Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows


I’ve always had an interest in words, and particularly relish neologisms, regularly visiting the wonderful Word Spy site. So when I came across a reference – on Facebook of all things! – to The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, it was love at first sight.

The Dictionary is the brainchild of John Koenig who has invented neologisms for emotions that are otherwise undefined. His blog expands on these words, using videos to illustrate the definitions.

The words at the beginning of this post are taken from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. They posssess a haunting quality that almost need a word to express the feelings they evoke.

Then again you feel delighted to recognize the emotions as being pertinent to your own experience.

Perhaps he should develop a Dictionary of Obscure Joys, such as the soothing and warm feeling evoked when thinking of familiar things that interest you, in my case horse racing, which I find pleasant to contemplate.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Bart Blows Them Away in the Memsie

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Black Heart Bart in the pre-parade ring before winning the Memsie Stakes

Black Heart Bart has truly shown what a great horse he is since joining Darren Weir’s stable. He now has two Group 1 victories on his CV, winning the Goodwood in the autumn and now the Memsie Stakes at his first run this spring.

It was a pleasant afternoon at the races on Saturday and the hours spent at the track passed in a flash.

I arrived in time to watch Race 4, a 1200 metres sprint handicap that was won by outsider Lord Barrington from Camdus with Bon Aurum running third. As the outside fence had been restored flush against the hedge, it was easier to take photos, but as I stuffed up the shot of the Race 4 finish and don’t trust the Nikon’s ability to adapt to the light,  I opted for the hill above the stalls for the rest of the afternoon.

Before Race 5 however I decided to cruise through the stalls area to see who had arrived.

The Weir mob – all twelve of them – were stabled together, so it was convenient to get photos of the four Memsie Stakes contenders from Weir’s stable – Mahuta, Black Heart Bart, Palentino and Prince of Penzance.

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Black Heart Bart

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Prince of Penzance

Race 5 was the Group 3 Resimax Stakes, a sprint over 1100 metres.  Under The Louvre was the favourite, but he was upstaged by Redzel a Sydney horse having his first start in Melbourne.

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Redzel in the pre parade ring

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Under The Louvre

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Race 5 – just past the winning post

Returning to the stalls area my aim was to get photos of Alpine Eagle and more of the Memsie Stakes field.

Alpine Eagle was being walked in the main ring, along with Rising Romance and Tarzino.

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Alpine Eagle

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Rising Romance

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Alpine Eagle looked magnificent (photos don’t do him justice) and Rising Romance was glowing with health. Tarzino has grown since I last set eyes on him and is a big burly boy.

Also hanging out in their stalls were…

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Sofia Rosa


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The H.D.F. McNeil Stakes is generally a fairly interesting race, it being a Group 3 race for Guineas bound three year olds, run over 1200 metres.

The starting favourite was Highland Beat, but a very clever ride by Dwayne Dunn on Defcon, squeezing through an inside gap denied him the bikkies. Wazzenme finished third.

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Race 6 just past the post – Defcon leads with Highland Beat trailing

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Defcon returns to scale after winning the McNeil Stakes

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Highland Beat returns to scale

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Wazzenme returns to scale

There wasn’t long to wait for the Group 1 Memsie Stakes and the field were assembling in the pre parade ring by the time I got back from buying a drink.

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Black Heart Bart

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Charmed Harmony

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Rising Romance

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Alpine Eagle

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Palentino on his way to the barriers

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Prince of Penzance on his way to the barriers

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Sofia Rosa on her way to the barriers

Black Heart Bart started as the short priced favourite, and certainly didn’t disappoint. The race was run at a rattling pace, Charmed Harmony taking the lead from Tashbeeh early on with Rising Romance and Mahuta racing in third and fourth spots, closely followed by Black Heart Bart.

Black Heart Bart took control in the straight, charging down the outside with Rising Romance at his heels. He won by 1.25 lengths from the game Rising Romance and Mahuta was third a couple of lengths behind. Alpine Eagle was a tad disappointing finishing in sixth place.

And so Black Heart Bart joins the illustrious list of Memsie Stakes winners. He could go on to greater glory as the Spring racing season progresses.

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Memsie Stakes just past the post – the first three in sequence

I called it quits after the Memsie Stakes, the afternoon chill setting in and deteriorating light discouraged lingering any longer.

Walking back through the stalls area heading for the gate, I came across a raven strutting around on the grass. It was being tormented by another species of bird, a mynah perhaps. As I have long strived to get a decent photo of a raven, the close proximity and tameness of this raven enabled me get a good shot of it sitting on the wire fence surrounding the stalls, its black plumage glowing steely blue in the late afternoon sun.

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Next weekend the racing action is at Moonee Valley featuring the Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Stakes. And in Sydney Winx will be striding out in her second race for the spring in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Group One Racing Begins–Memsie Stakes Day

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Alpine Eagle at Flemington – March 2015

The first Group 1 of the Spring kicks off at Caulfield this coming Saturday and brings good cheer to this racing fan. Finally, after a somewhat bitter and wet winter, first class racing is back on the cards.

Fourteen contenders will contest the Memsie Stakes, the field comprising seven Group 1 winners and a number of Group 2 winners with pretensions.

Melbourne Cup winner Prince of Penzance returns in this, though is not expected to win. Other stayers such as Derby winners Tarzino (Victoria Derby) and Tavago (ATC Derby), and ATC Oaks winners Rising Romance and Sofia Rosa are also part of the field.

The Memsie Stakes is run over 1400 metres, so suits middle distance horses like Black Heart Bart, Palentino, Tally, Mahuta and Alpine Eagle.

Speaking of Alpine Eagle, he was out of action for almost a year and makes a welcome return to the racetrack. He was very promising in his three year old season, winning the Group 2 Autumn Classic before running a close second to Wandjina in the Australian Guineas. A handsome beast (a High Chaparral boy), I’m looking forward to seeing what he looks like as a five year old stallion.

The Memsie Stakes has an illustrious history, with champions like Makybe Diva, So You Think, Atlantic Jewel, Sunline, Dane Ripper and Miss Finland winning it over the years. The last two winners were Boban (2015) and Dissident (2014) who were top class performers and won several Group 1 races each.

The support card has several Group 3 races which are fairly interesting, but the next best race of the day is the Group 2 Run to the Rose at Rosehill for Golden Rose Stakes hopefuls.

The current favourite is San Domenico Stakes winner Star Turn, though a lot of interest will be focussed on Winx younger half brother El Divino who has won his only two starts. Astern, Telperion and Mediterranean also have a chance.

Though Sydney has copped a deluge of rain, here in Melbourne the weekend promises to be fine and mild, so it will be no chore to traipse to Caulfield on Saturday to take in the Group 1 action on a fairly good track.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ten Straight–Winx Is Back!

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Winx winning the 2015 Cox Plate

This afternoon Winx, the wonder mare of racing, chalked up another win in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes at Randwick. This was her 10th win in succession since autumn 2015 and her 14th win out of 20 starts.

She did it easily, winning by 3.5 lengths from Hartnell with Rebel Dane and Lucia Valentina taking third and fourth place respectively. Rebel Dane led throughout with Winx taking a sit, close up in second spot. At the 300 metres Hugh Bowman released her and she charged away for an effortless win.

It’s wonderful to see her back in full flight and I’m keenly looking forward to seeing her in Melbourne come October.

The races in Melbourne were at Moonee Valley, but I decided I couldn’t be bothered to attend, what with the weather returning to wintry conditions and the race card not being all that interesting.

The Memsie Stakes, the first Group 1 of the new spring racing season, will be run at Caulfield next Saturday and generally attracts a quality field. I’ll try and preview it next week.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Rosie Runs Them Ragged at Caulfield

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Miss Rose De Lago wins the P.B. Lawrence Stakes

There is less than a fortnight to go for the first Group 1 race of the 2016 Spring racing season, so on Saturday I headed back to Caulfield to take in some racing action and psych myself for the upcoming carnival.

It offered a reasonably interesting race card and featured the Group 2 P.B Lawrence Stakes (formerly Liston Stakes), a race over 1400 metres.

Also on the program were the Group 3 Vain Stakes and Quezette Stakes for three year old Guineas bound colts (Vain) and fillies (Quezette) which are usually worth seeing in light of the future Group 1 events.

I arrived at Caulfield in plenty of time to watch race 4, the MRC Foundation Handicap, a sprint for mares over 1100 metres.

The favourite was Ocean Embers and she romped in by a length to Cana with Glenbawn Dame running third.

It is practically impossible to take photos of horses running down the straight these days at Caulfield as the height of the fence does not allow a clear view,  the outside rail blocking one’s point of view. So I took all of my action shots from the hill above the stalls area.

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Race 4 just past the finishing post – Ocean Embers is the extreme outside

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Ocean Embers returns to scale

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Cana returns to scale

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Glenbawn Dame (no 3) and Mossin’ Around return to scale

The afternoon was overcast, not the best light for taking photos, especially as I’m still trying to figure out the best settings for the Nikon camera.

In the stalls area several of the contenders for the feature race were waiting in their stalls. It was great to see Group 1 winning mares Jameka and Suavito again, and The Cleaner having his first start for the spring. He was scratched from the Bletchingly Stakes.

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The Cleaner in his own special rug

Race 5 was the Vain Stakes for colts and geldings and run over 1100 metres.

The hot favourite was the attractively named Russian Revolution, gunning for a third consecutive win in his short career.

He was successful, just, beating Highland Beat and Hardham by a little over a length.

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Vain Stakes – just past the post – Russian Revolution is centre in red and yellow silks.

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Russian Revolution on his way to the mounting yard

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Highland Beat returns to scale

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Hardham returns to scale

The fillies equivalent of the Vain Stakes is the Quezette Stakes, now named the Winslow Group Stakes.

It was good to see that the So You Think filly Conscious was part of the field. I last saw her at Flemington in February at her first start, where she ran second to Weatherly in the Blue Diamond Prelude.

It was an evenly matched field with Modern Wonder, who had won her only start being the 5/1 favourite, but ended up finishing last.

I Am A Star lived up to her name and was victorius, coming from the rear of the field to beat Leotie and race leader Athena Lass on the line.

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I Am A Star (inside) and Leotie past the post

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I Am A Star on her way to the mounting yard

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Conscious -  a lovely black filly

The feature  race was up next on the program and the contenders were being saddled up and paraded in the pre parade ring…

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Jacquinot Bay – ran second

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Jameka – ran an eye catching fourth

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Lord of the Sky

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Miss Rose De Lago – Lawrence Stakes heroine

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The Cleaner

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Entirely Platinum – third place

The P.B. Lawrence Stakes was run at a rattling pace, The Cleaner and Lord of the Sky fighting out the lead. Miss Rose De Lago was handy on the pace in fourth spot, but came wide to beat home Jacquinot Bay and Entirely Platinum by a half length.

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Lawrence Stakes finish just past the post

I did not hang around for the last two races, with the light deteriorating and the late afternoon chill making it less pleasant to be outdoors.

Next week I’m looking forward to going back to Moonee Valley for the Nissen McKenzie Stakes meeting. However the classy racing action will be in Sydney at Randwick racecourse, where Winx will be making her first racing appearance for spring in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes.

Last week it was revealed that Winx had minor surgery on a bone chip in her fetlock after her Doncaster win. So all eyes will be watching her in the Warwick Stakes to see how she goes. Hopefully all will be well and that she comes back to racing as good as ever.

If all goes to plan we’ll see her in Melbourne twice – in the Caulfield Stakes and the Cox Plate.