Teens spend ‘$30 a week on alcohol’

HALF NSW’s teenagers believe their friends spend up to $30 a week on alcohol, a new survey has found. And 16 per cent of teenagers say the weekly grog spend is even higher.
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The thirst for alcopops also shows no sign of drying up, despite the Federal Government’s tax hike. Commissioned by NSW Health, the research will add to the controversy over alcopops and whether governments are fuelling moral outrage against youth drinking for political purposes.

Professor Sandra Jones from the University of Wollongong studied 1263 respondents aged between 12-17 years as part of research into the impact of ready-to-drink spirit beverages on young people. Teenage drinking patterns replicated other national surveys of the same target group, she said, with just under 90 per cent reporting they had consumed alcohol.

More than 40 per cent said they had consumed a drink in the past four weeks.

She said the survey results suggest alcohol consumption is seen by adolescents as normal behaviour, even condoned by parents. More than 60 per cent of young people believe alcohol use is common among their friends.

Up to 70 per cent of teenagers surveyed believe their parents support them trying alcohol, although fewer than one in 10 approve of them getting drunk.

“Ready-to-drink beverages remain popular and extremely affordable for young people despite the tax increase this year,” Professor Jones said.

“The research found drinking rates in this country among young people are very high … girls drink them because they feel they can control the rate of consumption and they like the taste. Boys drink them because they are cheap and easy to drink quickly for getting drunk.”

Health Minister John Della Bosca said the NSW Government has to tackle teenage drinking but he rejected suggestions the Government is creating a moral panic for political purposes. He said alcohol abuse is a genuine issue because it places pressure on busy emergency departments and can lead to chronic disease.

Mr Della Bosca said the Government has launched an interactive website to raise awareness among young people and their parents about the risks of binge drinking.

“This situation is serious enough for us to start looking at a major cultural shift in our attitudes towards alcohol and the way advertisers and the alcohol industry promotes alcohol products,” he said.

[email protected]南京夜网.au PARENTS BEWARE A survey of 12 to 17-year-olds reveals:

* Almost 90 per cent have consumed alcohol at least once;

* More than 40 per cent had consumed a drink in the past four weeks;

* 64 per cent believe alcohol use is common among their friends;

* Males prefer cola-based drinks; females, milk- or cream-based drinks.

Ogilvy’s elegance sadly blown away by the breeze

THE best players make sport look easy. Think of Mark Waugh gliding that shot off his pads or Roger Federer’s grace on the court. And think Geoff Ogilvy, Australia’s top-ranked golfer.
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He has a fluent motion that allows him to hit the ball long without apparent effort – enough to make an amateur puke.

More than that, the world No.11 has become the consummate professional in recent years. There is nothing that he does that especially well by the high standards of the players around him. There is nothing he does poorly.

And the Victorian has the X-factor – he knows how to win.

The pre-tournament favourite started yesterday needing to do something special and it soon seemed possible.

He began the third round on the 10th tee and birdied, then hit a beautiful trap shot at the 13th to set up another birdie and holed a four-metre putt at the par-three 15th for another.

At the par-five 16th, he attacked the flag, cut left beside a deep swail. His pitch landed, almost held up on the edge of the green but disappeared into the collection area, leaving him a tricky chip. Ogilvy whipped out his lob wedge and hit the flag with his shot, making a safe par.

At the long par-three 17th, his tee shot disappeared into one of the hollows beside the green.

He chipped it close and made the one-metre par putt.

Then at the 18th he conjured a shot of exquisite beauty, a short iron approach that pierced the wind, landed a metre from the cup and stopped. Another birdie, and just 32 shots for his first nine holes, and Ogilvy was back in the tournament at five-under-par.

That he is out of contention tonight at three-under is due to a particular ailment. Ogilvy has failed to capitalise on Royal Sydney’s par-fives.

And with the wind whipping up, last week’s PGA champion drifted further down the leaderboard .

Let the good times roll

Australia will look back on this year as a pretty successful one for the Wallabies. We can look to the future with optimism and, although things can quickly change, we are heading in the right direction on the international stage. We managed to win three out of five Tests on the spring tour – plus the win against the Barbarians – which gave us a tally of nine from 14 for the year. The good news is that we’re a team on the way up and those stats could very well improve.
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There is a lot of upside to the Australian team at the moment. Robbie Deans, Michael Foley and Jim Williams have done a great job. When I came into the job, the first thing that struck me was the lack of depth in the team. In the modern game, that’s a killer, particularly when players are involved in rugby for up to 10 months of the year. You have to operate on a squad system, something that has taken Australians a while to get their head around. It enables players to perform fresh, while the coaches can put some pressure on players who are competing for spots. We’ll continue to see the Wallabies team being tweaked from week to week in the years to come. Many people dub it the "rotation system" but it’s all about putting the best team on the field. There is little difference between some players and freshness, state of mind and form all come into the reckoning.

We’ve seen the likes of Drew Mitchell, Benn Robinson, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Hugh McMeniman and Stephen Moore all become genuine Test players after taking some time to settle in. The first-year success of Peter Hynes and Dean Mumm has been encouraging. Not everyone can be like John Eales, Jason Little and Tim Horan, who were genuine Test players from the moment they stepped into the international arena. In the modern game, for some it can take a year or two.

Our front-row stocks are stronger than ever, with the likes of Ben Alexander, Robinson, Sekope Kepu and even Al Baxter, who at the age of 31 still appears to have a good year or two left in him. One underrated player for us over a number of years has been Matt Dunning. He had a good year while adapting from loose to tight head. We should hope his recovery from his Achilles injury is swift.

In the lock position, it’s fair to say that Nathan Sharpe, at the age of 31, appears not to be one of Deans’s favourites. However, I think he’s had an outstanding year. When you’ve got guys like Mark Chisholm, McMeniman, James Horwill and Mumm if needed, it’s a good sign. All bar Sharpe and Baxter, they are not older than 27 and all have a number of big years left in the game. With David Pocock ready to take over from George Smith and Phil Waugh, and the emergence of Richard Brown sitting behind Wycliff Palu at No.8, our back-row stocks also look strong.

Our forward improvement has been out of sight. When we talk about forward stocks, we’ve still got the likes of Greg Holmes and Stephen Hoiles trying to force their way into the Wallabies squad. What has been required in the past few years has been a greater focus on technique and skill, which is happening.

There is also promise in the backs. With Sam Cordingley gone, Luke Burgess has come in. He is a talented young man who has struggled for consistency. He can produce a 10/10 performance one week and then throw in a 2/10 the next. He’s definitely more suited to the short-arm penalties of the Super 14, where his running game comes into play. But, at times, his kicking and passing have come under scrutiny at Test level. Like fellow 25-year-old McMeniman, he has had an outstanding first year in the big time after suffering a spate of injuries. If Burgess can string a couple of seasons together, he can be the Australian halfback for a long time. Deans will be scouring the Super 14 for Burgess’s back-up.

At five-eighth, Matt Giteau is still Australia’s best and most dominant back. His goalkicking this year has been magnificent under pressure. Still, I’m not convinced he’s as comfortable at No.10 as he can be but time will solve that. Deans also has Berrick Barnes, Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale as back-up options. For 20 years, the Australian five-eighth scene was dominated by Stephen Larkham and Michael Lynagh. When one of those was hurt, it was always a struggle. We remember the agonising decisions Rod Macqueen had to make taking the punt on Larkham because of the lack of depth. It turned out to be a masterstroke. While depth is always an issue, that’s a position we’ve got covered now.

In the midfield, Stirling Mortlock and Ryan Cross are 31 but you would expect them to play for another couple of years. Cooper and Barnes are also comfortable at No.12, with Ashley-Cooper having an outstanding game against the Barbarians in that position. He’s an outstanding midfield option for the future. We always thought his best position was 13 or 14 but he showed in the Barbarians game that he’s more than comfortable at 12 and he’s playing with a tremendous amount of confidence. Another player on the way up.

Mortlock has grown tremendously as a captain. He fits the job at the moment. I remember talking to Eales about the captaincy and he said it’s something you have to work as hard at off the field as on it. Walking down the tunnel, Mortlock was always the guy you wanted to play with but he had some work to do away from the paddock. That’s something he’s worked at and he’s done a pretty good job this year.

With a good Super 14 season, Australian supporters can look positively to the future. We’ve got some good times ahead.

Don’t forget the coalminer’s daughter – Rudd digs deep for sector

BUSINESSES, community organisations and coalmining communities not eligible for direct compensation under the emissions trading scheme have not been forgotten, with a $2.5 billion special fund set aside to help them adapt.
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The Climate Change Action Fund will be available to pay for energy-saving measures that would reduce operating costs.

As well, there will be help for the coal sector that could otherwise be at risk as a consequence of the scheme, threatening jobs and communities in predominantly Labor seats.

The biggest component of the fund, $1.4 billion, will be available to low-polluting small and medium-sized businesses, as well as community organisations, none of which are participants in the emissions trading scheme but which will be affected by the higher costs it produces.

They can apply for grants to install more energy-efficient lighting, air-conditioners and any other appliances. Money will also be available to help implement more efficient production methods.

The second-biggest component of the fund will be the $750 million to help coalmining regions. Particularly "gassy" mines – those which emit greenhouse gases as a consequence of mining – will have to buy permits but will not be eligible for the standard industry compensation.

Dirty, existing coalmines will be eligible for $500 million in assistance to keep them viable while they explore ways to cut pollution. Another $250 million will be used to help find solutions.

The third element will be $200 million in structural adjustment for workers in other sectors who may find their jobs at risk.

"The Government stands ready to provide assistance where a clear, identifiable and significant impact arises, or is highly likely to arise, as a direct result of the scheme," the white paper says.

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said the provision was necessary to deal with any "unanticipated challenges".

The final component of the Climate Change Action Fund will be $130 million for an "information" program to alert small business and community organisations to the existence of the fund and how to manage under the emissions scheme.

Allenby threatens Open boycott

FORMER champion Robert Allenby last night launched a bitter attack on the running of the Australian Open at Royal Sydney, hitting out at the promoting of alcohol and the treatment of John Daly, and threatening to withdraw from next year’s tournament in protest after having played the event for 20 successive years.
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The dual Open champion savaged Golf Australia’s "Stadium Hole" promotion at the 17th green, where a bar was set up, saying: "That’s not promoting golf, that’s promoting alcoholism."

He continued: "This is my 20th year in a row at the Open. No one knows that because no one writes anything. No one wants to write anything good. It’s my 20th year in a row and you wonder why golf in Australia’s slipping? Well, it’s the way it has been made to be. If that’s what they’ve got to do to promote tournaments, I don’t think I need to be here."

Allenby, who engaged in a vigorous discussion with Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt in front of the clubhouse after completing his final round, was also incensed by the John Daly sideshow at the open, saying it was "disgusting".

After finishing in a tie for third behind South Africa’s Tim Clark in the $1.5 million tournament, Allenby was scathing about the treatment of the American and the lack of action by course marshals against photographers. The Melburnian played alongside Daly on the opening two days, which included the incident on Thursday when the two-time major winner smashed a spectator’s digital camera into a tree. The spectator, Brad Clegg, has since criticised Daly in a newspaper interview.

"A lot of things were wrong this week, not so much with me," Allenby told Fairfax. "I don’t want to get myself into trouble but I could really let loose. I think it’s disgusting how the media have treated John Daly. It’s totally disgusting.

"All the guy wants to do is play golf. He understands and we understand that people want photographs. It says on the ticket – ‘No cameras allowed’. If this guy [Clegg] is going to kick on and on and on about it, that’s just horse shit. He knows that he shouldn’t have it there, so why’s he have it in his face? That’s a joke.

"I could have taken 50 cameras myself. That’s how close they were. The marshals did nothing. The first day on [hole] 16, the marshal’s taking a photo from the middle of the fairway, five yards behind Daly. There were more cameras this week than I’ve ever seen in my life at a tournament." In another incident, Allenby was lucky to avoid injury when a golf cart he was riding in flipped into a bunker after rain forced players from Royal Sydney on Friday, but he said that was not the source of his angst.

Pitt, who recently took up the chief executive role at GA’s Melbourne headquarters, said Allenby’s complaints would be noted. "We understand how important guys like Robert are to this tournament," he said.

"We want to make them feel this is an event that they won’t miss. Robert’s done 20 in a row. We certainly want Robert back. We’ll listen to anything he’s got to say, or any top player’s got to say."

Clark, a 32-year-old from Durban, beat Mathew Goggin in a play-off on the 18th hole, winning the tournament almost by default after the Tasmanian missed a straight-forward putt from a metre to take a bogey and hand over the Stonehaven Trophy. He is the third South African to win Australia’s biggest tournament, behind the legendary Gary Player, who won seven, and Bobby Locke.

Earlier, a "gutted" David Smail had squandered a four-shot lead by taking double bogeys at the 15th and 16th holes when the title was his for the taking. The New Zealander finished equal-third, with Allenby and West Australian Stephen Dartnall, a shot out of the play-off.

Dokic confident of winning wildcard

A FIT-AGAIN Jelena Dokic will this morning try to make her Christmas and New Year a little less stressful by securing early entry into the main draw of the Australian Open.
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Dokic is one of 16 women competing for a solitary place in the Open, to be earned by winning the wildcard play-off tournament beginning today at Melbourne Park.

The tournament, which also has a men’s draw, gives local players a chance to qualify for next month’s grand slam tournament without having to get through the official qualifying tournament, which is open to all nationalities.

Dokic’s ranking of 179 is a far cry from her peak of No.4 in 2002, although the 25-year-old said she was much fitter than she had been during recent Open qualifying attempts.

"I’ve played a lot more this year and got my ranking up enough to get into qualifying for all of the [Australian] events, so it’s been a lot better … it’s probably the best year I’ve had in the last three years," Dokic said.

"There’s still work to do. With the lack of matches and play, and starting from zero, I’m not where I want to be, but considering how much I’ve played – I put all the hard work in, especially at the end of the season – I think I’ve done a good job."

Dokic, who has been in Melbourne for a week, is easily the oldest in her group, in which she will play 18-year-old Marija Mirkovic and 16-year-olds Monika Wejnert and Sophie Letcher. Other entrants in the women’s draw include Jessica Moore, who reached the second round of this year’s Australian and US Opens, Sophie Ferguson and Jade Hopper.

The oldest and youngest entrants in the men’s competition, 33-year-old Joe Sirianni and 16-year-old Bernard Tomic, will face each other in the round-robin stage. This week’s tournament will be Tomic’s first since he walked off in a match this month after his father, John, embroiled himself in an argument with the umpire.

John Tomic apologised to Tennis Australia on Saturday for instigating the walk-off, and Bernard echoed those sentiments yesterday.

"It’s a mistake that we made. We apologised but I’ve got to look forward now, that’s the main thing," he said. "Funny things happen but now it’s an important part of my career where I’ve got to look forward and put these things aside."

Tomic, this year’s Australian Open junior champion, also insisted he would not seek a new coach to replace his father. "My dad brought me to where I am now, to make history in juniors, so I’m really happy with what I have now … and I’ll stick with it until I feel like I need another coach," he said.

Veteran Peter Luczak, attempting to regain form after an injury-plagued year, has been drawn in the same group as 18-year-old Brydan Klein, who two years ago beat him in the first round of the play-off tournament when it was a knockout format.

Robert Smeets, Sam Groth and US-based Carsten Ball are among the other men vying for the single Open wildcard.

Late Sergio bullet seals victory for Roar

A stunning last-gasp finish from Sergio Van Dijk has given the Queensland Roar the perfect Christmas gift, with the home side completing a 2-1 win over Newcastle in a thrilling A-League clash in Brisbane.
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The match looked destined for a draw before Danny Tiatto fired in a cross to the powerful Dutchman in the 90th minute, who acrobatically leapt to flick a left-footed strike past diving Jets keeper Ante Covic.

It is the first time the Roar have beaten the Jets at Suncorp Stadium, with the defending A-League champions having won in their past five trips to Brisbane.

The result sees the Roar claim third place on the ladder, while the Jets – who ended the Roar’s run in last year’s finals – can all but kiss their finals hopes goodbye, languishing 10 points from fourth place with six rounds to play.

It looked as if the Jets would continue to haunt the Roar at home when star striker Joel Griffiths struck after 26 minutes, claiming an incredible eight goals in as many starts against the Queenslanders.

But a first-half stoppage time header from replacement Mitch Nichols and Van Dijk’s sudden-death heroics turned the tables for the Queenslanders. It could have been settled earlier, when Tiatto and Michael Zullo both hit the woodwork within seconds of each other in the 87th minute.

The Jets are likely to be fuming about the 70th minute send-off of the desperately unlucky Jobe Wheelhouse, who was shown a second yellow card for a seemingly harmless tackle on Tahj Minniecon.

Suncorp Stadium’s new half million dollar surface was looking every inch its hefty price tag, not that it helped the Roar’s messy midfield early in the piece, who gave away a glut of cheap ball in the first half.

Wheelhouse did his best to level the footings, being shown a yellow card in the 11th minute for clumsily lifting his boots across the chest of Van Dijk.

The poor communication in the Roar midfield was starting to become viral, with a mix-up between defender Luke De Vere and keeper Liam Reddy almost proving costly in the 21st minute, when a turnover fell into the lap of Tarek Elrich.

With the goal begging, the striker hesistated to pull the trigger, giving the home side a brief respite. It didn’t last for long.

There was a strange sense of inevitability about Griffiths’ 26th minute finish. Like the storms that have been belting Queensland almost daily, it wasn’t a matter of if, but when.

When Wheelhouse tucked a long ball in behind Tiatto to set Griffiths racing, the alarm bells were screaming. When Griffiths chipped a lavish, angled finish to wrong-foot Reddy in the Roar goal for his sixth of the season, the damage had been done.

Frustrated and frazzled, Tiatto blew his top in the December heat, being shown a yellow card for a sliding tackle on James Holland in the 29th minute. His booking means he will miss the post-Christmas home game against Wellington on December 28.

Farina was more composed, pulling Andrew Packer in the 36th minute to switch his side to a 3-4-3 formation, sending blonde striker Nichols into the fray.

The 19-year-old had an immediate impact, rolling one just wide of Covic minutes after he took the field. But the crowd of 11,048 fans would have to wait until first-half stoppage time for the encore.

With time ticking down in the half, Matt McKay drifted in a dipping cross to find Nichols all alone at the far post. He dove at full stretch to poke the ball home between a furious Covic and Ben Kantarovski.

The effort from Nichols masked a patchy first half from the Roar, while both sides opened up the play noticeably when the match resumed.

The threat of Griffiths never subsides. In the 55th minute, he looked home again, sprinting down the right to have a good look at the net. It was only the frantic hustling of Roar skipper Craig Moore that stood between Griffiths and a 2-1 scoreline.

Griffiths nearly struck again off the resulting corner. This time it was Massimo Murdocca meeting the attacking header with one of his own to stave off the raid.

Fortunes swung dramatically in the 70th minute when Wheelhouse was shown his second yellow in highly controversial circumstances.

Wheelhouse slid in for the tackle on Minniecon, appearing to glance the ball and miss the player altogether. Minniecon continued on, falling of his own accord trying to round another defender but referee Ben Williams had already reached for his pocket.

Furious Jets players rallied against the decision, with skipper Jade North being shown a yellow of his own for his protestations.

If the Roar thought the home curse was over, they would have cause for a rethink after events in the 87th minute. First Tiatto’s searing strike hit the woodwork after having Covic beaten, then Zullo’s shot on the rebound looked home – only to suffer the same misfortune.

The night was a milestone for Roar youngster Tommy Oar, who made his A-League debut midway through the second half after turning 17 last Wednesday.

Brave riders test the finest line between glory and agony

QUESTION their navigation but never their courage. Question their commitment and hurl abuse when you feel hard-earned money has been lost due to the wrong option being taken. The jockeys are there to be shot down. They are also there to fall down, for it is a game of millimetres.
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Thoroughbreds weighing 500 kilograms-plus, racing at speeds of 60kmh, with people weighing 50kg doing the steering are ingredients for mayhem. We saw it last week. Jockeys beating up on each other in pursuit of winners to reward the faithful. The faithful being owners, trainers and punters.

You talk about the fine line and how it is walked. In this case it is ridden and it’s scary. But a jockey will tell when you lose your nerve, it is time to give the game away. Jockeys are probably best off not having any nerves.

For what happened last Wednesday at Rosehill is a reminder that jockeys are a rare breed. One-time champion apprentice Kathy O’Hara was the first to go. Sandwiched between horses, which racing’s police – the stewards – deemed to have moved in and out. The result? O’Hara’s mount struck the heels of a horse which squeezed shut a clear run.

Jockeys tell you that clipping heels is the easiest way to plough into the turf from atop a horse. Emerging apprentice Tom Berry’s navigation into clear running – his shot at victory – near the 300m was deemed by stewards to be 60 per cent blameworthy for O’Hara’s fall. Senior jockey Nash Rawiller’s inward movement made up the rest.

Back in May, Rawiller came a cropper at Canterbury. It, too, was a nasty fall but like with O’Hara, luckily nothing was broken. On that occasion Rawiller was looking for a winning run that wasn’t there.

It is that fine line. The one Hugh Bowman was deemed to have crossed some 40 minutes after O’Hara hit the deck. Bowman bumped the mount of rival Rod Quinn which in turn ended up hitting Jeff Lloyd’s horse. Lloyd’s galloper knuckled over and the jockey flew over the top. Blake Shinn was following and couldn’t avoid the carnage. Nor could Peter Robl, who was following Shinn. Three horses down and as many riders. A tangled mess.

To think it all happened in the time it takes to snap your fingers. Bowman maintained his manoeuvre outwards was executed with the utmost care. Bowman argued it was a move made thousands of times before and one that will continue to be made. For it is all about winning and losing. Had Bowman remained holed up behind horses his mount would not have won.

Robl ended up with a fractured vertebrae, Shinn a fractured wrist, while Lloyd had a black eye, sore hand and severe concussion. The trio are out of action for between two and eight weeks. For Robl it may be longer. He is wearing a neck brace.

And the jockeys view it all so differently from those policing the game. A battered Lloyd told stewards on Friday evening the riders found themselves in "a bit of a freaky situation". Robl harbours no ill will towards anyone, for he stated from a Westmead Hospital bed it was all part of the career choice.

It mattered not for Bowman. Stewards slapped him with a seven-week ban. He intends to appeal the severity. For Rawiller it got worse. At Rosehill on Saturday, he repeated Bowman’s move out from behind horses and caused trouble behind. Horses had to check but none hit the deck. It is the fine line again.

Rawiller told stewards when pleading guilty to careless riding: "I’ve got to completely change my riding style."

A fine line indeed.

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Bentley drives for national approach

THE rise of "Baghdad" Bob Bentley to chairman of the Australian Racing Board was the best news to come out of a week that promises to lead to massive and, in most instances, necessary change to the industry. Bentley was the prime mover in the coming unification of Brisbane’s "Gaza Strip", the Queensland Turf Club and Brisbane Turf Club. Under his guidance Queensland racing is much better run than that of NSW. Saturday race fields are one example. "If Australian racing can become truly national in every sense then we can succeed," Bentley commented. "That includes calendar dates, programming rules, handicapping, stewards and every other aspect." Being a mover and shaker, Bentley has critics. Gaza is one achievement but he’ll find nationalising other states, particularly Victoria, more like Afghanistan.
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POTENTIAL WON’T PAY: Racing, like life, is about compromise, thus the sharing of Easter Saturday between Randwick and Rosehill over the next four years is acceptable. Yes, Rosehill on Easter Saturday just won’t be the same as Randwick but the Australian Jockey Club didn’t put up a strong enough argument to retain it. Events NSW was a major player in the switch, and has the "potential to provide a promotional package of up to $10 million over four years". Potential? Government-department "potential" is about as useful as a tinker’s curse, although more valuable than a politician’s promise. Remember the link jackpots from poker machines that were supposed to come to racing when the TAB was privatised?

NO GO FOR JOE: Obviously conflict of interest didn’t come into play for the selection of the new Racing NSW board. For instance, Arthur Inglis is a major player behind the bloodstock company William Inglis & Son. No concern at all from this quarter, however. He comes with the right pedigree being closely related to old John, one of the true gentlemen of the turf, and Reg, who made a major contribution to the industry when an AJC committeeman. My only query with the new line-up is Ken Brown, AM, a renowned good bloke. He comes from the office of gaming and racing at a time when the industry has fallen into decline like never before. Kim Harding and Alan Brown were shoo-ins and the form of Alan Bell reads well: veterinarian, connected with Paul Sutherland in his best seasons, trainer, owner and breeder. Bell could well give a voice to the bush despite long ago leaving behind his RM Williams gear for some of the best tailoring seen outside of Milan. However, one disappointing aspect is that Joseph Crepaldi, a specialist in corporate and business strategy, who the previous selectors felt was the No.1 choice, didn’t bother to stand. Good judges reckon he had much to offer.

FAIR CRACK: Wonder whether those who backed Testimonial in the last at Rosehill on Saturday would have preferred Josh Parr had his whip over the latter stages? Parr dropped it at the 200m and went down by a half-length. Changes to whip rules coming up are an over-reaction. Surely thoroughbreds, the most pampered athletes, human or equine, are entitled to be given some encouragement. Rules are already in place to discourage flogging. "I’ve been examining horses over decades, going back before Mick Dittman was at his peak, and have only had to treat a horse once due to whip abuse," one of Sydney’s best known vets related on Saturday. "It was caused by a lady jockey."

Dittman was effective and never marked even the thinnest-skinned horse. To modify his style would have been an impertinence.

BOLGER BLUSTER: "The way Aidan [O’Brien] was treated down there was disgusting," Jim Bolger, the Irish trainer and blow-hard, told The Sunday Age . "There are a lot of people who should feel ashamed."

Of course, the 90-minute grilling that poor O’Brien had to endure over the appalling performances of his three horses in the Melbourne Cup because of dumb riding tactics brought the Bolger retort: "I suppose that’s what happens when you get professional stewards. People just have to justify their positions."

The long inquiry, however, was down to O’Brien. He wouldn’t shut up.

HORSE TO FOLLOW: Light Fantastic has returned to the Caulfield stable of Mick Price after being pre-trained at Rockmount in the Strathbogie Ranges north-east of Melbourne. Hopefully, he has recovered from stomach ulcers that plagued his form in the early spring.

DISAPPOINTING: John Messara , who has a superior knowledge of the problems of racing in this state, withdrew from the recently appointed Racing NSW board. Why?

Tiger chief says club is in dark over Cousins cash offer

RICHMOND president Gary March says the Tigers have not had any talks about a sponsorship offer that is conditional on the club reviving the AFL career of Ben Cousins.
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It was reported yesterday that wealthy Melbourne restaurateur Frank Dimattina, who played for the club in the 1960s, had committed to giving Richmond up to $300,000 if it recruited the 30-year-old in tomorrow’s pre-season draft.

But March said he and the club’s directors "haven’t heard anything" about the apparent offer to bankroll the addition of Cousins, the 2005 Brownlow medallist, to its playing list.

"We haven’t spoken to anyone from the Dimattinas," he said yesterday.

Opposition from sponsors about the recruitment of Cousins, a recovering drug addict, has been cited as a factor in why at least two other AFL clubs, St Kilda and the Brisbane Lions, abandoned plans to draft him.

March would not say whether the opposite scenario — a sponsor lobbying for the recruitment of a specific player — could influence the club’s recruitment strategy.

"We’re talking all hypotheticals with this whole situation," he said. "As I said on Friday we’re waiting for the outcome of the decision from the (AFL) commission, so we’ve really got nothing more to say until they make their decision."

The AFL Commission will decide today whether to allow Richmond to shift tram accident victim Graham Polak onto its rookie list for next season, even though he does not fall within the list’s eligibility criteria.

Cousins’ potential recruitment hinges on Richmond receiving approval, which would allow the club to select two players, instead of one, in the pre-season draft.

"We’ve already publicly stated that we’re taking a young player with our first pick," March said.

"That decision’s already been made — I’m not sure how many more times we need to say it."

The AFL last week wrote to all clubs to gauge their views on Richmond’s request, which the Tigers justified on the basis Polak was "still undertaking extensive rehabilitation after suffering an acquired brain injury". Fremantle and Collingwood have expressed opposition to the request.

■ If the first-round pre-season cup match between West Coast and Collingwood in Cape Town is scrapped because of the global financial crisis, the game will be played in Melbourne or Perth on February 7.

The AFL is speaking to several companies to muster financial support to save the Cape Town match after sponsor NAB said at the weekend that it had abandoned plans to host hospitality packages.

Beadman gives Cat a kick

FORMER Sydney dominator and now Hong Kong hero Darren Beadman upstaged Australian sprinter of the year Apache Cat when scoring a knockout win in yesterday’s $HK12 million ($2.36m) HK Sprint at Sha Tin.
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While odds-on favourite Apache Cat, ridden by Corey Brown and trained by Victoria-based Greg Eurell, rallied late to run a close-up third, it was left to Beadman and Hong Kong’s leading trainer John Moore, also an Australian, to win the sprint with Inspiration.

An outsider at $67, Inspiration was only included in the sprint late by Moore, who quipped: "I only put him in here for the run. But today Darren’s given him the best ride of the century and he’s pulled it off."

Apache Cat ($1.90) bounced into the box seat trailing the speed early and Brown eased him around into the clear on straightening.

"I had to change course when the winner came across me but he [Apache Cat] was going through that flat spot he always has at the time," Brown said of the half-length defeat. "There was a bit of interference caused but I don’t think it cost me the race.

"I thought he ran very well and he had every chance."

Eurell said the only disappointment he had was that Apache Cat "had to get rolling again" when Inspiration and eventual runner-up Green Birdie were hitting the line full of momentum. "With a clear run it would have been a bit more interesting," Eurell said.

The trainer said the fact Apache Cat was taking time to "work through his gears" might indicate "he could have been looking for 1400m". "By the time he’d hit his top the others had already hit theirs," he said. "But the way he blended into the run he still had every opportunity to win."

Beadman said he was happy and "smoking my pipe" when tracking Apache Cat into the race and when he was travelling so easily nearing the turn he thought an upset was on the cards. "I didn’t think he’d sprint as good as he did but once I peeled off the back of Apache Cat he let down really well," Beadman said.

"He kept going strongly and he’s a deserving winner. I knew I was on a horse that was fit and well. John has kept him very fresh and couldn’t have had him any better."

Beadman is the retained rider in Hong Kong for Moore with the pair enjoying a fantastic season in which Moore is the runaway premiership leader and Beadman is second in the jockeys’ standings behind South African Douglas Whyte. "I wasn’t expecting this, I can assure you," Moore said of Inspiration’s victory.

Apache Cat will head home to Victoria in the coming weeks but Eurell said that given his showing in Hong Kong more international sojourns were likely. "The way he has handled this trip I will seriously have to look at others with him now," Eurell said. "There are a couple of nice sprints back home for him in the autumn but all going well we will look at Singapore [KrisFlyer Sprint] and then Royal Ascot [King’s Stand Stakes and Golden Jubilee] with him."

Former world champion sprinter Takeover Target, which defeated Apache Cat in the Winterbottom Stakes in Perth two weeks ago before winning the Scahill Stakes there at the weekend, has enjoyed previous success both in Singapore and Royal Ascot in the UK, as well as Japan.

Apache Cat had won five straight group 1 races last season which ensured he won the Australian sprinter-of-the-year award but when he resumed in the Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup carnival he ran the worst race of his career when unplaced behind Swick.

"The main thing is we have got him back from that unexplained performance," Eurell said. "I drove home after that Flemington run and certainly didn’t think I’d be standing here today in Hong Kong with him. While he hasn’t won he has still run extremely well and I’m very proud of the horse."

Munce gets the monkey off his back with winning double

COMEBACK jockey Chris Munce has returned to the winner’s circle just days after resuming his racing career following 20 months in prison.
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The Melbourne Cup-, Golden Slipper- and Cox Plate-winning jockey scored a winning double at yesterday’s Hawkesbury meeting.

Munce fronted at Hawkesbury for four rides, and after finishing second on Shrewd Princess in the opening event, steered the Mitchell Hudson-trained Swiftus home to a comfortable victory in the second. Munce later scored on trainer Steve Englebrecht’s galloper War Council.

"It was terrific," Munce said, revealing wife Cathy and their three children were at the track. "The crowd was fantastic when I came back in. They cheered, clapped, carried on."

Munce, who has picked up the ride on form galloper Something Anything in Saturday’s Villiers Stakes at Randwick, is more than happy with his return, which started at Randwick last Friday with three rides.

At Rosehill on Saturday, he had five rides, finishing third on Lioncub and second on Talaana, prompting the jockey to lodge a protest against the winner Jimmy Fortunes, which stewards dismissed quickly.

"I’m giving my horses every chance, and the more I ride, the better I’ll be. It’ll come with time," Munce said. "I’ve ridden for three days in a row. I’ve pulled up great each time, and each ride I’m getting better. It is just finetuning; you’ve always got to finetune your performance.

"If I was coming back from injury, wasting hard, holding back, it would take longer but because I’m fit and well it’ll come quicker."

Munce has a busy schedule this week with trials at Hawkesbury this morning, Randwick tomorrow, Wyong races on Wednesday, Canterbury on Thursday night, trials again at Randwick on Friday before fronting up for the Villiers meeting on Saturday. "Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’ve just got to keep my performance up to scratch," Munce said.

Last year, he was sentenced to 30 months in jail for his part in Hong Kong’s "tips for bets" bribery scandal. The term was reduced to 20 months due to good behaviour with Munce serving the first seven months in a Hong Kong prison and the remainder at Sydney’s Silverwater jail.

Munce’s return to the saddle continues to be surrounded by controversy due to the Hong Kong Jockey Club stewards charging him with 36 breaches of the rules a fortnight ago. He pleaded guilty and did not appeal, with HKJC stewards disqualifying him until September next year.

Two days after the HKJC decision, Munce fronted a show cause hearing at the offices of Racing NSW and was granted a licence to ride in this state. The decision enraged the HKJC, which continues to rant and rave about Racing NSW ostracising itself due to failing to uphold reciprocal agreements on penalties.

Takeover Target’s stay in Perth is over, with trainer Joe Janiak ordering a spell for the remarkable sprinter. The veteran galloper toyed with rivals to win the Scahill Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, a fortnight after defeating Apache Cat in the Winterbottom Stakes.

Perth stewards reported afterwards that Takeover Target had pulled up slightly lame in the near foreleg.

Rough ride in cup takes off the gloss

WHAT threatened to be one of the best days of champion jockey Darren Beadman’s career turned into disaster at Sha Tin when hot favourite Viva Pataca was beaten out of a place in the $HK20 million ($3.93m) Hong Kong Cup.
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Beadman was shooting for a treble for Australian trainer John Moore having had earlier wins on stablemates Inspiration in the $HK12m Hong Kong Sprint and Craig’s Dragon (Paris Handicap). Viva Pataca started at $1.30 on the Hong Kong tote but failed to get any clear running until late in the straight, being continually checked from before turning for home, and finishing fourth. "I got absolutely smashed," Beadman said. "But what can you do, you can’t go over the top of them."

Leading jockey Douglas Whyte, who rode Sight Winner in the event, said it was "the dirtiest race I’ve ever ridden in" while Australian Brett Prebble, who was on Hawkes Bay, was also scathing in his comments.

"It was the worst race I’ve ever ridden in," said Prebble, referring to the interference. "It made the Golden Slipper [which has been known to be rough] look like a picnic race."

Beadman attempted to track eventual winner Eagle Mountain into the race approaching the turn and when that manoeuvre failed to come off Viva Pataca’s chances were dashed. HKJC stewards opened an inquiry into the interference, with visiting jockey Christophe Soumillon questioned over his ride on Bullish Luck, which was racing outside Viva Pataca when Beadman initially attempted to track Eagle Mountain. Eagle Mountain has a South African combination of trainer Mike De Kock and jockey Kevin Shea while it is owned by Sheik Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.

Shea said he was aware it was "a rough race", adding: "There was interference in front of me and behind me. I could hear the other jockeys screaming out. I just made sure I stayed out of trouble and then I set him alight with 300m to go and he found another gear. He is a special horse."

De Kock won the Sheema Classic in Dubai earlier this year with Sun Classique, while he also brought Archipenko to Hong Kong in April to win the QEII Cup in which Viva Pataca ran third. "We thought Eagle Mountain was going even better than Sun Classique and Archipenko were before they won their big races so we were confident," De Kock said.

Beadman and Moore also combined for a second with Able One in the Hong Kong Mile, won for the second year running by Good Ba Ba. The jockey also rode the Danny O’Brien-trained Victorian Douro Valley into ninth in the Hong Kong Vase, in which Doctor Dino edged out 2007 Melbourne Cup runner-up Purple Moon.