I am usually writing about social, political and economic issues, so why would a 3 year old filly called Rachel Alexandra capture my attention? Well for one, I have always loved horses and owning 56 of our own I guess makes the point, but more importantly I have loved those stories of triumph against impossible odds, and this Rachel Alexandra brings to us.
I have watched every single race this filly has ran, You Tube will testify to that obsession, and when she took on the big boys at Saratoga for the Woodward Stakes, I stayed up till past 2 AM to see her run. Two days later I see the video clips and the enormity of her victory dawns on me.
Calvin Boral is a great jockey, one who understands her well, but in the Woodward Stakes, perhaps seeking the safety of the rails he moved Rachel Alexandra towards them early in the race. Half way through it was apparent that the ruse was not working, as Rachel dug deep into mud and slush and it seemed that she would finally be beaten. Then 400 meters from the end as the two other bigger and stronger colts closed on her, Rachel found not only a second or third breath of air, she found the deep courage within her and suddenly you could see her hindquarters found that extra gear of power and stretched as she was in those closing moments, Rachel Alexandra brought a new meaning to the word determination.
To me it was Rachel who wanted to win the race more than Calvin Boral, her jockey, she wanted that race and she won it, irrespective of the quicksand of mud and slush she had to trample through. I believe if she has been on the outside of the track her victory would not have been a head only, it may well have been a few lengths.
I have photographed some amazing horses, Escape Ibn Navaronne (Arabian World Champion Stallion) Bess Faizah (Arabian World Champion Mare) Pysche’s Ambergem, and Marraaj, and to me getting the beauty and spirit of the horse matters a lot. Estishama, who we fondly call Esti, has been a pleasure to capture in the desert settings, trotting off with another mare.
Now I would love to capture the essence of this horse, Rachel Alexandra, not in her role as a racehorse, but in her role as a testimony to her will, her spirit and determination. This horse speaks to us, this is not only a journey of victories, as much as they matter to some, it is a testimony to the character of a horse that just wants to be the best and not in a race machine style but with the sensitivity and heart that I would love to capture in a photo.