Monday, January 28, 2019

Catch Me! I Am Immortal – Blue Diamond Previews

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Shortly after the finish of the fillies Blue Diamond Preview – first three home Catch Me (green silks) Jedastar (blue silks) & Shih Tzou (blue cap)

The first Group 1 race of Melbourne’s Autumn Racing Carnival is less than a fortnight hence, so I decided last Saturday to psych myself up and head to the races at Caulfield.

It wasn’t a terribly interesting meeting other than the two Blue Diamond Previews, where one is afforded an early opportunity to see  Blue Diamond bound babes in action.  Several winners of the Previews have gone on to win the Blue Diamond Stakes, most recently Sepoy (2011), Reward For Effort (2009) and Miracles of Life (2013).

I did not make a long day of it, arriving at Caulfield in time to watch Race 3, which was the Le Pines Funerals Handicap run over 1400 metres. The Hawkes trained Groundbreak started as favourite but finished out of the placings. Critical Thinking, a son of So You Think, led from the start and held on to win narrowly over Simply Invincible and Indian Thunder.

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Just past the post – Critical Thinking still leads

The first of the Previews to run was the colts edition and I Am Immortal started as favourite even though this was his first start, though he had impressed recently in a trial at Pakenham.  He also led from the start and held on to win by a length from second favourite Microphone with Alburq running third another length behind.

I managed to get photos of most of the field in the pre-parade ring, and the standout good looker was Brazen Brando who looked the spitting image of his sire Brazen Beau, also a stunner. He ran fourth, racing from the rear of the field with an impressive turn of foot.

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Brazen Brando in the pre-parade ring

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I Am Immortal in the pre-parade ring

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Shortly after the finish, I Am Immortal still leads Microphone

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I Am Immortal returns to scale

In the fillies Blue Diamond Preview, Catch Me’s win was the more impressive and hard won, as she ran three wide for most of the race, then broke through to defeat race favourite, and leader, Jedastar by a length, with Shih Tzou following for a narrow third.

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Catch Me returns to scale

Interestingly both Catch Me and I Am Immortal were sired by I Am Invincible. Whether either are good enough to win the Blue Diamond is yet to be seen.

I called it quits after the fillies Preview and headed home, the heat of day putting me off staying longer.

Next Saturday’s race card at Caulfield looks somewhat more interesting with a possible clash between classy speedsters, the handsome chestnuts, Written By and Nature Strip in the
Listed W J Adams Handicap, and Victoria Derby winner Extra Brut is nominated for the feature Group 3 Manfred Stakes.

The equine stars are emerging at last as the racing scene builds up to Group 1 action.

And of course there’s Winx, who will kick off her final season of racing in the Apollo Stakes on February 16.

I’ve been contemplating going to see her in Sydney again for the last time and tossing up between Golden Slipper day and Queen Elizabeth Stakes day. Golden Slipper day, at Rosehill, where Winx, all going to plan, will be running in the George Ryder Stakes, has won out.  I would prefer to go to Rosehill rather than Randwick – it’s better for photos.  Anyway, my flight to Sydney is booked, as is accommodation, so I can’t change my mind.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Welcome 2019


Might as well start off the new year with a cat photo, in point of fact, Bingo, now the sole feline in the Cat Politics domicile.

He’s now two years of age and fully grown and the most talkative creature I’ve ever come across - he keeps up a running commentary on everything.  A  typical Siamese in other words, and a bundle of mischief even now. In the above photo he is pretending to be good, when actually he is looking for a chance, when my back is turned, to rock the picture above him to express his desire to be fed NOW.

Overall 2018 was personally non stressful. Other than the tragic demise of Talya, life was pretty good and mostly interesting.

The highlight of the year was witnessing the great mare Winx win her 4th Cox Plate.

I find it surprising, when watching the television news on the ABC or SBS, that this momentous historical event is not mentioned as a great sporting achievemant of 2019.

Winx will be racing on in the Autumn, though is likely to be retired at the end of the season.  I doubt we will see her in Melbourne again, but god willing I can get to Sydney for her farewell, whatever race that may be.

The Melbourne autumn racing season kicks off later this month, but before that there is the Magic Millions festival where the two year old classic is always worth watching, as winners of that race often go on to win Group races. Sunlight won the Two Year Old Classic last year, and Houtzen, the year before and both of them have proved to be winners since, Sunlight in particular winning the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes from the colts in Spring.

As for reading during 2018, there were no new books that blew me away, but I did enjoy Kate Atkinson’s latest novel Transcription and Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver recently.  I did a lot rereading of old favourites rather than buying new books; comfort reading in fact. 

In 2019 I’m looking forward to several new novels by favourite writers – Agency by William Gibson, Fall; or, Dodge In Hell by Neal Stephenson,  The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale and a new Jackson Brodie book by Kate Atkinson, titled Big Sky.

I’m also still waiting – it’s 13 years now – for the 25th Anniversary Edition of John Crowley’s Little, Big, which with any luck will finally make it into print this year.  It was dismaying to learn last year that the publisher was homeless and broke at one stage, but apparently he’s back on his feet again and hopefully working hard to bring Little, Big to press. We wait and see.

To while away the time until the racing season starts, as usual I’m playing computer games, the current game being Forgotton Anne, a charming animated adventure that is like an interactive Studio Ghibli  movie.

Forgotton Anne press image

It has been several decades since I last played a platform game, so it took a while to get accustomed to the platform aspects of Forgotton Anne, especially as the keyboard controls are rather clunky.  The game is really meant to be played on a console, but as the version I have is for PC I am obliged to use the keyboard. Pressing control, shift, a directional key (WASD) and the space bar all at once can be challenging, so I’m rather pleased I’ve gotten a fair way into the game without too much difficulty.

Forgotton Anne, as previously mentioned, is like a Studio Ghibli movie, where lost socks and other mislaid objects, called Forgotlings, inhabit a world called the Forgotten Lands. Anne is an enforcer, who armed with something called an Arca (a source of power or anima), keeps order.  At the start of the game a Forgotling rebel group has created havoc, blowing up several landmarks and threatening Anne and her master Bonku’s plans to return to the human world. The action revolves around Anne’s investigation of the crimes and pursuit of the ring leader.

As is my custom I have purchased a new calandar for 2019. This year I have A History of Women’s Costume by Mac Harshberger, a stylish collection of costumed ladies in an Art Deco style.

Mac Harshberger Calendar

On a final note we connected to the NBN in mid December, and apart from a minor glitch on the first day, it has been problem free since and is much faster than my old ADSL connection. May it continue to be so.

Let’s hope that in 2019 sanity will prevail and that no major disasters occur, though that is unlikely with climate change already wreaking havoc across the planet.

Happy New Year to all!