I often like to start my pieces with quotes from some of my favourite writers, or favourite books, particularly when I am writing about horses. This time I will quote from one of my favourite books growing up, called "The Black Stallion's Filly". It is a story about a filly called Black Minx, sired of course by The Black, owned and trained by Henry Dailey, and ridden by of course Alec Ramsey.
"Alec saw the white, pushing face on his right. Eclipse! Watch Eclipse, Henry had said. Watch him! Watch him! Watch him! Oh filly. More, more, more! Head and head they bobbed as one. Eye and eye. She kept going. She never fell back. She took the challenge, met it, staved it off, and went on. She pushed her head in front of Eclipse. Now she was a neck ahead! The burly brown colt was beaten - with the wire less than twenty-five yards away. Courage. The greatest test of all is to repel challenges from behind".
A fortnight ago we witnessed the Darley owned and bred colt Sepoy stroll away from the field to win the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes. He's royally bred, by Elusive Quality, out of a Danehill mare in Watchful, who herself is related to a number of Group 1 producers, as she is from the Canny Miss family. He's a big strong colt as well, and he's owned by the world's richest owner, Sheikh Mohammed. I like the Darley team tremendously, and will experience great pleasure for them if Sepoy can win the race, however, my heart is beginning to belong to this little chestnut filly with the flaxen mane and tail.
Karuta Queen, as I mentioned in my earlier post, is trained out of Queanbeyan. Neville likes to remind the media that he is not a battler, that racing has been good to him, but it's still a very different environment to the almost palatial surrounds of the Darley team. Karuta Queen's success has apparently paid for some lovely new stables for Layt, and that's a terrific thing, because he knows his horses, cares about them, and as he says, Karuta Queen is his freak. She has eased from the media spotlight following Sepoy's demolition of the Blue Diamond field, and Foxwedge's win last Saturday at Warwick Farm. However, as my good friend said, they will still have to catch the flying flaxen maned daughter of Arrowfield's Not a Single Doubt before they can claim victory in the Slipper.
This morning I relentlessly got the kids organised early and out of the house to be minded then taken by a good friend to school, so I could photograph my new little favourite filly working at Canberra. We are still unsure whether she will start here in Canberra on Sunday in the Black Opal Stakes, or whether Layt will take her to Sydney for the Sweet Embrace this Saturday. She's nominated for both races, and the barrier draw will be crucial. I of course hope that she runs in Canbera, because I will be in Melbourne photographing Black Caviar this Saturday at Flemington, and will arrive home in time for the Black Opal. However, maddeningly, the Black Opal is a set weights and penalties race, not a set weights like the Sweet Embrace, and she will have to carry more weights in Opal, where she will be up against the colts, then in the Sydney race. Neville is confident that wherever she starts this weekend that she will win and that this will be her only lead-up to the Slipper.
So here is Karuta Queen at Canberra this morning. Canberra is glorious at this time of year. The nights are that little bit cooler, the days can be crisp and clear and the light was just lovely this morning. Enjoy... I will be back to the filly's stables this afternoon for another little session!