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29 April 2013

Flushed with success

It's the end of the day.  I feel flushed with success..  And sore, having used muscles I haven't used in awhile!  I loved riding this morning.  Yes, I'm a bit rusty, but Grant said he won't change much about the way I ride and that I ride well, he's just got to get me fit, and of course I'm used to dressage which is different from jumping. 

I dropped the kids off this morning, then called in to my local newsagent to see if I could get a copy of Sunday's Herald Sun.  They had one, so I have a copy of my front page photograph.  They had seen the photograph in the Tele and the Herald Sun, and were pleased, and asked what I was going to do now Black Caviar has been retired!  Hopefully still see her I said!!!! 

I then called in to see Freelance and feed her.  She looks well, and it was nice to see her, and then I went straight from there to my riding lesson.  Grant popped me on a middle sized gelding called Buddy.  I liked him.  He's not as responsive and flexible as Freelance, and is stiffer in that he doesn't go 'round', but he was nice and I liked the fact that he didn't shy and carry on like a pork chop!

Grant started slowly with me, we just did work on the flat, and some trot poles, then straight into the canter, and Buddy had a nice strong canter, and I liked it!  Oh how it felt to be on a cantering horse again!  Then he got me to ride forward and up in my irons.  Having been doing so much dressage I haven't done this for ages!  It's a nonsense, because I probably spent half my childhood and teens up in the irons and crouched over my horse's neck, usually going flat out.  Sometimes jumping paddock gates in the process, or thundering madly around corners with the horse wearing nothing but a rug and a headstall and leadrope.  I have to admit it felt strange to begin with, but after a lap or two, all of a sudden I had my balance and rhythm and it felt great.

Grant then gave me and Buddy a short rest while we walked on a long rein, and then he set up the small jump.  I popped Buddy over the jump about 4 times, cantering after the jump and over the pole about 3 canter strides after it, and then Grant said we'd done enough.  My brother Tom, who called over for dinner tonight, asked me with a beaming smile on his face "and did you go wheeeeeeeeee as you went over it???"  And I put my hands to my mouth, almost jumped about and said "yes!!!! I did!!!!!"  I wish that I one day I could get some photographs of me riding, but I know that this is a forlorn hope.  Most of my friends don't do well with a camera.  Maybe one day though.  And ok, it was only a little jump, but I tell myself it was not a bad effort considering I haven't ridden in probably 12 months, and it would be 15 years since I've gone over a jump.

Like I said, I am stiff and a bit sore, but triumphant.  In the words of Albus Dumbledore, from Harry Potter - "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live".  The last 5 or 6 days have been  hugely successful ones.  I have had more lovely messages about the Gai Waterhouse image, and it continues to run across the country.  To date it's graced the front pages of 2 major newspapers, and run in another 4 that know of, both today and yesterday.

I can hear gentle rain beginning to fall, although not much is actually forecast.  Rain at night is nice, although it is nicer when there's someone to be a limpet with.  I am back in the showroom tomorrow, from Tuesday through Thursday.  No doubt I will wake up a little sore tomorrow morning, but it is SO worth it!  I have my next lesson booked in already, and have plans to get Freelance going as well, provided her legs are up to it and she stays sound.  My darling mare is 18 now, and is a day to day proposition.

Oh, and here's a little bit of trivia to finish off.  Before cooking the excellent roast chicken, I finally turned the oven trays I have been glaring at suspiciously since I put the oven back together again after cleaning it for the last house inspection.  Yes...  I've had 2 inspections and cleaned the oven twice.  And on both occasions I have put my trays in back the front.  And taken weeks to work out what was wrong.

Just for me....

This morning I'm doing something just for me.  I decided it was time to do a few more of the things that are important to me.  Yes!   It involves horses!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I say this somewhat defensively and with eyes glaring ever so defiantly at those who might say either pleadingly, jokingly, angrily, or somewhere in between "but there are others things out there that you like and would be good to do, it doesn't always have to involve a horse".

This morning I'm riding.  I'm having a jumping lesson with respected coach and former Australian showjumping team member Grant Hughes, on one of his horses.  It will be easy stuff and I've told him don't toss me in to the deep end, but I like Grant and he's terrific.  I started having some lessons with him before the kids were born, but it was too hard to fit in with work and university.  

It should be a good incentive to try to see whether Freelance's legs can stand up to a bit of work, and to do things that matter to me.  Can't wait!  And I shall do my best to not fall off. Natasha and I used to joke that we didn't need to be heroes, we just fell off. Actually, when I was doing a lot of riding, unless the horse came down I rarely came off, but that's when I was all instinct and feel, and could move with the horse the instant it did.  And I'm not conceited enough to think that I can still ride like this!

28 April 2013

Driving home and the subject of bylines

I'm stopped with Maxie at Lake George. We are having an uneventful trip home. I've been receiving many truly ace messages about the image of Gai Waterhouse and John Singleton that ran on the front pages of the Sunday Telegraph and Herald Sun. Maxie has worn his harness tied to the passenger seat so that he can sit next to me but not be a complete pest and a menace. And he is having a little look around at the rest stop as well. We will set off again shortly.

Driving makes me reflective. And recall things good and bad. There was definitely some of each. Whether in equal parts I guess depends on whose perspective you look at it from. If the Waterhouse v Singleton drama tells us anything, it is that different people can have differing views on the same event or set of events depending on which end of the stick they were getting.

I am under no illusions that this image, and its byline, will be differently received in different households in both Sydney and Melbourne where it ran as front page. The reaction of some has been of pride and there has been some lovely messages, including one from someone closely involved. Some people might keep a copy of the front page and pause to run their hands over the image and the byline, just as I did so often in the past before putting it away in a safe spot to keep.

There are unfortunately some people who might, for varying reasons, want to fling it angrily in the nearest recycle bin the moment they see it. But it is a fine image that tells a story, and I am NOT the villain. But there are half a dozen or so people, on both sides of the border, whose reaction I do worry about, and wonder what they will think of the image, and the photographer who took it.  I hope these people won't feel angry at seeing my name.  It is these people who's reaction I do worry about, and hope it's not overwhelmingly unfavourable. 

Dancing Queen just came on again. And I managed to find one more spearmint leaf in my lolly bag. That's not such a bad thing!!

The front page of today's Herald Sun in Melbourne.
Front page of the Sunday Telegraph
All Too Hard (Casino Prince - Helsinge) winning.  The drama has almost overshadowed his win.
A tender moment between trainer John Hawkes and his colt All Too Hard.  I took this just before I swung my attention to the drama in front of me with Singleton, Waterhouse, Grimley and Rawiller.

27 April 2013

Front Page Sunday Telegraph - Gai Waterhouse loses More Joyous and other Singleton horses

In a major drama owner John Singleton announced after More Joyous' unplaced run in the G1 All Aged Stakes that he was transferring all his horses from trainer Gai Waterhouse.  These images say it all.

The image will run on the front page of tomorrow's Sunday Telegraph and hopefully in a number of the interstate News Ltd mastheads.   The editor of the paper just messaged me to say that the image is a definite award nominee and to make sure I enter it in all the awards (I only know of the Walkleys, what else is there???).  And yes, I still want to pick up the phone, and wanted to do so during the talks about it, just to check I was doing the right thing.  Old habits..  Dying hard...

On the way to the track, ABBA's Super Trouper came on over Dan's crackly speakers.
"Tonight the Super Trouper. Beams are going to blind me. But I won't feel blue. Because somewhere in the crowd there's you"
I love ABBA. Although strangely I haven't been listening to it much lately.  

26 April 2013

Farewell Pierro

After shouting his head off the whole trip, Maxie and I made it to Sydney.  Before setting off, I did check my oil and water, although I almost didn't do it, thinking 'but I only checked them only 3 days ago!!!', but then decided I should do the right thing.  I did revert back to the usual cursory glance at my tyres though. Actually, I'm not even sure that I did this..

On arrival I read that champion colt Pierro's new home has been decided.  It was announced late today that he will stand at Coolmore Australia.  This will be a nice base for him, although I do find myself wishing just a little bit that he was going to Arrowfield or Darley, as I tend to spend more time at these farms as a general rule.  I like to hope I'll be seeing a bit more of this wonderful colt though over the coming years as a stallion at stud.

I am going to try to head to bed soon.  I have been sleeping terribly and therefore staying up much later than I normally do or is good for me.  I've just put the little Bad Ass back to bed 3 times.  It used to take him 20 minutes or so to effect a break out.  It's now taking him about 30 seconds.  Toad....  I'm actually so in need of a decent sleep I have just retrieved and returned said Kitty to the laundry, and this time I have put my laptop back in front of the door.  And anyone who has carried my laptop bag before knows that it's not terribly light.  Although I'm not helped here at all by Foxtel putting on an old movie called Battle of Britain.  I haven't seen it for years.  I did quite a lot of European History at college, and then international politics when studying Political Science at the Australian National University.  A few of my old lecturers loved the film.  Including our charismatic but eccentric History Teacher, Alan Pymont, at Stirling College.  Michael Cain looks v young in it!  And it's a great movie.  I can hear Maxie making desperate attempts to foil me for a 4th time, but perhaps the heavy bag will do the trick.

Hit the road Jack

Maxie and I are about to set off again. We stopped at Pheasant's Nest. I got him out of the car with his little harness on, and we stood on the grass for 5 minutes, looking over at the truck parking area. It's a far fry from my last brief stop here.  Maxi is alternating from being just ok to bring a complete and utter warty toad. I think I prefer the Bad Ass. He thinks being kept in the cat carrier the whole way is complete and utter bollocks. The little toad.

25 April 2013

Inglis Easter Yearling Sale Cocktail Party 2013

I was asked to photograph the 2013 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale Cocktail Party on Monday 8 April 2013.  It was held at Star, with the most amazing views over Sydney Harbour in the outside viewing/entertainment area.  These sorts of events are hard work, but there's some nice images here.  It was good catching up with a few friends as well.

Gilgai Farm's Meaghan Strickland-Wood
Rick Jamieson, owner of Gilgai Farm and breeder of Black Caviar, All Too Hard and the Redoute's Choice - Helsinge colt that sold for $5million arrives at the Cocktail Party.
Mark Webster, Rick Jamieson, Meaghan Strickland-Wood and Pete Ford


Managing owner of Black Caviar, Neil Werrett and Lena Attebo.
John Coates