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29 February 2012


Oh goodness.  They are forecasting between 80-150mm of rain for Canberra tomorrow.  And rain until Sunday.  Raining in Sydney as well, heavy too, up to and including Saturday, which was when I was planning on nipping out to Rosehill Gardens for the Silver Slipper Stakes and Hobartville.  The kids and I will leave for Sydney on Friday afternoon.  I had better pack the wet weather gear for the cameras, and us.  It will be nice to be away, and to see my mum.

There goes another $80...

My options for the Australian Cup weekend in Melbourne have suddenly narrowed alarmingly..  My flights are booked and paid for.  But what an extraordinary waste of money that now appears to have been, seeing as I will now probably have to cancel them, and in addition to the lost revenue that comes from sitting at home instead of working, wear yet another $80 change fee that Qantas charges whenever you are forced to change your plans.  Thank goodness the Pony is in the paddock and won't be trying to win back to back Newmarket Handicaps, or my despair would be complete.

Black Caviar winning the 2010 Newmarket Handicap.
Black Caviar's last victory, her 19th, in the G1 Lightning Stakes.  It was taken only 10 days ago, feels much longer than that though.

From the archives. Esteemed ABC Journalist Kerry O'Brien at Royal Randwick.

Every now and again, when I go through photographs, I stumble upon an image I may have taken a number of years ago, and not looked at, or never published.  This is one of those occasions.  I'm on a slow morning today, because little Jessica has been running a fever for the last 24 hours, and it spiked again early this morning, so I will keep her home from school today.  And while I was aimlessly fooling around with photographs, as is my want, I came across these, that I took of one of my all time favourite journalists.  He is the highly esteemed ABC senior reporter, Kerry O'Brien, who has always had a keen interest in horse racing.  You could always rely on Kerry, when he was hosting the 7.30 Report, to throw in at least one feature interview on racing during the Spring Carnival.  I don't watch the show religiously anymore since I had the kids, and began watching it less when Kerry stopped doing it as well, but I always liked these images of him.  I took these on Sydney Cup Day in 2008, just before the running of the Sydney Cup itself.  Kerry actually stopped and talked to me, which was pretty great, and then I snapped these of him surreptitiously while we were waiting for the field to load.

28 February 2012

The Special Pony Necklace

It's official.  This is the terrible, awful, no good, very bad week.  I have been wearing the same Pony Necklace every single day since Caulfield Cup day 2010.  It's my good luck charm.  Apart from other things, I have linked it to my special relationship with the Very Special Pony, Black Caviar, as I have worn it on every single time I have photographed her winning.  The charm is a Flying Pony, or a Pegasus, and with the necklace, cost a whole $17.00, and the little ring attaching the charm to the necklace has just snapped in half.  Is it silliness to be trying to work out how to get another little loopy bit attached to the charm so it can be strung back onto the necklace when the whole thing only cost $17 in the first place??  After wringing my hands in despair I have attached it to my charm bracelet, and thought I can't think about this today, I will think about it tomorrow.

I really do hate this week.  So much......

If you look closely, you can see the Pony charm on my necklace.  This was taken by a friend the day that Black Caviar won her 18th race, the 2012 CF Orr Stakes.
Jessica's first day of school, February 2011.  Pony necklace.. check...

BTC Cup Day 2010.  13th win for Nelly.  Pony necklace was there..

Blue falls the rain....

Things seem hard this week.  The heavy rain they have predicted for the Canberra region started around lunchtime today.  It's cool, and grey and gloomy and the rain is falling more heavily to the south, where we live.  It is funny how easily the weather can mirror your moods.  And the coolness and dampness is in stark contrast to the weekend in Melbourne, which was struck by one of the southern capital's killer heatwaves when I was down for the Blue Diamond Stakes.

When I was watching the long range weather forecast last week, they originally predicted 34 for Melbourne on Saturday, which was a grim enough reading.  But they revised it, with cruel accuracy, and we were forced to endure 38 degrees at Caulfield for the Blue Diamond Stakes meeting, which was truly evil.  

I'm not a fan of the hot weather, in fact, I despise it.  I'm not built for the heat, and the problem with photographing on track is that so much of the exposed areas are made up of the soft red pavers that the horses walk on.  These are lovely soft surfaces, but they are as hot as hell, as they collect, and then radiate back, the heat.  So I'm sure that the actual temperature in the sun in the mounting yard was actually well over 40 degrees, which is just obscene.

As a result, I wasn't at my most active, and I sought to shoot from positions where I could stand in the shade and away from the heated pavers.  The mounting yard at Caulfield at least does allow this, so I ended up finding a little corner at the top of the stairs where I could shoot across to the far side of the mounting yard, and completely shirked my duties in getting cantering shots on the track.  I would also only venture out to the edge of the track at the absolute last minute and then head straight back in when I could, with the exception of the Group 1s, which resulted in sweat running down my back.  And for a few reasons, it was a very trying day, to say the very least.

The result of the Blue Diamond Stakes though, which is the premier Group 1 race in Victoria for 2 year olds, was a wonderful one.  The hot favourite Samaready, trained by the very likeable Caulfield trainer Mick Price, won with such authority.  I was so pleased, because Samaready is a Vinery product, who are great supporters of mine, and she is a daughter of my very favourite stallion, a very handsome Black Prince called More Than Ready.  It was also a touching victory for the filly's jockey Craig Newitt, who's father was killed in a car accident on Blue Diamond Stakes day 3 years ago, which was, ironically, the only Blue Diamond Stakes meeting that I have ever missed since I started photographing the meeting.


26 February 2012

Nelly's Beach

Yesterday must rank as one of the most trying I've spent on a racecourse.  The heat was awful, and by the end of the day I felt physically sick.  The night before, I decided it would be fun to throw my swimmers in the car, and get changed at the track and after the last race, knowing it was going to be a stinker, and drive to Nelly's beach and have a swim.  I went ahead with this plan, despite feeling sick and sorry, because I knew it would make me feel better, even if it did mean I didn't get home until it was dark.

I am used to driving to Nelly's beach in the darkness, and everything looked different in the daylight.  Fatigue didn't help, and almost instantly I made a mess and went the wrong way, and had to turn around and go back.  But, as I always say, you're allowed one u-turn before you admit that you stuffed it up utterly.  It seemed to take far longer to get there last night than when I have been driving there in the early hours of the morning to be with Nelly.  And when I got close to Beach Road, the traffic suddenly got busy, and I thought 'humm, this could be problematic'.  The normally deserted parking spots on the side of the road were nearly all full, and I thought suddenly 'oh hell, I won't get a park, talk about a perfect end to the day'.  I drove into Nelly's carpark, and there were cars everywhere, but fortunately lots of people were leaving so I got a spot.  It's a tight little carpark, much tighter than I gave it credit for, because whenever I've been there in the past it has been deserted and you can park wherever you want alongside that familiar Moody horse truck.  In the process of waiting for someone to get out, an old, grouchy looking, couple bumped into another car.  I narrowed my eyes at them, and they both glared at me, because they knew I'd been watching them, but seeing as there wasn't any apparent damage to the other car, I didn't write down their number plate.  I also suspect I just wasn't feeling up to a fight.

I was going to go straight down to the water, and had started walking away from the car, but the light of the sun setting was beautiful, so I turned and went back to the car for the camera.  Light at this time of the day is instant, and gorgeous, rich in warmth and colour, but it is also fleeting.  Timing meant that I missed the really vivid glow, but what I shot was still pretty.

I liked the beach far more last month, when I was with Nelly, but I'm still glad I went there and had a swim, at the end of what had been an extremely long and tough day.  It was a painfully hot night and so even though I didn't stay in the water for very long, it was still a good thing to do.  I miss my Pony though....

19 February 2012

Famous siblings... Part II. Would it be All Too Hard for Black Caviar?

I wrote on Friday about two members of what must surely be the highest profile family in the Australian Studbook at present racing at Flemington on Saturday.  On arriving into Melbourne, one of the first things I did was to text a friend, to check whether the elder of the two horses was still in fact running and hadn't been scratched on raceday morning which the trainer had indicated was always a chance.  Good news, the 5 year brown mare was still running in Race 6.  Her name is of course Black Caviar (Bel Esprit - Helsinge) and she was racing in the G1 Lightning Stakes.

I got to the track fairly early, and then when watching the 2 year olds in the mounting yard parade before race 1, which was the Listed Talindert Stakes, suddenly recalled 'oh, that's right, the little brother, is he there??', and yes, number 6, in the Patinack Farm colours, was parading around.  The bay colt, now named All Too Hard (Casino Prince - Helsinge), isn't immediately like his famous big sister.  He lacks her scupltured head, but like her is nicely put together.  I had always thought that it would be a special occasion just to have these two famously bred horses running on the same program, but for both to win seemed to be asking a little bit too much.  The great mare had to drop back from the 1400m of the CF Orr to 1000m of the Lightning Stakes, and was on a 7 day backup.  Neither task had ever been asked of her before, and the other worrying factor was the forecast warm day, and the fact that it had been warm all week in Melbourne, which was likely to produce a firm track.  And you just never know with 2 year olds, so we didn't know what to expect with him.

As usual, the pictures can tell the story.  It was a pretty wondrous result..