Traditions, especially those involving any new year’s resolutions, have never appealed much to me. Performing an act for the sole reason of its long-standing past, isn’t a good enough argument to persuade me. However, that doesn’t mean certain customs can’t bear a positive meaning.
Perhaps I do agree with the customary retrospective features, as found gracing (social) media during the final days of 2016. For instance, who doesn’t enjoy reading the Racing Post articles on the best moments of the year, including top racehorses and performances?
Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this year’s Classic generation, with the likes of Galileo Gold, The Gurkha, Minding, Almanzor and Harzand, to name a few, lighting up the racecourse(s). Or Found’s much deserved win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, after all her consistent efforts at the highest level during the year. And Japanese contender A Shin Hikari, demolishing the field in the Prix d’Ispahan. This little list doesn’t include other top class acts in for example Australia, by Winx, and America by Arrogate, to name a few! I am pretty certain that a long list of outstanding and memorable moments can be conceived.
When considering the jump scene, currently in full flow, there seems to be no shortage of depth across the cards; top clashes like young Thistlecrack overthrowing the king in Cue Card, as well as Douvan racking up Grade One victories.
Furthermore, again in the UK, the horse racing community showed unity and support, by rallying together the grand amount of £276,105 for Freddy Tylicki.
Last but not least, 2016 also marked the end of the Channel 4 racing coverage in Great Britain. Their final montage, which commemorated 32 year of horse racing, consist of all-time stars such as Shergar, Frankel, Sea The Stars, Kauto Star, Desert Orchid, Big Bucks, Sprinter Sacre and Moscow Flyer, among many other greats. Certainly a worthy way to say goodbye to the year, and an era.
My way of looking back will be presented visually, using those pictures that have been of particular significance to me, and were taken this year. Either they contain an interesting story, or they provided me with increased exposure and work; or I included them simply because I think it is a photograph to be proud of, accounting for outstanding composition, colour and/or creativity. The photographs are in random order, I decided against ranking them by preference.
This was taken during an early morning barrier trial at Happy Valley Racecourse, in Hong Kong. This tight track is one of the most beautiful in the world, situated in the middle of Hong Kong Island, surrounded by skyscrapers and busy roads. Yet this image, taken during sunrise, feels like a little moment of peace, showing harmony between horse and rider. As a track rider myself, the image feels like taking a deep breath, whilst your mount relaxes, and you’re riding in a beautiful environment. The sun rises above the hill, a little smile comes to one’s lips: you are about to set off cantering. Flow, they call it, when challenge meets skill, and time slows down.
Anyone capable of blurring their vision? Try and focus on the tip of your nose with both eyes at the same time, and your field of vision will become slightly distorted. Now apply the same principle, whilst looking at this picture; you will see a skull-like figure appearing, looking quite angry too. However, my reason for liking this picture is based on the macro crop used, whereby one is able to distinguish the water drops as they are dangling on her nostrils and whiskers. She is outstanding seven time Group One winning filly Minding, after winning the Qatar Nassau Stakes (Group 1, 1m2f fillies & mares) at Glorious Goodwood this summer.
Apart from the fact that this picture paints a beautiful close-up portrait of one of the world’s best stallions in Dubawi, I particularly love the colours and how they work together. My preference has always been black and white photography, yet this colour scheme, combined with the depth of eye, gazing straight through you, sharp enough to see your own reflection, makes this a winner for me. Not to mention that it has been published as well as been a part of my (first ever) exhibition and sold privately on more than one occasion.
Probably one of my favourites is this picture of The Gurkha, one of Ballydoyle’s stellar colts, after his final ever start and win in the Qatar Sussex Stakes (Group 1, 1m) during Glorious Goodwood 2016. His unfortunate retirement after this run adds another level of significance to the shot, with the photogenic colt seemingly ‘bowing out’ from the racing scene. There are various different aspects that continue to draw me to this picture: the nearly galaxy like atmosphere created by the water drops splashing of his back, the incredible sharp detail of the veins running across his neck and ears and the water drops balancing on his mane, creating a sparkling effect. Last, the power depicted by the way he arches his neck and the bulge of his rear-end muscle on display in the distance; he looks like a spring, set to pop. Yet, he has run his race, and there is a sense of peace and quiet oozing from the photograph.
Another portrait, this time of Darley stallion Farhh, whereby the simplicity of the picture, combined with another striking colour scheme make for an intriguing photograph. Slightly off centre, the gaze is one of true nobility yet also kindness; the buckles of his head collar compliment the resemblance of a golden glow coming from his coat. Contrary to any other picture ever taken by me, I have this one hanging above my bed in large format, and I cease to grow tired of its appearance.
As shown, I have decided to merely select photographs related to horses and the racing industry. However, I have recently begun venturing more into scenic, people and street photography, and have started to create a substantial portfolio in those areas; I am hoping to share those with you at some point as well.
As always, do not hesitate to contact me for collaborations.
Have a great 2017.
New York City, 30/12/2016