Archive for August 2019

Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing

More than half of the European horses racing in Australia leave their owners out of pocket and their success at group 1 level has stalled in recent seasons, according to the results of a recent study obtained by Fairfax Media.

As a record 11 internationally trained horses prepare to line up in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup – many bought by local interests to target the race – the new figures reveal 57 per cent of imported European horses earn less than $50,000 in prizemoney once racing in Australia. Eight per cent do not earn any prizemoney at all.

The $50,000 figure is the industry-agreed estimate for quarantine, shipping the horse to Australia and subsidising its first racing preparation. That figure does not include any purchase price.

The study reveals 39 per cent of imports fail to win more than $30,000, the minimum cost for the horse to travel, leaving owners counting their losses without taking into account purchase price.

The rush to win Australian riches, in particular the Melbourne Cup, has driven the number of European imports flooding the Australian market from 29 in 2008-09 to 128 in 2013-14.

Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock’s Darren Dance, who has Seismos in this year’s renewal, has been one of the more successful importers of late through the deeds of money-spinners Dandino and Jakkalberry. But even he concedes most purchases would run at a loss as the squeeze has been applied on the market in recent years.

“I would think the majority of horses are going to lose, much like the rest of the industry,” he said. “Most horses cost money but it’s your hobby. Apart from the travel costs, you’re looking at about $70,000 to $80,000 in fees for noms and acceptances. You can spend $130,000 really quickly.

“In a Melbourne Cup, if you can run top eight, you will get $120,000 back. My strategy has always been to not bring a horse here if you don’t think they can run top eight. So far we’ve been able to achieve that with a fifth and a third in the race.”

The study’s figures suggested Australian breds had a mortgage on the group 1 sprints over 1450 metres or less, winning 71 of 76 in the past three seasons. But as expected, Australian breds won only 42 per cent of majors over staying distances over the same period.

In a further sign that the Australian breeding industry is not in tatters, like many have suggested, the number of European-bred horses made up 11.5 per cent of horses contesting group 1 races in Australia last season but won only 9.7 per cent.

In most cases the earning potential of imported horses is restricted to prizemoney with none sold on to Hong Kong or Singapore yet. Very few follow the path of previous Melbourne Cup winners Americain and Fiorente and head to stud.

The ultimate racing guide with the latest information on fields, form, tips, market fluctuations and odds, available on mobile, tablet and desktop.

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Both openers were gone inside 20 balls, and the next pair were having a torrid time of it, feeling for full deliveries, ducking under bouncers and sometimes into them. Dim as it is in the memory now, that is how it was in Dubai on the first morning of this mini-series. Improbable as it seems, the team under siege was Pakistan.

So what did Azhar Ali and Younis Khan do? They waited and watched, played a few, left more, won some and wore some, faced up and waited again. They scored at a trickle, less than two an over. They wore down the Australian bowlers, and wore them out. Later batsmen accelerated steadily, Sarfraz Ahmed slashed 109 from 105 balls, Pakistan made 454, romped away to victory and pretty much hasn’t stopped scoring runs since.

What Pakistan did was to read Australia a lesson in Test match tempo. Evidently, it was in Urdu – or Arabic. Between games, Adam Gilchrist counselled Australia on the need to know when to sit tight, in batting and bowling. Gilchrist, one of the most attacking cricketers in Australia’s history, admitted that studied inertia did not come naturally to Australians. “Attack is our best form of defence, but there are times when you have to realise the need to shut down,” he said.

But current captain Michael Clarke was having none of it. He pledged an even more attacking bent in Abu Dhabi, and was given a team with two more attacking players, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc, to replace two who were defensive, and lost again, by an even more gargantuan margin, making for a series defeat so comprehensive that it stands now to undo all the moral gains of last summer before the next begins.

But when Brisbane and the first Test against India comes around, expect to hear again that Australia will attack, take the game on, be on the front foot, play its natural game, da da da. It has become a mantra, heard repeatedly as Australia crumbled to a 4-0 defeat in India last year, heard as it quickly fell 2-0 behind England in England, and heard again now in the dust and shimmer of the Middle East. Instead of “stop the boats”, “stoke the bats”, instead of “a great big new tax”, a “great big new score”.

It was also heard last summer at home, for once in an environment in which Australia could make good its slogan. Even then, a more prosaic explanation is available, wryly advanced by retired England spinner Graeme Swann, who said England was well placed to win last summer “until Mitchell Johnson took off his blindfold”.

Foot-to-the-floor for five days is no more workable in a Test match than on a highway. The young Steve Waugh understood only all-out attack in all disciplines, until he had flailed his way out of Test cricket. Chastened, he reinvented himself as a cut-down cricketer, who said he had discovered how a well-constructed defensive stroke to a crafty ball was more demoralising to a bowler than to have a half-volley put away to the boundary. It left Waugh open periodically to accusations of selfishness, but it led to thousands more Test runs and many victories for Australia.

There is lineage here. The late David Hookes announced himself to the world in the 1977 Centenary Test with that quintet of fours from Tony Greig. Hookes played all his cricket with that mien, and later captained South Australia in the same vein. But his haunt was the Adelaide Oval, as unpropitious for bowlers as Abu Dhabi. So, from Barry Richards, another great free-flowing batsman, Hookes learned about dry lines and ring fields and the power of subtle pressure, passive-aggressive cricket if you like. Arguably, it came too late for Hookes the batsman; 23 Tests and one century undersold his talent.

Hookes was mentor to the young Darren Lehmann. Lehmann in his time was the most attractive batsman in the country to watch. But he never quite managed to tone down his game sufficiently for the more severe rigours of Test cricket, and his 27 Tests and five centuries (two against Bangladesh) also did his gift an injustice. Now he is the man guiding Australia’s philosophy.

In the Middle East, the Australian batsmen have failed their test of cricket. The batsmen either have swung from the proverbial, or Pakistan’s spin-bowling Gorgons have turned them to stone. Between black and white, there were few shades. The drawing of the Australian bowlers’ sting has not helped, but the batsmen have not helped themselves, nor the selectors helped them. Maxwell at No. 3 was not so much a Test batsman, with all the scope and responsibility that entails, as a suicide bomber, who Pakistan safely detonated twice.

Maxwell and Misbah-ul-Haq tell this tale. They batted with similarly furious intent. But Misbah came in at 3-332, and in the second innings, effectively 3-461. Maxwell was in at 2-34 chasing 470 and 1-19 chasing 603. This should have been a case of different strokes for different folks. Instead, Australia finds itself on eBay, looking for a drawing board. Last summer, against England and South Africa, Australia’s record was 7-1. In bookend series, its record now is 0-9, with two draws. Last summer is beginning to look suspiciously like a freak in its time.

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State election full coverageAnalysis: Voters need a visionAnalysis: Napthine on the way out

Denis Napthine has tried to reclaim the political agenda, declaring the November 29 election will be a referendum on “choice, trust and good decisions”.

The election campaign officially kicked off on Monday after the Premier travelled to Government House to deliver the writs for the election to Governor Alex Chernov.

After a series of disastrous opinion polls for the Coalition, Dr Napthine predicted the government would stage a comeback once voters recognised its economic credentials and the risks of Labor.

“It is about trust,” he said.

“Trust that your government will stand by its word and work to improve the lives of all Victorians. Not like Daniel Andrews and Labor who would govern for a self-interested few and their rogue union mates.”

Dr Napthine’s pitch to voters coincided with explosive comments from racing identity Lloyd Williams, who was filmed telling Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews that multi-billionaire James Packer would “kick every goal he can” for the Labor leader.

The Premier spent the afternoon campaigning on the East West Link in the potentially vulnerable seat of Ringwood, while Mr Andrews campaigned in Richmond and the marginal seat of Bentleigh.

The Coalition’s attack strategy will focus heavily on Labor’s record at managing major projects such as the desalination plant and the Myki ticketing system. It will also highlight Labor’s ties with allegedly corrupt unions.

In the latest development, embattled Labor MP Cesar Melhem came under fire at the royal commission into union corruption, which heard he acted “improperly” with a slush fund. The Napthine government has attempted to highlight Labor’s ties with allegedly corrupt unions and hopes the royal commission inflicts pain on Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews.

In a busy day of campaigning alongside his wife Catherine, Mr Andrews said the election would be about jobs, citing the highest unemployment rate in more than a decade, and fixing the education and health systems.

Labor made two policy announcements on Monday including $22.2 million for the music industry and news that it would remove the level crossing at McKinnon station if elected.

“Labor has a plan to put people first, focus on the basics and to make sure we don’t have another four years like the last four, four years of cutbacks and closures,” Mr Andrews said.

Asked about the Premier’s comments that the election was about trust, Mr Andrews said he was “not here to talk about Denis Napthine”.

“Mr Napthine is completely irrelevant to my plan to put people first.”

A series of opinion polls suggest the Coalition is on track to become Victoria’s first single-term government in more than 50 years, although strategists on both sides expect the contest to tighten.

The Coalition will also campaign on its record managing the budget, having delivered the strongest financial position in the nation.

“We’ve repaired the budget and put Victoria in the strongest financial position of any state or territory in Australia. This strong economy is the foundation on which we can build a better Victoria for you and your family. If you don’t have a strong economy, you can’t fix problems and you can’t improve things,” Dr Napthine said.

He repeatedly said Labor could not be trusted, and they said one thing and did another.

On Monday afternoon, Dr Napthine spruiked the first stage of the Coalition’s signature East West Link at a garden supplies business in Ringwood East.

He said the $6 billion to $8 billion project would “massively benefit” the business by saving it time, improving productivity and creating opportunities for growth.

Trucks would save half an hour for every trip they made from the end of the Eastern Freeway through to City Link and Tullamarine, he said.

With Richard Willingham

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Julia Gillard takes the stage Newcastle Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

Spruiking her book: Julia Gillard at Newcastle Town Hall was interviewed by the Herald’s Rosemarie Milsom. Pictures: Dean Osland

TweetFacebookFORMER Prime Minister Julia Gillard has admitted she ‘‘wrestled’’ with the decision to call a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2012, saying she spent a weekend weighing up how much more pain the inquiry would cause victims.

In Newcastle to promote her new autobiography ‘‘My Story’’, Ms Gillard addressed about 900 people at a packed Newcastle City Hall on Monday night.

In a wide-ranging interview with Newcastle Herald journalist Rosemarie Milsom, Ms Gillard discussed her term as Australia’s first female prime minister, her relationship with Kevin Rudd, issues of misogyny and gender bias in Australian politics and public life and the night of her final address.

Ms Gillard also gave an insight into her thinking in 2012, when she announced the creation of a national royal commission into institutional responses to instances of child sexual abuse.

The move came following the Herald’s ‘‘Shine the Light’’ campaign, spearheaded by award-winning journalist Joanne McCarthy.

‘‘I knew through [then Newcastle MP] Sharon [Grierson] and I also knew through [then Charlton MP] Greg Combet, just how much focus there was in the local community and through the Herald, through Joanne’s writing on child sexual abuse and how it was tearing at people,’’ Ms Gillard said.

‘‘So I had that in my mind and then the groundswell was coming up, the proper inquiries, the NSW government’s response, and obviously there were separate issues around that, and it all sort of built to what we should do nationally.

‘‘I say in the book, I wrestled with this over a few days, particularly one weekend I really wrestled with the decision.

‘‘I couldn’t see a way forward that was going to be without further pain and that was what made the decision so difficult.

‘‘If you didn’t have a royal commission then it would be slamming a door shut in people’s face again and for so many people all they had ever experienced in their life when they were trying to tell their story was doors being slammed in their face.

“If you did have a royal commission then people would end up re-living dreadful experiences, some of them in quiet formalised court style proceedings and that has a set and real pain associated with it.

“I just thought it through and obviously came down on the side that the best way forward, though it would be very painful to some individuals, was to have the royal commission, give people an opportunity to tell their stories, try and manage that royal commission so that it could take evidence in a whole different series of ways so that not everybody would have to be in a witness box with very direct, adversarial questions being put to them.

“So that was an important decision for me and an important decision for us as a government and whilst it is inevitably going to take a lot of time, I think it will be viewed as something that does change the nation and change the attitude towards how we keep children safe.’’

Throughout the 90 minute chat with Milsom and the audience, Ms Gillard came across as warm and personable, honest and funny. She had those present hanging on her every word and received a standing ovation at the end.

She was even asked by one audience member if she would consider running for Newcastle Lord Mayor at the November election, but respectfully declined. Another young girl asked if she would have to move to Canberra if she too wanted to be PM one day. Ms Gillard, who had a measured response for everything, suggested the girl should start lobbying council to get a prime minister’s residence built in the city, so she could ‘‘govern the country from home’’.