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24 November 2014

The Spanish Dancer

It seems like forever since I have sat down at my computer (or my iPad) and written on this Blog.  To my regular readers I'm sorry.  To begin with I guess things just seemed to be sailing along so nicely that I almost forgot about writing.  Or at other times I think just keeping up with everything meant that I was wasn't devoting that 30 minutes or so most days to writing.  

However in August it became apparent to me that all wasn't well with me.  For someone who's always been well, and the only 2 times I've been in hospital was for the birth of my two children, this came as a bit of a shock.  But then I guess "The Spanish Dancer", or "The Big C", or pure and simply cancer, is always going to be a shock.  I think it's one of life's real cruelties that a girl had to get cancer to get loads and loads of really beautiful and cool flowers. I won't go in to too many details here, but suffice to say that I have been extremely fortunate to be very good friends with certain people, because one of them absolutely saved my life.  He's an esteemed surgeon and specialist, and is absolute leader in his field.  He made the scary seem less so and told me he would fix me, and he has. 

In September I was suddenly on the operating table undergoing a fairly major operation.  We hoped that radiation wouldn't be necessary because they said it would suck and be terrible.  In the end though they thought, despite the fact that the pathology results were good, that the safest thing to do was the radiation, because sometimes if you don't treat it right the 1st time you don't get a 2nd chance at it.

I managed to do my annual stud trip to Arrowfield Stud.  I was so pleased to make it there although to tell the truth 5 days before the 2 of us left for Scone I was wondering desperately how the hell I was going to pull it off.

On my return it was more and more medical appointments.  It has to be said that finding cool horse establishments is a lot more fun than finding hospitals and medical centres.  To this day I keep trying to tell myself that it was a hayseed and tried not to look at the words "Monash Cancer Centre" on the promiment sign outside the hospital everytime we drove up there.  Cancer sounds so serious.

Radiation started on 13 October and I've only just finished it.  They said it would mess me up and they were certainly right about that.  However I did manage to avoid their worst case scenario which was losing so much weight that they placed me on a feeding tube.  There was a few times when I thought I would have to give in, but sheer bloody minded determination counts for something at times I guess, despite the fact that my already slim build dwindled aware alarmingly in front of everyone.  My bottom is nowhere near the size of Brazil now.  It is teeny tiny.  I will be very pleased when I begin feeling better.

As a side, tonight is the 24th of November and it is my son's 13th birthday today.  I was so happy that radiation had finished.  I still felt hopelessly disorganised and like I hadn't done my usual job in making his birthday lovely.  However we managed to get out to the shops today.  I am still not driving, so I'm grateful to have someone so fabulous who cares for me so well.  He never looks angry at me, encourages me when he has to, and equally chastises me very gently when he knows I have tried to tackle too much.  We had bigger plans for this Spring Carnival but in the end what we managed to achieve was pretty impressive we thought, under the circumstances.  As usual my family were amazing and they did so much to help us.  My clients and friends have been so loyal and kind and concerned for me.  Although they have occasionally chastised me for being on track.  I really wanted to go though.  It made me feel like me again!  Despite their occasional anxiety over the past 3 months my kids feel calm and settled and once I begin feeling better I'm sure that life is going to be pretty good for us here in our cozy little part of the world.  

This is just a start of what we have achieved this spring.  It gives me more reason to keep writing doesn't it if I do it in little bits.

Vale Street Cry.  A final portrait taken 23 August 2014

The champion So You Think.  It was wonderful to see him properly again.

All Too Hard

"my boy" - More Than Ready

Pluck grows more and more like his sire every year

My 'new boy' - Dundeel - champion racehorse and now resident stallion at Arrowfield Stud, who incidentally sent me the most beautiful bunch of yellow flowers the day of my operation.  Meeting and becoming friends with his owners and breeders was a special thing this spring.

21 June 2014


Today at Eagle Farm Racecourse, in Brisbane Queensland, they ran the final Group 1 race of the 2013/2014 Racing Season.  The race is called the Tattersall's Tiara.  

Much to my relief they decided against sending "CJ" up north for the race.  I was actually happy they kept the mare here, because the risk of injury and the travel could have ruled her out of the Spring Carnival.  I'm desperate to see her race in Melbourne this Spring.  Yes, I'm being a little bit selfish here because if she ran in Queensland I wouldn't be photographing it, however here in Melbourne is a completely different matter.

The race was won by a little filly trained by Gai Waterhouse.  She's called Cosmic Endeavour and she has been partnered by the brilliant young Tommy Berry, who has of course touched our hearts following the terrible death of his twin brother Nathan earlier this year.  I've only photographed Cosmic Endeavour once.  She was sired by the late Northern Meteor and her win today only further highlights the loss of this young stallion who stood ever so briefly at Widden Stud. 

I was fond of these images, taken up around the 100m mark, in the growing gloom at the conclusion of a wonderful day of racing at Royal Randwick on Day 2 of The Championships.  And because of this was nice to hear that the filly won at the highest level today.

Cosmic Endeavour winning the G2 Sapphire Stakes on Day 2 of The Championships (19 April 2014) for trainer Gai Waterhouse and jockey Tommy Berry.


Tommy Berry...  he rides with such balance and poise.

For Nathan.....
An image from a series that would have been the final time I ever photographed Nathan Berry.  It was the evening after he had won the Magic Millions Classic on Unencumbered.  He looked so happy.

09 June 2014

Polishing the Jewel

We popped in to The Valley on Saturday.  The racing at this time of the year isn't the type I need to cover for my clients, as they typically need stakes races.  It is good to go along still to see everyone and to keep my reflexes sharp.  There was also a tall, slender black mare at The Valley early on that I wanted to see.  As is my want, I find myself becoming fond of the mare we now call "CJ".  Yes, it was Commanding Jewel.  My lovely little Jessica is getting a lovely collection of images of herself with good race horses.

Our weekend has been very nice.  I feel like life is pretty good right now.  Tomorrow I will pop Freelance on the lunge and organise a few photoshoots for this week and next.  On Wednesday I have a shoot on that I'm looking forward to.  I'm also in the process of organising Freelance a permit so that she can be worked on the beach.  It is so close to our paddock and it promises to be a lot of fun.  The salt water should be terrific for her joints.  Her coat is beginning to glow with good health.  Like us she seems very happy.  It's not as cold here and that should help her too.

02 June 2014

First day of work

This post is probably pure indulgence.  But I can't help myself.  Today I put The Lovely Freelance back into work.  She hasn't worn a saddle in almost 12 months because I've either been working other horses or just so busy moving.  She was also separated from us for 5 months.  So today was a happy day.  V happy...  It's such a lovely spot for her.  It makes me look forward to seeing her and makes me want to put a saddle on her back.  She is beginning to look like a real horse again, and I have to say I'm more than a little bit excited about how my mare will look this spring, when she grows that gorgeous summer coat and is fit and working really well.

31 May 2014

Happy Days

The days seem lovely at the moment.  My mare is here, and somehow many things seem right in the world.  In recent news it was announced that the gorgeous Fiorente is going to stand at stud right here in Victoria at Eliza Park Stud.  

I'm delighted about this.  He's a smashing horse.  A real individual.  And I loved him as a racehorse and I hope I come to love him as a stallion as well.  His breeding is different.  He's an Irish bred stallion, from the Germany stallion Monsun.  I'm not familiar with this sireline, however he's a prolific sire of G1 winners in the Northern Hemisphere, including sons Manduro and Novelist.  He joins fellow Melbourne Cup winner Americain at stud in Victoria and will I hope lead a resurgence of Australian bred stayers that can begin competing with the current dominance of the northern hemisphere bred stayer.  A girl can hope...