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23 May 2011

Just remember that we had him first!!!! So You Think wins again in Ireland

I'm just putting off the gruesome task of doing bookwork, but watching So You Think stroll away from the Group 1 field in the Tattersalls Gold Cup run at the Curragh in Ireland yesterday reminded me again of how good this horse is.  And it then prompted me to rifle back through and dig up some images of him, seeing as he's not been about to add to the collection I have on him.  He belonged to us first!

2009 Gloaming Stakes with Hugh Bowman on board.  First time I photographed my pony.  My jaw dropped when I saw him parading, he was exquisite.....

2009 Cox Plate.  Leading all the way....
2010 Caulfield Stakes - explosive

2010 Cox Plate.  From the home turn.

The calm before the storm.  Friday 29 October, before the huge wet of 2010 VRC Derby Day

Before the Cup.  Pre-dawn at Flemington.
Last day at Saintly Place.  Heartbroken.

20 May 2011

The Pony needs a rest.... Black Caviar to spell

One of my philosophies as a photographer has become to assume that it is always possible that a photo shoot of a certain horse or individual may unknowingly become the last one you ever do.  'Last' can sometimes mean last opportunity during a racing season, as a horse's preparation may be curtailed before otherwise intended, due to poor form, the horse showing it has had enough, or injury.  Or it may be the last time you ever get to photograph the horse, either through retirement, being sold to race overseas, or because the horse dies. 

I learnt this lesson the hard way when I was up at Vinery Stud in October 2009.  The weather was vile, we were short of time, it was serving season so the staff were under pressure, and I didn't get the great stallion Red Ransom out of his box.  At all.  I talked to him and said hello to him, but didn't take a frame of the horse, thinking I would be back in March, he was no longer on the shuttle and that not to worry, we'd do him next time. 

However, as fate would have it, there would never be a next time with Red, as he developed peritonitis suddenly and was put down less than 6 weeks after I'd been standing outside his box.  I was heartbroken not only at the loss of the horse, but because I'd missed this opportunity to record further images of a great horse for the public record.  It is the same with people.  I'd become very conscious of Jack Denham's advancing years and increasingly frail appearance, so whenever he appeared in the mounting yard, I began to surreptitiously take as many pictures as I could.  I guess I hadn't applied the same logic to Red, he looked so well, and it just never occurred to me that on my next trip the horse wouldn't be there waiting for me.

And so it was with Black Caviar.  I made a conscious decision when they announced the Brisbane campaign that I would be there, and also that I was determined to get some candid shots away from the track as well.   So was well prepared and on track when she appeared at Doomben in the BTC Cup, and took the usual excess of images of one horse.  Then also managed to sweet talk Moody into letting me come to the stables the next morning.  And I'd pre-booked the airfare for the weekend of the 28th, even though I always thought there would be a fair element of doubt about her actually lining up for the Doomben 10,000 at what would be the end of a long campaign.  

Thankfully in this case, the halt to her campaign will not mean the end of her career.  The mare is fine, but has, as I always suspected would be the case, been withdrawn from the 10,000 and is going for a spell, as she's at the end of her tether.  And rightly so.  I love that they are not pushing her.  And fingers crossed, she will be back in the spring, but I never take this as a given, and therefore take every photo opportunity deadly serious.  I cancelled my plane tickets for the 28th this morning, in good faith, to honour a commitment, and I feel comfortable about this.  There is a slight 'bugger, was going to do head on next, or go inside', just to be different, but there is always the 'but I might do it better next time' feeling when it comes to a great horse.  

Perhaps I might be able to swing a trip to Melbourne, and get her at home, depending on where she spells, etc, or when she's in the early stages of her preparation.  Perhaps I can get a beach session, or something equally enjoyable like her having a swim in the pool.  And then perhaps, just perhaps, there might be a Hong Kong trip.  Either way, I will certainly continue to treat each opportunity with a mare like this as my last, and make the most out of every photo shoot.  The endless quest for the perfect image will continue.  As it should.....

Photo by Bruno Cannatelli
Photo by Bruno Cannatelli
Photo by Bruno Cannatelli

16 May 2011

Black Caviar - at home with Peter Moody

We visited the champion at the stables she's staying in on Sunday morning.  Peter met us there, and the resultant images are below.  I was able to put the pretty muzzle and eye darkening gloss on her, and Peter let me do this myself, meaning I had 5 minutes with the mare.  There was a little bit of 'I don't know you, not sure about you touching me' to begin with, then she settled down, and had a little cuddle as well.

Cathy and I fussed over her a little bit more, with the sheepskin mit, then Peter put the bit on, and we got these images.  I love capturing a bond between horse and person, and therefore really like this sequence of images.  She was tired and it was her day off, and Peter had a plane to catch, so I kept it short, but there's enough nice material here to feel very happy about.

My friend and assistant, Cathy Parker, with the great mare.

Moody and Black Caviar.