Tuesday, November 30, 2021

A Zipping Farewell to the Boss at Caulfield

glen boss 12
Glen Boss parades in the mounting yard after riding his last race

For a change it was a warm and sunny day at Caulfield last Saturday and crowds were once again welcomed back trackside – if you were fully vaccinated that is.

As I hadn’t been to the races since All Star Mile Day back in March this year ,and was disappointed to miss the Spring Racing Carnival, I took the opportunity to finally use my Caulfield Casual Membership card and headed off to the Eastern suburbs.

This wasn’t without difficulty as trains from the city to Caulfield were not running due to the Victorian Government major works blitz that affected the Frankston line.

So I had to bus it from the city (or rather Burnley Station) to Caulfield and was obliged to stand the entire trip, which made it doubly tedious.

It probably didn’t take that much longer than usual, but seemed so, but I arrived at Caulfield in plenty of time for Race 2, the Sandown Cup which was my intention. My friend Rebecca was also there, so it was good to catch up with her. We last met on Blue Diamond Stakes day in autumn.

Though the race card was not that interesting there were a few horses I was looking forward to seeing, notably Spanish Mission in the feature race, the Zipping Classic where Glen Boss was set to ride in his last race. This race was later in the day, scheduled for 4.20pm, so there were six races to watch and practice photography on before that event.

It’s rare to see a race at 3200 metres, so I guess you could say it was a treat to watch the Sandown Cup which is run at the Melbourne Cup distance.

The winner, Dragon Storm who raced at the rear of the field, came into contention a short way from the winning post to score a narrow victory over True Marvel  with Sweet Thomas running third.

sandown cup_finish 3
Dragon Storm (nose roll) about to draw level with True Marvel

sandown cup_dragon storm 2
Dragon Storm on his way to the barriers

Dragon Storm is New Zealand bred, a son of 2009 Melbourne Cup winner Shocking, and started at big odds, his form being nothing to write home about.

Race 3 was the Twilight Glow Stakes, a race over 1400 metres for three year old fillies. 

Lady of Honour led from the start and held on to win  by half a length from fast finishing race favourite Decent Raine. Lavish Girl ran third.

race 3_lady of honour 4
Lady of Honour burns up the straight

Enthaar, whom I  had last seen running in the Blue Diamond Stakes, started as favourite for Race 4, the Doveton Stakes, a sprint over 1000 metres, and didn’t disappoint winning comfortably over Streetcar Stranger with Yulong Command running third.

race 4_finish 5
Enthaar on her way to winning the Doveton Stakes

race 4_finish 9
Enthaar in full flight

It was a bright sunny day which you would think would be good for photos, but I was testing out a new camera  (D5600 Nikon) and hadn’t quite worked out the controls. If I could have found a way to turn on Active D Lighting, my photos, especially facing back towards the winning post may have been better.  But it has always been problematic at Caulfield facing into the sun.

There was a fairly big crowd in attendance, quite like a normal pre Covid race day, but Bec and I had no trouble getting to our preferred fence position for taking photos.

Even the stalls area was accessible though  it had changed quite a bit with new stalls areas making it confusing to find a particular horse. We did however manage to get a photo of Melbourne Cup third placer, Spanish Mission, in his stall.

spanish mission 3
Spanish Mission in his stall

Race 5, the Group 3 Summoned Stakes, was up next. Run over 1600 metres, it is a race for mares four years old and upwards.

Steinem  started as favourite and prevailed in the end fighting out the finish with Quantum Mechanic to win by a head. Perfect World was third a length behind.

race 5_finish 3
Steinem (gold cap) fights out the finish with Quantum Mechanic

race 5_steinem 1
Steinem on her way to the barriers

race 5_quantam mechanic 1
Quantum Mechanic on her way to the barriers

By this time there was only one race to run before the feature, and this was the Group 2 Sandown Guineas, run over 1600 metres. I can’t say I’d ever heard of  most of the field, so the win by 20./ shot Blue Army meant little. He won by half a length from Blazerro , another 20./1 shot with race favourite Festival Dancer running third.

sandown guineas_finish 5
Three horse race – Blue Army, Blazerro & Festival Dancer

sandown guineas_blue army 2
Blue Army  on his way to the barriers

sandown guineas_blazerro 1
Blazerro on his way to the barriers

The feature race was heralded by a band and singer and old Zipping, special guest from Living Legends, led the field into the mounting yard. The Zipping Classic (2400 metres) used to be named the Sandown Classic and run at Sandown until this year, the week after the Flemington Spring Carnival and was won by Zipping four years in succession from 2007 to 2010, hence the name change.

Spanish Mission was the hot favourite and Glen Boss was booked to ride him. Everyone was hoping that Glen Boss would go out a winner in this, but it was not to be. Sound, who won this race last year, made it back to back victories, narrowly winning from Dr Drill  and race leader Wentwood.

Spanish Mission failed to fire in the straight and finished fourth.

zipping classic_finish 1
Zipping Classic finish – Sound (purple silks) about to overtake Dr Drill

Despite Spanish Mission failing to win, the crowd cheered Glen Boss back to the mounting yard., where he paraded for an enthusiastic audience.

glen boss 7
Glen Boss delighted with the crowd’s acclaim parades in the mounting yard

Glen Boss will always be remembered as the rider of Makybe Diva in her three Melbourne Cup victories, as well as many other notable wins over the 36 years he has been involved in racing.

I left the course shortly after this so missed Glen Boss stripping off and throwing his various garments to the crowd.

Rather than face another bus ride back to the city, I caught  a tram and enjoyed a relaxed scenic trip through St Kilda to Flinders Street.

It was enjoyable being back at the races, and I must admit you do get plenty of badly needed exercise to and froing around the course. I was quite foot sore when I finally got home.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Weird & Wonderful – Treasures of the Natural World

Dodo postcard purchased at  Museum shop

Last Wednesday I took advantage of my fully vaccinated state and headed off to Melbourne Museum to see the current major exhibition Treasures of the Natural World, featuring a very odd collection of objects, both big and small, from London’s Natural History Museum.

This was my second attempt to get to the exhibition as I’d previously booked to attend on September 1st, but as whatever number lockdown came into effect on that date, the Museum was closed to visitors and only recently reopened.

As is the case in the new normal. you had to wear a mask and check in via QR Code to prove vaccination status, as only fully vaxxed persons were permitted in the museum.

I got there an hour before my scheduled exhibition entry time, so killed the hour by cruising through the main museum, naturally checking out Pharlap as I usually do when I go the museum, and watched the newsreel of him winning the 1930 Melbourne Cup yet again.

pharlap 1
Pharlap display – horseshoes, saddle photo etc

As previously mentioned. the Treasures of the Natural World were a bizarre collection of curiosities, ranging from skeletons of extinct beasts such as a Moa and Sabre Tooth Tiger…

moa skeleton
Moa skeleton

sabre tooth tiger
Sabre Tooth Tiger skeleton

…to a Cursed Amethyst and a Black Death flea (which you can’t actually see.

cursed amethyst.1 flea

Cursed amethyst

Bubonic plague flea

Charles Darwin was naturally  featured with several items, a first edition of his Origin of the Species,  a page from his notebooks,  his tortoise and sketches of finches from his journal.

origin of the species_first edition
Origin of the Species First Edition

darwins notebookJPG
Page from Darwin’s notebook

darwin's tortoise
Darwin’s Tortoise

Finches illustration from Charles Darwin’s Journey

Palaeontology appears to feature quite a few women, notably Mary Anning and Dorothea Bate who unearthed rare fossils in the 18th Century and early 19th Century.

mary anning  1
Mary Anning information display

mouse goat skull
Mouse goat skull discovered by Dorothea Bate

There were extinct beasts such as this fish


and a giant crab


I was pleased to see a model of a dodo

dodo 2

And a reference to the Famous Piltdown Man fraud

piltdown fraud

piltdown man jawbone
Piltdown Man jawbone

In all it  is a fascinating exhibition if your tastes run to the weird and wonderful.

Various exhibits were accompanied by short films depicting digitally inserted extinct animals in action. For instance there is an impressive film of a Moa stalking through the Museum of Natural History and another of Dodos fighting and socialising.

A final photo is of an ostrich egg purportedly owned by T E Lawrence given to him by Charles Montagu Doughty, English poet, adventurer and explorer.

te lawrence_ostrich egg
Ostrich egg owned by Lawrence of Arabia

te lawrence_egg description

It takes an hour or two to go through the exhibition, depending on how long you linger at the exhibits.

I must admit I enjoyed it quite a bit and highly recommend it  as a curiously interesting and enlightening experience.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Painted Ladies

I#0507 painting 2_treated

Paintings after conservation treatment

Many years ago there used to be an Antiques Shop opposite the Queen Victoria Market in Elizabeth Street that had many beautiful things for sale. After doing my market shopping I was wont to drop in to the shop and browse their wares. The owners of the shop were a mother and son who were lovely people and knew their trade well. They also grew to know my taste in antiques and I rarely resisted buying the objects they tempted me with.

I purchased many items from them over several years, antique glass vases, a Japanese kimono, a mahogany writing box, an embroidered silk scarf to name just a few items I acquired at the time.

This blog entry however relates to my acquisition from the said antiques shop of a pair of small (7” x 5”) portraits painted on cigar box lids.

Initially I had them hanging in the hallway of the Northcote house, but took them down for some reason and stored them away in a cupboard. And there they stayed for decades.

original. painting 2_orig

Paintings in original state before conservation treatment

However, they were never far from my mind as after watching the ABC TV show The Repair Shop, and observing the rejuvenation of various objects brought in to the shop, especially the paintings that had been cleaned and touched up, I wondered if my old paintings could be given the same treatment, as they were dark and yellowed with age and a bit chipped. In my reckoning they are over 100 years old.

A search on Google for ways to clean old oil paintings convinced me that if I attempted such a process I would be sure to stuff it up, especially as the paintings were very old and reportedly can be tricky to clean.

Though the paintings are probably not that valuable, I did a further search on Google to see if there was a painting conservator in Melbourne who could do the work. There are a few, but I settled on Helen Gill who has a studio in Brunswick and by all appearances knew a great deal about the process and had years of experience in conserving old paintings.

Helen had just reopened her studio after the Covid lockdown, so I took the paintings to her and she completed the conservation work in a surprisingly short time. I must say that she did a wonderful job on cleaning the old paintings, and also rehoused them in their original old frames.

Though the cost for this service was quite expensive, I was happy to see my old yellowed paintings restored to their original colours and thought it was money well spent.


Who knows who these young women are, but I suspect they were painted by John Mather, a Scottish born artist who was active in Australia at the same time as the famous Heidelberg School.

The paintings are signed with the initials JM, and by chance some years ago I bought a card that had a painting by John Mather on its front and included a signature that looked remarkably like the signature on my paintings – a stylised JM.

John Mather also was acquainted with Louis Abrahams, – indeed painted a portrait of him - art patron and tobacconist associated with the Heidelberg School, who supplied the artists with the cigar box lids on which they famously painted and displayed in the 9 x 5 Impression Exhibition of  1889. The back of my paintings contain the name of an obscure cigar brand  - Chiamosta - that were manufactured in Dusseldorf.

Whether my speculations are correct will only be solved by having the paintings valued by an expert.