Tabcorp shares slump despite profit result

TABCORP shares slumped yesterday despite a solid full-year result as the market took issue with the company’s earnings outlook.
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Tabcorp reported a net profit of $340 million in the year to June 30, down from $534.8 million in 2010-11, but the prior year included earnings from the casino business, which was demerged in June last year.

Based on continuing operations the net profit was 12.7 per cent higher than the $301.6 million reported last year driven by strong earnings growth and lower interest expenses following the demerger.

But Tabcorp shares slumped as much as 5 per cent during trading yesterday after the company flagged higher costs and lower-than-expected earnings from Victorian wagering business.

The termination of Tabcorp’s poker machine licence in Victoria next week will leave it with $17 million of corporate and IT costs to be allocated across the continuing business and higher racefield product fees. Tabcorp also warned that the terms of its new wagering licence in Victoria are ”significantly different” to the current licence, which expires next week.

If the new licence had applied to the Victorian wagering business this year its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) would have been $150.2 million not the $229 million reported. ”The company has guided to pro forma wagering earnings of $150 million, which compares to our FY14 forecast of $190 million,” said Deutsche Bank analyst Mark Wilson.

The company was also keeping quiet on its plans to recover the $687 million it is owed in compensation as a result of its poker machine licence being cancelled next week.

Tabcorp chief executive David Attenborough said the company is ”looking at all options” but has not made a decision ahead of August 23 when the payment is due.

Tabcorp will lose its biggest profit engine with the loss of its pokie duopoly in Victoria but is looking to offset the loss with its new Keno licence in Victoria and the poker machine services business TGS.

The latter is on track to record underlying earnings of $55 million per annum based on the 8500 poker machines it has signed up.

In 2011-12, Tabcorp’s online wagering operations generated $2.16 billion in turnover, growing by 14.5 per cent compared to the prior year.

Fixed odds revenues were the highlight, growing by 41.5 per cent to $321.4 million. Totalisator revenues continued to decline as the market shifted to fixed odds betting where the profit margins are lower and Tabcorp faces strong competition from new entrants.

The company declared a final dividend of 11¢ a share full franked and said it targeted a dividend payout ratio of 80 per cent of net profit excluding the expected $47 million write-off of Victorian gaming goodwill in the current half year. Tabcorp shares closed 3.3 per cent lower, down 11¢, at $3.20.

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Not upwardly mobile, Telstra holds the line

THERE are not too many analysts with a buy recommendation on Telstra. Of late, there have been plenty downgrading it to hold or even sell. At the $4 level at which the company has been trading, this is no surprise.
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Telstra needed to pull a rabbit out of a hat yesterday to justify a ”buy” tag. It didn’t.

It produced earnings that were a bit shy of analysts’ expectations given the second half was a bit weaker than the first. The share price dipped 8¢ to $3.89 in response.

It’s not that Telstra has done anything wrong. It is still performing well, churning out cash, and sucking up handouts from the government to compensate it for the building of NBN infrastructure.

But the strong growth in mobiles it has experienced over the past couple of years will start to taper off in 2013. Telstra still expects to increase its subscriber numbers but not at the same rate.

It will look to offset this by increasing prices, but has to manage this process carefully to avoid the previous mistakes of overpricing and losing market share.

The game is not up in mobiles, but having now reached 60 per cent market share there is a limit to the pace of growth.

There are some brighter spots in the pipeline in other Telstra businesses areas, such as Network Application Services, which provides communications solutions to large organisations.

The Hong Kong-based CSL put in a good performance, as did the global connectivity business. But in absolute terms they are small, relative to mobiles.

And then there are the troublesome businesses.

Sensis – better known as the Yellow Pages directories business – continued to go backwards, with print revenue falling 22 per cent and margins slipping by 9 percentage points.

The headwinds from the decline in revenue from the fixed copper network continue.

The latest numbers (although not provided by Telstra) say 14 per cent of households no longer have fixed line connections. The trend will continue and more likely than not it will accelerate.

As is always the case with Telstra, the emerging technologies are required to offset those in decline. In 2012, the company managed to post a modest rise in revenue of 1.1 per cent, and an equally modest improvement in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 0.8 per cent – both of which were inside guidance.

The company’s outlook statement paints a fairly similar outcome for 2013 – low single-digit income and EBITDA growth.

One of the reasons these forecasts can be relied on is the stellar job Telstra is doing in managing its cost base, and we should expect to see more of this in 2013.

While these results are not the sort to generally excite the market, there are a series of other factors weighing in to Telstra’s share price performance, which this year alone has risen 16 per cent – more than 2½ times the rest of the market.

Its a combination of a flight to yield and reliability.

And this is scarce commodity at the moment.

There will be other companies reporting bigger improvements in 2012 earnings, but none have quantified a near-guaranteed dividend.

Given the rise in Telstra’s share price, the yield isn’t as attractive as it was a year ago but it certainly not bad at just over 7 per cent.

The other solid bit of information is that the government will drip-feed billions into Telstra’s coffers in upcoming years – $420 million was received in 2012.

While analysts now take the view that on financial fundamentals Telstra is fully priced, the trouble for investors is that there are few solid options out there in the market.

Punters can make a bet and buy plenty of what appear to be cheap stocks trading on low price earnings multiples, but they run the risk that earnings won’t improve or may even slide and dividends will fall.

With commodity prices falling, investors have been bailing out of the big stocks such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.

There are myriad cyclical stocks, but most have risks associated with the broader economic environment.

Telstra is far less sensitive to the vagaries of consumer sentiment, although mobile revenue from the small business segment did suffer in 2012.

But where is the next growth driver?

There is no real suggestion from management that Telstra will spend up big on acquisitions.

Rather, it appears to be placing its bets (and $500 million of capital expenditure this year) on its new 4G mobile network. Right now this reaches only 40 per cent of the market.

But increasing capex is not always as popular with shareholders as it is with management.

While investors were not really expecting any capital management announcements yesterday, nor an increase in dividends, either one would have offset any earnings disappointments and resulted in Telstra’s share price ticking up even further.

The author owns Telstra shares.

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Changes from the waste up hit stumbling block

IT IS shaping up as this year’s most toxic board scrap over the remnants of a listed hazardous waste company.
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Dolomatrix wasted no time yesterday announcing that its 19.9 per cent shareholder of only two weeks, Roger Collison, had been appointed as its new managing director – and announcing plans to transform itself from a toxic waste concern into listed investment company.

Logical, one would think, given the state of financial markets. Dolomatrix cited Collison’s ”skills and experience as a funds manager”. But not all Dolomatrix shareholders appear to agree. The head of Brisbane fund manager Trojan Equity, Troy Harry, has lobbed a requisition of meeting seeking the removal of Collison and his appointment to the board with former Dolomatrix director Greg Soghomonian and Wilson Asset Management director James Chirnside.

Harry, like Collison, snapped up his 13 per cent stake after Dolomatrix paid a 35¢-a-share capital return to its shareholders after offloading its waste management business. Wilson has a 10 per cent stake, and the Soghomonian-chaired Weston Aluminium a 13.5 per cent stake.Banking ranking

RESERVE Bank assistant governor Guy Debelle provided some comfort yesterday to patriotic sports fans unhappy about Australia’s ranking on the Olympic gold medal tally, especially when compared with Team Great Britain. ”Australian banks are also benefiting from the fact that they look good compared with other banks in the world,” Debelle assured a Senate inquiry into the banking sector in Sydney yesterday. ”The risk premium on Australian banks is nowhere near as high as the risk premium on some Spanish banks.” He went further: ”We’ll get some back for the Olympics here … it’s true for UK banks too. The UK banks’ risk premiums are much higher at the moment than Australian banks.”Soft touch?

ASCIANO managing director John Mullen seems to be a softer touch when its comes to negotiating the pay rates of other chief executives, as opposed to the stevedore workers on his company’s docks.

Four months after Asciano ended its 20-month standoff with the maritime union by signing a new enterprise bargaining agreement, Telstra disclosed yesterday that its remuneration committee had approved an 8.7 per cent lift in the annual fixed pay of its chief executive, David Thodey, to $2.65 million from October.

This is on top of the 6 per cent fixed-pay rise Thodey received last October. Telstra, whose remuneration committee is chaired by Mullen, said Thodey’s fixed-pay increase would take him to the ”ASX 20 CEO market median”. Telstra said it would also seek shareholder approval for a lift in its non-executive fee pool from $3 million to $3.5 million. It disclosed that Thodey’s total pay increased from $5.1 million to $7.7 million in the year to

June 30. Telstra also disclosed that its former chief financial officer, John Stanhope, was paid a $745,000 termination benefit and secured a $600,000 12-month consulting deal ”to ensure a seamless transition on NBN-related matters”.Gray area

SIRTEX Medical has joined the list of ”first-strikers” to try to placate its shareholders before this annual meeting season, averting having a ”second strike” recorded against its remuneration report.

This would have forced its directors to automatically stand for re-election.

But the cancer treatment company’s issuing of a ”remuneration update” yesterday might struggle to avert another 25 per cent or above vote against its pay report, given the current board’s toxic relations with Sirtex’s former chairman and 17 per cent shareholder, Bruce Gray.

Sirtex provided a lengthy five-page explanation on how it had increased the ”difficulty of achieving the vesting conditions” of the performance rights granted to executives and so on. Sirtex’s remuneration committee chairman, John Eady, argued that his board had ”improved the company’s remuneration structure while enforcing its values and culture”.

But it remains doubtful Sirtex will win over one key shareholder, despite its shares hitting a 30-month high this week and tripling since Gray was dumped as chairman in August 2006.

Gray, at last year’s annual meeting, voted against all the resolutions put before shareholders.

After being dumped as chairman in 2006, Gray failed in his bid to have Eady, Grant Boyce and Sirtex chairman Richard Hill dumped from the board.

Got a tip? [email protected]南京夜网.au

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Switched-on iPad infants put to the test

A TODDLER sits with a magazine in front of her, sliding her fingers across the pages then waiting expectantly for them to transform at her touch. It is clear from the video that she believes the magazine is an iPad.
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The next part of the YouTube clip shows the girl comfortably playing with an actual iPad. It ends with a message from the girl’s mother: ”For my one-year-old daughter a magazine is an iPad that does not work.”

For infant and child development psychologist Dr Jordy Kaufman, the YouTube video’s message is not surprising. But what he did find interesting was the strong reaction people had to it.

”The comments were very telling in terms of the feelings people have towards kids using touchscreen devices,” he says. ”Lots of people think it’s really funny, really cool. And there’s a lot of people who get the heebie-jeebies from it and think, ‘What are we doing to our kids?’.”

Dr Kaufman says the effects on children’s brain development from iPads are still largely unknown.

At a time when the popularity of touchscreen apps targeting infants and toddlers is exploding, Dr Kaufman, founder and director of the Swinburne Baby Lab, decided it was time that specific research was done.

So far, most research and warnings concerning children’s use of iPads has been based on research involving TV viewing. ”There is enough research showing television, especially some types of television, can have a detrimental effect on children,” Dr Kaufman says. ”But to assume it’s bad for all sorts of vices seems to be painting with an overly broad stroke.”

Dr Kaufman says the research, which has so far tested 46 children aged four to six, involves examining their attention and problem-solving capabilities after using an iPad compared with using real toys. For example, as part of the study, children are being asked to solve a problem using a wooden model. They are also asked to solve the same problem using an iPad app. After they have played, they are given a test to assess their attention.

Dr Kaufman also gets children to participate in drawing, colouring and block building, both physically and on iPads. Preliminary findings have shown that for some children, touchscreens appear to motivate and enhance learning rather than hinder it.

Dr Kaufman also said results were indicating that calm, creative activities on the touchscreen, such as painting, were similar to their ”real world” counterparts in that they ”do not seem to adversely affect children’s behaviour or attention in the short term”.

He hopes the study will help parents make more informed choices. ”Technology is changing so quickly, and what we really have to try to do from a science and societal perspective is try to have the research not lag too far behind that.”

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Banks’ $2 fee has big effect

Australians have banking economists stumped.AUSTRALIANS have banking economists stumped.
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They thought they knew what we would do when in 2009 the Reserve Bank outlawed largely hidden payments between financial institutions that were usually passed on to us as account-keeping fees whenever we used a so-called ”foreign” teller machine owned by another bank.

They thought we would do nothing.

In place of the indirect fees were direct fees in which the owner of each foreign ATM took the money directly from our accounts each time we made a foreign withdrawal.

But the size of the charge, typically two dollars, didn’t change. All of the economic models – including the Reserve Bank’s own model – suggested we would use ATMs pretty much as we had before. The incentives were much as they had been.

Instead withdrawals from foreign machines dived from around half of all ATM withdrawals to just 40 per cent. Among senior citizens the proportion fell to less than 10 per cent. The group the Reserve Bank had thought would be the least able to shop around turned out to be the keenest to drive across entire suburbs to avoid the two-dollar charge.

A Reserve Bank study released yesterday says it’s behaviour that ”cannot be accounted for by the model of ATM fees presented in this or any other existing paper”.

To work out why, it has turned to research on retailing and a finding that point-of-sale displays can change purchasing decisions even when they convey no new information.

It says one of the reforms it introduced in 2009 was effectively a ”point-of-sale prompt”. Since then every foreign user attempting to complete a transaction has been presented with a message reminding them of the fee and asking them to press a button to either continue or cancel. An astonishing 10 per cent of us confess to cancelling at least once in the past month.

The RBA’s tentative conclusion is that it is not the fee that is frightening us, it is being continually told about it.

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Bully campaign brings film to younger viewers

Lee Hirsch’s film Bully does not make for easy viewing.LEE Hirsch knows the subject matter of his documentary Bully all too well. “I was bullied as a kid,” says the 40-year-old New Yorker, in town for the film festival. “It was gangs of guys who’d make it their sport to get at me every day before I got home from school.”
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In a sense there is nothing special about that; this year, 13 million kids in the US will be bullied in one way or another. And for many of them, as for him, the worst thing about it will be the inability of the victim to let the people around them understand what’s going on.

“I remember so well not being able to get across what happens, and eventually you start to internalise it and shut down and not talk about it,” he says. “My dad is not a bad father but he’s 93 and fought in World War 2 and his attitude was just, like, ‘Man up’, you know. He wouldn’t come and fight with me, which I think is what I wanted.”

Hirsch unashamedly sees his film as a piece of agit prop, a much-needed weapon in the war on bullying. The film has extended outwards into a broad-ranging campaign under the umbrella of thebullyproject南京夜网. More than 125,000 kids have seen it in the States, a figure he hopes to triple in the next few months.

But Bully has been the subject of a campaign too. Earlier this year, the Motion Picture Association of America gave it an R rating on account of its language; kids under 18 could only see it in the company of a parent or guardian. After an online campaign that gathered more than 500,000 signatures and the support of Ellen de Generes and Meryl Streep, and after Hirsch cut a few curse words, the MPAA reclassified it as PG13.

“On one level it was because people felt the film, the story, was important, but also I think they were really sick and tired of that hypocritical guidance from the MPAA that said violence is fine, treating women badly is fine too,” Hirsch says. “You know The Hunger Games, which is about teenagers getting murdered, got a PG13. It just kind of rallied everybody.”

Not that Bully makes for easy viewing. The treatment meted out to young Alex Libby in particular is appalling — so much so that Hirsch eventually showed footage of what was happening to Alex to his parents and his school because he feared for his life.

There’s a happy ending to this story, though. “Alex is the greatest miracle to me in the world,” Hirsch says. “He’s really had a shine since the movie came out. He’s become so confident and outgoing and funny. He’s an activist and he speaks to thousands of kids. He makes you feel that change is possible.”

Bully screens at the Melbourne International Film Festival tonight and on Sunday and Tuesday, and is on general release from August 23.

■ The Age is a festival sponsor.

Visit the MIFF website for session details or to purchase tickets

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Eating for two during pregnancy a recipe for obesity, reveals study

ABOUT 50 per cent of women in Australia are overweight or obese when they fall pregnant, and researchers have found the diet of those women gets progressively worse during pregnancy and is especially poor after giving birth.
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The University of Adelaide study of nearly 300 overweight or obese women – defined as those with a body mass index of more than 25 – is the first to examine the diets of pregnant and overweight women until after birth.

The lead author, Lisa Moran, said, while some women suffered from morning sickness and food aversion, more than three quarters of the women entered the study in their second trimester, by which time those ailments usually had passed.

”It may be that for some women morning sickness doesn’t resolve as quickly,” said Dr Moran, from the university’s medical research centre, the Robinson Institute. ”But some women may still feel that pregnancy is the one time where they can relax some of their previous eating habits, and the idea of eating for two does seem to still resonate.”

Diet might also depend on family, friends and culture.

Participants completed a food frequency survey at four points throughout the study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, the last four months after birth. Thirty per cent had a poor diet at the start, but this jumped to nearly half after birth, with fruit, vegetable and dairy intake all poor. Energy intake from added sugars increased after birth, as did alcohol consumption.

More than 40 per cent did not consume enough iron or calcium while pregnant. Diet was also poorer as social disadvantage increased, and some women may have deliberately avoided meat and seafood because of bacteria fears.

Dr Moran said some health professionals may be reluctant to provide dietary advice that was too restrictive because they feared some might take it ”to the extreme of dieting – something we don’t want”.

But Kyra Sim, from the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating at Sydney University, said it was most important that women ensured they were healthy before attempting to get pregnant.

”While women may make changes when first getting pregnant to improve their health, we know maintaining those changes is the hardest,” Dr Kim said.

”We also know women tend to gain weight as they get older and are falling pregnant later, which could also be a factor.”

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Teachers suspicious of quota for skills checks

FORCING more than 2500 public school teachers a year to attend performance improvement programs would ”result in better teachers”, a state government review says.
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The NSW Commission of Audit final report recommends the education department improve its management of poor performing teachers and specifically endorses reviewing the performance of ”something closer to 5 per cent”, a huge increase on the current level.

Currently, 100 teachers a year are directed into 10-week Teacher Improvement Programs each year. Half of them return to work and half leave their jobs.

The proposal was rejected by the NSW Teachers Federation president, Maurie Mulheron, as part of ”the great distraction of teacher bashing”. He said a quota made no sense.

”If there is a teacher who is under-performing there should be a fair and rigorous process to support them and if they don’t meet the standards they shouldn’t remain in teaching,” Mr Mulheron said.

Lila Mularczyk, the president of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, said principals were also opposed to something that sounded like a quota for low-performing teachers.

”I can’t imagine that would have a positive outcome for anyone in the education system, or for the system itself,” she said.

But the Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, who released a discussion paper last week designed to lift the quality of teaching, said that ”nothing is off the table” and the report should be considered.

The audit report also offers strong endorsement of the school autonomy reforms initiated by Mr Piccoli and advocates placing even more responsibility on principals to achieve the government’s goals.

For instance, it says sick pay has been ”poorly managed” and says the system is being abused, with costs increasing because principals are not replacing sick teachers with other teachers or deputy principals, as they are entitled to do under industrial agreements. Principals should be given responsibility to manage the problem – backed by the incentive of being able to keep ”at least some of the savings”.

The report recommends principals be alerted to staff with ”atypical” sick-leave patterns. ”Principals should then undertake an investigation of sick leave in their school, to determine whether some individuals may be abusing their entitlement,” the report states.

They should then force their own staff to cover ”short term absences”.

But Ms Mularczyk rejected the proposal. ”We don’t believe it is the principal’s job to be managing salaries or leave conditions,” she said.

”It has always been a priority for us to make sure there is a quality teacher in front of every class every day. But that does not mean increasing the workload of someone who already has a role in the school.”

The NSW opposition education spokeswoman, Carmel Tebbutt, said students would suffer.

”We don’t want to go back to the day where classes are combined because schools can’t afford to employ casual staff to cover for sick teachers,” she said.

Mr Mulheron said principals would be forced to pick up the work that had been done by public servants. ”This report confirms our worst fears, that education policy in NSW is being driven by Treasury,” he said.

The report also recommends the government consider buying out the long service leave entitlements of teachers.

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Ambassador may not be fastest during run, but he will be fasting

City2Surf
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THE City2Surf is hard enough when you are fit and young, but the 14-kilometre race will be a hard slog for the 56-year-old ambassador to Australia from the United Arab Emirates, Ali Nasser Al Nuaimi, who is fasting for Ramadan.

His Excellency Mr Nuaimi, an ex-military officer, is joining other Muslims observing the month of fasting, during which no food or water is consumed between dawn and dusk.

The Islamic faith encourages followers to contribute to charity and do good deeds during Ramadan.

Mr Nuaimi is one of this Sunday’s top 10 individual fund-raisers, raising nearly $9000 so far for the [email protected]’s Galilee School, which helps high school dropouts attain their year 10 certificate in the ACT.

Organisers said yesterday the City2Surf race, presented by Westpac and the biggest race of its kind in the world, was on track to raise $5 million for more than 650 charities.

”Fund-raising for City2Surf doesn’t close until three weeks after the event, so we’re still feeling positive that we will reach this year’s target of $5 million, and we’re aiming to have raised $4 million by this Sunday,” a spokesperson said.

Among the other religions represented at the City2Surf are Sister Leone Wittmack and the 40-strong Nuns on the Run team, who should be easy to spot in bright orange shirts with a running nun logo. They are raising money for Gorman House, a detoxification unit predominantly for homeless, drug and alcohol dependent people.

Sr Leone, the group mission leader of St Vincent’s Health Australia, has done the City2Surf 13 times, once in 92 minutes. She prepares by trying to keep fit. ”I do my bit of running and go to gym, do group classes, like Body Attack and a spin-bike class.”

Does she offer up a special prayer before the race? ”Dear God, help me to get to other end and make it up Heartbreak Hill.”

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That was then, this is now: Swans are ready to clip Collingwood’s wings

Stretched, not stressed … yesterday’s training session for the Swans at the SCG.What has been the difference in the past?
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The Pies match the hard-nosed Swans at the contest – contested possessions and clearances – and then blow them out on the spread. But one forgotten factor has been Sydney’s poor starts. The streak stands at 10. Collingwood’s winning run in first quarters of those games also stands at 10. On average, the Swans have given up a three-goal head start. In games decided by just four goals, it is a massive advantage. Last year’s game aside, you have to go back to round 14, 2008, to find the last time Sydney kicked more than two goals in an opening term against the Pies. Sluggish starts have been of no concern this year, however. Sydney top the AFL for first quarters. The only problem is, Collingwood are second.

What has changed this year?

The Swans are better. This will be only the second time since 2006 that Sydney go into a game ahead of Collingwood on the ladder – let alone on top of it. As former coach Paul Roos highlighted this week, his old team has addressed the spread problem. With players such as Lewis Jetta, Kieren Jack and others stepping up this year, the Swans have benefited from more outside run, and it has shown up in their uncontested possession numbers. Last year they averaged 16 fewer per game than their opponents. This year they are +8. Although, when assessing Sydney’s rise, nothing has been more pivotal than their rock-solid defence. In the 10 previous losses, the Swans have leaked an average of 14 goals to the Pies, with Travis Cloke getting hold of them last year with six goals. This year, they have conceded just 9.8 goals to their opponents, making the Sydney’s back six the most reliable and settled combination in the AFL right now. They have to stand up again tomorrow night.

What can’t the Swans afford to do?

Let Collingwood launch their attack from the back half. The Swans top the AFL for long kicks to a contest, and last for short kicks. It has meant they are also last for marks. They are good at the contest, but bombing the ball in long has also meant they rank 16th for turning forward 50 entries into goals. Against the Pies, indirect ball use inside 50 can allow the likes of Nick Maxwell and Harry O’Brien to go third man up on the Swans’ main forwards, one of whom, Sam Reid, is out injured and another, Adam Goodes, still searching for his best form. Collingwood’s Heath Shaw is second in the AFL for rebound 50s. O’Brien is 13th. Both won’t need to be asked to kick start the Pies’ running game.

No Swan against the Swans?

History says it helps Sydney … big time. Dane Swan has a good record against everyone. His numbers against the Swans are no different. He averages 27 disposals in his past eight games against them, thriving in the intense midfield battles. His influence in those contests makes his absence due to a club-imposed ban so significant. The ball magnet has polled two or more Brownlow votes in four of his past six outings going back to 2008. No Pie has given John Longmire and his predecessor more grief. Sydney, though, will simply turn their attention to Dayne Beams, who has had more disposals than any other player since round five and, more importantly, more uncontested possessions. The only man to have had more outside ball than Beams in the past month is Swan himself.

What mental edge does the streak give Collingwood, and do Sydney need to end it before the finals?

The Swans will say no on both counts. And former Collingwood premiership captain Tony Shaw agrees: ”Blokes like [Luke] Parker, [Alex] Johnson, [Craig] Bird, Jetta, they haven’t been brought up on this. Their personnel and the way they play has changed that much that I don’t think it makes a lot of difference,” he said.

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Bring it on: hungry Goodes keen for his slice of the Pies

SYDNEY might still be weeks away from kicking off their September campaign but Adam Goodes says the Swans will receive a sneak peek of what to expect during the finals in tomorrow night’s blockbuster clash with Collingwood.
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After disposing of Carlton last week, John Longmire’s men are bracing for a step up in intensity at ANZ Stadium against a side many believe are one of Sydney’s greatest dangers in this year’s premiership race.

Interest in the match is soaring with a crowd nearing 55,000, including more than 5000 of the black-and-white army making the journey north of the Murray, expected for one of the highlights of Sydney’s AFL calendar.

The clash with the powerhouse Magpies kick-starts a treacherous four-week stretch for the Swans in which the ladder leaders also take on flag favourites Hawthorn and reigning premiers Geelong in the run to the finals.

”This is why you play football, for the big games,” Goodes said. ”Every game now is an eight-point game, they say. If we want to be successful as a group, we’ve got to beat those teams and produce our best footy at the right time. There’s no better time than to start now.

”You’re going to have two teams that are going to be hungry, [apply] fantastic pressure on the ball-carrier and people up here are going to get a good insight into what finals footy potentially could look like.”

The dual Brownlow medallist agreed with suggestions the match would be played at a finals-like tempo. ”I think when two teams want to win so much and it’s a big stage, Saturday night, lights are on, big crowd, that’s what happens,” he said.

Goodes used to look forward to clashes with the Magpies early in his career but has sketchy memories of recent matches against the club he supported as a child. It’s not hard to see why. The Swans have not triumphed since round 13 of their premiership year in 2005.

Goodes, Jarrad McVeigh, Nick Malceski, Ryan O’Keefe and Lewis Roberts-Thomson are the only Swans remaining from that game.

The Sydney champion deflected talk of a supernatural curse or hoodoo but the club’s run of 10 consecutive losses to Collingwood is one of the longest ongoing streaks in the league. ”They’ve just played better on the night, they’re a fantastic team,” Goodes said. ”They have been and they’ve showed that over the last seven years.

”It’s another opportunity for us to play a team that is around about where we think we are. It’s a good opportunity to get a win over them.”

And there is good reason to believe the Swans can snap their losing run against the Pies tomorrow.

They pushed Collingwood to a kick last year but were derailed by dominant performances from Travis Cloke, who bagged six goals in a best-on-ground effort, and Dane Swan, who polled two Brownlow votes for his 33 possessions.

Dogged by speculation over his contractual impasse, Cloke has thus far not reproduced the form that earned him an All-Australian centre half-forward spot last year, although he still leads the competition this season for contested marks.

This time he must contend with arguably the competition’s best key defender, Ted Richards, and a back line that has conceded 22 fewer goals than any other team.

Swan won’t even lace his boots courtesy of his late-night escapades last weekend that earned him a club-imposed two-game suspension.

”That’s their issue, we don’t buy into another club’s issue,” Goodes said. ”I don’t think it will change too much on Saturday night. They’ve got a lot of fantastic players in the midfield that we’ve got to look out for.”

The Swans are also closing in on some enviable records. Victory tomorrow would be their 16th of the season and equal the most wins by the club in their 115-year VFL/AFL history. It would also take their winning streak this season to 10, leaving them just two wins shy of matching the club record of 12, achieved three times, in 1918, 1933 and 1935.

For omen punters, the Swans were premiers in 1918 and 1933 but beaten in the 1935 grand final.

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

Darley bags gold at US sale

The performances of three of Darley’s gun shuttle stallions – Medaglia d’Oro, Street Cry and Bernardini – were the standouts at this year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga premier sale held near New York this week.
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A total of 107 yearlings changed hands over the two days; 55 failed to meet their reserves. The average of $US299,065 ($283,124) was a healthy return but down $US20,275 on the previous year’s trading.

The sales were important from an Australian viewpoint because Darley plays such an important role in southern hemisphere racing and breeding. Darley also had yearlings sell by its other high-profile stallions – Street Sense, Street Boss and Hard Spun.

The top two lots were by Darley sires: a grey filly by Medaglia d’Oro from Wait A While fetched $US1,575,000 to hall of fame trainer Todd Pletcher, while a colt by Street Cry from Serenading sold to Sheikh Mohammed’s representative John Ferguson for $1.2 million.

The only other seven-figure seller was a colt by Empire Maker which brought $US1.1 million, while southern highlands stud Waratah Thoroughbreds made the fourth highest price at the sale when Paul Fudge paid $US900,000 for a Dynaformer filly from Super Freaky, adding to his magnificent list of young fillies and mares.

Statistics from the Fasig-Tipton sale that will be of great interest to Australian breeders show that Medaglia d’Oro had five lots sell for an average of $US738,000; Street Cry had five sell at $US520,000 and Bernardini had six lots average $US350,000.

Of the other three Darley sires, Street Boss’s two yearlings averaged $US275,000, Street Sense had two average $US215,000, while the only Hard Spun to sell fetched $US145,000. Vinery’s More Than Ready also had a solid sale. His three yearlings to sell brought an average of $US136,666.

Galileo, the world’s most expensive stallion, had two fillies in the sale and they went for $US560,000 and $US450,000. Demi O’Byrne, Coolmore’s buyer, signed for just one lot, a War Front colt for $US675,000.

Sheikh Mohammed was the major player; John Ferguson signed for 10 lots for an outlay of $US3,325,000. All were by Darley’s sires.

Pletcher’s top-priced lot out of Wait A While was a special buy because the champion trainer won a dozen races with her, 10 at group level.

Fudge’s agent David Ingordo said the Dynaformer filly bought by Waratah Thoroughbreds was ”a superstar physical-wise who had the pedigree and as there aren’t many more Dynaformers, so she is special”. Ingordo also signed for Fudge’s buy in Japan in early July when they bought a Deep Impact filly for $1.8 million.

Form franked

The form of Black Caviar was franked when Moonlight Cloud, which got within a nose of the unbeaten Aussie mare in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, won a group 1 sprint in France last Sunday. Moonlight Cloud (by Invincible Spirit) won the Prix Maurice de Gheest (1300 metres), at Deauville by five lengths, taking her record to seven wins and two seconds from 11 starts. Trainer Freddy Head will continue to take on elite races with her. Head says Moonlight Cloud can continue her winning ways and he could back her up on Sunday in the group 1 Jacques le Marois at Deauville.

More than firing

It was a matter of time before Vinery’s shuttle sire More Than Ready notched a century of stakes winners worldwide; a pair of his two-year-old took his overall tally to 101. Maybe So was credited as his 100th winner when successful at Mountaineer Park in a 1200m listed race last Saturday and the following day Promise Me More won a listed 1500m race at Louisiana Downs. A wrap-up of More Than Ready’s stakes winners show he has had 54 in the northern hemisphere from 715 starters and 47 in the southern hemisphere from 603 starters. Nine of More Than Ready’s 11 group 1 winners worldwide have been recorded in Australia.

Enter the ‘Dragon

Pendragon was earmarked as a prospective staying sire when his retirement to Think Big Stud was announced and a city double at Kembla Grange on the final day of the racing season was a great fillip for the former Bart Cummings-trained galloper. It was fitting that Cummings prepared both winners – Dragonzone and Blazing Dragon – and the three-year-olds were able to stamp themselves as likely black-type contenders with their wins over 2400m and 2000m respectively. Dragonzone was able to notch a hat-trick of wins at the Newcastle (city) meeting on Wednesday when scoring over 2300m in a fine staying effort. Pendragon, the Gloaming Stakes winner and Champion Stakes runner-up, is a striking individual whose record stands at 11 individual winners from just 18 starters. For patient breeders, Pendragon’s $11,000 fee is not a bad way to go.

Dream foal

Connections of US horse of the year Rachel Alexandra have named her first foal, a colt by US horse of the year Curlin, Jess’s Dream in honour of late owner Jess Jackson, who raced both champions.

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

Cummings’s filly to come up roses

Pretty baby … three-year-old She’s A Fox with Anthony Cummings at his Kensington stables this week. The Fastnet Rock filly is in tomorrow’s Rosebud at Warwick Farm.ANTHONY CUMMINGS had seen enough of Foxwedge to know buying the first-season sire’s sister was the right way to go. Cummings pipped Foxwedge’s trainer John O’Shea when he forked out $600,000 for the filly at last year’s William Inglis Easter yearling sale.
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”I had a big opinion of Foxwedge at the time,” Cummings said this week. ”I’d seen him at the track throughout his Golden Slipper preparation and his level of performance was high.

”I had the view he would reach group 1 level and he did that.”

Foxwedge claimed his belated group 1 in March when beating Black Caviar’s punching bag Hay List to claim the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley.

The filly Cummings bought was named She’s A Fox and it was all falling into place for the horseman who prepares thoroughbreds alongside O’Shea at Randwick. ”I had some people interested in her at the time she went through the [sale] ring,” Cummings said. ”A few others wanted to get involved a few months later, so it has worked out well.”

The underbidder on She’s A Fox was O’Shea, whose Foxwedge was plucked out of the Inglis ring for $925,000 and earlier this year was syndicated for $10 million to stand at Newgate Farm stud.

”Foxwedge was as good a colt as you would see at a sale,” O’Shea said yesterday. ”She’s A Fox was a nice, neat filly.”

O’Shea has taken an interest in She’s A Fox and has monitored her development. ”She is going to be like him, get better every season,” O’Shea said. ”She is tough, sound and has a good turn of foot.”

Cummings thought ”she was better than he was for different reasons … I hope she proves that in time”.

He wasn’t about to divulge what those differences were.

”Foxwedge’s efforts on the track made this filly pretty cheap at the time,” Cummings said. ”In the greater scheme of things, paying the money we did wasn’t going to be ridiculous knowing where Foxwedge would end up. I couldn’t be happier.”

A week before Foxwedge won the William Reid, She’s A Fox went to the races for the first time and

scored in style under Hugh Bowman at Canterbury. Being a late bloomer, Cummings and his team thought a crack at the Golden Slipper was in order but She’s A Fox came up short because of problems in the lead-up and was off to the paddock.

Jockey Peter Robl was on board when She’s A Fox returned and routed rivals to win at Warwick Farm last month. Bowman, who was on holiday when She’s A Fox won first-up, goes back on board in tomorrow’s 1200-metre Rosebud at Warwick Farm.

”I had a lot to do with her early on and she always gave me a good feel,” Bowman said.

”I felt she was a genuine black-type filly. It all came a bit soon in the autumn but I trialled her before the first-up run and to me she is ready to take the next step.”

As Cummings said ”everything I expected has taken place … bar the one bad run when she pulled up injured. She had to go to the paddock. It did her the world of good. She is a really good athlete and has a beautiful nature. That really helps her find the best of her ability when she is asked.

”There has only been two times she has been asked that question and she has responded on those two days. The other time she had an issue.

”Hopefully she continues on in the same vein as she did first-up. She is a good filly.”

She’s A Fox will be opposed by just five other runners in the Rosebud, a lead-up to the $1 million Golden Rose.

While Cummings is setting She’s A Fox for feature races during the spring carnival, O’Shea has no grand plans for Gangster’s Choice, which returns in tomorrow’s The Bledisloe Cup at the Farm. ”He has had two good trials and as long as he gets a dry track he’ll be competitive, but he will improve with the run,” he said.

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