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Gai, Munce to team up again

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 15 Desember 2013 | 23.01

Chris Munce and Gai Waterhouse, deep in conversation here, will combine again for the Magic Millions. Source: News Limited

THE lethal jockey-trainer combination of Chris Munce and Gai Waterhouse has been resurrected ahead of another Magic Millions campaign.

Munce has been booked to ride Echo Gal in the Bruce McLachlan Stakes (1200m) on December 28.

And should jockey Tommy Berry fail this week to have two meetings shaved off a 10-meeting suspension he picked up in Hong Kong, Munce will then have the job of steering Echo Gal in the $2 million Magic Millions Classic (1200m) on January 11.

Munce and Waterhouse have enjoyed plenty of success on the holiday strip, with Magic Millions Classic wins with Excellerator and Dance Hero, while Snowland also started favourite, only to get rolled and struggle with the heat.

"I liked her (Echo Gal) win the other day, it was typical of a Gai horse, very professional, she bounced and run and was strong at the finish," said Munce, in reference to Echo Gal's Warwick Farm debut romp.

"She's going to turn up here well educated and very fit for the run. I think it's a very open race at this stage."

Echo Gal is the TAB $5 joint favourite with Oakleigh Girl, who only just fell in as an odds-on favourite at Doomben on Saturday.

While Munce said a few Queensland horses could not be dismissed, including Bassillique and Ruby Soho, Berry was more worried about the Sydneysiders, including Bjorn Baker's Unencumbered.

"I think Unencumbered is the one to beat at this stage, and I didn't think the horses in Queensland weren't overly impressive yesterday," Berry said.

"I really like Echo Gal, and the one thing the race has done is switch her on more. She was really switched on when I cantered her around the other morning.

"She looks good, and is very similar to (2012 Magic Millions winner) Driefontein with her mannerisms. Driefontein was more stocky, but Echo Gal has the better turn of foot. I think she's a better chance than Driefontein the year she won it."

While all eyes will be on Echo Gal after Christmas, several other leading contenders will rev up their own campaigns in the Wyonf Magic Millions on Thursday, including Garry Frazer's smart filly Sheer Style.

A $6.50 Magic Millions second favourite with Nordic Empire _ who will run second-up at Canterbury on Saturday week _ Sheer Style worked impressively at Hawkesbury on Saturday morning, which left Blake Shinn seriously impressed.

Trainer Garry Frazer said Sheer Style should have won on debut, ran into Darley's star filly Earthquake second-up, before showing her class to win at Ballarat last start.

"She's put on five kilos since she's come back from Melbourne, and she's been terrific," Frazer said.

"She's never been shin sore, touch wood, and she's eaten everything. She's still got improvement, and she'll need that improvement if she's going to get to the Gold Coast."

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Trainers angry at surface

Brendon Avdulla wins on Koroibete on the much-maligned Randwick track. Photo: Mark Evans Source: MARK EVANS / News Limited

THE honeymoon is offically over for the $1.6 million Kensington track with Saturday's surface labelled "crap" and "rubbish".

Despite being hailed as one of the best tracks in Australia after racing returned there on October 7, the Kensington deck was about as forgiving as nearby Alison Rd.

Trainer Joe Pride was filthy with the surface, and said he would have left his team of horses at home had he known it would be so hard. His veteran stayer Maluckyday was so sore that his summer campaign has now been aborted.

Fellow trainer David Payne also noted his only runner for the afternoon, Dowdstown Charlie, "jarred up".

Pride asked why Kensington wasn't given more watering, and the fact six class records were run on Saturday backed up his argument.

"I would have kept my horses at home had I known that's what I was going to get yesterday," Pride said.

"It was rubbish to turn that out, just crap.

"I had four horses run yesterday, and three times the jockeys came back and said the track was too hard.

"I don't see how it was good for punters. If you weren't on the fence or on the pace you couldn't win. They were running fields of 14, but it might as well have been six because eight horses couldn't win.

"We all know the track can cope with water, so why not give it a good soak during the week?

"They (the Australian Turf Club officials) ask the jockeys what they think of the surface, but they don't ask the trainers because they might hear what they don't necessarily want to hear. They even ask the winning jockey how it feels, but of course they're going to say the track feels right.

"Maluckyday is stiff and sore. I've spent a lot of time getting him into the right frame of mind to win races, but I've done damage to him mentally and physically he's sore. I feel bad for sending him around."

Pride will inform stewards about how his team were worse for wear after Saturday. He said he would have complained even if he had won the feature Villiers Stakes with hard-luck story Destiny's Kiss, or the Christmas Cup with Maluckyday.

Leading trainer Chris Waller said of the Kensington track: "It does look like a firm surface, but it's a track we have to get used to. I'd compare it to Caulfield and Flemington, which can also dry very quickly and also at time be too firm. Maybe we can work with the club about getting more water on it."

Randwick track boss Nevesh Ramdhani was surprised when told about the trainers' gripes, saying: "I spoke to a few jockeys and they told me it felt great. It would have got five or six mils a day of water, and all up 40mls for the week."

The Villiers Stakes meeting was only switched to the Kensington track because the Randwick course proper was deemed not "optimum".

It was the fourth successive week a race meeting was held on the inner track. A fifth meeting will be run Friday.

The Randwck course proper will definitely be ready for a return on Boxing Day.

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Aussies force feeding humble pie

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WHEN England's 84-page touring food guide leaked out at the start of the tour one dish not mentioned was humble pie.

But it was force-fed to the beaten and broken tourists in Perth on Sunday by the lashing.

Don't underestimate what you have seen in the past three Tests. This England team had lost none of their past 13 Tests before landing here.

Australia have soared to rare heights this series.

When Australia beat India in India in 2004, it set a benchmark for pristine planning and high class bowling it felt may never be matched.

Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Shane Warne and Michael Kasprowicz provided a four-man choker hold and India's batsmen were subdued by a series of plans which just kept coming off.

But the strangulation of England this summer rivals that great achievement.

In both cases Australia bowled barely a bad over, never mind a bad session.

Each Australian bowler has done his job. Team plans have been clear, concise and no less effective for being obvious.

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Australia has squeezed England until they have turned blue in the face.

None of Australia's five main bowlers have averaged more than a frugal 2.73 runs per over.

All of the fast men have exceptional averages per wicket with Mitchell Johnson (19 at 14) leading the way from Ryan Harris (11 at 19), Peter Siddle (10 at 17) while spinner Nathan Lyon (seven at 34) has done his job.

Normally an attack has a weak link. But this one links a chain which England simply cannot break.


STATISTICS can lie at times but at others can be brutally revealing.

The last time England visited our shores Alastair Cook made 302 runs in total in the opening Test of the series.

As of Sunday - the halfway point of the series - the top English run-scorer, Michael Carberry, had a feeble tally of 157 runs.

England are yet to score a century with Joe Root's Adelaide 87 their best score.


FORMER England captain Michael Vaughan loves playing the Ashes antagonist and will stir up Australian fans when given any hint of an English uprising.

But he is a realist at heart. When openers David Warner and Chris Rogers roared to a century opening stand on Sunday Vaughan tweeted "this is officially embarrassing."

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STUART Broad was not the first batsman sent to hospital by Mitchell Johnson and he won't be the last.

Broad went for scans after being struck on the foot and trapped palpably lbw by Johnson.

Among Johnson's previous victims have been South African skipper Graeme Smith with dual hand fractures and Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara who sustained a broken finger.


WILL this Ashes tour be off-spinner Graeme Swan's farewell for England?

At age 34 he is close to the end and is already being courted by television cricket broadcasters for commentary roles for which he seems certain to be a future star.

Swann's press conferences are among the most entertaining in the game.

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BEN Stokes' Ashes tour averages are not pretty but there is something about him that impresses.

At just 22 he has been thrown in the hottest of cauldrons - literally - and has shown enough to suggest he will be a player to be reckoned with.

His robust pacework has pushed the speedometre into the mid-140kphs and his batting work has at times shown bravery.


SHOULD no-ball checks for wicket balls be made compulsory?

This is one suggestion after the developing farce which is the constant and annoying post-dismissal referrals for no-ball checks which drains some of the game's most precious moments of their electric crackle.

In an "if you can't beat them join them" solution one umpire has privately suggested batsmen should head to the dressing room as if their fate is settled after being dismissed while the delivery is routinely checked by the third umpire and they could be called back via a red or green light if the ball is deemed illegal.

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Anger over resting Eagle Farm

BRC chairman Neville Bell says the Eagle Farm upgrade is a necessity. Photo: Steve Pohlner Source: Steve Pohlner / News Limited

THE Eagle Farm track upgrade has become a hot topic again with trainers taking aim at the programming of the entire summer carnival at Doomben.

After hosting nine meetings in 33 days up to November 27, Eagle Farm has been rested to recuperate.

Saturday's Doomben meeting, which had the first two stakes races for two-year-olds this season in Brisbane, plus another three Listed races, is traditionally run at Eagle Farm.

Doomben will race eight times in the 29 days from November 30.

Trainers have taken aim at both the Brisbane Racing Club and Racing Queensland, demanding answers as to why Eagle Farm is being rested in the middle of Brisbane's second biggest carnival of the year.

Trainer Tony Gollan was reluctant to comment, fearing it would be seen as sour grapes, but he voiced his concerns long before Saturday's meeting.

"Do the VRC rest Flemington for the autumn carnival?," Gollan said.

"It makes no sense to not have use of our No.1 track for our second most important carnival of the year."

BRC chairman Neville Bell said he sympathised with the position of trainers, but said it came back to funding being needed to upgrade the Eagle Farm course proper.

"Unfortunately the state of the Eagle Farm track (after nine meetings) meant it had to be renovated," he said.

"The reconstruction of Eagle Farm should now be the highest priority for the industry infrastructure spend.

"Eagle Farm is the biggest strategic asset for the industry and after being a loyal servant for 140 years, it's now beyond its life span."

Bell said 50-60 per cent of the wagering in this state is done on metropolitan racing.

Premier trainer Rob Heathcote said he was not interested in the politics, just getting the fix done.

"It is essential because our showpiece track needs urgent replacement," Heathcote said.

"This is a major economic contributor to this state and we need urgent government help. Everybody knows it. It's long overdue."

It is understood there are issues surrounding how much money the BRC will be granted. A figure of $10 million is needed for the track upgrade, but another $12 million for tunnels, the latter likely to come in the form of a loan to the BRC.

RQ chief executive Darren Condon said the matter is "still a very high priority for the board", but pointed out the BRC had no allocation under the original infrastructure plan.

"We have been able to restructure so Eagle Farm can be included, but it's unreasonable to suggest $110 million is going to solve all of the industry issues," Condon said.

Meanwhile, an announcement is expected in the next week on a refurbishment of the Ipswich track.

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Rogers in awe of Warner strokeplay

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CHRIS Rogers can understand England sledging David Warner because he is "so annoying" but has advised them to save their breath.

Warner was engaged in several verbal shootouts with keeper Matt Prior, who missed stumpings off him on 13 and 89, and changed direction to momentarily run straight at Prior as he raised his fifth Test century.

Asked whether England made a mistake in sledging Warner, Rogers quipped "he is so annoying you have to" and tipped England would get their own back when they batted again.

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"You only had to look at his celebration. It obviously meant a lot to him and the fact that he could give it back to a few of the English guys. It may drive him. England may have to do something different," Rogers said.

"There is a lot of intensity out there and things are said.

"We are all men and we are happy to deal with it out there. Davey was quite fired up and so be it and it just means it will come back around in the next innings."

Warner's 112 on Sunday was his sixth ton in just over two months following three Ryobi Cup centuries, one in the Sheffield Shield, and another in the Brisbane Test.

His game has reached a stratosphere where team-mates such as Rogers are in awe of his skill.

"He makes me look stupid at times," Rogers said.

"It is not that easy out there. I don't think anyone could play as well as he is at the moment. It is unbelievable. Just watching from down the other end you don't get to see it too often.

"He just has an option for every ball. That is an amazing skill to have. He can make bad balls happen. To hit fast bowlers over their heads for six ... well done mate."

Seasoned English scribes claimed Sunday was one of the worst days England has experienced this century and one of the few occasions when their highly professional unit fell apart.

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Prior's shoddy keeping, which also included a missed catch he did not even go for, embodied the faltering standards of a team feeling the strain.

Given Warner first entered big time cricket as a Twenty20 player he has done well to get to that rare place where he can make subtle changes to his freewheeling game for the pressures of Test cricket.

He is luxuriating in the freedom - for the third Ashes Test in succession - of coming to the crease in the second innings with Australia having their foot on England's throat.

For much of his innings on Sunday it was obvious he was in no mood to negotiate terms with England and briefly he eyed the possibility of a century in a session between lunch and tea.

The force was so much with Australia that you sensed he could have done almost anything and still survived as he hoisted his series returns to 457 runs at a Bradmanesque 91.4.

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England have struggled to mount a competitive game plan against Warner this series because his game has been so broad. Off both feet, on both sides of the wicket against all forms of bowling he is a dangerous player.

His career Test numbers - five centuries in 25 matches, an average of 43 at a rumbling strike rate of 70 - now pass any scrutiny as he forms an odd couple opening union with veteran Rogers, a dry-witted character in his own right.

Both are pocket-sized left handed but there the similarity ends.

One is a scrapper, the other a spitting volcano. One is in the mid-point of his career, the other near the end.

Rogers has the owlish look of the thoughtful soul that he is while Warner is more of an instinct player.

But just for the moment they are a perfect union for a team which should celebrate Ashes victory as soon as today.

After his century he went down on one knee and lifted Graeme Swann 20 metres over the mid-on fence but many of his boundaries were less audacious cuts and drives.

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Jockeys right to be questioned

Ken Callandar rates Brendon Avdulla's ride on Koroibete at Randwick as the best of the weekend. Source: MARK EVANS / News Limited

CLEARLY the biggest racing story of the weekend has been the heavy grilling by stewards of ace jockeys Hugh Bowman on Friday night and Glyn Schofield on Saturday over their rides on Fulminate and The Alfonso.

Congratulations to the stipes, they need to ask hard questions and punters need to know the answers. Both horses were hot favourites and, from the stands, both rides did not look great as the horses steamed home from last on the turn to run second.

The inquiry into Bowman's ride on Fulminate has been adjourned to date to be fixed. A reading of the stewards report after detailing the jockey's explanation made it quite clear that trainer David Vandyke was critical of the ride.

Schofield's explanation was accepted after lengthy questioning. If you saw the first race on Saturday, one thing that cannot be argued, is The Alfonso was a good thing beaten.


The Villiers-Summer Cup double, formerly one of the great features of Sydney racing, has been ruined.

Not many years ago the Summer Cup on Boxing Day always attracted one of Randwick's top five attendances of the year, often as high as number three. This year, with a chopped about race shortened to 2000m, plus a raft of restricted events, it will attract a gathering rather than a crowd.

And the Villiers, by tradition Randwick's third biggest Saturday of the year, was a nothing event on Saturday run a week earlier than it should have been. The Villiers has almost always, in its 120-odd year history, been run on the Saturday before Christmas amid great holiday fanfare. Why the change?

The Championships, listed for next Easter, are a fabulous innovation, but everything else does not have to suffer in Sydney. The Golden Slipper programme has been carved up, the city's best long distance race, the BMW, has had its prizemoney slashed and now the big Summer double, the Villiers and Summer Cup, is no more.

Melbourne is Australia's leading racing city and it has built on its reputation by enhancing ready made great races, not wrecking them.


If the Villiers did not attract a star studded field it did attract star rides with Peter Robl on Ninth Legion and Kerrin McEvoy on Limes both turning in ace performances.

Another jockey who deserves a pat on the back after the weekend is Jason Collett, who rode a winning treble at Canterbury on Friday night and, although not long out of his apprenticeship, he is making good judges sit up and take notice week after week.


Do you know in the 1960s when Randwick held between 30-35 meetings a year, the false rail was only put in place about three times a year?

I realise the advantages of the new easy to erect modern aluminium rails and the advantages of having a fresh pad of grass to race on, but, as a punter, I know the problems associated with some rails movements.

I don't think we should race at Rosehill or Canterbury with the rail six metres out. There is too much bias as was shown once again at Canterbury on Friday night. At Rosehill more often than not such a rail placement produces follow the leader races with horses out wide unable to make ground.


While on tracks, before we go overboard about the new Kensington circuit it should be noted that trainers with the credibility of Joe Pride and Chris Waller are worried about the effects on horses who race on the surface, claiming it could be too hard. If there is a problem it should be looked at quickly.


The giggle of the week (if it wasn't so serious) is everybody who is trying to distance themselves from Bill Vlahos after the BC3 debacle.



Brenton Avdulla on Koroibete. A gem and a top notch jockey despite his youth.


Ninth Legion. Burnt the candle at both ends and showed a great willingness to win.


The Alfonso didn't win, but should have.

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Bart's primed for Xmas Duet

Bart Cummings and grandson James are hoping Duet wins at Randwick on Friday. Photo: Colleen Petch Source: Colleen Petch / News Limited

JAMES and Bart Cummings celebrated Christmas yesterday - and hopefully they'll be celebrating a win on Friday with the aptly-named Duet.

It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks for the famous racing family, which started with Bart calling time on the five-month training partnership with his grandson James, only to quickly do a backflip and claim it was back on.

James said on Saturday after The Peak won at Flemington the dust-up had been blown out of proportion, and maintained that view yesterday when contacted by The Daily Telegraph.

"It really was a mountain out of a mole hill," Cummings said.

"I couldn't afford to think about (the split) because 'confidence lost, everything lost'.

"We've got the aptly-named Duet going around Friday night (at Kensington), and we've got Blazing Dragon ready to run out of her skin over 2500m at Flemington on Saturday."

One big change that has taken place with the Cummings' set-up is Bart's long-serving Sydney lieutenant Bill Charles is gone.

"Let's just say Cummings and Cummings is under new manageent," James said when asked about Charles's exit.

Cummings also explained the reason for him leaving the country after the Melbourne spring, which was said to have upset several staffers. It was not a simple case of meeting the future "in-laws", he said.

"Monica's (paternal) grandfather passed away 12 months ago, and her grandmother, Lolita Mimi, who is a lovely lady I just met, Monica hadn't seen her in many years," Cummings said.

"We caught up with her in Canada, and you have to make that effort because you never know when the last chance will be (to see them again). There's a never quiet time."

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Suns deny Hunt will return to NRL

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AUSSIE RULES convert Karmichael Hunt will stay with the Gold Coast Suns next season after the Brisbane Broncos failed to lure him back to rugby league.

Despite intense speculation that he was about to walk away from the final year of his contract, the Suns announced last night Hunt, who was 27 last month, would remain with the club.

His future with the Suns beyond next season is uncertain but he would need to have an injury free run and play more than the nine games he did this year to earn another deal in the AFL.

The Suns, already one player down for next season after sacking Campbell Brown after his fight with teammate Steven May, would not want to go into next season with another vacancy on their list.

After his shock defection to Aussie Rules for $3 million, Hunt silenced his citicis, who labelled his signing by the new AFL club has a publicity stunt, when he made a solid contribution in the club's inaugural season in 2011.

A club spokesman for the Suns said last night the club understood the interest in Hunt's future but there had been no discussions with him or his management about playing beyond 2014

"These discussions will take place in due course," the spokesman said.

Hunt played 16 games in 2011 and earnt himself a contract extension in 2012 when he played 18 games and developed into a midfielder. He was also the hero in 2012 when he delivered the club its first win of the season with an after the siren goal that gave the Suns a two point victory over Richmond in Cairns.

He was troubled with hamstring tendinitis this season and his nine games took his career tally to 43, the 13th most on the club's list.

Hunt signed a three year deal worth $3 million in 2010 when the club allowed him to play with Biarritz Olympique in the Top 14 French Rugby union competition.

Karmichael Hunt and Titan's Nate Myles catch up during a cross-code training session. Source: News Limited

After making his debut with the Suns, he became the first Australian sportsperson to have reached the elite professional level in three different football codes.

Hunt signed a new deal during the 2012 season for 2013 and 2014.

Another rugby league star Israel Folau made headlines when he signed with Greater Western Sydney for the 2011 season but failed to adopt to Aussie Rules and has since become a star for the Wallabies in rugby league.

The Gold Coast Titans had also been in talks with Hunt's management during the year with Titans boss Graham Annesley saying they have room in the salary cap to make a play for Hunt.

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