Cycling New Zealand’s Great Taste Trail

Horsing around: Happy horse poo for sale at the side of the road en route to Motueka. Photo: Rob McFarland Horsing around: Happy horse poo for sale at the side of the road en route to Motueka. Photo: Rob McFarland

Horsing around: Happy horse poo for sale at the side of the road en route to Motueka. Photo: Rob McFarland

Horsing around: Happy horse poo for sale at the side of the road en route to Motueka. Photo: Rob McFarland

“That’s not a hill, it’s a wrinkle,” says John with trademark understatement as we survey the ominous incline ahead. The rest of the group have sensibly chosen to remain in the van and start today’s ride at the summit. I, fuelled by male bravado and three Weet-Bix, have decided to keep him company, blissfully unaware that next month he heads to France to cycle 2000 kilometres of the Tour de France route.

I quickly realise trying to keep up is futile so instead relax and enjoy the view. We’re cycling along a quiet country back road, through the sort of idyllic rural scene that dominates much of New Zealand’s South Island. Rolling pastures dotted with sheep, weather-beaten wooden sheds with rusted iron roofs and an impressive backdrop of undulating hills in shifting shades of green.

We collect the rest of the group and continue on tranquil country lanes to the village of Wakefield, where Evan has laid out an extravagant morning tea of fruit, shortbread, tea and plunger coffee. We all tuck in heartily even though it’s less than two hours since we ate breakfast and there’s still lunch at a winery, afternoon tea and a hearty dinner to come. I suppose there’s not much point in cycling the Great Taste Trail if you’re not going to taste.

New Zealand’s cycle network has grown rapidly over the last few years, fuelled by government investment and the success of the original cycling prodigy, the Otago Central Rail Trail. There are now 23 routes that are classified as Great Rides, predominantly off-road trails that showcase the best of the country’s landscape, environment, culture and heritage. The Great Taste Trail is one of the most recent, a 175-kilometre loop around the top of the South Island that passes through Nelson.

The route focuses on the abundance of fresh produce and wineries in the region so unless you have monk-like restraint you’ll be consuming more calories than you expend.

Our five-day trip started in Christchurch where we were kitted out at PureTrail’s depot with comfortable 27-speed hybrid bikes, helmets, panniers and sexy fluorescent high-vis vests. This departure is slightly unusual because there are only four of us, compared to the normal 10-14 guests, and we have two guides rather than one (Evan is in training).

Bikes safely loaded on the trailer, we leave Christchurch, heading north and then west over the scenic Lewis Pass to Saint Arnaud, an alpine village on the shores of Lake Rotoiti. After a spot of sightseeing and a gentle 16-kilometre orientation ride, it’s back to the more pressing issue of eating. Clinker Cafe may not sound like the most salubrious of dining spots but the braised pork belly in apple cider I have for dinner is not only excellent, it’s enormous. “Heartland portions,” explains John.

Fast forward a day and our convoy of four leaves Wakefield full of coffee and shortbread and heads towards lunch. It’s easy, delightful riding – a mixture of roadside paths, quiet back roads and gravel tracks that meander past vineyards and skirt orchards bursting with apples, berries and kiwifruit. On one section we cycle along a riverbank through fragrant bursts of fennel and flickering clouds of butterflies.

Lunch is at Waimea Estates, a family-run winery where our not-very-hard-work is rewarded with generous bowls of plump, creamy, Chardonnay-steamed green lipped mussels in a sun-drenched courtyard overlooking the vines.

We’re only eight kilometres from Nelson so this afternoon’s ride is a gentle 30-minute cruise along a dedicated bike path next to the Waimea Estuary. We arrive at our accommodation, the charming mews-style Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco at 1:30pm, leaving us plenty of time to explore.

In an effort to work up an appetite for what I know will be another heartland-sized dinner, I eschew Nelson’s museums and boutiques in favour of a walk along the Maitai River to the Botanical Reserve. After a mildly strenuous climb up Botanical Hill, I arrive at what is allegedly the geographic centre of New Zealand. I later discover that several places claim this accolade but either way the 360-degree views over the harbour and the rolling hills of the surrounding national parks are sensational. And I’m pretty sure I’ve burned off a mussel.

That evening we reconvene in the garden of the pub opposite our hotel and over a sunset glass of sav blanc our merry band of six gets to know each other. Husband and wife Gerry and Penny live in Newcastle and are cycling converts after doing the Otago Central Rail Trail with PureTrails last year. Margaret is from the Gold Coast and is clearly a PureTrails fan given this is her sixth trip with them. Guides John and Evan are both diehard, shorts-in-any-weather Cantabrians and expert exponents of the region’s trademark dry sarcasm. The South Island is the “mainland” and John confesses he’ll “barrack for anyone over Auckland”.

We retire inside for dinner where I feast on a tender Angus steak washed down with a glass of Roaring Meg pinot noir. Given PureTrails also covers the cost of a dessert, it seems rude not to sample the lemon cheesecake with cream and lemon sherbet. In the distance I hear my cycling shorts crying in protest.

While superlative food and wine are the trip’s main attraction, the scenery comes a close second. The next day we cycle back along the estuary, passing through a protected wetland before crossing onto Rabbit Island for morning tea by a deserted white sand beach. A winding pine tree-lined track leads us to a tiny cove where a ferry takes us and our bikes across an inlet to the buzzy township of Mapua for lunch.

Subsequent days deliver similarly beguiling landscapes – an early morning cycle along the Motueka River, the sun filtering through the haze of a freshly limed field; vast fields of hops, their carefully trained branches resembling dancers around a maypole; orchards full of berries swathed in dew-soaked nets.

We spend two nights at the comfortable Equestrian Lodge Motel in Motueka, cycling in the mornings and sightseeing in the afternoons. Excursions include a scenic cruise from Kaiteriteri that skirts the bays and furrows of the Abel Tasman National Park and a visit to the Riwaka Resurgence, a sacred Maori site where the Riwaka River emerges from a network of caves underneath Takaka Hill.

On our final day we head back inland to complete the loop. The trail here is still being completed so John and Evan improvise with a 13-kilometre ride along a quiet valley flanked by fields of curious cows. It’s knuckle-numbingly cold when we start at 8:30am and a brisk headwind (or a “gentle cooling breeze” according to John) drags tears from our eyes. After 40 minutes we’re all happy to jump back in the van and begin the long trek back to Christchurch.

The cycling portion of the trip may be over but the tasting part isn’t. Our last lunch is a fitting finale, a lazy feast of tapas-style shared plates washed down with crisp glasses of riesling at Forrest Estate Wines’ stylish cellar door in Marlborough.



The original “Great Ride”, this 150-kilometre route through Central Otago follows a disused railway line. The perfect introduction to a multi-day cycling trip.


Starting at Rotorua, this 66-kilometre trail passes through a thermal wonderland of steaming vents, bubbling mud pools and spectacular geysers. Expect rare flora and fauna and a rich vein of Maori folklore.


This 70-kilometre off-road track through the heart of the Marlborough Sounds offers pristine wilderness, spectacular views and thigh-burning ascents.


The longest continuous cycle trail in New Zealand, this 300-kilometre jaunt starts from the country’s highest mountain, Mount Cook, and finishes in the coastal town of Oamaru. The best bit? It’s all downhill.


Beginning in the otherworldly Tongariro National Park, this four to six day route uses bike trails, public roads and a jetboat to deliver riders to the coast at Wanganui.

For a complete list of NZ’s Great Rides, see nzcycletrail杭州龙凤419m.


The writer travelled as a guest of PureTrails and Air New Zealand.




Air New Zealand flies direct from Sydney and Melbourne to Christchurch. Phone 13 24 76; see airnewzealand杭州龙凤


PureTrails offers regular departures of its guided five-day Great Taste Trail cycle trip between October and April, from $1400 including accommodation, meals and excursions. See puretrailsnewzealand杭州龙凤

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RSL Clubs could be the next victim of Sydney property boom

South Hurstville RSL Club in Hurstville Photo: Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media South Hurstville RSL Club in Hurstville Photo: Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media

Hurstville RSL Club in Hurstville Photo: Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media

South Hurstville RSL Club in Hurstville Photo: Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media

South Hurstville RSL Club in Hurstville Photo: Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media

Hurstville RSL Club in Hurstville Photo: Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media

South Hurstville RSL Club in Hurstville Photo: Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media

South Hurstville RSL Club in Hurstville Photo: Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media

Hurstville RSL Club in Hurstville Photo: Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media

South Hurstville RSL Club in Hurstville Photo: Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media

South Hurstville RSL Club in Hurstville Photo: Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media

Hurstville RSL Club in Hurstville Photo: Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media

The RSL Club used to be part of the social fabric, a place to go for a special occasion or a cheap meal when mum or dad couldn’t be bothered cooking or for a few quick drinks after work.

Many are now fighting for their financial futures due to a combination of falling patronage, outdated facilities, demographic changes and competition from modern alternative entertainment options.

But where many see an outdated and tired business model and board members heavy with age property developers see large, well-located freehold sites, ideal for residential redevelopment.

Take the current saga surrounding South Hurstville RSL and Hurstville RSL.

South Hurstville RSL is a financially strong club with an upward trajectory.

Hurstville RSL on the other hand been in the red for the past few years, with growing losses, declining revenues and dwindling net assets.

As a result, both have voted in favour of an amalgamation . However those decisions are being challenged by a group called “The Friends of Hurstville”, who prefer a plan for a mixed use redevelopment being put forward by property developer Will McDonald of Skye Pacific Properties Pty Ltd.

Mr McDonald  leads a consortium that includes Parkview Constructions and Dickson Rothschild Architects.

The chairman of the pro-development Friends of Hurstville group, Ed Mason, said a meeting held at Hursville RSL on August 10 (to vote on the decision to amalgamate) was a “farce” and that some members of Chinese background were unhappy.

When asked specifically about the vote, Mr Mason couldn’t confirm any actual numbers as he is not a member of Hurstville RSL. He was issued a membership card when he applied but said he then had his application refused at the board level.

Mr Mason did confirm there were about 120 people, all of which he said wanted to vote at the meeting, at a lunch meeting of the Friends of Hurstville group which was paid for by the property group led by Mr McDonald.

Hurstville RSL general manager Rod Bell, and the CEO of South Hurstville RSL, Simon Mikkelsen, refute Mr Mason’s and Mr McDonald’s claims and say that all votes have been conducted correctly and have been validated by a separate NSW Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) investigation.

“Everything has been done by the book to allow both clubs’ members’ wishes to proceed,” Mr Mikkelsen said.

Mr Bell said Hurstville RSL has looked over and rejected a number of property development proposals submitted for their site because the board considered they did not have the members’ best interests at heart and risked rendering the RSL insolvent.

“Our only and best chance of surviving as a community club is by joining with South Hurstville RSL,” Mr Bell said. “Club members should realise that if the developer gets control of this club it will be closed for up to two years and may never reopen.”

The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority has adjourned their decision on the amalgamation to assess the claims made by the warring factions. Mr Bell feels this gives the development proposal an unfair advantage.

“We now need the Minister Troy Grant to instruct ILGA to support the wishes of both clubs’ real members and not a bunch that are more than happy to see another RSL disappear in this Anzac centenary year,” he said.

The ILGA said it deferred its decision on December 17 “so it could receive further detailed submissions about claims it received questioning whether the correct steps had been followed in the merger process”.

A final decision is expected by March.

Two highly publicised  property development deals where financially stricken clubs have been “rescued”  by property developers are the proposed Balmain / Rozelle Village development deal and the Souths on Chalmers development deal.

Souths on Chalmers was put into administration and then closed, with significant debts, and Balmain Leagues have borrowed millions for lead time costs (to continue operating at a temporary venue) and still have no formal resolution.

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More to be caught in tax net on surging Sydney land values

More property investors will be caught in the property tax net with the resurgent Sydney property market pushing up residential land values at a double-digit pace in the wake of historically low interest rates and the revived NSW economy.

Land values across the state rose 11.2 per cent in 2014, which was led by a strong 13.1 per cent rise in residential land values, according to data released on Friday by the NSW Valuer General.

Willoughby, Bankstown and Hornsby led the gains in residential land values across Sydney, with Mosman, Camden and Ryde witnessing the lowest rise in values among Sydney council areas.

The eastern suburbs regained the crown from the lower north shore as the area with the most expensive median land values in the state, with median residential land values in Woollahra, which takes in Double Bay, Point Piper and Vaucluse, reaching $1.4 million, eclipsing Mosman’s median of $1.39 million.

“The past 12 months has seen a significant increase in large parts of the market – particularly the middle ring,” said the NSW Valuer General,  Simon Gilkes.

“There were not the large increases at the high end of the market and in the outer areas, but rather the inner west and areas close to transport, such as Chatswood and the Hills district, partly due to the new rail link.”

Low interest rates has brought both owner occupiers and investors into the market, he said.

The values are based primarily on property sales data, with more than 43,000 sales assessed.

The year was market by a “ripple out effect” from gains in the inner ring of the city’s suburbs, he said.

Median land values in areas such as Leichhardt and Marrickville continued to rise strongly – up 17.4 per cent and 19.9 per cent respectively – but this was outpaced by gains a little further out such as Canterbury – up 21.4 per cent – and Bankstown (up 29.4 per cent).

The updated valuation data will have a direct effect in broadening the land tax net, where it is applicable, and is also used by councils when assessing rate variations, Mr Gilkes said. At the top end of the market, the rise in land values have been more restrained which is due in part to the already high level of prices in those areas.

“The increases were not as strong in the highly valued suburbs since fewer people may have been able to raise the money needed” to buy into these suburbs, Mr Gilkes said.

Slavko Romic, the principal of Elders Double Bay, said the new year has started where last year finished.

“It’s been strong since the start of the new year. Inquiries are running at peak levels, and we’re not alone with other agents reporting the same level of activity,” he said.

“There is not a lot of stock available, so over-demand and under-supply, along with low interest rates, is keeping interest high.”

A year ago, only Mosman and Woollahra had land values of more than $1 million. Now, they have been joined by Willoughby, Manly, Hunters Hill and Waverley, with North Sydney and Lane Cove just falling short of this figure.

The updated valuation data are used by about one third of councils each year when revising rates. This year, Blacktown, Liverpool, Ku-ring-gai, the Hills, Maitland and Leichhardt will use the updated data when setting rates.

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England cricketers ‘feel for Alastair Cook’, but move on from Kevin Pietersen

England bowler Stuart Broad, training in Canberra. Photo: Matt BedfordThe shock sacking of Alastair Cook as England’s one-day captain just two months out from the World Cup is fair play to discuss, just don’t mention the war with Kevin Pietersen.
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England arrived in Canberra this week to begin a rapid rebuilding before next month’s Cricket World Cup, new skipper Eoin Morgan facing the challenge of uniting a team historically troubled by disharmony.

While English all-rounder Chris Woakes conceded “everyone feels a little bit for Cooky”, he endorsed Morgan as an “exciting” new captain who will help the team “move on” with a new era.

But the first mention of Pietersen, and his latest public comments that jealousies had existed in the England changeroom before he was axed last year, hit an immediate nerve.

“The important thing for us is that we’re all pulling in the right direction, we want to do well for England and we’ve got a great opportunity here over the next few months to do that,” Woakes responded, the press conference then immediately cut.

England is due to play two warm-up games in Canberra, against the ACT on Monday and the Prime Minister’s XI on Wednesday, before the the Tri-Series against Australia and India, then the World Cup beginning on February 14.

Spearheads Stuart Broad and James Anderson have returned to the squad from injury, adding strike and experience. But the big question is whether England can jell under their new skipper.

“We had a little chat out here yesterday before practice started, but it was short and sweet,” Woakes said of Morgan’s introduction to the captaincy. “Everyone was excited with the challenge ahead and what Morgie’s going to bring to the team, he’s an exciting player and I’m sure his captaincy will do exactly the same thing.

“I think everyone feels a little bit for Cooky, he’s going to miss out on a World Cup, unfortunately for him, but we have to move on and we’ve got a job to do over the next few months.”

Asked if, after all the upheaval, England was a genuine shot at the World Cup, Woakes said “100 per cent”.

“We’ve got a lot of talent in the team, if we can come together as a team and put in some strong performances and hit the ground running at the right time, I think we’ve got a great chance.

“We’re away for quite a long time so it’s good to build some unity and jell as a team. It’s going to be a good opportunity for us, playing in Australia before the World Cup starts.”

Woakes, 25, has also had to defend his selection in England’s 15-man World Cup squad, many debating that he has taken the allrounder role from Ben Stokes, who last week smashed 77 off 37 balls in the Big Bash League for the Melbourne Renegades.

But Woakes said the two warm-up games would be a good opportunity to him and other England players to consolidate their positions ahead of the Tri-Series.

“I feel like I warrant my place and I’ve got to force my issue forward to make sure I get in the final 11 for this Tri-Series,” Woakes said. “Stokesy is a very good player as he showed in the Big Bash the other week. It’s unfortunate for him, but his time will come. He’s a great player and I’m sure he’ll be back in the side at some point.”

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How to succeed with recruitment agencies

Are recruiters the enemy?
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I spend a big portion of my workday talking to clients experiencing career transitions. Many are out there applying for jobs and it’s not uncommon to learn of their less than satisfactory experience with agency recruiters. I commonly hear things like: “They don’t return calls”, “I’m just a number”, “I keep getting rejection letters”, “I never receive any feedback” and so on.

It’s no secret that agency recruiters seem to have a bad reputation in the industry. Having worked in it myself, I know there are some good and not so good players. The reality is, like many industries, they are doing it tough at the moment. Having fewer staff, tighter budgets and challenging financial targets, plus pressures of competing with other agencies in a tight market that sees a large number of organisations cost-cutting by keeping recruitment in-house where possible, it’s no shock to hear these stories about recruiters.

We all know that applying for an advertised position means you can be competing with up to 200 candidates for just one role. It’s highly likely that half the CVs are not even examined. This is caused by recruiters being under the pump to get candidates across their client’s desks within tight timeframes. They are also usually recruiting for an average of between 6-10 permanent positions at a time. So when you do the maths, that’s a LOT of documents to read. Plus so many things can happen behind the scenes; their client could withdraw the position, or fill it internally.

So what is the best way to handle agency recruiters to increase your chances of success?

1.The Call- Don’t follow the crowd and be another CV in an already large database. Find a good reason to call the recruiter and use your ’30 second grab’ (A snapshot of who you are, what your value add is and what makes you different), then ask an intelligent and specific question. Sometimes you need to be a detective to track down their name and number, but your tenacity may pay off in the end. Whatever you do, Fiona Wainrit heads up finetunedcoaching上海龙凤, specialising in career transitions.

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Experienced Loch to mentor next generation of stewards

Harness Racing NSW’s new chairman of stewards Graham Loch has been given the brief of mentoring the next generation of young stipes after accepting a two-year offer to return to Australia.
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Loch’s appointment coincides with Reid Sanders’ role being amended to chief operating officer from his current position as manager integrity and chairman of stewards as the shake-up at HRNSW takes full effect. Sanders will remain in charge of the HRNSW integrity department.

Loch has previously held the position of chairman of stewards with Thoroughbred Racing South Australia for more than 12 years until 2013 before taking a position in Asia.

“We believe we’ve got a really good team, but we believe with a bit of mentoring from a senior steward such as Graham Loch that we can bring them through,” said HRNSW chief executive officer John Dumesny.

“Stewards are hard to get and we think we’ve got three there at the moment that could make the chief steward position.

“He’s on a two-year agreement and we think in that two years his expertise and knowledge will bring these guys through. [The department] has done a really good job of cleaning up the green light scandal which is just about done.

“This appointment will further demonstrate the commitment by HRNSW to participants.”

Loch will start his tenure at HRNSW on Australia Day.

Meanwhile, newly appointed Victorian racing minister Martin Pakula announced former Victoria Racing Club administrator Dale Monteith will oversee an audit of Harness Racing Victoria.

“This audit is vital to ensure that Harness Racing Victoria has the necessary expertise to continue to promote and deliver quality harness racing,” Pakula said.

“With his extensive experience in the racing industry, I am confident Mr Monteith will do a fantastic job leading this important audit.”

Monteith served as chief executive of the VRC from 2000 to 2012 after nine years with the Melbourne Racing Club.  

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Murrumbidgee makes its run

The Murrumbidgee Turf Club is inching towards securing its long-term goal of being granted listed status for the Wagga Town Plate after offering an inflated $100,000 prize money purse for this year’s race.
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The hike means the two-day Wagga carnival will now be worth $552,500, highlighted by the listed Wagga Cup offering $140,000, with the Town Plate for the short-course specialists offering $35,000 more than three years ago.

“Our aim is to one day get the Town Plate to listed status and this has probably been the biggest step we’ve taken in the bush towards that goal,” MTC chief executive Scott Sanbrook said.

“We’ve always attracted quality sprinters to the race and we think it will be even more appealing to the higher calibre of horses. We wanted to get it well above the metropolitan prize money level because we attract horses from both sides of the border.

“[The response] has been very positive and it’s a race the locals love to target. We’ve always got some handy sprinters around in the SDRA [Southern Districts Racing Association] and we’ve received some very positive feedback.”

This year’s Wagga carnival will be held on April 30 and May 1.


If looks count for anything, Dean Mirfin will be the happiest man in the vicinity of the pre-race parade for Sunday’s Cowra Cup.

The Bathurst-based trainer has finally watched Dashexpress morph from the “big, lean bean” he once was into a “monster” – and aren’t the results the proof in the pudding.

“He’s a completely different looking animal than what he was 12 months ago,” Mirfin said on the eve of the $25,000 feature. “He’s finally developed into a mature beautiful animal.

“I can tell you from just looking at him he’s 80 kilos heavier than what he used to be. If you look at him walking around the enclosure these days he almost looks a little bit burly, but he races well that way. He likes to be a little bit on the fresh side.”

The now seven-year-old strung together back-to-back wins to open his campaign and was beaten narrowly at Cowra at his next start before a luckless sixth at Canterbury in December.

And accomplished country rider John Kissick will take over for the Cowra Cup where victory would have Dashexpress rapidly closing in on the $100,000 career earnings mark.

“He got lost in the race [at Cowra] and then his run at Canterbury the other day was enormous,” Mirfin said. “He ran into a dead end when they turned for home and lost momentum in a very important stage in the race.

“He’s won at the distance so the race is very suitable. I’m quite buoyant about his chances.”


The Dubbo racing fraternity must be wondering what it did to deserve a case of the festive season blues after being hit with a third serious trackwork incident in the last fortnight as trainer Michael Lunn makes a recovery from a nasty fall on Thursday.

Lunn is expected to be discharged from Dubbo Base Hospital early this week after fracturing his collarbone and suffering a collapsed lung to complement five broken ribs.

Sixteen-year-old trackwork rider Nicholas Hyde was airlifted to Royal North Shore Hospital after a tumble at the same track only two days earlier after complaining of no feeling from his waist down to his toes, where he had limited movement.

He was discharged from hospital on Friday night after the spinal trauma, which has left him with little strength in his left leg.

Dubbo apprentice Joe Saiki was injured two weeks earlier when a horse leaving the track bolted on him, resulting in a fractured chest and heavy concussion.

TAB meetings: Sunday – Coffs Harbour, Cowra. Monday – Gunnedah. Tuesday – Kempsey, Nowra. Thursday – Muswellbrook. Friday – Wellington. Saturday – Albury.

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Shinn takes honours as Diametric awarded race

Late charge: Blake Shinn storms home on Kaepernick at Randwick on Saturday. Photo: Anthony Johnson Late charge: Blake Shinn storms home on Kaepernick at Randwick on Saturday. Photo: Anthony Johnson
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Late charge: Blake Shinn storms home on Kaepernick at Randwick on Saturday. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Late charge: Blake Shinn storms home on Kaepernick at Randwick on Saturday. Photo: Anthony Johnson

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

Blake Shinn and Tye Angland revived memories of their controversial Metropolitan, with the pair in the Randwick stewards room for the second time in three months over a result involving a pair of Chris Waller runners.

Much like the last time they emerged from a Ray Murrihy hearing, Shinn was the one immediately left smiling as the in-form rider added another twist to the enthralling race for the Sydney jockeys’ premiership.

This time it was Shinn who had an objection upheld, Diametric given the race over Angland’s odds-on favourite The Alfonso at Randwick on Saturday to rack up a winning treble for the premiership’s new pacesetter.

The last time they locked horns in the stewards room was when Angland was fined $200 for his frivolous protest on behalf of Opinion in October’s The Metropolitan, the group 1 staying feature of the Sydney spring.

He was later gifted the race when the first horse past the post, Shinn’s mount Junoob, was disqualified after returning a positive swab to the diuretic Frumeside, which was accidentally administered on race morning. Waller was fined $30,000.

Shinn’s treble aboard Diametric, which stewards agreed was badly hampered at the 75-metre mark when The Alfonso shifted in, as well as She’s Clean and Kaepernick, gave him breathing space from nearest challengers Hugh Bowman, James McDonald and Tommy Berry. “I think I made the right decision [to stay in Sydney],” Shinn said.

Shinn’s success, a day after a canny ride on Midsummer Sun helped Sam Kavanagh clinch back-to-back Gosford Gold cups, lifted him to one-and-a-half wins ahead of Bowman (45). McDonald is a further four-and-a-half wins back, with Berry seemingly the only other contender on 33.

And it needed all of his skills on and off the track to pad the lead. “I think the film is pretty clear cut,” he told stewards. “He [Angland] was in a five-wide position at the time and at the finish he’s taken Paul King’s line [on Laidback Larry]. Until that point [last 50 metres] I haven’t been able to get at my mount fully.”

Angland argued the run Shinn pursued on Diametric, resuming after eight months, had “already closed” and he had maintained a straight line on The Alfonso.

But Waller’s stable representative Peter Muscutt made it clear where he thought the result should rest. “There’s clearly an inward movement from The Alfonso,” Muscutt told stewards, who agreed the half-head margin was too narrow for the race to remain in The Alfonso’s keeping and rubbed Angland out for six meetings.

Earlier, Kaepernick idled up to Godolphin’s talented colt Meursault in the final 100 metres and collared Hawkesbury’s Claret Stakes winner in the final 50 metres to win by half a length in a new track record over the rarely raced distance of 1150 metres on the course proper.

“The Hawkes just said he overraced a little bit [last start] and today the key was to get him settled … wherever he was,” Shinn said. “It could have been second, third, last … it didn’t matter.

“I just rode him patiently and the speed was quite genuine and he was always travelling well. I would have loved to have been a bit closer, but it wasn’t to be. I think he’s capable of certainly stakes level. If he can start showing some consistency in his racing and his form he could develop into a really nice horse.”

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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Michael Hussey’s calf muscle injury strikes Sydney Thunder

Sydney Thunder received a blow ahead of Monday night’s must-win match against the Adelaide Strikers with confirmation skipper Michael Hussey would miss the match because of the calf muscle injury he suffered during the five-wicket loss to Hobart on Friday night.
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The former Test batsman was injured while running between wickets before being dismissed for a run-a-ball nine at the franchise’s first game at Spotless Stadium. The defeat allowed Hobart to leap-frog them into fourth place on the ladder.

Thunder chief executive Nick Cummins said it was too soon to say whether the injury had finished 39-year-old Hussey’s Big Bash campaign.

“We’ll allow for it to settle down so we can get a better indication but he’ll miss the Strikers’ match,” said Cummins. “He’ll travel with the team to Adelaide irrespective of the injury but we’ll wait a few days for a clearer picture.”

Hussey joins teammates Usman Khawaja and Kurtis Patterson on the injured list, but Cummins said the franchise had a host of batsmen capable of ensuring the Thunder added to the two victories they’d already posted this summer.

“It’s disappointing to lose our captain and a match-winner but it is an opportunity for someone else to step up and make runs,” he said. “We’re lucky to have guys like Jacques Kallis, Aiden Blizzard and Jason Roy who are all capable of playing a match-winning innings.”

Compounding the blow, the injury will deny Hussey the opportunity to captain the Prime Minister’s XI against England in Canberra on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, popular Sydney Sixers’ fast bowler Doug Bollinger said when he marks out his run-up in Sunday night’s match against the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba it would be a chance to add some much-needed scalps to his Big Bash tally and yet another audition for Australian honours.

In his five Big Bash matches this season the left-armer has captured just three wickets, however, he insisted the numbers don’t reflect the way he’s bowled. “I’d love a few more wickets, there’s no doubt about that, but as I said to [Sixers’ bowling coach] Geoff Lawson the other day, my run-up is good, the ball feels as though it’s coming out really well but I just need a bit of luck to get some more wickets,” he said.

“But that’s Twenty20 cricket and I’ll just have to keep crunching away … and keep my fingers crossed. I feel good, I feel really fit and feel as though I’m bowling well. I just need the wheel to turn in my favour.”

Bollinger, who played the last of his 12 Tests for Australia in 2010, was determined to make an impression in what remained of the league and then the second half of the Sheffield Shield season to force his way into the Ashes squad and capitalise on the stunning form he displayed during his stint with English county team, Kent. “I’d love one more go to show them I could still do it,” he said of Australian selection.

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Aussie men’s tennis enjoys days in the sun

Brisbane When Roger Federer ended James Duckworth’s maiden ATP quarter-final with a regal flourish on Friday night, the curtain was also drawn on a mostly good news week for Australian men’s tennis. Three locals among the last eight at the Brisbane International was a positive return from six main draw starters, even if none could emulate 2014 champion Lleyton Hewitt by making it to the final weekend.
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With injured Nick Kyrgios unable to contest the Hopman Cup, and replaced first by Matt Ebden, and then cross-continental Marinko Matosevic in a desperate search for healthy manpower, the focus after Hewitt’s swift Brisbane exit switched to those making up a growing support cast. None are inside the top 50, but the troops are arriving in numbers, at last.

“We’ve been saying for a long time now there are Aussies coming through, there are young guys coming through,” says mature-aged success story Sam Groth, the 27-year-old who cracked the top 100 in July, emphatically upstaged Hewitt in Brisbane and has realistic top-50 ambitions. “Until it happens, people question what’s happening in the system and that sort of thing.

“But it’s great that it’s happening here because it makes everybody take notice. If it happens overseas, OK, but right now we are in everyone’s eye in Australia. It’s great. On the back of what happened last year, we had a few guys break through: myself, Nick, doing well. This is our one time of the year to promote tennis in Australia and promote ourselves in Australia. I think all the young guys, myself included, are doing a good job.”

Groth’s point is worth exploring. Indeed, the fact you have read even this far is an indication that this must be January. From saturation coverage in the first month of the year, and the Melbourne Park fortnight in particular, the reality is that within days of the must-watch Australian Open men’s final, the football codes – and this year, cricket, with the World Cup imminent – return to swallow up the precious column centimetres and broadcast minutes. Until Wimbledon – and, to a lesser extent, the French Open – tick around mid-year to revive interest, tennis becomes a much harder sell.

So, while everyone’s buying, what of the local product? It is still all about Kyrgios, of course, as the All England Club quarter-finalist prepares to return to competition in Sydney after a break that stretches back to last September. Davis Cup coach Josh Eagle, who travelled with Kyrgios for several months in 2014, would prefer to dial down the hype. Good luck with that.

“It’s been such an incredible, rapid rise, that there’s still so much for him to learn,” says Eagle of the injury-prone Canberran, who won his maiden grand slam match at last year’s Open. “Nick’s 50 in the world, but has really played about three ATP main draw events in his life, so I think he’s still got so much room to improve.

“He’s going to feel a lot of pressure, no doubt, in the coming weeks and he’s really got to work hard to manage the expectation of the Australian public, but if he can get his body fit and strong and healthy, already on the tennis side of it, his level is really high. So if he can put the tennis and the physicality all together and then be able to mentally deal with the pressure and the expectation, he’s got big improvements to make. But that’s not going to happen quickly.”

His great mate Kokkinakis has jumped from 628 to 149th in just over 12 months, yet continues to gather invaluable experience with every week spent among the big boys. In Brisbane, he upset seasoned world No.25 Julien Benneteau for his best senior win, before a second-round slap-down from Bernard Tomic, but not before an encouraging first tie-break set.

The 18-year-old’s week finished with a doubles semi-final partnering grand slam singles contender Grigor Dimitrov against US Open finalists Kei Nishikori and Alex Dolgopolov, the Kokkinakis warm-up including a few kicks of a hot pink Sherrin with Dimitrov and India Rasheed, eight-year-old daughter of the Bulgarian’s Australian coach, Roger.

Indeed, after a dozen or so training sessions with Federer in Dubai in December, Kokkinakis is now mixing with the best and brightest, and increasingly feeling like he belongs. “The first week was interesting, because Roger didn’t have much of an off-season, so it was pretty relaxed and the sessions weren’t too intense but they were still specific,” says Kokkinakis’  long-time coach Todd  Langman. “But then in the second week he upped his ante, and I remember Thanasi looking up and go ‘All right, here he is now’.”

Kokkinakis is still coming, just as Tomic is returning back from the relative oblivion of the 120s territory where he slumped after a meritorious loss to Tomas Berdych at Wimbledon. It was at the Colombian Open, where he won his second career title, that Tomic’s injury-hit season turned around in July.

“That two, three weeks there was where I sort of felt that I was back. I kept playing a lot of tournaments and finished the year I think 55, 56, so that was very good for me,” said Tomic. “I’m feeling physically better and it’s helping me mentally as well on court to feel good and go for my shots and I play the right tennis I should play to beat these guys.” Shame, then, about the rather ugly 6-0, 6-4 quarter-final loss to Nishikori, but on he goes to Sydney, and then to Melbourne Park.

Which leaves the likes of improvers Groth and Duckworth, the latter still just 22 and better than he showed against a red-hot Federer, as well as the tempestuous but undeniably talented Matosevic and battling Brisbane specialist John Millman, who was not so very far from doing the unthinkable against Federer in the second round.

Duckworth paid a heavy price for Millman’s impertinence, through a 6-0, 6-1 shellacking the following night, as Federer reminded Brisbane, and the world, that this pre-Melbourne detour is about more than swimming with dolphins, flitting about in helicopters and visiting galleries to spruik the host state’s tourism credentials. Federer’s, of course, are unrivalled in a tennis sense, and if Australia’s will never again rival the glory days, then they are also, encouragingly, better than they were.

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Broulee beach shark footage causes controversy

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RARE footage captured of a shark feeding off a dead whale, just metres from a popular South Coast holiday beach, has left a bad taste in some people’s mouths.

The shark was sighted in the shallow waters of Broulee Beach where those daring few stood nearby to get a better view.

Michael Jamescaptured footage of one shark tearing into the whale by attaching his waterproof Go-Pro camera to a Go-Pro rod and submerging it next to a bobbing shark tail when it was closer to shore.

However, he has since been reprimanded by many who have watched the video.

His mother, Trina James, said her son was never in any danger and has become disheartened by the negative commentary.

“At first I was a little taken back that he managed to get close enough to get video footage of the shark from the shore,” she said.

“He is a lifeguard, he wouldn’t do anything to put his life or anybody else’s in danger.

“It’s just such a shame to see so much negative feedback.”

Ms James said her son was well respected in the area.

“He slipped when he was kneeling down to get some more footage and that seems to be what has upset so many people,” she said.

“He got the video for his girlfriend who is really good with photography, so she could have some good footage of the shark.”

The drama began on Wednesday, when a distressed juvenile humpback was noticed on rocks on the Broulee headland.

The whale died before a rescue could be mounted, and quickly became a magnet for sharks, closing beaches and making some swimmers nervous.

Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter crew members reported two 3.5 metre sharks in the water nearby, and there were unconfirmed reports of up to four in the area.

A Eurobodalla surfer dived into the sea to rope the dead whale, timing his dive between shark feeding sessions, so it could be towed away from the popular beach.

He and others towed the carcass in a borrowed boat out to sea to reduce the shark risk.

Despite that,South Broulee, Shark Bay, North Broulee and North Head beaches remained closed all day Wednesday,Thursday and Friday, reopening Saturday morning. It closed briefly that afternoon but has since reopened.

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Lawyer for men charged in Sydney anti-terror raids denies they are threats

Police arrest a man in Greenacre during a counter-terrorism operation. Photo: NSW Police Photos released by police of the Photo: NSW Police
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Western Sydney home raided in counter-terrorism raids

The lawyer for two Sydney men arrested and charged with terror-related activity has denied they have any links to terrorism.

Omar Ammouche, 33, an alleged associate of wanted Sydney jihadist Khaled Sharrouf, was arrested at his Greenacre home on Friday as part of a long-running counter-terrorism investigation by Operation Duntulm, targeting foreign assistance and support provided to foreign fighters.

He was charged with possession of ammunition.

Hours later, Jibryl Alamouie, 21, handed himself in to police at Surry Hills police station. His Condell Park home was raided in December as part of a separate counter-terrorism investigation, Operation Appleby, where three guns and a “large amount” of ammunition were seized, police alleged.

Both were represented at Parramatta Bail Court on Saturday by solicitor Adam Houda when their matters were briefly mentioned and adjourned until Monday when both are expected to apply for bail.

Mr Ammouche is allegedly an associate of Sharrouf, who fled Australia on his brother’s passport in 2013 despite being on the terror watch list and has posted photos of himself on social with severed heads, fighting with Islamic State.

However speaking outside the court, Mr Houda says both of his clients are “absolutely not” terrorists and have “no link whatsoever” to terrorism.

“No one’s charged with any terror-related offences, one of the hallmarks of our justice system is the presumption of innocence. So presume them innocent,” Mr Houda said.

“I can also say that the cases presented in court today are not strong cases, they are weak prosecution cases. And we hope to achieve bail for them on Monday,” he said.

As he left court with co-counsel Moustafa Kheir, Mr Houda said his clients should be released on bail on Monday.

“These matters, as you can see by court documentation, are nothing to do with terrorism or terror-related issues,” Mr Houda said, adding journalists should ask the “relevant authorities” why his clients were accused of terror charges in the first place. “There’s no suggestion at all that there’s any link with any terrorism. No link whatsoever,” he said.

The men will appear at Bankstown Local Court on Monday.

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Nathan Tinkler, FFA on collision course

Nathan Tinkler’s backflip over Jets
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FOOTBALL Federation Australia officials appear to be on a collision course with Newcastle Jets owner Nathan Tinkler after expressing “serious concerns” about the club’s management and denying that they had endorsed his decision to remain at the helm.

Tinkler revealed on Friday that he had taken his A-League franchise off the market, five months after declaring they were for sale and he “can’t wait to get them out the door”.

In a remarkable backflip, the notoriously unpredictable tycoon told the World Game website that he had appointed himself club chairman, after the resignation of long-serving Ray Baartz, and would take a hands-on role in striving to re-establish the Jets as “a winning club”.

In the interview, Tinkler said: ‘‘I have always had the support of the FFA. They have never seen anybody put money into soccer the way I have and despite all the press to the contrary they do appreciate that I am a beyond-loyal supporter of sport in the Hunter Region and they are happy to have my direct involvement in the future.’’

But in a statement issued on Saturday, the governing body appeared far from convinced that Tinkler’s tenure should continue.

“FFA is just one of many stakeholders in Newcastle that needs to be ‎satisfied that the Newcastle Jets are in fact on a new path under the continuing ownership of [Tinkler’s] Hunter Sports Group,” FFA chief executive David Gallop said.

“Our focus remains on the stability and sustainability of each A-League club.

“On that test, the Newcastle Jets’ current operation raises serious concerns.

“FFA will be sending senior executives to Newcastle [on Monday] to examine the club’s operating position.

“In this regard, FFA’s view has not changed in the past 24 hours and it’s premature to suggest that FFA has provided any endorsement.

“What we want to see is a strong Newcastle Jets club with a deep engagement with the Hunter community.

“That’s the core strength of football in the region.”

Unless he can convince FFA otherwise, Tinkler now faces the prospect of being forced to relinquish the Jets, just as he was ousted as Newcastle Knights owner by the NRL last June.

FFA officials Damian de Bohan and John Kelly will visit Jets headquarters on Monday to assess the club’s viability.

In particular, the governing body is understood to be eager to establish whether any of the club’s creditors have outstanding debts.

The Jets’ internet service was cut off on Thursday but a club spokesman said this was because they were “changing” IT providers.

Gallop said on Thursday that FFA “wants to see the ownership situation resolved as soon as possible”.

Scottish Premier League club Dundee United were in talks with the Jets about a possible takeover and there had been preliminary discussions with other parties.

It is understood Dundee remain interested but Tinkler withdrew from negotiations because they would not meet his $5 million asking price.

“There were interested parties out there previously. The process went on for about six months but as our performances on the field fizzled, so did the offers,” Tinkler was quoted as saying.

Tinkler’s comments about Baartz and Jets chief executive Robbie Middleby, who resigned simultaneously on Thursday, in his World Game interview are unlikely to have been well received in FFA’s corridors of power.

While Gallop said on Thursday Baartz and Middleby “are committed Newcastle football people and have given so much to the Jets”, Tinkler appeared to blame the two former Socceroos for the club’s lack of his success during his tenure.

“They are passionate football supporters who love the town, and their backing has been wonderful over the last four years,” Tinkler said.

“But, unfortunately for these guys a lot of the decisions they made over the years haven’t come off. You recruit the best people you think at the time and it may, or may not work.

“But they had to courage to live by their decisions and they have died by their decisions and full credit to them. They have my full respect but the club must move on.”

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