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16 September 2012

Nelly...... aka The Famous Pony (or also of course Black Caviar!!!!!!)

It was, quite rightly, pointed out to me this afternoon that my Blog has been hopelessly neglected in going un-updated for AGES!  The cameras have been busy, but I haven't managed to update this blog, and for that, I apologise.

So here's a little sneak peak at some fun I had with the Great Mare, and Champion, Black Caviar.  I hadn't seen her since kissing her goodbye with the a carrot at Morphetville Racecourse on 12 May.  And I am pleased to report that she remembered me, and has the same expectation that my pockets contain a never ending supply of carrots!  As is frequently the case with the Famous Pony, the weather can threaten to be terrible, but around her the sun usually agrees to shine!

08 August 2012

Black Caviar. The Authorised Story. Gerard Whateley.

It's a special thing to have your image published on the front cover of any book. So it goes without saying that being awarded the front and back cover images, on a book such as this, is a truly special moment. Particularly when the Pony in question is so close to my own heart.  

When you've been photographing professionally as long as I have, it's not the done thing to boast about every photograph you get published.  However this is a project that I've worked closely on, that is close to my heart, and being written by an author and person that I hold in high regard.  And it's on my Famous Pony, the great, great champion, Black Caviar, whom I have grown so close to, so it's a little hard on this occasion not to say "look at me, look at me!!!!".

Thank you Pony, for making the past 2 years of my life such an amazing ride.  xxx

18 July 2012

A 2nd Blog - for Dunstone Design.

Some of you may already be aware that I've started a new part time job, working in the Showroom at Dunstone Design.  I spend 3 days per week surrounded by the most beautiful looking, and finely crafted, furniture that you can find anywhere in Australia.  Or indeed the world.  I've also been photographing the new pieces as they come through for Evan and his team, both in their finished glory in the Showroom prior to delivery, and in the Workshop as the pieces either gain shape or are nearly completion.

I hope the existing readership of The Image is Everything will take the time to wander across to the new Blog I have started for Dunstone Design, to see what glorious pieces they are working on throughout the year.


16 July 2012

Vale Tony Leonard


Tony Leonard (right), a legendary equine photographer who chronicled the golden age of Thoroughbred racing, died July 14 at Homestead Nursing Home in Lexington. He was 89.
Born Leonard Anthony Bergantino on Aug. 8, 1922 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Leonard served in the Army during World War II and became a professional entertainer after the war, performing first in nightclubs across the country and eventually on Broadway. He took up the stage name of Tony Leonard at the suggestion of Bob Hope’s manager and came to Kentucky in 1961 with his wife Adelle.
Deciding to settle down in the bluegrass, Leonard began taking pictures of horses in the area as a hobby that soon turned into a full-time profession. He first made his name in racing when he went to Darby Dan Farm in Lexington and photographed the great Ribot in his paddock. Several of the photos appeared as part of a feature in the Morning Telegraph and Leonard was on his way to a career as a Thoroughbred photographer.
Leonard spent 50 years taking pictures of racing’s greatest stars and developed an outstanding reputation. His photos graced many magazine covers; his style one that many protégés sought to master.
“Tony set the standard that all equine photographers strive to achieve,” photographer Matt Goins remarked. “Knowing and working around him was one of the great pleasures of my life.”
Leonard was also known for developing the conformation shot, now widely used within the industry.
“My goal in taking a conformation pose is to present each stallion exactly alike,” he said of his groundbreaking concept. “That way, breeders could see exactly what they were looking for physically-strong shoulder, correct legs, hind quarters, pastern length, a compact or lengthy body-qualities that would match well with their mare.”
Among the many prominent farm owners he met early on were Brownell Combs of Spendthrift Farm and Preston and Anita Madden of Hamburg Place. 
“He was a perfectionist,” Anita Madden remarked. “He worked so hard to make sure your horse was shown off to its very best. There is an art to that and an artist’s eye involved.”
Leonard will always be remembered for his many images of the great Secretariat; he followed the Meadow Stable star through the Triple Crown and continued to capture the champion romping in his paddock, or duly posed for more formal shots, when “Big Red” was retired to Claiborne Farm. He shot the last formal portrait of Secretariat not long before the runner’s death in October of 1989.
Leonard also chronicled the accomplishments of the only other Triple Crown winners since Secretariat—Seattle Slew and Affirmed—as well as such greats as Spectacular Bid, Cigar, Personal Ensign, and John Henry. He came to be considered “The Ansel Adams of Equine Photography” and was awarded the International Photographic Council Lifetime Achievement Award by the United Nations in 2004. In 1994, his photograph of the field rounding the turn at Keeneland during a spring snowstorm earned him a coveted Eclipse Award. He served as the personal photographer to Queen Elizabeth II during both of her visits to the Blue Grass region.

By John Engelhardt:

12 July 2012

Pierro preparing for his Spring return

I've been feeling a little flat, confused and low the past couple of weeks.  It's a feeling that I am having difficulty shaking, and uncertainty doesn't help either.  So while I was in Sydney this week, I turned to the ponies to try to help myself feel better.  And that was fun.  I spent some time at Randwick, with some of Gai Waterhouse's horses, including her 2 stars, the champion mare More Joyous and her unbeaten 2yo Triple Crown champion, Pierro.

06 July 2012

On the Road Again

Dan (my car) is packed.  And clean (well, sort of clean for him, anyway).  I am always amazed by the amount of horse feed I have to sweep out of him each time I clean him out, and the assortment of kids toys, and left over food, which always makes me curse.  His oil and water are checked (think the oil was low, again), and I just need to fuel him up, on route to feeding my pony and picking the kids up.  I am feeling tired and sick, and can't shake a cold that just wants to get nastier.  The reason for the trip this weekend is my mum's birthday party, as she turned 70 on Wednesday, and is having an afternoon tea for a party in Sydney tomorrow afternoon.  

I have of course thrown the camera in, as there will be photos to be take, and I kept wandering back to my cupboard and looking at the big lens in its bag, thinking 'should I, shouldn't I?'  Then decided that spending a little bit of time with some ponies will be good for my soul, so made a quick phone call to a stable that has some nice horses, and looks that I can do some fun things with some v good ponies next week.  

My house has just had it's curtain tracks redone, and that's excellent, along with venetian blinds on my back window and door right where my computer sits, so I don't glance up at night and wonder about strange men in the backyard, as did happen shortly after we moved in.  The young bloke has just lost his van keys though, which is awkward, as I need to go and feed my pony and pick my kids up and hit the road!

Pierro.  2012 AJC Sires.

More Joyous.  2012 Doncaster Handicap.

05 July 2012

Carolyn's Story: Black Caviar Therapy

I recently went to Adelaide for the first time in well over 15 years.  I used to visit there, for work, in a past life with CSIRO.  The reason I returned was because trainer Peter Moody had selected 2 races at Adelaide's Morphetville Racecourse to prepare his great champion, and my favourite Pony, Black Caviar, for her engagement with the Queen at Royal Ascot.

On the first trip, on 28 April, after the race was run and won, I spend some time out the back with the Pony.  Those who know my Blog and me will have seen the images from the day, including my own little reunion with the Pony.  What I hadn't posted were some images I took of a lady in a wheel chair, who was able to meet the Pony in the stalls just before they put her on the float home.  I didn't know who the lady in the wheelchair was, I was just intrigued by her, and by the wheels that bore the Famous Pony's great colours.  They brought Nelly back to the stalls, and before the lady realised it, there was a Pony peering down at her, asking for attention gently.  It was a touching moment.  Of course I had no idea who the lady in the wheelchair was.

However a fortnight later, when Black Caviar returned to Morphetville, and I was of course again out the back with my Pony, I walked straight past a woman sitting in the same wheelchair.  I thought for a moment, because I am often not good in these situations at coming forward for fear of appearing pushy.  Then I went back, and gave her a card, telling her I'd taken some pictures of her with the Pony 2 weeks ago, and if she wanted them, to please drop me an email.  

Her name was Carolyn Natt.  We have since become friends, and her story is touching to say the least.  I will let Carolyn tell her story, which she does so well, below, which I've cut and pasted most of, from an article published in the MS Network Magazine.  As you will read, Carolyn was struck down with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) but she has not let the disease stop her, or impede her love of a horse.  

Those of you who know me well will know all about my own 'obsession' with horses.  They are part of my heart and soul.  They are behind who I am and what makes me feel good.  It may not be logical, but they are part of me, and living my life without them is unthinkable.  And they can make the worst day feel even just a tiny bit better, and that's not a bad thing.  In the darkest of times, my horses make me feel a bit more human and a little bit more able to cope.

I will forever be grateful that I came across Carolyn, and have gotten to know her.  And glad that I took these images of her and the great champion Black Caviar.  Please take the time to read her story below the photographs.

Carolyn Natt

I was diagnosed with MS at 51, five days before Christmas and three weeks later my Neurologist gave me the dreaded news that I had Primary Progressive MS (PPMS). That holiday season seemed a blur as the diagnosis sent our lives into a spin.

For 12 months I had been feeling unwell. I had been feeling tired, depressed and the zest for doing my job that I loved was waning.

I noticed I was struggling to walk distances without my left side getting very tired and I had started to develop a noticeable limp. Little tasks became big ones and I felt overawed at the thought of doing the most natural things I had always done. After a visit to my GP, I was referred to a neurologist for an MRI and PPMS was confirmed.

This was a terrible time for us all. I sat down with my husband Greg, son Ashley and daughter Dimity, and we all tried to take it all in. Yes, we had many a cry but at the same time, we tried to be strong for each other. It wasn’t easy, but we all tried to be positive and put plans into place by understanding the disease. I am so fortunate to have a wonderful husband and children, their understanding of my needs and their calm natures helped me cope with my daily struggles.

The PPMS doesn’t give me any remission time, so my symptoms simply continue to worsen.  I have always been a sporty person, I played tennis and netball, but horse riding was my passion.  Animals have always been a major part of my life. I always had pets, a horse, cat and dog and all of my family are animal lovers. We find them great company and I think very therapeutic.

I was born riding horses, my Dad specialised in colt breaking and training harness racing horses, so my love for horses was there from early childhood. I always had a special interest in the thoroughbred. I watched Dad break in many of them and they became my passion. Mum would regularly load us four kids in the FJ and go to the trots to watch Dad race, these are memories I cherish.

Now that I am unable to do any sports, these memories are really cherished. Losing the ability to ride my horse came as a massive blow. I was riding with my brother Andrew up until a few months before my diagnosis and I miss it so much.

In the five years leading up to my diagnosis I was working for a thoroughbred trainer, Phillip Stokes, at Morphettville Racecourse. I would attend all race meets, including some interstate, all trials and country meets.
I photographed all of the stable’s runners and at the end of each month I created a small magazine called “Stokes Racing Stable Update”. The content of the magazine kept all of the owners up to speed with the stable and their runners. I would edit all photos and write an exposé on each horse with accompanying photos then print and post to owners all over Australia and overseas. I did all of this at home on my own printer, it was a huge task but I loved doing it.

Since my diagnosis I have had to give up work and I now find my main transport to be a wheelchair. I can still walk a little way, but when I leave the home boundary, the wheelchair is it. Yes, it is a hard road and it won’t get any easier, I know that. 

But I have a terrific home unit, wonderful friends and neighbours who care and keep me smiling. I think the most important element is to keep positive people around you, negativity is the worst emotion to cope with. Understanding that yes, I have a battle ahead but when I fall down, we can have a laugh. If I can’t put my shoe on we laugh.

Of course we get sad and sometimes. A melt down with tears does us all good, but we all know I am stubborn and determined to live life to the fullest.

I have a go at things I probably shouldn’t, which is sometimes my undoing, but I give it a go, if I don’t I’ll never know. Daily tasks are more and more difficult but I try to get around the negatives and do something positive to perk us up.

“Black Caviar” my dream comes true!

I hadn’t attended the races for 15 months. When it was announced the super mare Black Caviar was coming to Morphettville on 28 April, I just had to be there. I didn’t know if I could do it, surrounded by a predicted huge crowd of over 30,000. I was anxious about a wheelchair in a crowd so big and I didn’t know how I would go. The SAJC sent me a beautiful gift by way of transport to and from Morphettville on the day.  David Peacock (Chairman) and Brenton Wilkinson (CEO) of SAJC, have been in touch with me since I left my work and remain lifelong friends. 

After much hesitation and some anxiety Ashley, Dimity and I did my wheels up in Caviar’s colours. As Greg was away, my dear neighbour came with us to help out. When we arrived I could smell the track and the horses – the atmosphere was exhilarating! After watching the champ win her 20th out of 20 starts, I felt I had done it all. While we were waiting for our transport back to Gawler, trainer Phillip Stokes approached me. I cheekily asked him if he could get me a dollop of Caviar’s manure to freeze and put in a glass ball. Of course he laughed (worth a try) then he grabbed my wheelchair, rushed me through security and before I knew it I was having a private meeting with Black Caviar! I was patting her, in awe of this incredible athlete. Needless to say I was and am still on cloud nine! 

Black Caviar returned 2 weeks later to get her 21st win in a row. Greg and I returned to Morphettville, transport courtesy again from the SAJC. As Caviar waltzed to her 21st win I took great action photos and the day was a dream.

‘I cheekily asked him if he could get me a dollop of Caviar’s manure to freeze and put in a glass ball. Of course he laughed (worth a try) then he grabbed my wheelchair, rushed me through security and before I knew it I was having a private meeting with Black Caviar!’  As luck would have it, Peter Moody, the trainer of Black Caviar, came over and had photos and a chat with me. I had met Peter during my work in the industry, it was so good to see him and so many other people I keep in touch with but don’t get to see as often.  It had been a huge day. I was exhausted and ready for home. Greg enjoyed the day immensely, but was also ready for home. As we were leaving we were approached by a lovely gentleman Troy, he came up to compliment me on the Caviar wheels, he said the jockey of Black Caviar would be only too pleased to sign them, I couldn’t believe it. Luke Nolen came over and signed the wheels, they then talked to me about MS, I was wearing my Kiss Goodbye to MS t-shirt that day which certainly gained attention and awareness of the disease. We had photos taken with  Luke and I can’t say enough about the professional unit Peter Moody Racing is, they are all so obliging and kind. Never in my wildest dreams did I think the last 2 weeks would turn out to be some of the most treasured memories I will keep close forever.

Black Caviar helped me gain the confidence to attend race meetings again, take my photos, and be around the many friends I cherish at the track.  No, life isn’t the same as it was over 3 years ago, PPMS is a disease with many hardships and day to day tasks are becoming harder. I have no illusions, life won’t get easier, there are hard times ahead but I will endeavour to live each day to the fullest. We don’t have to venture far to see those who are facing greater challenges. Never lose hope. Although there are some days I am not physically able to achieve goals, the tiniest task conquered is an achievement! Stay positive, cry when you need, smile a lot. Surround yourself with those who love you and let them know you love them too! Sometimes it is too easy to forget who is suffering most – the loved ones around us face our challenges as we do, they too are sad within. I have the best husband and children, and I am thankful everyday – they are my rock!

An important book about a Pony

There's a very important book being written at the moment, about an important little Pony...  It's being written by an eloquent and respected writer as well. And there's a photographer who's close to the Pony, and her heart (ok, and her stomach if truth be told! but we are v good friends!!!) who's also being closely involved in this project.  I've seen some of the artwork.  There are some occasions where you doubt everything that you do. This Pony makes a difference through.  To everyone.  Especially me.  In the darkest moments, she is a light that brightens my way.  Thank you Pony....

04 July 2012

Marching on

Winter is fully upon us.  Here in Canberra, the night time temperatures have fallen to around the -5 to -6 mark for the past 2 nights, and daytime temperatures being, well, damn cold!  My daughter AND I have also been a little sick with colds.  During winter I am kept busy with incoming photograph requests, bookwork and tax returns (enough to bore me stupid!), soccer photography for the local soccer club (with the annual soccer yearbook soon to be completed, which is a big job in itself), and my new job running the Showroom, and photographing for Dunstone Design. 

The good news is that the Pony will be on the plane home soon.  It will feel nice to have her back in the country again.  Moody told me this morning that my Pony is doing ok, and that she is coming home soon.  Her lovely trainer is tired, and glad it is all over, but immensely proud of Nelly, her jockey, and his whole team.  He can rightly be very proud of what he's achieved.  It's an enormous feat.  I think Mr Cummings ought to scrub up on his one line quips, with Mr Moody doing a fine job emulating the wittiness and cleverness in his off the cuff remarks.  I loved, in particular his description of Black Caviar becoming tired during the last little bit of the Diamond Jubilee, when he came to the defence of his jockey Luke Nolen who has always cared so much for the Pony.  He said "she was probably looking for a chair to sit down on".

I have plans for future photo ideas already, and cannot wait to be reunited with my Pony again.

25 June 2012

Black Caviar is coming home

Paddock for Nelly.. The Pony has suffered 2 muscles tears, and severe bruising to her hindquarters during her Royal Ascot triumph last night. She has entered quarantine, and will arrive home in Australia in approximately 2 weeks, and then head to the paddock..  I was so proud watching her race.  And win.  She is my love..  My darling...

23 June 2012

No more sleeps. Black Caviar to take on the world.

Who else on this side of the world will be staying up late to watch the Famous Pony race at Ascot tonight?  I sure as hell will be.  I usually can't keep track of where all my images are published, as their use is getting reasonably prolific, but my lovely editor, Ed, of the time honoured Owner & Breeder magazine in the UK, sent me a lovely little email saying one of my beach images was gracing the back page of The Times over there and he'd been delighted to see it.  I thought that was nice of him, as was going to the effort of scanning the back page at my request and sending it across to me.  Thanx Ed...

Good luck tonight Pony.  Show them what you've got. 


22 June 2012

One More Sleep

One more sleep.  My heart still breaks because I am not over with my Famous Pony..  But thinking of her constantly. Let her run Lukey, keep her safe and bring her home to me in one piece, but let them see how special she is.  Go Pony.....

20 June 2012

Full flight...

I sat up and watched the opening race of the 2012 Royal Ascot Carnival last night.  The very first race had the unbeaten UK superhorse, Frankel, running in it.  I've never sat up and watched Frankel live before.  He was breathtaking.  He made me sit up, and think 'oh goodness' to myself (because I was the only one in the room!).  He didn't just win.. He annihilated the rest of the field, with a complete display of brilliance and arrogance, setting sail for the post with ruthless determination.  

I will never be one to compare Frankel with Black Caviar, as I believe they are two totally different animals.  But if watching him has done anything, it has made me think 'Please Pete, just this once, let Lukey ride her out, let him say, let's show them what this baby can really do.  Turn her loose and ask her to run....'  That's all I want to see now.  Even if I can't be there to photograph her in all her glory, with all her flags flying!