The summer was petering out early in 2007 and I was on the telephone to a particularly uproarious Christopher Pearson when the looming shadow of Joe Hockey’s receptionist stopped me mid-sentence.

She announced herself with a brusque upwards jab of her nose at the flashing red button on my console. “A Sam Lipski; about some horse race?”

Being the youngest and lowest-ranking adviser in the ministerial office, any labour of ambiguous purpose and probable pain was mine by default. I rang off and switched lines.

I knew of Lipski – the distinguished journalist turned Pratt Foundation CEO – because my friend Joe Gersh thought him Australia’s finest orator on the case for Israel, and had told me so. But a turf meet?

My puzzlement was extinguished smartly. For the Walers raced all right – 800 of them, so it was quite the barrier draw. And they galloped towards glory, but bore down not upon a finish line but the entrenched line of a fading Ottoman Empire.

Read the article by Joe Aston in the Australian Financial Review.

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