Monthly Archives:February 2019

Six-shooter Williams guns for fifth Melbourne Cup ( admin posted on February 17th, 2019 )

The 73-year-old owner clinched his fourth Melbourne Cup last year on the back of the Robert Hickmott-trained Green Moon but his hunger for Australia’s richest and most famous thoroughbred trophy shows little sign of abating.


Green Moon, who defied 22-1 odds and a field of quality European stayers to win the gruelling two-mile handicap, returns to Flemington Racecourse to bid for back-to-back Cups, but the seven-year-old stallion is among the less fancied of Williams’ sextet.

Sea Moon, Fawkner and Seville are all highly backed to win, with Masked Marvel and Mourayan rated rough chances to salute in front of an expected crowd of more than 100,000.

With all prepared by Williams’ trusted trainer Hickmott and only Mourayan drawing outside barrier 10, the tycoon’s powerful bid has proved controversial, with English trainer Ed Dunlop raising concerns that the race could be manipulated.

“I hope Mr. Williams isn’t allowed to boss this race,” Dunlop, who has entered eight-year-old gelding Red Cadeaux for a third tilt, told local media.

“It is not ideal, let’s not beat about the bush. We are drawn wide. I think the most interesting thing is Lloyd Williams’ horses are all very well drawn.”

The reclusive Williams hit back at Dunlop’s ‘team orders’ comments on Monday, describing them as “extremely poor manners”.

“Twelve months ago this Friday, I put plans in place for eight horses to be aimed at the Melbourne Cup and six have made it,” Williams, known for his meticulous management of his horses, told The Australian newspaper.

“Racing is like business, you have got to have a plan.”

Dunlop’s comments have touched a raw nerve with Australia’s racing community, which has bemoaned the rising strength of foreign-prepared entrants and happily adopted a siege mentality hyped up by local media.


Australian racing has also been hit by a string of corruption scandals in recent years and last year’s race was tarnished when stewards allowed jockey and former winner Damien Oliver to ride despite being embroiled in an illegal betting probe.

Having served a 10-month ban for placing a bet on a rival horse, Oliver returns to ride on the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente which most agencies had installed as a 7-1 favourite on the eve of the race.

Runnerup last year, Fiorente was Waterhouse’s third second-placing after Te Akau Nick in 1993 and Nothin Leica Dane in 1995.

“It’s probably made me keener and hungrier than ever,” Oliver said of his ban, which pundits criticised as lightweight for not precluding him from Australia’s richest spring racing season.

“I’m very keen to reward Gai and hopefully share in her first Melbourne Cup.”

Of the nine foreign-prepared entrants, Mount Athos is rated the strongest chance to win and give trainer Luca Cumani a maiden Melbourne Cup after runnerup finishes with Purple Moon in 2007 and Bauer the following year.

The powerful Godolphin stable, also chasing a first Cup triumph after 15 fruitless years, has entered a single challenger in Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Royal Empire, a five-year stallion to be ridden by former winner Kerrin McEvoy.

Former England striker Michael Owen has also flown to Melbourne as part-owner of the Tom Dascombe-trained Brown Panther.

Australia’s holy grail of racing has never fallen into English hands, and Owen was guarded about the chances of the six-year-old stallion breaking the drought.

“To be the first would be a huge honour. (But) we’re not getting too carried away,” he said.

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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Wallabies wary of Italian job ( admin posted on February 17th, 2019 )

(Eds: Clarifies attribution of quote to Adam Ashley-Cooper in 11th par)

By Jim Morton

TURIN, Italy, Nov 4 AAP – Beware the Italian job.


A Wallabies side already hit hard by their deflating loss to England is braced for a hungry and improving Azzurri outfit which will smell blood in Turin on Sunday morning (AEDT).

Italy have lost all 15 Tests they have played against Australia but they are no longer the poor cousins of the Six Nations in Europe, nor international pushovers.

The Azzurri broke through to upset France in Rome this year and almost took the Wallabies’ scalp 12 months ago with a spirited Florence fightback before falling 22-19.

“They’ve performed well in the Six Nations so they will be looking at this game, really licking their lips and thinking they are a legitimate chance of beating us,” said stalwart three-quarter Adam Ashley-Cooper.

“They will be really motivated.”

Flanker Michael Hooper well remembers a second-half battering in Florence and is expecting the same physical onslaught from an abrasive pack, which plays similarly to Argentina and can scrum just as powerfully.

“They’re a passionate bunch and once they get their tails up they run with it, so we can’t let that happen,” Hooper said.

As well as last year’s narrow result, Italy scared the life out of Australia in 2008 when it took a Quade Cooper try on debut to get the tourists out of jail.

While most Australian rugby fans view this weekend’s clash as the easiest of the five Tests on tour, the Wallabies certainly don’t.

“We don’t play them often,” Ashley-Cooper said. “And they have that game of unpredictability and that’s dangerous.

“You can’t really anticipate how they are going to play. You know they’re going to bring a lot of passion and physicality but you never know how the game is going to turn out.”

Townsville-born fullback Luke McLean is in line to start for the Azzurri who have also selected former Scottish under-20 five-eighth Tommy Allan in their 30-man squad.

While coach Jaques Brunel will miss veteran back Andrea Masi, renowned forward duo Sergio Parisse and Martin Castrogiavanni will lead them up front in their 99th Tests.

Australia may be forced to make at least one back-row change with Scott Fardy to pass concussion tests after copping a heavy knock in the 20-13 loss to England at Twickenham.

It wouldn’t surprise if Ewen McKenzie makes rotational changes to his starting pack in what will be the 12th Test of the year for several forwards.

In-form Hooper is one who has played them all, on top of a heavy Super Rugby schedule, but doesn’t want to let go of the No.7 jersey.

“It has been a long year but every time you get to Thursday and you want to play,” he said. “The body is alright to be honest.”

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Skiing wants joint opposition to 2022 winter World Cup ( admin posted on February 17th, 2019 )

Following a council meeting late on Sunday FIS said it planned to agree on a resolution with the other six winter sports federations in a combined attack on world soccer’s governing body FIFA’s plans to switch the dates of the tournament in Qatar.


“FIS will submit a proposal to the other six International Winter Sports Federations to sign a resolution against organising the World Cup during the winter sports season in 2022,” it said in a brief statement.

FIS has long viewed FIFA’s plans with suspicion, aware that a football World Cup, the world’s biggest and most popular single sports event, would take away viewers and sponsors from the skiing season.

Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup at the expense of rival bids from the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has since said it was a mistake to award a summer tournament to Qatar and is now looking for dates in the winter.

A date for the tournament has yet to be finalised and the expected switch to a winter tournament to avoid the searing summer desert heat in the Gulf state has also angered other leagues and football clubs.

FIS President Gianfranco Kasper has repeatedly warned such plans would impact the skiing competition and has called on FIFA to respect other sports federations.

The International Olympic Committee is also closely monitoring FIFA’s deliberations, fearing that a World Cup in January of 2022 — one of the dates under discussion — could also affect their own winter Olympics that year.

(This story was refiled to fix typo in the headline)

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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Tax concessions go with MRRT: Cormann ( admin posted on February 17th, 2019 )

The federal government has no intention of keeping business tax concessions that are linked to the mining tax, despite a number of business lobby groups urging for their retention.


These groups want the loss carry-back provisions measure kept and the small business instant asset write-off to stay at $6500 rather than being reduced to $1000.

Both those provisions were supposed to be funded by the former Labor government’s minerals resource rent tax (MRRT) among a host of other initiatives, such as the SchoolKids Bonus.

However, the MRRT has failed to deliver the revenue that was initially promised.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the repeal of the MRRT we will be one of the first pieces of legislation that will be introduced into the new parliament.

“Labor made a whole series of unfunded promises that they attached to their failed mining tax,” Senator Cormann told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

“The budget we inherited from Labor is a mess,” he said.

He said repealing the MRRT and associated initiatives will help repair the budget to the tune of $13.4 billion.

However, shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the loss carry-back and instant asset write-off concessions reduce compliance costs for small business and are supported by a number of groups, including the Council of Small Business of Australia.

“Labor will be voting against the MRRT repeal legislation because it will mean the government imposing higher taxes on small businesses,” he said in a statement.

“In the same breath as claiming they want to cut red tape, the coalition are increasing compliance costs for small business.”

The Australian Industry Group in its submission to the draft legislation to repeal the MRRT said that keeping these two small business oriented initiatives would cost $3.8 billion over the federal budget’s four-year forward estimates.

But it argues that this “lost” revenue is in reality deferred as in both cases it is essentially a matter of timing of legitimate deductions.

“Both measures have a strong policy rationale and their retention would boost investment and cash flow to the particular benefit of smaller businesses,” it says.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry acting chief economist Burchell Wilson would also like to see these tax concessions retained.

“But we understand the government has inherited a very difficult budget position … these concessions are currently unsustainable,” he told reporters in Canberra.

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Melbourne Cup: Excitement builds over ‘four-legged lottery’ ( admin posted on February 17th, 2019 )

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

The Melbourne Cup, held each year on the first Tuesday in November, is followed by millions of people across the country and many more worldwide.



And a large part of its charm each year is its – usually – surprise result.


It’s now been over 150 years since horses were raced for the first time on the now-famous Flemington racecourse in 1861.


At that time, thousands of people flocked to see the first Melbourne Cup.


Victoria Racing Club consultant and historian, Dr Andrew Lemon, says the Cup is one of few events that started big – and kept growing.


“It began at a time when Melbourne was a very rich mining boom city, it was the gold period, it was a very young city. It was a time when there was a very big prize put up. People here just loved their horses, because that was the best way of getting around. And right from the start, it has attracted attention from all around Australia. Unlike some events, which start small, really the Melbourne Cup started big and just kept getting bigger.”


University of Sydney professor of religion, Carole Cusack, has an unusual view of the event.


The co-author of an essay titled “The Melbourne Cup: Australian identity and secular pilgrimage” says over the years and decades, it has come to represent an opportunity for the whole country to celebrate in a way that contributes to national identity.


“In the culture that we have now in the West, there’s a high degree of consumerism, there’s a low degree of serious or intense religious commitment and for a lot people, certain kinds of celebrations come to mean as much perhaps as the marking of time by religious ceremonies used to in the past. And so in Australia, we have a range of these sorts of ceremonies. Obviously the Olympics in Sydney in 2000 was a particular kind of bringing everybody together. But that kind of things are big things: in general people need more regular kinds of events to occasionally cut across different community groups and produce a moment of unity.”


Whatever its possible spiritual role, the Melbourne Cup is also an occasion to take a special outfit out of the wardrobe and drink something bubbling.


And then there’s the large-scale betting around the event.


Professor Cusack says, in Australia’s diverse society, some people may be uncomfortable with these particular traditions.


But she says other Cup rituals, such as the gathering in front of a TV screen with colleagues, family and friends, have the potential to foster social cohesion.


“The problem of course is the national identity question, because lots of Australians come from different ethnic groups and language groups. They have different religious beliefs or no religious beliefs at all. Some people don’t drink and don’t gamble and there is an element of the Melbourne Cup that is always about the champagne and the gambling, but I think also one of the interesting things about the Melbourne Cup is that the horses are such an emotional point for people. What you are seeing is a magnificent display of equestrian ability.”


The Melbourne Cup is a *handicapped race over a distance of 3,200 metres – a race for stayers, rather than sprinters.


This year’s prize money is 6.2 million dollars.


Richard Clancy is the Executive Director of the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


He says the Cup and all other events in the Spring Racing Carnival contribute not only to the state’s economy but also to the nation’s finances.


Mr Clancy says last year the race managed to attract about 53,000 tourists.


“The Victorian state economy was estimated to benefit by approximately $366 million in financial stimulus last year from the Melbourne Cup Carnival and nationally the estimate was placed at $750 million.”


This year’s field includes nine overseas-trained horses.                                       


Five overseas stayers have so far won the Melbourne Cup: Dunaden and Americain from France, Delta Blues from Japan, Vintage Crop and Media Puzzle from Ireland.


But this year’s number one favourite is Fiorente, who came second last year and is trained by Sydney-based Gai Waterhouse.


To win her first Melbourne Cup, Ms Waterhouse will have to overcome the international raiders as well as businessman Lloyd Williams’ army of runners, that counts six of the field of 24, including last year’s winner, Green Moon.


Dr Lemon says Fiorente’s form is promising.


“Gai’s had several near-misses. She’s also got a horse, right down the bottom, who might sneak in called Tres Blue and that’s a European horse, who’s come here and she started training it as well. But Fiorente has the very good local form coming into this race. And if we were going on our traditional way, we’d be saying Fiorente is a very worthy favourite and it will be ridden by Damien Oliver, who’s won two Melbourne Cups before.”


However Dr Lemon shies away from speculating on a possible winner, describing the Cup as a “four-legged lottery”.


No doubt we’ll all be wiser once the race is over on Tuesday afternoon.

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