Tag Archives: Horse Racing

A (Short) Day At The Races

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Ah, the joy of serendipity! As many of you know, I’m currently in South Australia at my parents’ house in Mount Gambier. Being a bit distracted by other matters, I hadn’t paid much attention to any events that might be happening locally and was delighted to discover that the town’s premier race meeting of the year, the Gold Cup, was on while I was home. Even more happily, a family friend was attending, had tickets to a corporate tent, and when she heard I’d still be around on the Friday, promptly invited me along.  You can imagine how fast I said yes!

Myself and family friend, Bernie Tichbom.

Myself and family friend, Bernie Tichbom.

Unfortunately, there would be no Gold Cup. We’d had rain all week and the first day of the cup carnival the day before, and the track started a heavy 10 (the maximum rating and pretty muddy). By the time three races had been run, the turf was that cut up it was looking dangerous. The rollers came out, but when the delay was announced as indefinite it didn’t look promising. At 3pm after a long inspection by the stewards, the meet was abandoned. A shame, especially for all those who put so much effort into the day and its preparations, but the safety of horses and jockeys must take priority.

Mind you, that didn’t stop the partying. Given wind chill had the apparent temperature around 8 degrees, I guess many thought a few drinks would warm them up. But it was all good fun and a happy time appeared to be had by all. Such a pity I won’t be around for the rescheduled race. Maybe next year!

Here are a few photos of the day.

Crowds at the 2015 Mount Gambier Gold Cup

Trackside, early in the afternoon. It was a little more raucous later!

Racing

 See that horse coming last? I backed that one. Sigh.

Steeplechase

In steeplechases it’s not unusual for the jockeys to walk the horses up to the jumps before the race begins.

Steeplechase

 My horse came 2nd. Which would have been fine if I hadn’t backed it only for the win. Not  enough runners for place payouts anyway.

Fashions on the field

There were lots of entrants in the fashions on the field. I thought the girl in ochre on the far right looked fantastic. Sadly she didn’t win. The girl on the far left did.

Fashions on the field

 Trousers suited the day. It was freezing!

Fashions on the field

Gorgeous outfit but perhaps more spring than autumn? I think that’s Amelia Mulcahy of Channel 7 interviewing the ladies. She looked lovely too!

Fashions on the field

With racing halted, all eyes were on the fashions.

Cathryn Hein at the Mount Gambier Gold Cup

No fashions on the field for me. I had no idea the races were on let alone that I’d be going. Otherwise I would have packed a proper hat and gloves, and a ruddy great wool coat!

 

A Horsey History

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Have you ever wondered where your passions developed from, whether they were inherited, nurtured, spontaneous, or even adopted from someone else?

My father, Merv Hein, on Tactful Queen, winning the  1952 Frances Handicap, Naracoorte, SA.

My father on Tactful Queen, winning the 1952 Frances Handicap at Naracoorte, SA.

As many of you will know from visiting Friday Feast, I’m a passionate foodie, yet my mother never cared about cooking, produce or anything cuisine related. She loathed gardening too, whereas I love growing my own food. Dad reads, much more now he’s a bit housebound with looking after Mum, but Mum never did, whereas I’m a complete bookworm. My brother is sporty. I’m an enthusiastic participant but somehow the genes governing easy athleticism and co-ordination passed me by.

My love for all things equine, though? Ah, well, now that’s what is known in the vernacular as a no-brainer.

As happened in those days, my father was indentured as an apprentice jockey when he was 11 years old. It would be impossible to think of an eleven-year-old today leaving home to work and live with a racehorse trainer but Dad did it, thrived and had a bit of success too. I have the most marvellous, if a little battered, whale bone whip in my office which Dad won as the winning rider of Tactful Queen in the 1952 Frances Handicap at Naracoorte, SA.

The whale bone whip prize presented to my father, Merv Hein, as winning jockey of the 1952 Frances Handicap.

The whale bone whip prize presented to my father as winning jockey of the 1952 Frances Handicap.

But I guess he was only following in the footsteps of his forebears, because my grandfather was also a jockey, and my great-grandfather rode jumps races. I have a book I’m currently using for research called Personalities in Pink Coats by Brian J. O’Connor, which covers the history of the Cover of Personalities in Pink Coats by Brian J. O'ConnorMount Gambier Hunt Club. A club of which I was also once a member. There’s a wonderful story in it of a veterans race held on September 12th, 1931 to help celebrate the club’s Golden Jubilee. It was run during the local Winter Race Carnival, I assume at Mount Gambier’s Glenburnie Racecourse, although that isn’t specified. The SA Jockey Club allowed the race on the proviso it was run under SAJC rules and that the jockeys were amateur.

The veterans were aged 60 and over and among them was my great-grandfather Lou Hein, aged 63, riding Kings Street. The eldest rider was Jim Hanlon aged 77. As you can imagine, the race drew considerable interest. Perhaps some locals expected carnage. Not a chance. These riders were all true horseman and had been all their lives.

My great-grandfather Lou Hein circa 1900.

My great-grandfather Lou Hein circa 1900.

Lou was the only Mount Gambier man to ride, the remainder were from over the south-east of SA and western Victoria. I would love to say he won, but he didn’t. That honour went to 71 year old Jack Stock, riding 2/1 favourite Bonny Deen. According to Personalities in Pink Coats, Jack was a bachelor but won a lot of lady admirers that day. It was the silver cutlery that did it.

My great-uncle Clarence also rode and there’s a wonderful family tale of how, in 1928, Clarrie, aged sixteen, travelled from Mount Gambier across the Victorian border to Coleraine for a race meeting. When the meet proved unsuccessful, he headed back to Casterton where, the next day, he rode King Sam to victory in the Casterton Cup. Fast forward to 2008 and there’s Clarrie, aged 96, once again at the Casterton Cup, only this time presenting the prize to the winning jockey of the same race he’d won eighty years before.

My grandfather, Lloyd 'Torchy' Hein on horseback.

My grandfather, Lloyd ‘Torchy’ Hein

With this kind of family history it’s little wonder I was born horse mad. Fortunately I had Dad on hand to help teach me horsemanship. He was no longer a jockey, his career having ended at age twenty-one when his apprenticeship finished and he’d grown too big for the job, but there are some things you don’t forget. My teenage years are a blur of horses and horse events. Pony club, trail riding, saddle horses, dressage, eventing, showjumping, hunting – if it involved a horse and riding, I was probably in on it. I even worked for a couple of racehorse trainers riding exercise in my gap year before university.

Sadly, I no longer ride but I’m still horse mad and it’s a pretty fair assumption that when you pick up one of my books there’ll be a horse or two woven into the tale. I simply can’t help it.

Science may not have proven the existence of a gene for horse-mania, but if my family history has anything to do with it, something’s sure going on.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Jessica Owers

It’s Spring Racing Carnival time and Friday Feast is frocking up! Well, not quite, but things are starting to smell sweetly horsey around here. Rightly so, too! Rotten cats keep taking over the blogosphere and it’s about time that our noble and magnificent equine friends kicked back.

Not that I’m biased or anything…

I am absolutely delighted to welcome our very first non-fiction author to Friday Feast. Not just any old non-fiction author, mind you. That simply wouldn’t do. Friday Feasts only feature the best Australian authors and today is no exception.

Jessica Owers is an award-winning freelance racing journalist who has worked for such illustrious publications as Breeding and Racing and RM Williams OUTBACK magazine. Among many other achievements, her writing has also appeared in Inside Breeding, The Thoroughbred, Turf Monthly, OUTBACK and Racing Life.

In 2011, her book Peter Pan: The Forgotten Story of Phar Lap’s Successor was released to great acclaim, going on to win the Bill Whittaker Award for Best Racing Book in Australia 2012.

Take a look and you’ll see why. This is a story we should know!

 

Peter Pan: The Forgotten Story of Phar Lap’s Successor

 

In 1932, they said there would never be another Phar Lap. Yet within months there came a racehorse so wildly brilliant that he was instantly compared to the dead champion. He was Peter Pan. Within months of Phar Lap’s death, Peter Pan had won the Melbourne Cup and then two years later, won it again – the first horse in 72 years to take home a second. The newspapers of the day called him a ‘superhorse’ and declared ‘another Phar Lap takes the stage.’ But over the long years, Australia forgot their new champion. Peter Pan: The Forgotten Story of Phar Lap’s Successor is the tale of the horse that came next – the brilliant, speedy Peter Pan. Casting off the shadow of Phar Lap, this tells the story of triumph during the Great Depression and the coming of a champion when Australia least expected one. It is time to restore the standing of our other great racing hero.

 

Oh, I do love a good horse story and I’m sure you will too, especially one so expertly written. Peter Pan is available now with just a short click over to Booktopia, Bookworld or Book Depository, or for the ebook, try Kobo, Google Play or Amazon Kindle.

Now giddy-up, Feasters, because here’s Jessica!

 

At this colourful time of year when it’s all about Spring Carnival, I’m thrilled to guest blog on Cathryn’s ever-popular Friday Feast. The events detailed below occurred during a recent research trip to the U.S. for my second book, the biography of Shannon, a 1940s Sydney idol and one of racing’s most captivating and least-understood Hall of Fame racehorses. His book is due out spring next year.

Every so often, you just want one

 

It was very hot, and lazy early afternoon. I was on highway I-87 in upstate New York, rolling my rented wheels towards Saratoga Springs. It was the kind of day that makes you want to drive with your hand out the window, feel the brisk whip of wind through the car. I’d had a radio interview from my hotel room that morning, and it had gone overtime. Within minutes of hitting the road to the Spa (Saratoga Springs is affectionately called ‘the Spa’), I was starving.

Highway food is never the best, is it? It’s usually a select choice of greasy or greasier, fat or fattier. On that day, I skipped past iHop, Chucky Cheese and Wendy’s, none of which took my fancy. There’ll be something better, I kept saying, then miles of blacktop slipped under the car. My stomach began to eat its own lining.

Eventually, a state of famish will make you eat anything, so when an exit pointed to McDonald’s, I eased the rental off the highway and went in search of the golden arches. I knew that it was a fast fix, that in this heat McDonald’s food would leave me feeling disembowelled. But, food was food. I was just too hungry to care.

The first thing I’ll tell you about this McDonald’s was that it was spotless. It was the prettiest renewal of this franchise I had ever seen… neatly mowed lawns, a picnic area to gobble your takeaway. At the drive-in window there was an apple tree, stooped and splendid with fruit. The place was so unlike any McDonald’s I’d ever been to that it made me forget entirely the acrid food I was about to purchase.

I bought a single cheeseburger, that’s all. I didn’t upsize or meal deal. I didn’t need anything to wash it down. All I required was a little bit of fuel that would turn my vitals over until Saratoga, and so I took my little cheeseburger, wrapped in a small paper bag like something from 1977, and I parked in the picnic lot. I climbed out into the stale August afternoon, hair-dryer hot, and I tucked in.

Now, every once in a while life takes you by surprise. This was one such day. My little cheeseburger was delicious. It had been put together so well it looked like its brothers up on the ordering board (well, almost). The gherkins, perfect green frisbees, were tucked between the bun and the beef, each (there were three) sliced and diced perfectly. Whoever put them in there put them in carefully. There was nothing mushy about the burger, it was the perfect harmony of lightly melted plastic cheese and ketchup in spot-on quantities. It was the kind of cheeseburger to call home about, the kind to write a blog about.

When Cathryn asked me to guest on the Friday Feast, I just knew my little cheeseburger had to be the star of the show. My fiancé (an Italian restaurateur) will be mortified. Though my cheeseburger cannot compete with the impressive efforts of past guests, creators of gnocchi and chocolate surprise, exotic recipes from colonial Africa even, there’s something cool about it, something basic, don’t you think? The McDonald’s cheeseburger is the thing we’ve all had. It’s usually terrible, slapped up and messy and rundown with guilt, but when you get a good one, oh its good.

So, at this point in the blog I’m supposed to outlay the recipe of the divine wonder you’ve just read about. However, because the McDonald’s cheeseburger is neither a recipe nor divine, I’ll have to skip that part. Instead, I’ll tell you why my highway cheeseburger, though it fell down in nutritional talent, stood up in other ways that only a writer could isolate: it represented a brief stop on a long and fabulous holiday, a stop on the open road one hot, oily afternoon when I had few woes and only the itchy pursuit of the bending highway. It represented the brief, good things in life, the little things, and certainly reminded me that the best things in any moment of any day can come (almost) free… $1.06 is pretty good going, don’t you think?

Shocked and repulsed that a lowly cheeseburger has made it onto the fabulous honour roll that is the Friday Feast? Or, delighted that something so basic can be so good every once in a while? To win a signed copy of Peter Pan: The Forgotten Story of Phar Lap’s Successor, reply with your version of when something so bad has been so surprisingly good. The best answer will get a copy of Peter Pan spirited to them right in time for Melbourne Cup day.

 

Oh, I so, so adore this story! It’s amazing how much pleasure you can derive from simple things. Fish and chips on the beach. A luke-warm pie at the footy (supporting the Sydney Swans, of course). Not exactly health food, but hitting the spot perfectly.

So come on, Feasters, show our first non-fiction author a good time and regale Jessica with your tales of bad-good things. There’s an amazing prize up for grabs!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 25th September 2012 AEST. Australian addresses only, sorry.

If you would like to learn a little more about Australia’s strongest female voice in racing writing, visit Jessica at her website, check in on the blog or follow her on Twitter.

 

FRIDAY FEAST!

It’s the Caulfield Cup tomorrow. Time to frock up and watch the gee-gees while sipping pink champagne. Don’t want to sip? How about eating it then? Or, even better, both!

This dessert is a bit of a pain in the bum to make, but it does look glam. Perfectly fitting for a Spring Racing Carnival party.

Chin Chin!

STRAWBERRY & PINK CHAMPAGNE JELLY

Serves 6

600g strawberries, hulled

100g caster sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

8 sheets of leaf gelatine

750ml bottle of pink champagne

2 tablespoons crème de peche (peach liqueur)

Slice 500g of the strawberries and place in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice.

Cover the bowl with cling film and leave it like this for 30-40 minutes checking the water in the pan occasionally and topping it up with boiling water if necessary. The fruit will yield a clear pink fragrant juice.

Line a large sieve with wet muslin and place over a clean bowl. Pour the strawberry jus into the sieve and leave it to drip through but don’t rub the pulp otherwise the jus will lose its clarity. Discard the fruit pulp.

Soften the gelatine sheets in cold water for about 5 minutes of so. Pour the strawberry jus into a clean pan and heat until on the point of boiling then take off the heat. Remove the gelatine from the cold water, squeezing out excess water and then slip into the hot jus, whisking until dissolved. Pass through a sieve into a bowl.

Allow to cool then mix in the crème de peche and champagne. Leave until the jelly is cold and on the point of setting. You may need to place it in the fridge for a few hours for this to happen but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t set too much.

Slice the remaining 100g of strawberries. Have ready 6 champagne flutes or wine glasses. Dip the strawberry slices into the setting jelly and stick to the side of the glasses. If they wont stick, place the glasses on their sides and place the strawberries on the side of the glasses and refrigerate until they don’t move.

To make the jelly sparkle, whisk the setting jelly until lightly frothy and divide it between the glasses. Chill until completely set.

To serve, top with a thin layer of double cream or a layer of strawberry or raspberry flavoured cream.