From the cheap seats

The stunner
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Manchester City victimises another EPL opponent (Spurs) by a crushing margin (5-1), and butters up to post even more amazing figures – a loss of $284 million from 2011-2013. Presumably that isn’t just loose change that rolled under the soft drink machine. Admittedly, within the modern “big club” financial parameters, this is probably considered standard “lunch, clean towels and office stationery” type money. In stark contrast, City’s goal difference is so ridiculously in the black that the players could probably knock off early and go visit the remaining ownership money in Abu Dhabi for a few months without any of the rival clubs approaching that figure.

The snoozer

This column may be tap-dancing out of time with public opinion on this issue, but quite frankly any mention of the Mumbai Mumblers, the Punjab Palookas, the Rajasthan Ringadings or any other IPL reference is, for certain individuals, a cast-iron guarantee of an instant, slumped sideways in the armchair, full blown, power snore-athon.

The yak attack

Leigh Matthews proposed a congestion-fighting method of restricting a certain number of players to within the 50m arcs during centre bounces. And, while he readily admitted that the pitfalls might be in the administration, it’s not, on the surface of it, such a bad idea. The league agrees to trial player names on the back of guernseys. Some clubs and officials indicate at least tentative agreement that football department spending is out of hand, and needs to be monitored. This is all extremely disconcerting. All of these stories seem to make sense. Normally by this time of year, you’ve had at least half a dozen truly crackpot proposals and rule changes. It tends to promote a fair old case of the shudders about what we might have to endure when the other shoe finally drops.

How far the cherry?

Contrary to a fair amount of general screaming panic in the media during the lead-up months, Sochi Olympics CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko has described the Games’ setting as “the most secure venue at the moment on the planet”. Compared to what – a major department store during Boxing Day sales? Incidentally, define “at the moment”. The chief added that the security procedures would be “very gentle and smooth”. Those are more qualities you expect to find in yoghurt.

Bozo of the week

After his team was eliminated by Sunderland in its League Cup semi, Manchester United fan Martin Davies, 56, conceived of a plan that possibly only he, out of billions of people on the planet, could have thought was just a dandy idea. Mr Davies decided that it would be timely to personally inform Alex Ferguson that he needed to once again take over the coaching reins at United. Additionally, he determined that the best way to get in touch with Ferguson would be to call the UK police emergency number 999. It is perhaps both germane and unnecessary to mention that Mr Davies had been drinking to some degree when he conceived of this foolproof master plan. His initial defence for calling the police was that Man U had “…become so erratic, it’s almost criminal.” He later generously conceded, “I guess I made an error.” Oh, at least.

Reader feedback

Greg Carpenter pointed out that Black Caviar was confirmed as ‘the greatest female equine athlete world racing has seen in the modern era.’ Call me old fashioned, but I call her a horse. – BJ COYLE, East Ballina

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Winners flow for Gerald Ryan stable as Rubick mission looms

Big finish: Red Excitement wins narrowly at Rosehill on Saturday. Photo: Jenny EvansRed Excitement one week, Rubick excitement the next. Gerald Ryan’s week-long build-up to the Blue Diamond Prelude started in the Rosehill mounting yard as he fielded questions about his star colt on Saturday.
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”I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of handy two-year-olds and I know where he [Rubick] sits among them,” Ryan said. ”I don’t think there’s any Pierro around [in the ranks of two-year-olds] this year.

”He’ll work the reverse way on Monday morning and he’ll travel down [to Melbourne] on Monday night and he’ll get used to his surroundings [at Caulfield].”

Ryan warned not to expect Rubick to have a spin on the course proper, citing the fact he would only be ”working 15 metres out and all you’re doing is teaching them to run out there”.

It seemed to work pretty well for his older stablemate Red Excitement, though, which again traversed a wide course in thundering to back-to-back wins this campaign. Posted three wide at the tail for most of his run, Brenton Avdulla and Red Excitement came with a hurry to wear down the consistent Limes in the February Handicap (1400m).

”He seems to appreciate racing wide and three of his four wins for me he’s been close to three and four wide the whole way,” said Ryan, who also revealed he was leaning towards aiming smart sprinter Snitzerland at the Lightning Stakes over the Oakleigh Plate.

”I wasn’t really worried, but at the top of the straight towards the 200-metre mark he seemed to hit a flat spot and he wasn’t quickening. I was happy Brenton didn’t let up on him because the harder you ride him the better he goes.

”As I’ve said all the way along, he eats his feed and you work him and he’s no hassle. I’ve always doubted him at 1600m, but I reckon he’s dead-set racing like a horse who needs 1600m now.”

That may mean Ryan will shelve plans to nurse Red Excitement ($6) towards the group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) later this month.

Avdulla ended up on the right side of a busy finish, which included Limes ($2.70 favourite) clocking in just a neck away and Charing Cross ($61) running a bottler on the speed a short neck further back in third.

”When the tempo dropped out I just got going,” Avdulla said.

Limes’ jockey Hugh Bowman lamented the Darley gelding’s luckless run, which now includes runner-up finishes in his past three starts. Trainer Peter Snowden switched him back to Sydney after two attempts in listed company in Melbourne. ”He’s just getting a few seconds beside his name,” Bowman said.

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Time’s right for Jefferson Park in Walcha Cup

Tamworth trainer Craig Martin is eyeing Friday’s $30,000 Walcha Cup (1440m) with Jefferson Park. The four-year-old gelding scored an impressive win second up over 1300m at Armidale on Monday when ridden by Peter Graham, who is likely to have the mount at Walcha. A winner of seven from 15 starts, Jefferson Park had returned this campaign bigger and stronger, said Martin, the brother of Sydney trainer Tim Martin. “It took a while but he’s matured a lot,” Martin added. Jefferson Park was bred and is owned by Jill Nivison. Nivison also bred Jefferson Park’s sire Dream Ballad and his dam, Tacoma. “He’s a pretty special horse to Jill,” Martin said. “I’ve trained a lot of the family. They generally take a bit of time to come to hand.” Graham rode a treble on the day also winning aboard Amber Alert and Yambaah.
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KWILAS LAW FOR QUIRINDI

Locally owned and bred Kwilas Law, trained by Luke Griffith, is being readied for his fourth attempt at the $35,000 Quirindi Cup (1600m) on February 21. Kwilas Law, a veteran of 104 starts, didn’t compete last year but contested the event in 2012 and 2011 and ran second in 2010. Akubra Hats will sponsor the cup for the 27th occasion. The major support race is the $25,000 Lightning Hcp (1100m).

DUBBO YEARLING SALE

Next Sunday the annual Dubbo yearling sale takes place. The sale is noted for producing bargain buys. Two leading sires represented are Mutawaajib and Bon Hoffa. Fourteen of the Dubbo Bon Hoffas are from his home, John North’s Bowness Stud in central western NSW, and seven by Mutawaajib from his base, the prominent Hunter Valley Emirates Park Stud. The Mutawaajibs are progeny of mares by Fasliyev (USA), Danewin, Nashwan (USA), Sir Cat (USA), Dolphin Street (Fr), Galileo (Ire) and Johannesburg (USA). The Bon Hoffa yearlings include progeny of mares by Encosta de Lago (2), Canny Lad, Zeditave, Luskin Star, Fusaichi Pegasus (USA), Falvelon, Bite The Bullet (USA), Lake Coniston (Ire) and King Of Kings (Ire). More than 80 lots are due to go under the hammer.

MICALONG HEADS TO BEGA

The Mick Miladinovic-trained Micalong will be out to give the Tumut-based Groves family their second cup win in three starts in Sunday’s $35,000 Bega Cup (1600m). Micalong scored what to the owners was like a Melbourne Cup win in the Tumut Cup (1400m) on January 11. The gelding since finished fifth over 1550m at Canterbury on January 24. Miladinovic has a close relationship with the Groves family, his son Peter engaged to syndicate head Andrew Groves’ daughter, Kate, also a part-owner. Micalong is aiming for the $200,000 Canberra Cup (2000m) on March 9.

TAB meetings: Sunday – Sapphire Coast, Mudgee. Monday – Grafton. Tuesday – Taree. Friday – Canberra, Walcha. Saturday – Cowra.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

InterDominion runners to go into their own Big Brother house

The runners in next month’s InterDominion final will be locked away in a retention barn in the days before the $750,000 group 1 feature in a first for Australian racing.
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The purpose-built facility at Menangle has 16 boxes, with attached feed and tack rooms, vet bays and more than 50 cameras to detail every movement in the centre.

The retention of runners has been in the conditions and rules of the InterDominion since its move to a permanent home at Menangle last year.

”It is something we have been working on for quite a while and we understand that it might upset a few people but the aim is to have a level playing field,” Harness Racing NSW integrity manager Reid Sanders said.

”Horses will be under 24-hour surveillance and everyone entering and leaving the centre will have to sign in and out. The horses will have access to everything they need, including the two tracks at Menangle, the training track and main track, a walker and a private hole while in the retention barn. However, it will all be under supervision. The facility has 16 boxes and no two horses are boxed next to each other, with feed and tack rooms separating each box.”

Sanders would not be drawn on how long the runners would be required to be in the retention barn but it is believed this will be between three and five days before the final.

The conversion of existing stables at Menangle was a joint project between HRNSW and the NSW Harness Racing Club.

It was modelled on similar facilities in North America and cost more than $200,000.

HRNSW has traditionally placed guards on runners in the 24 hours before major races such as the InterDominion and Miracle Mile, but the new centre takes it to another level.

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Boo-boys could use a touch of the Yabba … or even Wolfie

Sharp calls: Yabba was a legend on the SCG Hill. Photo: Fairfax archiveThree Blind Mice greeted Australian Jockey Club stewards in a booming chant from racegoers as they walked back into the mounting enclosure after a savage form reversal.
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In those days horse players took punting seriously. Alas by comparison, their modern-day counterparts, the few left trackside, wouldn’t know a dead’un if it bit them on the backside.

But it has always been the Australian and democratic way to demonstrate, heckle and boo, even if, at times, it is misplaced.

”You’d hold a red-hot stove,” often greeted a jockey beaten on a favourite.

Going back to the good old days a session on the Hill at the SCG for the humour was more than worthwhile even if you were a member.

The immortal ”Yabba”, Stephen Gascoigne (1878-1942), on his home ground, had a following due to his chiacking of cricketers. ”I wish you were a statue and I were a pigeon,” Yabba would boom.

Still his epic line was directed at the fly-swatting English cricket captain Douglas Jardine, architect of Bodyline.

”Leave our flies alone,” he called in a tone developed as a rabbitoh, his line of work. ”They’re the only friends you’ve got.”

And for a batsman adjusting his protector: ”Those are the only balls you’ve touched all day.”

Of course, Yabba’s comments were laced with judgment and humour, unlike the booing for the injured tennis champion Rafa Nadal in the recent Australian Open final in Melbourne.

Perhaps he was entitled to the benefit of the doubt, often the case when a rugby league player took a dive in a delicate situation, more to stem the flow of the game than because of pain. As the zambuk (St John’s first-aid applicator) ran on to the field to assist he would be advised: ”Give his heart a massage.”

Personal attacks, too, came from the stands, on one occasion upsetting Michael Cleary, the outstanding South Sydney and Kangaroos winger. Subsequently The Sun ran a headline: ”Don’t call me Michelle.”

However, racing brought out the best and worst in hecklers, and, in many instances, there were mistakes in identifying the guilty party.

Like the 1946 Epsom featuring Shannon and Darby Munro in one of the great saddle performances equalled by hostility from the crowd. Munro had just been responsible for probably the best ride of his illustrious career but Shannon went down in a photo finish after a slow start from the open barrier.

”The scene turned ugly,” Turf Monthly reported. ”Racegoers near the fence called to stewards to ‘rub out’ Munro. One irate spectator clashed so violently with police that he was arrested and charged with indecent language. Another was apprehended when he jumped the fence and attempted to get to the jockeys’ room”.

Later, starter Jack Gaxieu accepted the blame: he didn’t see Shannon standing out of line.

Maurice Logue, now the driving force behind apprentice jockeys in NSW, was a target at Canterbury after a defeat. Verbal abuse was followed by a beer can chaser that struck his mount returning following the defeat.

Tommy Smith often had to dodge a mouthful from punters as well as his stable jockey George Moore.

A female in the Rosehill members’ stand once unleashed language unbecoming to the degree he took cover under an awning in case something stronger followed.

Moore, beaten by a Smith stablemate handled by Athol Mulley, jibed at the champion trainer, pointing his whip on dismounting: ”You’ve done it again, Tommy.”

To which the master of Tulloch Lodge quipped: ”Don’t be a bad sport, George.” Moore fumed back to the jockeys’ room, giving the impression more than a winning ride fee was involved.

John Singleton came closest to an old-fashioned demonstration over the More Joyous debacle around the All Aged Stakes at Randwick last year. No doubt if he had a re-run Singo would have been more diplomatic rather than going live over the media, probably to a bigger audience than Yabba.

Outbursts are brought on by the feeling of being assaulted in a vital spot, bringing about a spontaneous reaction.

Maybe racegoers of yesteryear didn’t have the advantage of modern aids, such as video replays, to take the fire out of anger. But the racecourse was a happier place for Wolfie Grunthal, the turf’s answer to Yabba for enthusiasm if not wit.

Wolfie would cheer home every winner coming back to be unsaddled without a zac being involved but was particularly joyful when it concerned a Moore, George or his son Gary.

After Gary returned home from Hong Kong and won the 1985 Silver Slipper at Rosehill on Pre Catelan he presented the whip to Wolfie.

They built a statue for Yabba at the SCG. Even a picture of Wolfie, exuding his special brand of pleasure, inspiring the tune Don’t Worry, Be Happy, hung with prominence, would do wonders for Royal Randwick.

It sure beats Three Blind Mice.

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