Sunday, January 31, 2021

Sunshine, Hot Racing at Caulfield

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Enthaar easily wins the Group 3 Chairman's Stakes

For a change from Australia Day, yesterday’s weather was warm and sunny, though when I set out for my afternoon at the races it didn’t look all that promising, being grey and overcast, threatening rain.

Covid 19 biosecurity measures were still in place at Caulfield, restricting movement as was the case on Australia Day. Fortunately we were permitted in the Media area, so we could get on the fence for photographs. General patrons were held off from the fence by security guards, so we counted ourselves lucky.

I only stayed for three races, reaching Caulfield around 1.30 pm in time for Race 3, the not terribly interesting Ned’s Toolbox Handicap, a race over 1800 metres. Good for photo practice, in other words.

It was won by War Critic who defeated race favourite Hasseltoff by a neck with long odds Five Kingdom running third.

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War Critic leads up the straight, Hasseltoff (yellow silks) trying to catch him.

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War Critic on his way to the barriers

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Five Kingdom on his way to the barriers

Race 4 was the Chairman’s Stakes and the pick of the card due to the presence of Enthaar, early favourite for the  Blue Diamond Stakes who impressed with her first start win in the Group 3 Gimcrack Stakes at Randwick last Spring.

She certainly lived up to expectations, leading from the start and holding off all challengers to win by 2 ½ lengths from Ingratiating, with Fortunate Kiss a further length behind running third.

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Enthaar in the mounting yard

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Enthaar whizzes up the straight to the finish line

Whether Enthaar will go on to win the Blue Diamond Stakes is yet to be seen, but she  looks to be outstanding filly and a potential super star. I’m glad I got to see her in the flesh.

Aysar started as favourite for the other feature race, the Group 3  Manfred Stakes, but he was outclassed by 9/1 shot  Portland Sky who led from the start to the finish, to win by ¾ length from Aysar, with 2020 Blue Diamond winner Tagaloa running third.

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Portland Sky holds off Aysar to win the Manfred Stakes

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Portland Sky on his way to the barriers

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Aysar on his way to the barriers

I called it quits after the Manfred Stakes, the rest of the race card not being all that alluring to stay for.

Next week at Caulfield is the first Group 1 race of the Autumn racing season, the CF Orr Stakes, which along with the two Group 2 Blue Diamond Preludes, promises to be a a classier race meeting, with better performed horses kicking off their autumn campaigns.

Unfortunately Flemington looks a no go as far as Autumn racing is concerned with apparently no individual General Admission tickets being offered for sale for the Lightning Stakes meeting in  mid February, one being obliged to book a table for four or six people. That may change by the time Super Saturday comes around in March, but I’m not holding my breath.  I just noticed on the VRC website that sales have been put on hold, due to technical hosting issues associated with the new COVID requirements remaining unresolved, whatever that means.

I should be grateful during these pestilent times that I can attend the Caulfield meets. It’s better than nothing. I  have also purchased a general admission ticket for the All Star Mile , this year to be run at Moonee Valley, and hope to get to use it..

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Beau & Dosh–Australia Day at Caulfield

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General Beau wins the colts Blue Diamond Preview

The weather could have been better, but it was a pleasant change of scene to be back trackside at the races yesterday.

It has been almost a year since I last attended the races, so having renewed my Melbourne Racing Club Casual Membership I was able to attend yesterday’s races at Caulfield, which featured the two Blue Diamond Previews, one for the boys and one for the girls.

Due to Covid 19 restrictions on the number of spectators at the track,  one had to register to attend in advance. Being a casual member the only area option available was the Front Lawn, which suited me fine as it’s where I would choose to be normally.

There were restrictions on other areas of the track, such as the stalls, parade rings and mounting yard fence. But overall, the front lawn was a spacious area to hang  out in as there wasn’t that much of a crowd. By pretending to be media photographers we managed to get next to the fence for photo practice. I’m glad I took my stool.

My photographer friends Rebecca and George were also in attendance yesterday, so it was great to catch up with them after almost a year since we last met in person.

Last year the Blue Diamond Previews were won by  Hanseatic (colts & geldings BD Preview) and A Beautiful Night won the fillies version. Hanseatic went on to win the Blue Diamond Prelude on Orr Stakes Day, and finished second to Tagaloa in the Blue Diamond StakesA Beautiful Night faded into insignificance thereafter, finishing unplaced in her next four races.

The winners yesterday were quite impressive, General Beau, after racing in third or fourth for most of the race, stormed to the finish line to win by ½ length from Extreme Warrior and Gulf of Suez.

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General Beau on his way to the barriers

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Extreme Warrior on his way to the barriers

The wonderfully named Dosh (Rich Enuff / Raise Up) led the fillies Blue Diamond Preview field from the start and was strong to the finish, successfully holding off challengers Tayla’s Moment and hot favourite Frost Flowers, to win by by ½ length

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Dosh holds off a challenge from Frost Flowers as they approach the finish line

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Dosh in the mounting yard

As previously mentioned the weather was pretty awful, rainy at first, though clearing as the afternoon progressed.

Not that it was important as I didn’t tarry long after the Blue Diamond Previews had been run, the rest of the race card being of not much interest.

Next Saturday I hope to attend Caulfield again where the feature races are the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes and Manfred Stakes. They look very interesting with potential stars of the turf such as class filly Enthaar and 2020 Blue Diamond Stakes winner Tagaloa having accepted to run.

Again the weather is forecast to be showery, but cross fingers for some sunshine as well.

The first Group 1 race of Melbourne’s Autumn Carnival is the Orr Stakes in a little over a week on 6 February, so the racing from now on will be more exciting and I’ll hopefully get to see some of it in person.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Crazy Days Continue

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Bingo  - December 2020

So far 2021 doesn’t look all that promising for a return to normal life, with Covid 19 still limiting  freedom of movement for many people in the world. One bright spot is that Donald Trump will no longer be US President after 20 January. Hooray!

Thankfully in Victoria a third  Covid wave has not eventuated, though certain areas in NSW and Queensland have been in lockdown after the virus escaped quarantine, and borders between various States have been closed. Unlucky if you were a Victorian holidaying in Queensland and NSW and wishing to return home.

Here at the Cat Politics domicile, we’ve been barely affected, life trundling along as normal.

We did however have a health scare with Bingo on Boxing Day, where he returned from patrolling his territory with a painful injury to his front left leg. It was something of a mystery as it didn’t seem to be external - you could squeeze the leg and paw without him reacting negatively. However, it obviously hurt to put weight on the leg and he howled and carried on in such a distressing manner we eventually took him to the 24 hour Vet, CARE in Hoddle Street to get examined. They were also puzzled by the injury and couldn’t find anything physically wrong. They treated him with an anti-inflammatory and gave us a bottle of the stuff to give him over the next three days.

He was quite subdued for a while, but the anti- inflammatory worked and he was back to his old self, walking - with a limp - in a few days. He still has a slight limp every so often even now. Goodness knows how he came by the injury, though I suspect an awkward jump from a height might have caused a muscle strain.

Since Christmas I’ve been amusing myself in the usual way, reading books and playing computer games. The current novel in progress is The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton, a Christmas present from a friend. I’m finding it a moderately engrossing read, though not high literature by any means.

And I’ve just finished a surprisingly amusing game titled A Vampyre Story that was released in 2008 and recently on sale on GOG.

A Vampyre Story screenshot – Mona & Froderick

Deep within the walls of a gloomy castle in the equally gloomy land of Draxsylvania, the young, gifted opera singer Mona De Lafitte is held captive by her tormentor, vampire Baron Shrowdy von Kiefer. Ever since she was transformed into a vampire by Shrowdy and whisked off to Draxsylvania, her greatest wish has been to return to Paris, continue her singing career, and one day become a star at the Paris Opera.

The voice acting and dialogue are excellent and Mona is an engaging and likeable heroine as is her bat offsider Froderick. Unfortunately the game ends on a cliff-hanger, the proposed sequel failing to  eventuate. I was however pleased to discover the game and will probably replay it in future.

There aren’t any cultural treats in store thus far in 2021 – such as music concerts and literary events I would pay to see, but at least with the Covid 19 vaccine close to approval in Australia it may soon be safe to go out and about as normal, hopefully before the Autumn horse racing season,  which kicks off in early February.

Next weekend is of interest with the Magic Millions race day on the Gold Coast – always one to watch and take note of the winners of the 2 year old and 3 year old races.

On that note, here’s wishing that  2021 will be an improvement on 2020 in all ways.