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08 March 2013

And the crowd roared "Go Lonhro, Go!!!!"

I'm sitting finishing this post at Canberra Airport, waiting for my flight to board.  I'm flying down late on the Friday night, instead of getting up to catch the first flight out.  My attention tomorrow will be the Australian Cup and Newmarket Handicap meeting.  It's not a meeting I typically do every single year, like Blue Diamond Day.  Young children and operating out of Siberia, err Canberra, have meant that I've tended to juggle it a little bit with other racedays.

But as I prepare to photograph the 2013 renewal of this meeting, I pause to reflect on the glory days of 2 former champions.  See, this is how long my Ponies have been able to make me feel better about things.  And today, as I wait to return to Melbourne, is no different.

The two horses I write of are father and son.  Both were Horse of the Year.  Together they won a staggering 21 Group 1 races.  The father won 10, the son 11.  And they both won an Australian Cup, the father in 1997, the son in 2004.  It is of course the great champions Octagonal (Zabeel - Eight Carat) and Lonhro (Octagonal - Shadea) of whom I speak.

Both were public idols.  Octagonal was bred by Sir Patrick Hogan at Cambridge Stud and purchased from the Karaka yearling sales for $220,000 by Bob and Jack Ingham.  Lonhro was a home bred, out of the Ingham's Woodlands Stud.  They were both trained by John Hawkes (now trainer, with his sons Wayne and Michael, of All Too Hard), and both were ridden by Darren Beadman (with Octagonal Shane Dye rode him for a number of his big wins).  I loved them both, they were 'my boys', and anyone who knows even the slightest thing about me knows that I have a real thing for the black horse.  Throw a pretty black horse into the mix, and well, it's a lost cause!  A champion, pretty black horse??????

1995 WS Cox Plate.  Octagonal and Shane Dye
1996 Rosehill Guineas.  "The Race of the Decade".  Octagonal and Darren Beadman.  Defeating Saintly and Nothin' Leica Dane

1997 Australian Cup.  Octagonal and Shane Dye.  Who said the great horse was finished???
Octagonal and Shane Dye.  By the skin of their teeth
A special parade, and rug.  Octagonal was the real start of the public adulation in the modern day racehorse.  And in fitting and beautiful public farewells.  We are going through the same process now with the great champion, the Famous Pony, Black Caviar, as she progresses through her farewell campaign.
Public adulation
Bron and John Hawkes.  I loved the black horse.  Photo by Gary Wild.
One of my favourite shots of Octagonal.  With my buddy Gary Wild, out the back, at the end of the day.
Octagonal at Woodlands Stud.  December 1997. 

Lonhro.  2002 Chelmsford Stakes (G2)
Lonhro.  2003 Queen Elizabeth Stakes
2003 George Main Stakes

2003 Caulfield Stakes

2004 Australian Cup.  "And the crowd roared 'go Lonhro, go!!!" as Beadman extracted the black horse out of a pocket and set sail for Delzao and the finish line.

Coming back to scale
With John Hawkes and Trevor Lobb
With Wayne Hawkes, waiting for the float

Octagonal!!!  2004 George Ryder Day.  His son Lonhro won the race, and the Inghams agreed to bring his sire out on Golden Slipper Day to parade.  Darren Gauci rode Occy.  What other horse, as a serving stallion, would have agreed to this??  Slipper day crowds?  He'd owned Slipper Day in 1996 and 1997.  It was great theatre!!!!

Lonhro winning the 2004 George Ryder
After the George Ryder. 
The Famous Family - 3 Generations.  Denman (front), Lonhro (centre), Octagonal (right).  Photographed at Darley Australia.  August 2010.  A now famous image.
Bron and Octagonal
Lonhro at Darley Australia

The Boss..   Octagonal at Darley Australia

Some say Octagonal was not a success at stud.  But how can you possibly say that, about the horse that sired the champion racehorse and now stallion Lonhro, who has just sired a champion 2 year old in Pierro.

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