run against Black Caviar in the past (Schillaci Stakes October 2011), running second at that time. She is not expected to win on Friday night either, but could well give Black Caviar something to chase and overtake. Also part of the field are Linton and Luckygray, two greys who would probably be better over longer distances, and old Hong Kong star Good Ba Ba stretching his legs in this race.  And for some reason I feel obliged to mention Spirit of Boom, who could possibly run a place.

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The William Reid Stakes is the last race on the card and scheduled for 9.55 pm to tie in with the television coverage of the first round of the AFL, i.e. Black Caviar’s race will be screened live during half time on Free To Air TV.

There will a be a hour separating the second last race and the William Reid Stakes, to what purpose I do not know, other than the aforementioned tie in with the footy. There will be a terrible scramble for taxis at the end of the night I predict, as crowds are anticipated to be at Cox Plate levels, and of course will be leaving the venue at the same time.

So when I go, I’ll adopt my Cox Plate strategy and take to the top of the straight to watch the race and also hang out in the parade ground area.  Night racing is awful for taking photos, but I’ll try to get some good snaps anyway, light permitting.

The rest of the race card is not that interesting other than the Group Two Sunline Stakes for mares, run over 1600 metres. Lights of Heaven has a good chance of winning this as she is a classy mare and has won on the track at the distance before. She’ll have to beat Spirit Song who is in great form at the moment. Also sure to be competitive are Spirit of Giselle, Bonaria, Secret Liaison and stable-mate There’s Only One.

The racing scene switches to Sydney this Saturday with a fantastic race card at Rosehill, including three Group One races. 

There’s the mouth watering prospect of Gai Waterhouse stars More Joyous and Pierro pitted against each other in the Canterbury Stakes. The field also includes Happy Trails, Moment of Change, Rain Affair, Solzhenitsen and Secret Admirer.

What a field!  More Joyous won this race last year when it was designated as Group Two, but it has been upgraded to Group One.  The field last year was arguably weaker than this year’s edition, so she may have to try extra hard this year. But she is all class, and I hope she wins, though she may be upstaged by her young stable-mate Pierro.

The Group One Coolmore Classic has a really super field of top notch fillies and mares. You’ve got Streama, Dear Demi, Steps In Time, Norzita, Flying Snitzel, Pear Tart and New Zealand mare Zurella as the top picks. It’s anybody’s guess who wins.

The first of the Group One races at Rosehill is actually the Ranvet Stakes run over 2000 metres, which also has a very classy field. Can in form, but yet to win this autumn, Fiveandahalfstar, put another Group One on his CV with a win in this? He’s weighted advantageously and could thrash his older opponents, as he and his arch rival Super Cool did in the Australian Cup. Super Cool has been sent to spell until the spring, so Fiveandahalfstar could well prevail as Super Cool only beat him in the Australian Cup by a narrow margin and they left the older horses eating their dust.

Of his older opponents, New Zealander Sangster looks the most threatening, though he is coming back in distance after winning the Auckland Cup over 3200 metres in early March.  There’s also Manighar who is an enigma at the moment after his abysmal performance in the Chipping Norton Stakes. He won the Ranvet Stakes last year, but is he the same horse now? Silent Achiever is never far away and can be almost always relied on to be in on the finish.

Last Saturday, I was delighted to see  It’s A Dundeel win the Randwick Guineas, beating Proisir for a second time. I was very taken with It’s Dundeel’s appearance (good looks) on Cox Plate day last year, so I’ve been following his progress ever since. He wore blinkers for the first time last week, and raced closer to the speed than is his usual wont, and that strategy worked a treat.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I Just Got Blown Away – Neil Young & Crazy Horse at The Plenary

neil young 005

Well, I was pleased to find out that I wasn’t an old fogey who couldn’t tolerate a loud rock ‘n roll  band. In fact from the first song I knew I was going to like the show very much, and at no time did I even contemplate leaving.

It was a three hour marathon, full of sweet and gritty rock n roll. Yeah, sure there were times when I wondered how much longer the song, or rather the extended jam at the end of the song, was going to go on, but grinned and bore it. All the songs performed seemed to last at least ten minutes and in all there were 18 of them (see set list).

The sound was loud, but perfectly balanced and so scintillatingly dynamic that the thought of muffling it seemed anathema, so I ended up not inserting the ear plugs at all, or only briefly during a particularly vehement distorted jam towards the end of the show.

In all it was a great rock concert, and I am very glad I was present to witness it.

There was a brief three song acoustic interval, where Neil played Heart of Gold, Twisted Road and Singer Without A Song. During Singer Without A Song, a young woman carrying a guitar case wandered aimlessly around the stage, in some lame attempt to illustrate the lyrics. Rather corny I thought at the time and was relieved when the band got back to loud rock.

Though I haven’t kept up with Neil Young’s recordings over the past twenty years or so, the newer songs had a familiar ring to them, no doubt due to Neil Young’s unique voice and musical sensibilities. I loved the opening song Love and Only Love and enjoyed the heavy pounding rhythm of Walk Like A Giant, in fact the whole show.

My seat. I discovered was in the front row of the second tier of seating, so I wasn’t right up the front next to the stage. I had a good view and was grateful to be at a remove from the amplifiers. I took my small old Pansonic camera with me, to try and get a few photos, but was too far from the stage, so shot some from the big screens on each side of the auditorium. The photo above is one of them – not perfect, I know.

The venue itself is excellent, though rather hard to find if you’ve never been there before, hidden as it is in the bowels of the Melbourne Convention Centre. Neil Young commented on this in his sole brief engagement with the audience.

As mentioned before the concert lasted almost exactly three hours.  An extended version of Like A Hurricane was the sole encore, after which the audience rose for a standing ovation.

So all the previous reviews are correct – it was a great rock n roll concert and boo hiss to those who disagree.

As an aside, and as an example of the eccentricity of the evening, the show opened with a recording of The Beatles A Day In The Life and as the audience were filing out of the auditorium Greensleeves came wafting over the airwaves. Go figure!

 Set List

  1. Love and Only Love
  2. Powderfinger
  3. Born in Ontario
  4. Walk Like a Giant
  5. Hole in the Sky
  6. Heart of Gold
  7. Twisted Road
  8. Singer Without a Song
  9. Ramada Inn
  10. Cinnamon Girl
  11. Cortez the Killer
  12. Dangerbird
  13. Barstool Blues
  14. Prisoners of Rock 'n' Roll
  15. Opera Star
  16. My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)
  17. Sedan Delivery


  1. Like a Hurricane


Something completely different today, was a charming little show performed in store at Basement Discs, by young English folk artist Seth Lakeman.

seth lakeman 

A pleasant and comely young man, he is a skilled multi instrumentalist,  singer and songwriter, possessing an affecting and passionate voice.

Playing alternately a violin and bouzouki, he entertained the lunchtime crowd with a selection of songs from his repertoire, including Blacksmith’s Prayer, The Hurlers and a wonderful ballad about the Penlee Lifeboat Disaster called Solomon Browne.

Tomorrow Grizzly Jim Lawrie, formerly of Eagle and the Worm, performs an in store, and Friday 22nd Australian Rock legend Russell Morris will grace the Basement stage.

So much to enjoy, so much to look forward to.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Musical Interlude

Normally at this time of year I would have a great many evenings booked for concert attendances. But this year I’ve been very slack and have felt uninspired by what was on offer. I’ve seen many of the touring artists before, and even though seeing them again would be pleasurable, I can’t summon the energy to book a ticket. Besides, I’m a bit wearied of going to things by myself all the time. Much as I enjoy solitary outings with only myself to please, other people’s company is also welcome and adds another dimension to the experience.

I have of course been attending the Basement Discs in store performances, and they’ve all been great. Last Thursday Woody Guthrie’s grand daughter Sarah Lee Guthrie with her husband Johnny Irion played a lovely little show.

sarah lee guthrie_johnny irion 002

And prior to that there have been The Livingstone Daisies, a local group composed of Liz Stringer, the Walker (Van & Cal) brothers and Michael Barclay, Jack Howard, who was most enjoyable, Chris Wilson and Geoff Achison and guitar ace Nick Charles.

My one solitary booking for the music festival season is for Neil Young & Crazy Horse at the Plenary this coming Wednesday. The ticket was purchased through the auspices of a Ticketmaster gift card from Nu Country.  I’ve got a great seat, courtesy of Ticketmaster. I originally booked for the show in the presale, and scored a pretty good seat. Then Ticketmaster sent me an email saying that they were upgrading my seat, as front row seating had mysteriously become available. So I’ve gone from Row Y in the tiered seating area to Row R, which happens to be the front row. There is a standing area at the front of the stage, so hopefully the tiered seating is raised or I’ll have heads obscuring my view.

I’ve never been to the venue before, nor seen Neil Young live, so it should be a great show, if very loud, as has been reported.  However, I’ve taken the precaution of buying ear plugs, as I find I can’t tolerate extremely loud music anymore.

Anyway I will report back on Thursday with my impressions of the show.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Super Cool On A Hot Day

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Super Cool returns to scale after winning the Australian Cup

The sizzling heat of the extended Melbourne summer didn’t affect the equally sizzling race card at Flemington yesterday. My goodness, the Melbourne racing season has been classic all through, and yesterday’s meeting was right up there with the Lightning Stakes and Blue Diamond in terms of great racing spectacles.

There was a dead heat for first in the Group Two Blamey Stakes, between  Budriguez and Puissance de Lune, an upset win in the Newmarket Handicap by the lightly weighted Shamexpress, and three year old colt Super Cool rocketed into elite company by winning the Australian Cup

I arrived at Flemington just in time to witness the running of Race 3 the Group Two Sires Produce Stakes. Twilight Royale triumphed over Shamus Award and Great Esteem.

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Twilight Royale sashed after winning the Sires Produce Stakes

The Blamey Stakes was the next race up, so I went and put a bet on Puissance de Lune and hung around the mounting yard, waiting for the parade, keen to catch a glimpse of the early Melbourne Cup favourite.

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Puissance de Lune parading in the mounting yard

As you can see, he is a lovely looking grey horse and boy, can he run. He’s even better over longer distances, so watch for him in the spring.

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Puissance de Lune on his way to the track

It looked as if Budriguez would steal the show, as they flashed past down the straight, but Puissance de Lune lunged at the line and it came down to a dead heat, the photo finish being so close the stewards had no option but to call it a draw. There was a long wait while all this was being decided.

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Puissance de Lune in the winners rug after the result was called.

Both horses had a turn at wearing the winners rug and the presentation with all the owners of both horses crowded the rostrum.

After collecting my winnings on Puissance de Lune, I reinvested some on the hot favourite for the next race, none other than Norzita

Norzita parading in the mounting yard prior to the Kewney Stakes

Norzita was pipped at the post by long shot Flying Snitzel, who rocketed from the back of the field to steal the race.

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Flying Snitzel returns to scale after winning the Kewney Stakes

The first of the feature races, the Newmarket Handicap, was next on the agenda.

I watched the parade and photographed several of the contestants.

Moment of Change was the warm favourite, but he was denied victory by three year old Shamexpress.

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Moment of Change

The two West Australian sprinters, Luckygray and Barakey were outclassed, finishing 8th and 11th. Perhaps they were daunted by Flemington’s big long straight.

Luckygray – a handsome grey beast

Barakey on his way to the track

Finally, a photo of Ortensia

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Satin Shoes

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The winner – Shamexpress returns to scale

I had my money on Barakey again, so no wins there.

The Australian Cup is a great race, and yesterday’s version was a beauty. It is normally won by a tried and true weight for ager and three year olds have not won for many years, the last being Saintly in 1996.

Super Cool and Fiveandahalfstar first clashed in the Victoria Derby last spring with Fiveandahalfstar being the victor on that occasion. It’s quite rare to see Derby winners back in winning form in the autumn. The Derby can be the kiss of death, as many Derby winners fail to win ever again, though of course there are exceptions and these exceptions turn into champion stayers and middle distance runners.

I’ve seen Super Cool race three times and each time he has won. I had a small wager on him in the Australian Cup and he delivered at reasonable  odds.  The two colts went to the line together, Super Cool winning by a short margin.  Old stayer Tanby ran third.

Anyway here’s some photos of the main contestants in the Australian Cup.


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Glass Harmonium

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Green Moon

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Mr Moet

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Super Cool

Flemington wasn’t all that crowded yesterday. Compared to the numbers that attended the Lightning Stakes meeting it was half full. I didn’t mind at all as it was easy to find a spot on the fence to watch the races, buy a drink or put on a bet. It was extremely hot of course, but one could find shady spots to sit in and study the form.

I’ve decided I quite like Flemington after all. It’s a very attractive racecourse with wonderful architectural  features, and the masses of roses everywhere are gorgeous.

God willing I will attend super Saturday again next year.

There is only one more Group One race in Melbourne to be run this autumn, before the focus shifts to the Sydney autumn racing season. The William Reid Stakes, starring Black Caviar is scheduled for Friday night on 22nd March. I’ll be there of course, despite the ridiculous timing of the main race at 9.45pm.

Speaking of the Sydney racing scene, it was great to see my old favourite Shoot Out take out his second consecutive Chipping Norton Stakes at Warwick Farm yesterday.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Flemington Super Saturday 2013 – Whoopie!

Early Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance de Lune returns this weekend in the Blamey Stakes

An absolutely super duper weekend of racing is in the offing and I will be at Flemington Race Course to witness most of it. Three Group One races are on the cards, two at Flemington and one at Warwick Farm in Sydney, along with some very interesting Group Two competitions.

At Flemington the first of the Group races of most interest is the Group Two Blamey Stakes over 1600 metres. Puissance de Lune will be making one of his few appearances this autumn in this race. It’s probably a bit too short for him, but according to his regular jockey, Glen Boss, he has super star written all over him. He’ll have to contend with the smart, in form, and fit, Dany The Fox, who will no doubt start as favourite. Also in the picture are Budriguez, Callanish and good old Maluckyday who ran a great race behind All Too Hard in the Futurity Stakes recently.  

The Group Two Kewney Stakes (1400 metres) is one for three year old fillies. I’m looking forward to seeing Flight Stakes winner, Norzita, in action.  She commenced her autumn campaign with a win in the Typhoon Tracy Stakes in mid February. She has some stiff competition in the Kewney from Members Joy, Meliora, Alzora and Petite Diablesse, but is the class filly in the race so should prevail.

You can tell Black Caviar is not running in the Group One  Newmarket Handicap (1200 metres), as a good (though not full) field of runners has accepted for the race. It looks to be a fascinating competition and is very hard to pick the winner.  First up you have Moment of Change who ran a good second to his stable mate Black Caviar in the Lightning Stakes. Peter Moody reckons Moment of Change is a class act, and the next best horse in his stable after the champion mare, and his race record speaks well of his chances. He’s raced 10 times, won five times and only been out of a place once. He won the Group One Sir Rupert Clark Stakes back in the spring.

However, he is up against some first class sprinters, notably the unbeaten Perth star Barakey, who was scratched at the barrier in the Oakleigh Plate, so we still don’t know how good he actually is. His fellow Perth star, Luckygray, is also in with a chance.  The West Australians at least won’t be distressed by the continuing heat wave in Melbourne; in fact they are thriving in the torrid conditions.  Others worthy of consideration are Fontelina who recently ran a close second to Hay List in a trial, classy mare Ortensia and light weighted colts Better Than Ready and Shamexpress.

The Australian Cup has a glorious reputation as a WFA race, having been won over the years by some out and out champions – Makybe Diva, Lonhro, Northerly, Saintly to name a few. So who will win it this year?

2012 Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon is one of the top chances.  He has the services of Hong Kong based jockey Brett Prebble as his rider, and recently ran a good fourth to All Too Hard in the Futurity Stakes and will appreciate the extra distance of the Australian Cup (2000 metres). 

Another Perth star Mr Moet appears to represent his closest opposition having run second to Foreteller in the Peter Young Stakes.  Foreteller too, could repeat his Peter Young performance and the unpredictable Glass Harmonium could steal the show if he behaves himself. And you can’t totally over look the two three year old colts Fiveandahalfstar and Super Cool who are both racing extremely well at present and have a weight advantage, even though three year olds rarely win this race.

The final Group One race of the day is the Chipping Norton Stakes at Warwick Farm.  Run over 1600 metres, Shoot Out won it last year,so perhaps he can win it again this year. It appears to be a race where consecutive wins by the same horse is quite common. Tie The Knot won it four time in a row (1999 to 2002) and Super Impose won it twice in 1991 and 1992. Shoot Out was scratched from the Apollo Stakes due to the heavy track, so will be first up in the Chipping Norton after trialling very well, so I’m hoping he will succeed.  Half the field are his stable mates from Chris Waller’s stable.  Danleigh for one, who finished second in the Chipping Norton last year and ran third in the Apollo Stakes behind Alma’s Fury and Tougher Than Ever who are also part of the field.  Manighar makes a welcome return to the racetrack after being sidelined by injury during the spring and has a chance if he’s recovered. Gai Waterhouse has Glencadam Gold and Lazer Hawk in the running. They were both disappointing in the Apollo Stakes. Also worth a look is New Zealand mare Silent Achiever who always runs an honest race. Whatever, it will be a good race to watch.

At Flemington the track will be on the fast side and the weather hot and sunny (again!) whereas in Sydney the track is likely to be on the soft side after all the rain that has been falling in that part of the country.

I’ll be braving the relentless sunshine once again to take in the excitement of first class racing at the big track.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Radiance – The Neo Impressionists

National Gallery of Victoria spire from a distance

As Melbourne’s heatwave continues, it seemed appropriate to finally catch up with the National Gallery of Victoria’s Summer Exhibition, very aptly entitled The Neo Impressionists: Radiance.

Though only a small exhibition, it was nevertheless illuminating, not only for the gorgeous light-filled paintings, but also as regards the philosophy of the Neo Impressionists movement, about which I was somewhat vague.

Unlike the original Impressionists, who favoured the direct impact and spontaneity of painting outdoors, the Neo Impressionists approached the art of painting light in a more scientific fashion, and most often painted their works indoors in the studio, after executing sketches at the scene.

Artists covered included Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, Camille Pissarro and Maximilien Luce.

When you first walk into the exhibition, you are confronted by Georges Seurat’s wonderful The Seine at Courbevoie, which was one of my favourite paintings at the exhibition.

georges seurat_the seine at courbevoie
It is a pity Seurat’s most famous painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte was not included in the exhibition, but there was more than enough fine art to compensate for its absence.

For instance, the paintings of seaside town Saint Tropez by Maximilien Luce.

maximilien luce_the port at saint tropez

Paul Signac’s painting of Juan Les Pins...

paul signac_juan-les-pins

…and Saint Tropez

paul_signac_saint tropez

And moodier pictures like Maximilien Luce’s View of London (Cannon Bridge)

maximilien luce_view of london

What typified most of the paintings in the exhibition was the wonderful quality of light. The original paintings on the wall of the gallery positively glowed as brightly as the sun outside.  The illustrations above are scans of postcards I purchased at the gallery as is my usual practice. The scans look better than the postcards as a matter of fact.

And finally, just because I liked it, a photo of an extraordinary chair in the sculpture garden.


The Winter Exhibition will feature Monet’s Garden -  more Impressionism.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Renovation - Chaos with Wasps

Dining Room, Kitchen, Laundry stripped bare

We’re almost into week three of the renovations, and nothing much has progressed so far, except for the preparatory stuff. It will all start in earnest this week, with the plasterer and builder creating new walls and floors.

The rest of the house is filled with building materials, appliances and the new bathroom fittings.

living room
Living Room – crammed with building materials

Meanwhile, we’ve been cooking alfresco, outside the backdoor on the patio which has been covered with a tarpaulin to keep the rain out.

It has most of what you need, the coffee machine, fridge, plates and cutlery and a bucket of water.

alfresco kitchen
Alfresco kitchen

The washing up is done in the backyard in the old sink which B cleverly rigged up on trestles. Of course the taps don’t work – we have to boil water and transport it.

You will notice in the following photo how the grass has grown under the sink where the waste water comes out. This is despite the dishwashing detergent. What magical growing properties it seems to possess!

alfresco sink
Sink in the backyard

It’s like camping, though surprisingly without many flies. European wasps are the main problem and they no doubt are responsible for the absence of flies. They are attracted to any foodstuffs, particularly cat food, so we have to be careful and keep the area clean and lock everything away from their depredations. B found a nest of them in the front garden (in the ground near the fence) and spent most of yesterday afternoon trying to kill them with insect spray. It didn’t work, and only succeeded in enraging them. He got stung of course, though only once. He’ll try again tonight with proper wasp killing powder and wearing protective clothing.

The cats have been coping well, Willy hardly twitching a whisker and Talya making herself scarce in one of her hiding spots the front yard, emerging, when the builders have left, to beg for food.

Cats find all the building stuff in the house interesting and worth investigating. They walk between the plaster boards leaning up against the wall in the hallway, and can’t resist climbing into the holes cut into the floor for electricity cables.

talya_living room
Talya considering a pile of timber flooring in the living room.

Overall we’re getting used to the limited cooking facilities and eating quite well -  lots of barbeques and salads.

I wash the clothes at the local laundrette. I haven’t been in one for over 30 years and had to ask how it operated. I was surprised at how cheap it was – only $4.00 for a wash. I had expected it to be much more as I think, in the past it was a dollar or so to wash your clothes then. I don’t bother with the dryer, lugging home the wet clothes to hang on the line. While it’s hot and sunny, why use an electric dryer. If it’s raining I may avail myself of the dryer, as there’s bugger all space to hang clothes on a clothes horse in the house.

The renovations will continue for several more weeks I assume, but I can’t wait for it to be finished.

Update Monday

Today, no wasps!

B in his comical Rentokil outfit – check out the head gear, a piece of ingenuity made out of  security flywire.

Finally, the wasp nest has been destroyed, or so I assume as I have seen no wasps hovering around today.

B treated the nest with the proper stuff last night, and dressed appropriately this time. He said the wasps were dormant, so he had no trouble at all. And it appears to have worked.