Monday, January 27, 2020

Back at the Track – Blue Diamond Previews

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Hanseatic on his way to winning the Colts & Geldings Blue Diamond Preview

With the CF Orr Stakes, the first Group 1 of the 2020 Autumn Racing Carnival, a little less than a fortnight hence,  it was pleasant to resume my Saturday afternoons at the races.

Though not a particularly riveting meeting, I always take an interest in the early build up races to the Blue Diamond Stakes, and at Caulfield last Saturday the two Blue Diamond Previews were the must see events.

My racing photographer friends Rebecca and George, also had the same idea, so it was pleasant to catch up with them again.

Despite the transport disruptions with trains to Caulfield being replaced by buses, it didn’t take me all that long to get there, an express bus from Flinders Street reaching Caulfield in a mere 20 minutes.

So I was at the track in plenty of time to see the first of the Previews and even had time to cruise through the stalls area first.

Hanseatic was highly fancied for the boys Preview and he was being accoutred  in his stall as I passed.

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Hanseatic in his stall

Also in her stall was the eventual winner of the fillies Preview, A Beautiful Night, though she looked a trifle peeved to be there.

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A Beautiful Night in her stall

It being early in the autumn racing season, there wasn’t much of a crowd, so it was easy to get a spot on the fence to photograph the races. I had of course taken along my step, doubly handy as the rail was out by 6 metres.

Hanseatic was most impressive winning the Colts Blue Diamond Preview, racing wide for most of the race then taking off shortly after the turn into the straight to blitz the field and win by 2½ lengths from Glenfiddich with Fixated running third a further 2 lengths in arrears.

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Hanseatic whizzes past Glenfiddich in the straight

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Glenfiddich running second

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Fixated on his way to the barriers

Fresh was the warm favourite for the fillies Blue Diamond Preview, but she was outrun by A Beautiful Night who led from the start to win narrowly from the fast finishing Fresh. Unstoppabelle finished third two lengths behind.

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A Beautiful Night in full flight down the straight

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Fresh on her way to the barriers

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Unstoppabelle on her way to the barriers

I only stayed for one more race, the 1400 metre the Lamaro’s Hotel Sth Melbourne Handicap and it resulted in a wall of horses hitting the post at the same time.  Zero Doubt got the nod from Wedgetail and race favourite Wilmont Pass.

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Race 5 finish – Zero Doubt is on the rail, Wedgetail is outside and Wilmont Pass is the centre

The afternoon was warm and sunny, quite a change from my last race outing on Mackinnon Stakes Day last Spring where it was somewhat inclement.

It was worth attending for the two Diamond Previews, though next week promises to be more interesting as the better performed runners start emerging to begin their Autumn campaigns. Looking at the nominations, I hope to see the likes of Caulfield Guineas winner Super Seth and others such as Loving Gaby, I Am Immortal, and Sunlight’s little sister Sisstar.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

New Computer & Windows 10

Corsair  Mid Tower Case with side window

Having taken possession of my new super duper computer last Wednesday, I have been accustoming myself to Windows 10.

Much as I dreaded upgrading to Windows 10, it has not been all that stressful and is pretty much like Windows 7, except bossier.

Gratifyingly, all my beloved antique software works fine without any problems. Amazing to discover that MS Office 2003 (the last MS Office with the old interface before the ribbon interface was introduced in Office 2007)  is still operable under the latest version of Windows.

The picture above is of the mid tower case of the new computer. Tower cases have gotten groovier these days -  a far cry from the boring beige boxes of the past.  There was one at the computer shop with flashy lighting effects, but I settled on the minimalist Corsair 100R case which has a side glass panel so you can see the computer’s innards, and no doubt how dusty it will get as the years go by.

It is a fast machine that comes with bountiful USB 3 ports and runs quietly.

So overall I’m really pleased I opted for a new computer and that Windows 10 has proved (so far) not to be the gremlin I had anticipated and was easy to customise to my liking.

One good thing about Windows 10, is that Open Live Writer now has a spell checker, unavailable on Windows 7 , so hopefully I won’t be making as many inadvertent mistakes. I have yet to test that it uploads to Google, but this post will be the proof.

On other matters I have several events booked in February and March, two literary occasions – Margaret Atwood at Hamer Hall on 23 February and Neil Gaiman at the Capitol on February 25 – and three music concerts. The first of these is Patty Griffin on March 3, followed by Eilen Jewell on 19 March and Kieran Kane on 26 March. So there’s lots to look forward to in this brand new year.

Hopefully I’ll be back at the races next Saturday at Caulfield. Alas, transport disruptions mean that I will have to catch a bus to Caulfield next week as trains are not running, though the rest of the autumn racing season at Caulfield appears not to be affected, in February at least.

The 2020 All Star Mile will be run at Caulfield this year in mid March and is shaping up as the race of the Melbourne autumn season, with a plethora of classy horses nominated. 

I witnessed the inaugural running of the race last year at Flemington, won by Tassie filly Mystic Journey. She is nominated again and will probably get a start. Let’s hope the P B Lawrence Stakes curse has worn off this autumn and that she can add another win to her tally.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Apocalypse Now

The recent and ongoing bushfires raging across Australia give one a feeling of living in an end of days scenario.  Here in Melbourne today there is a haze of smoke, but otherwise I feel lucky to be in the city and not out in the bush. So far this summer in Melbourne has been fairly mild and tolerable. I suppose that might change as we move towards February which normally is the hottest month.

I can’t imagine what it would have been like in Mallacoota or Kangaroo Island and the other hot spots in the country. Bravo to the voluntary fire fighters.

With the bushfires dominating the news, my mind can’t help but think back to my childhood in the North East Victorian town of Woods Point, which was wiped out in the Black Friday fires of 13 January 1939.

The memory of those fires still lingered in the late 1950s when we lived in the town.  I used to worry every summer and fret about how I could save our animals from the flames.

We did bushfire evacuation drills at the school, marching from the school to the Morning Star mine to a shelter in one of the shafts.

Woods Point Hospital where we lived in the 1950s

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The old Woods Point Hospital in 1905 before it was destroyed in the 1939 bushfire

The above black and white photo is one of several sent to me by former childhood friend Shirley who lived next door to the hospital.

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Photo of me and my brothers with Shirley and her dog 1950s

Back in these modern times,  support for Windows 7 expires today. Rather than update this present five year old computer to Windows 10, I’ve opted to buy a brand new desktop, and have ordered a custom made machine from my favourite computer shop Cnet Technology in Preston.

It should be ready to pick up this week and I’m looking forward to firing it up despite it operating on Windows 10. It has all the bells and whistles – a fast CPU, lots of RAM, a sizeable (500 GB) Solid State Drive plus a second  1TB hard drive for data, a whizbang 4 GB Graphic Card, etc etc.

Thinking back over the 25 or so years since my first computer, Windows 10 will mark the seventh operating system I will have to master. Of course you can also count my iPad (OS 10) and mobile phone (new as well) with Android Version 9.

No doubt it will take me at least a day to attach the peripherals and load software. Cross fingers my old verions of MS Office and Dreamweaver MX will still work.

I’m pleasurably anticipating returning to the races in a little under a fortnight for the build up to the Autumn racing season, with the Blue Diamond Previews at Caulfield on 25 January.

There was a fine taster on the Gold Coast last Saturday with the Magic Millions race day. I even had a few bets on a couple of races and was delighted that Chris Waller trained mare Invincibella won the Fillies & Mares Magic Millions for the third consecutive time, paying $5.00 for the win.  I also invested a small sum on Conceited in the Two Year Old Classic. Though not winning, he payed $3.00 for running third.

Alligator Blood, if ever there was a future star of the turf, won the Three Year Old Guineas in fine style after much drama getting to the course. I would have placed money on him, but his odds were so short it wasn’t worth it. Hopefully we’ll get to see him in Melbourne over the Autumn Carnival.

We may be living in a dystopian world, but there are still enjoyable things to do amid the doom and gloom.