Month: October 2018

Jewel poised on the Mark

WHEN you are dealing with perfection, there is little left to say, but luckily Mark Kavanagh didn’t need to concentrate solely on his unbeaten superstar Atlantic Jewel when previewing his spring chances at his Flemington stables yesterday.
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For while Atlantic Jewel is showing him all the signs she could live up to her rating and win a race like the Cox Plate this spring judging on her preparation work to date. Kavanagh also fancies his chances in a number of other spring features now he has the less-marketable but almost as remarkable import December Draw back to near race fitness.

Last year, December Draw progressed from restricted class import from England to one of the shortest-priced favourites for the Caulfield Cup in just six months. Ultimately he was galloped on in the Caulfield Cup and broke a splint bone in a hind leg, but what he achieved before that by winning five of his six starts, including the group 1 Turnbull Stakes, was baffling given his make-up.

”He was hairy and bony and small, but he’s put on something like 65 kilograms over his break from racing and has muscled up, is great in the coat and just looks fantastic,” Kavanagh said. ”Certainly bodywise he has taken that next step and he could develop into a genuine weight-for-age galloper this spring.”

Kavanagh said December Draw was given plenty of time to heal, but came into work for a month in April. ”He came in for a little while, then we sent him out again and he really hasn’t put a foot wrong since he’s been back in [work].”

December Draw is expected to make his return at Flemington in September’s group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes, and it is at Flemington where Kavanagh hopes the horse can enjoy his best day at the races in the Melbourne Cup. ”He loves racing at Flemington and the way he’s come back, anything is possible,” he said.

But while December Draw has his followers, Atlantic Jewel will be expected to take over Black Caviar’s role as the spring carnival’s most-photographed ambassador as she tries to closely emulate her unbeaten predecessor. She had a pre-spring showing for the cameras at Flemington yesterday and while a little overawed at the attention, she knows how to hold a pose.

With seven wins from seven runs, and as early favourite for October’s Cox Plate, Atlantic Jewel is nearing a return to racing on Saturday week at Caulfield and Kavanagh knows the next four months could give him a memory for life.

”She looked good in a jump-out here last Friday and if she jumps out well again on Friday, she’ll probably kick off at Caulfield in either the weight-for-age race [Lawrence Stakes] or the mares’ [Cockram Stakes],” he said. ”She’s lovely and athletic and she’s come back stronger.”

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CA juggles styles, loads

CRICKET Australia is confident the likely involvement of three Test players in the Champions League Twenty20 tournament in late October will not compromise their preparation for the Test series against South Africa.
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CA yesterday released its domestic fixture for the 2012-13 season, which included the Sheffield Shield starting on September 18 – three weeks earlier than last season.

Most states will play four matches by the first week of November, which will give most players ample opportunity to press for selection for the first Test of the summer, on November 9 against the Proteas in Brisbane.

While bowlers such as Peter Siddle and James Pattinson are set to play up to four shield matches, Shane Watson, Mike Hussey and Pat Cummins could be restricted to a single match due to their expected involvement in the Champions League and the preceding World Twenty20 tournament.

Two years ago, Hussey and paceman Doug Bollinger arrived late for a Test series in India because they were instructed to remain in South Africa for the finals of the Champions League. Bollinger was subsequently injured.

CA’s general manager of team performance, Pat Howard, yesterday said he was aware of the tournament overlap and was negotiating with Australia’s two Champions League teams, Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers, to develop a plan for affected players.

”It makes sense that we have to be … planning this ahead of time,” he said. ”We want to be going into that [South Africa Test] series with some blokes who’ve got some real loads.”

The Sixers’ Mitchell Starc, Brad Haddin and Ed Cowan and the Scorchers’ Mitch Johnson are the other affected players, although all besides Starc should be free to play one or two matches at the start of the season. South Africa is not immune to the effects of the fixture overlap. Test players Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel, Alviro Petersen, Imran Tahir and J.P. Duminy are likely to be playing Twenty20 just over a week before the Test series.

Asked whether he would consider asking the Sixers and Scorchers to release players for the benefit of the Test team, Howard replied: ”I’m not going to be as restrictive as that at the moment.”

He said he believed batsmen and wicketkeepers were capable of changing from one format to another at short notice without hindrance, citing David Warner scoring Big Bash League and Test centuries within a week last summer. But he acknowledged the contrast was more significant for bowlers.

As a result, Howard is formulating tougher training regimens for the likes of Cummins, Starc and Watson during the Champions League period with Sixers boss Stuart Clark, Scorchers assistant coach Adam Griffith and part-time selector Andy Bichel, who will be at the tournament as bowling coach of Chennai Super Kings.

”Our planning for this period is important,” he said. ”Our bowlers are younger than their bowlers, so we have to be able to be far more on the front foot in building their capabilities in the lead-up to that [Gabba] game.

”There’s a fair bit of science around the bowling loads. We have to make sure they’ve got enough bowling under their belts … in training but also playing. You bowl faster in games, there’s a natural [increase in] intensity.”

Howard said he would also seek to ensure Cowan, a depth player last season for the Sixers, was not pulled out of early rounds of the shield to be taken to South Africa simply as a back-up player at the Champions League.

”We want him playing cricket,” Howard said of the developing Test opener.”

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Red Cadeaux taking aim at Caulfield Cup

THE past two winners of the Melbourne Cup, Dunaden and Americain, may head the entries for the $2.5 million Caulfield Cup on October 20 at yesterday’s close of nominations, but it might be another horse who features in Melbourne Cup folklore that could lead the international charge this year.
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Racing’s international recruiting officer, Leigh Jordon, said yesterday that Red Cadeaux, the horse so famously nosed out by Dunaden in the Melbourne Cup’s closest-ever finish last year, was likely to target the Caulfield feature on his way to a second Melbourne Cup tilt.

”There is no reason why Dunaden or Americain will not run in the Caulfield Cup, but I know that Red Cadeaux’s trainer [Ed Dunlop] is seriously looking at the race for his horse,” Jordon said. ”He is looking to come out much earlier than last year and run before the Melbourne Cup, and Ed is fully aware it’s the richest 2400-metre handicap in the world and that he’s got one of the best-performed horses over that trip.”

In all, the Melbourne Racing Club received 222 nominations for this year’s Caulfield Cup while the Cox Plate has 18 international entries and a further 137 local nominations, including Atlantic Jewel, Mosheen, More Joyous and champion colt Pierro.

Nominations also closed yesterday for the group 1 Caulfield Guineas where Pierro and Black Caviar’s little half-brother All Too Hard are among 237 nominations. A total of 206 fillies were paid up for the group 1 Thousand Guineas.

Bart Cummings, the man who has won the most Caulfield Cups, has nine entries this year but his best chance of winning for an eighth time may be the German-bred, US import Sanagas.

The state’s leading trainer, Peter Moody, has 14 Caulfield Cup nominations in his attempt to win the race for the first time, while Lloyd Williams has entered 12 horses, the owner hoping to go one better than last year when Green Moon was second.

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Local to debut at Storm

MELBOURNE Storm could be on the verge of unveiling its first bona fide Victorian talent, with coach Craig Bellamy eyeing off its final regular season home game against Cronulla for Mahe Fonua’s debut.
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Bellamy yesterday said Fonua, and another local product, Young Tonumaipea, were closing in on their first NRL games and he hoped the round 25 clash at AAMI Park on August 27 could present the chance for one of them.

Fonua is believed to have the front running after impressing in the NSW Cup. He spent a large portion of yesterday’s training session on the left wing with Anthony Quinn, who Bellamy said had a stomach complaint, running in the reserves. Tonumaipea also spent time training in the first-grade squad.

”I don’t want to pick out a game, but I’d like to think, hopefully, next home game we might give Mahe or Young a run,” Bellamy said.

Storm has never had a born-and-bred Victorian talent reach the NRL ranks. Former players Jeremy Smith and Jake Webster spent part of their childhoods in Melbourne, but had most of their grounding in the game’s heartland areas.

Melbourne plays Gold Coast on Friday night at AAMI Park and Bellamy said he gave the young talent extended time in the first-grade squad yesterday so that they would feel comfortable when the time came for a call-up.

”We do that every now and then,” Bellamy said. ”Earlier in the season, Kenny Bromwich had two or three full sessions with us. When we decide to put them in, if they’ve only had one week’s training sometimes it’s not enough, but he’s getting close. It’s going to be a good thing for Victoria when a local bloke does it.”

Meanwhile, Bellamy yesterday added his voice to the chorus of concern about refereeing in the NRL, saying the consistency of decisions must improve.

Match officials have come under fire on several fronts, including the interpretation of the obstruction rule. Canterbury is fighting a $10,000 fine handed to Bulldogs coach Des Hasler for comments he made about referees Brett Suttor and Jason Robinson after last Saturday’s game against Newcastle.

When asked about the issue today, Bellamy said ”every coach has got a whinge” but refereeing consistency was one of his biggest complaints.

”We’ve had our issues with referees as well, and they’ve probably had their issues with us,” Bellamy said. ”There certainly has been some things the last couple of weeks, but I think what we’re all after as coaches and clubs is some consistency.

”To me that’s the main thing.”

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Jewish ‘hate speech’ article sparks outrage

THE Jewish community should not be misled by compassion from the Holocaust into supporting Muslim boat people, the owner of The Australian Jewish News has argued in an article condemned by some as hate speech.
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In the latest edition, under the headline ”Curb the compassion”, Robert Magid said Jews tended to want to appear more compassionate than others because of their history of suffering oppression and persecution, but ”the Jews who fled the Holocaust fled certain death. I doubt there is a single boat person in that situation.”

Mr Magid said ”unscrupulous” illegal immigrants pushed genuine asylum seekers down the queue and that immigration in other countries had led to ghettos and calls for Islamic law. He suggested that hiding among Muslim boat people who had destroyed their documents would be an ideal way for al-Qaeda to smuggle a terrorist network into Australia.

The backlash came quickly. An open letter on Facebook by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society had attracted nearly 400 signatures last night, while liberal and conservative religious leaders united against Mr Magid.

Leading Orthodox Rabbi Ralph Genende wrote that although he was scared of Islamic extremism, there were no limits to compassion, and most fears about Muslim immigration were unfounded.

Jewish author Arnold Zable said: ”Refugees and asylum seekers are only doing what we would do in their shoes, what Jews did in the immediate post-war era as they sought a way to a better life, and what Jews have done for centuries – including the massive emigration in the wake of the 1880s pogroms in Russia.”

Last night, Mr Magid said he stood by every word. ”I think the majority of people agree with me but they are not willing to come out and say what I am prepared to say. It is a very cogent statement.”

He said he was neither xenophobic nor racist.

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