As years go, 2020 has turned into an annus horribilius. We’ve had drought, fires, floods and now pestilence- apocalypse now!
It’s hard to believe that we are now living through a Science Fiction dystopia, though I can’t recall that in any of the SF dystopic novels I’ve read, toilet paper (the lack thereof) becoming such a big issue as it is in these crazy days.
Being retired there’s no problem maintaining a social distance as I’m not obliged to get up every morning and go to work and mingle with the general populace. I’ve hardly stirred from home for weeks, my only outings have been to the Victoria Market on Thursdays and going to the Super Market every so often for supplies.
Two concerts I was to attend in March have been postponed or cancelled, and forget heading off to the Museum and National Gallery for an art or cultural fix, they’re closed. That also goes for Saturday afternoons at the track.
I was disappointed that fans were banned from attending the All Star Mile meeting at Caulfield last weekend, but would have felt apprehensive about attending anyway. Alligator Blood ended up unplaced and Western Australian gallopers Regal Power and Superstorm ran the quinella. Melody Belle ran third.
Being in the age group most vulnerable to infection by Covid19, I feel paranoid travelling on public transport, and have become hyper alert about keeping my distance from other commuters and avoiding contact with surfaces likely to be infected.
By chance I happened to be in Chemist Warehouse earlier this week when some hand sanitiser was put on the shelf. It didn't last long, but I managed to grab two containers, which eased my anxiety when travelling to the market yesterday as I could sanitise my hands on the go.
This time last year I travelled to Sydney to see Winx in her penultimate appearance at the track. I returned with a nasty cold, so I had no desire to attend the Golden Slipper meeting at Rosehill this year. Even if I did I wouldn’t have got into the racecourse; the ATC has banned public attendance.
Who knows how long the racing industry will be able to keep the races going. Sydney’s big Autumn carnival is just starting, Golden Slipper Day kicking it off tomorrow in fine fashion with five Group 1 races on the program.
The first of these is the Ranvet Stakes, run over 2000 metres. It was won by Avilius last year and he will be aiming to win it again this year. So far this season he has been disappointing, failing to run a place in three starts. Irish horse AddeyBB having his first start in Australia looks a very classy horse considering the quality of opposition he has raced against in the UK and may blitz the local mob. Verry Elleegant ran a narrow second to Te Akau Shark in the Chipping Norton Stakes recently and is highly fancied to win.
Winx won the past four George Ryder Stakes, so another galloper has an opportunity to win it this year. Top chances are Te Akau Shark, The Bostonian, Alizee and Super Seth.
Shadow Hero, winner of the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes and more recently the Randwick Guineas, is understandably the favourite for the Rosehill Guineas. His main threats are New Zealander Sherwood Forest, Victorian Derby winner Warning, Prince Fawaz, Chenier and Castelvecchio who was disappointing last start.
The Golden Slipper is always a fascinating race. I was fortunate to witness the last two editions in person. Fillies Estijaab (2018) and Kiamichi (2019) won those. So who will win the richest two year old race this year?
Of the boys, the top picks are Tagaloa (Blue Diamond Stakes winner) Hanseatic (Blue Diamond Stakes runner up) Farnan (Todman Stakes winner) and Prague. Fancied fillies are Away Game, Dame Giselle, Hungry Heart and Minhaaj.
The final Group 1 of the afternoon is the Galaxy, a sprint over 1100 metres, won by Nature Strip last year. Pierata narrow runner up to Nature Strip last year appears the top chance in this year’s edition. Others worthy of consideration are In Her Time with a great first up record, the in form Savatiano, and Kementari , who was a failure at stud and is back racing after a year’s absence, and gelded to boot.
Tonight at Moonee Valley the final Group 1 of Melbourne’s Autumn racing season, the William Reid Stakes, is scheduled to run at 8.30pm. Mystic Journey, whose Autumn season was stymied by a leg infection. makes her first appearance since the Cox Plate in this race. It’s a bit short for her, but it will be interesting to see how she runs in it.
Newmarket Handicap winner Bivouac is the favourite, but he faces a classy field that includes along with Mystic Journey, Loving Gaby, Gytrash, Exceedance and Pippie.
Even though I will be maintaining a social distance at home (pretty normal for me) there are still things to enjoy, such as the racing on TV.
There are also books to read – I’m currently rereading Hilary Mantel’s first two Cromwell books, preparatory to reading the last book, The Mirror and the Light which I have acquired in a lovely signed hardcover first edition.
Also I have a backlog of purchased computer games I mean to get through over the next few months, waiting for Covid19 to pass. Above all I hope to still be alive at the end of it.