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13 May 2017

Countdown. D Day minus 14 (.... errr.. 4)

When I started writing this post (which admittedly only got as far as a single paragraph) we were 14 sleeps away from walking onto a plane and flying to Ireland.  My kitchen bench is a sea of lists and they don't seem to be getting shorter although I am crossing things off, so I guess I'm making progress.  But on going back into my only just started post, I had to correct the title because it's now only 4 sleeps until we walk on board of said plane!  Which demonstrates how parlously bad I have gotten at writing on my Blog.  Sorry about that.

This will be my very first trip to Europe which when I think about is a bit pathetic.  Somehow there were always horses and not much money and overseas travel wasn't possible.  Then my kids came along and so straight away that made it a lot harder.  Well, impossible really. 

Naturally this trip will be incredibly horsey but surely you'd guessed that already. Actually, I think it's going to be almost all about horses.  And much to my disgust I just discovered that the one really touristy thing I wanted to do, which is the Princess Diana Exhibition at Kensington Palace, is sold out for the dates we are in Europe!  The website does say that there will be some tickets available at the gates but to expect huge queues.  "Disappointed!!!" 

At the moment I'm spending nearly all my time organising things for my children while I'm away and also preparing all the things we need to do before we leave.  This activity comes off the back of a very busy summer and autumn carnival so there's no shortage of things to put on my list.  There's a diary as long as my arm of the kids' commitments, all nicely entered into the calender and printed out which I hope my Nanny will be able to follow easily.  And then of course its the "how much camera equipment can I take?" debate.  I think that the equipment is all in hand.  We've bought some nice camera bags which should work well and there's a few other new items as well.  We do after all want to produce our very best work.

First we go to Ireland.  Oh hurraahhhhh!!!!  I've ALWAYS wanted to go to Ireland.  We'll be visiting the Irish National Stud and Gilltown Stud.  And we're hoping to go and meet Galileo at Coolmore and it would be terrific to see champion Australian mare Atlantic Jewel (or "AJ" as we called her affectionately) seeing as she's now a resident at Coolmore Stud.  She has a few Galileo foals although I don't think any of them are of racing age yet.  We will also go to the Irish Guineas weekend at The Curragh (again, oh my god....)  and we'll meet photography luminary Pat Healy.  Namesake, right?!  But no, we are not related. 

From there we fly to France. We're doing french lessons and they are complex and hard but I just love it.  I remember doing lessons when I was really young but I hated it and was terrible at it.  Of course now I wish I had persevered.  We are going to keep up with the lessons on our return.  I think that my pronounciation is better than Darren's but I am struggling to remember it all.  Most of our time in France will be in Normandy and Chantilly.  We will go to the Aga Khan Studs and to Haras d'Etreham and also to the French Derby. 

The final leg will be in England.  I'm going to pretend to be Bridget Jones in London.  We have a few days to just swan around in London (staying in Kensington) and then we'll spend the last few days in Newmarket where we'll see Juddmonte, Dalham Hall and go to the gallops. We're staying with a great friend of mine and that will be fabulous.

So stay tuned and watch for the images.  I hope that you will like them.  As we say, the Image is Everything.  I'll leave you with a series of images of The Legend, Redoute's Choice, who stood 2 seasons for the Aga Khan Studs in France.  He is represented this weekend but some of his French bred runners in a couple of Group 1 races in France this weekend.  This is the horse who has made all of this possible for me.  Redoute's, it's been a privilege to be your stallion photographer. 

22 February 2017

Mighty Mares

Is it the feminist in us that delights when a mare takes all before her, walloping a succession of hapless rivals?  Perhaps it is, or maybe it is because we get to enjoy them for longer because they don't get whisked off to stud at the hint of a cold or problem???

Australia and the world have been gifted with some true champion racemares.  I'd thought I'd kick off with our current sweetheart of the turf.  We are giddy with love with the great racemare WINX (Street Cry - Vegas Showgirl). 

Watching me watching you.  Full frame with a 500mm lens, Winx canters past me.  She doesn't miss much.

2016 George Ryder Stakes (G1)

2016 George Ryder Stakes (G1).  My lovely Darren's handiwork with the remotes.  Mostly I lose interest in remotes because I'm not physically taking them.  I've even been known to completely forget to turn the wretched pocket wizard on!  Darren's much more reliable and he gets some good images and importantly makes me look good!

WINX is captured here in 2016 emulating my love, my darling, the mighty SUNLINE who won the Cox Plate in 1999 and 2000.  I was speechless...

WINX takes her first Cox Plate in 2015.  She doesn't lead like the great Sunline used to do, but she snuck through the rails and led them a merry dance around the home turn before powering away to win by 5 lengths.

WINX - Cox Plate 2015 - in glorious isolation.

And while some tried to boast they had rare and unique images of WINX at the beach, I was actually the first person to capture her in the salt water and they WERE exclusive.  Of course publishing them gave the secret away, but I was the first to get her...  Just saying...

I don't add lurid colours to my photographs, it's not my style, because I believe that colour ought to be got legitimately or not at all.  Both mornings were pretty gloomy and they were cold and windy.  But the great mare looked just that.  GREAT...  She made getting cold worthwhile.

Putting pen to paper

My Blog has yet again suffered a series of hiatuses which were quite unintended.  I often come up with ideas to write about and then somehow time passes me by and I don't find the time.  And that's been a great shame.

Some of you might be interested in what's been going on with The Image is Everything.  The situation of photographing in Victoria was well documented.  For some time it threatened to put me out of business.  I'm so pleased to be able to write that we were able to come to a pleasing arrangement with Racing Victoria which allowed us to keep working in our current capacity.  We were appreciative of RVL's eventual willingness to compromise and we were overwhelmed with gratitude by the support we received from the racing and breeding industry.

I'm not a big 'self promoter'.  It doesn't come easily or naturally to me.  I'm not good with #hashtags.  I think they're stupid and I hate them and I frequently post, almost defiantly, on Instagram without using any hashtags at all.  I tell myself that if people want to see my work they will come and find it.  After all Pete Souza, ex White House Photographer for President Obama, recently started his own post White House Instagram account.  He NEVER uses hashtags, he lets the images and the subjects do their own talking.  It's so fantastic!  The number of followers he quickly gathered, even without the use of a single hashtag, was unsurprising.  Such is the magnitude of his work and his subjects and his technical skill is impressive.  He is the sort of photographer who actually makes me wonder why I chose to specialise in horses, because when I compare the importance of documenting the thoroughbred against chronicling the life of a person like Barack Obama, suddnely my horse photos seem totally irrelevant.  However I live in Australia not in America, and it is horses that I love and so that has become my calling.  And I can't say that the next 4 years will deliver great and poignant images from the White House!  Of this I am completely certain!

So what, or who, has been before my lens?  Let's see, shall we....

Who's this mare, I hear you ask???  Well, she's bred in the PURPLE!  She's living in retirement at Arrowfield Stud with another great broodmare (who'll be the subject of her own post).  Her name is DANISLEW.  I was v excited to find her in the paddock.  She's a daugher of DANEHILL and ADA SLEW, who in turn is a daughter of SEATTLE SLEW and ADA HUNTER, who is the dam of the mighty KINGSTON TOWN.  So fantastic!


This is Black Heart Bart working at Moonee Valley last September.  He'd come from nowhere, is sired by a stallion called BLACKFRIARS, who I'd photographed winning the VRC Derby years and years ago.  Bred in WA he's been a fantastic horse. Sold by our friends at Magic Millions and he's won 5 or 6 Group 1 races now I think.


Ahhhh...  The Cat..  APACHE CAT.  He leaps and plays for the camera at Living Legends.

ALL TOO HARD.  Champion 3 year.  Half brother to the immortal BLACK CAVIAR.  A son of the beautiful HELSINGE  who died recently.  Photographed at Vinery Stud.  April 2016.

Cover boy.  ALL TOO HARD.

Lloyd Williams won another Melbourne Cup.  He's iconic.

Sunset at Arrowfield Stud.

The Cat..  Again.


Yearlings at sunset at Arrowfield Stud.

The mighty mare.   WINX and her captain, trainer Chris Waller.  Caulfield Racecourse.  October 2016.

Dear Christmas.  I will miss you everytime I go to the stallion barn at Arrowfield Stud.  She was the resident cat at the stallion barn, who I always stopped to pat, talk to and of course photograph.  I was really sad when she died last year.

Beautiful Christmas, captured in going about her business in a classically feline pose.

DUNDEEL's first foal crop hit the ground in 2015.  Great foals...

Another of DANISLEW at Arrowfield in the last light of the day.

Ring a ding ding.  The Pumper, JIMMY CASSIDY, hung up his boots.

These are gorgeous foals!  Dundeel.

Isn't he glorious?  DUNDEEL.  I love him to bits.

Just because he's gorgeous, another one of DUNDEEL.

Bonding.  DUNDEEL and I share a moment to be friends.  I love this horse.  Many thanks to Vicky Leonard for capturing this sequence.  I really like them.

17 March 2016

Memory Lane - remembering BLU

Better Loosen Up died yesterday. He was 30 years old. We knew him as BLU. He'd been one of "my boys" at Living Legends since around 2006. I was very fond of him. I didn't photograph him racing, save for my very first trip to the Cox Plate in 1992 when I was a complete novice. There might be a frame or 2 if him but I'm sure they won't do him any justice. Justly I photographed him at the farm and during his public appearances. He was a lovely gentle soul and I feel very sad. 

I realise that I must start updating my Blog on a far more regular basis and not only do it when a special horse dies. 

Memory recollections are a strange thing though. Take today for instance. I'm sitting in my car before I head inside Moorabbin Hospital for a routine appointment with my nice physic who treats the stupid swelling I get as a result of losing lymph glands in Sept 2014 when I was diagnosed with a pretty nasty cancer. Driving here triggers all sorts of unpleasant memories and I don't like it, although I like the nurse tremendously. He's ace. But for an at times anxiety riddled girl like me, who stops still in fear of something nasty returning, the trips in here aren't much fun. Little triggers such as a wave of nausea when I pass the service station I threw up at, a wry smile passing the fish and chips shop where one day I managed a couple of potato cakes when I was hardly eating and rapidly losing weight, and unable to face much food, but I was so hungry that it felt so good. 

I brace myself everyone I walk through the doors of the hospital. Because it's horrible, and I walk quickly through the entrance with my head down, not looking at anything until I get upstairs and key go of the breath I've been holding. 

Just as I do when I receive the first question on everyone's lips every time they see me:  "how's your health?  Are you all clear?" It seems like bad luck to be cocky, so I just say "right now they say I look great". 

01 January 2016

Happy New Year: 2016, we are very pleased to meet you

We spent New Year's Eve 2015 in the harbour city Sydney.  It comprised of taking the kids to the 9pm fireworks in Balmain which was terrific.  Darren and I then walked back down into the depths of Balmain to the Wharf and watched the midnight fireworks.  I've never seen real Sydney Harbour fireworks.  They were terrific.  It was more than a little bit romantic too, and a lot of fun.  Welcome 2016, we are so pleased to meet you.

21 November 2015

Vale Red Cadeaux - when is enough enough?

I write today with great sadness.  In the lead up to this year's Melbourne Cup, much ado was made about the grand old boy Red Cadeaux's 5th assault on our great race.  In previous years I had underestimated the red horse's abilities while selecting our trifecta horses for myself and my sister, because in his 3 second placings I had left him out every time.  This year, out of respect, I put him in.  However deep down I felt a great uneasiness about this 5th attempt at the Cup.  The horse was 10 years old by our standards.  He was lining up for his 54th race start.  Were his connections asking for too much?  

The horse had won a remarkable $8.108m dollars during his career.  An incredible amount of money for a horse that had only won 7 races.  His 2nd to Criterion in the Queen Elizabeth should have been a fitting end to his career, and he could have stayed in Australia and headed to Living Legends.  I'm sure Red and I would have grown fond of each other there, as I have photographed for the retirement farm since 2010.  It was with some sadness that I read he was jetting out of Australia immediately after his 2nd placing at Royal Randwick, first to Sha Tin, then back home to England, before returning him to Melbourne for that fateful first Tuesday in November.  Red's efforts after that wonderful Queen Elizabeth Stakes efforts were a sobering 11th of 12th at Sha Tin on 26 April, 7th of 7th at Ascot on 20 June, and 3rd of 6th at Newmarket on 15 August.

We talked about the race, as we do, numerous times, in the weeks leading up to Tuesday 3 November 2015.  Every time the subject of Red Cadeaux came up, I said "I just want the horse to finish safely".  In all honesty, I'd wished his connections had retired Red after his wonderful 2nd in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes during the 2015 The Championships. 

When I started the annual rushed jog back down the home stretch at Flemington after Michelle Payne had crossed the finishing line on Prince of Penzance to find a spot for the return to scale photographs, my gaze found the sight of a horse pulled up before the post.  In dismay I realised it was Red.  I was in tears by the time I reached the clock tower, and I didn't feel I did any justice to the images after the Cup because I distracted by Red's fate.  Our hopes were raised slightly when the dreaded green screens came down, and the horse was loaded onto the horse ambulance, and we felt slightly more hopeful at news that an operation was planned.  However my hopes fell when I read it was an injury to the seasamoid bone.  They are tricky to repair, and all sorts of complications post operative can occur.  

I wish Red had retired after the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.  I wish that I was looking forward to photographing him on my next trip to Living Legends for the wonderful team lead by Andrew Clarke.  I wish that Red was still here.

Red Cadeaux running 2nd, by the shortest of margins, to Dunaden in the 2011 Melbourne Cup.

Back in 2012 for another tilt at the Cup.  He ran out of the placings for the first time.
2nd in 2013 to Fiorente, himself runner up in 2012.
2nd, again, to Protectionist in 2014.  I was staggering, sick with radiation from cancer treatment by this stage. 

Back on my feet again, and able to get up early at last after the gruelling radiation treatment, I travelled to Werribee to see Red Cadeaux at trackwork after his arrival back in Melbourne for the Australian Cup and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. 

He ran a good 5th in the Australian Cup, defeating Protectionist, his conqueror in the Melbourne Cup comfortably.
A familiar sight in Melbourne.  Red being unsaddled in the placegetters stalls.  He was usually in number 2 though.

In Sydney Town, at the International Quarantine Centre at Canterbury Racecourse.  Big Red was taking aim at The Championships.

Everyone was fond of Red.  This was his vet in Sydney.

Red rolling in the sawdust of his stable at Canterbury.  These images ran in the paper in the week leading up to The Championships.  His popularity was enormous.

At Royal Randwick for the first time.  Red canters to the barrier before the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
How I wish this had of been his last hurrah.  He was magnificent, running a fine second to the globe trotting Criterion.

I didn't get to Werribee this Spring, because it was tricky with the kids.  Here Red canters to the barrier before the Cup.
Michelle Payne rides Prince of Penzance to victory over Frankie on Max Dynamite, while Gerald Mosse pulls up a stricken Red Cadeaux.

Red's frantic strapper Steve runs to his horse, with Robin Trevor Jones close behind.

Ed Dunlop and Robin Trevor Jones
Robin Trevor Jones

When the screens came down our hopes raised slightly, perhaps, just perhaps, Red might be ok?
Trainer Ed Dunlop and his wife Becky

A final portrait.  I took this in the horse stalls at Flemington a few hours before the Cup.