Monthly Archives:June 2019

PREMIERSHIP coach Craig Bellamy will meet his manager, John Fordham, this week in the first step towards deciding whether his job at Melbourne is done.

Bellamy is off contract at the Storm at the end of next year, but such is his lure, he has even been the subject of speculation he could move elsewhere next year.

That seemed to be only fuelled by the Storm’s premiership win against the Bulldogs, with some believing that, after 10 seasons as head coach of the club, he had nothing left to achieve.

Melbourne chief executive Ron Gauci was adamant that Bellamy would be coaching the Storm next season, appearing to end any prospect of the Warriors doing what the Bulldogs did last year with Des Hasler – enticing the premiership-winning coach away from his incumbent club.

Gauci’s belief will be backed up by the likelihood that the Warriors will appoint Bellamy’s assistant, David Kidwell, as the club’s replacement for Brian McClennan this week, with Matthew Elliott set to take on a role alongside him.

But Bellamy’s future after next year is still uncertain. It remains unclear whether the Warriors plan to offer Kidwell a one-year contract in order to make their pitch for Bellamy, or – like the Roosters did with Trent Robinson – appoint an untried coach longer term.

Bellamy will travel to Europe later this week with the Storm’s general manager of football operations, Frank Ponissi, on a fact-finding mission, visiting rugby union and football clubs in England, France and Belgium.

Before he does, he will sit down with Fordham to begin to map out his future.

”He had a pretty busy week last week,” Fordham said. ”Quite rightly, I left him to enjoy the victory, but we’re intending to catch up this week. First and foremost, I need to have a discussion with Craig, and we can take it from there. Melbourne are comfortable with the fact that we’ve had no formal discussions with them just yet. But Craig and I will certainly be making contact this week. That’ll be step one. I don’t know what steps two, three or four will be yet. But that’s a starting point.”

Even with Bellamy overseas for a fortnight, Gauci said he could still begin formal negotiations with Fordham. While he has not, and is unlikely to, put a deadline on a decision, he still hoped for a decision ”sooner rather than later”.

”The negotiations will be in the hands of myself and his manager,” Gauci said. ”When his manager wants to talk, we’ll be ready. There’s no real urgency on our part. One thing I can say is he’s not going anywhere for 2013.”

Wests Tigers have also clouded the coaching landscape, having sacked Tim Sheens.

Another Melbourne assistant, Kevin Walters, has been linked with that job, along with Nathan Brown, Matt Parish, Mick Potter and Steve Georgallis.

The Tigers still need to finalise whether Sheens, in Townsville with the Australian squad this week, will accept another position with the club, which could impact on their appointment. Yesterday, Brisbane confirmed former New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney, who was sacked by Parramatta this year, would join the Broncos as Anthony Griffin’s assistant.

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GAI WATERHOUSE celebrated a group 1 double as a farewell to Sydney for the spring at the weekend and believes she will repeat the dose with her stars Pierro and More Joyous at Caulfield on Saturday.

Three-year-old Pierro is already in Melbourne and following his Bill Stutt Stakes romp is favourite for the Caulfield Guineas and Cox Plate.

Waterhouse added to a treble at Randwick by winning the Gilgai Stakes with Hallowell Belle at Flemington on Saturday as the southern team fired. However, the cavalry arrived yesterday in the form of More Joyous and Kabayan.

More Joyous will be out for successive Toorak Handicaps on Saturday and Waterhouse is unconcerned about a possible top weight of 60 kilograms. ”She is the best horse in the field and will carry a good horse’s weight and win,” she said.

”She was on the float with Kabayan, who will run in the Norman Robinson in a couple of weeks. He can wait a week because I have the winner of the Guineas, Pierro. I only need the one.”

More Joyous will use the Toorak as a final tune-up for the Cox Plate showdown, which she is a $7.50 second elect in betting to her three-year-old stablemate at $2.70.

Proisir will take Waterhouse’s Cox Plate team to three despite being beaten in the Spring Champion Stakes by It’s A Dundeel on Saturday. ”I have no doubt at all he will run the 2040m and that’s the right race for him,” she said. ”He was completely and utterly disadvantaged by the way the race was run on Saturday and you will see a different horse in the Cox Plate.”

It was Tommy Berry and Waterhouse’s day at Randwick, where they combined for a treble including the Epsom and Metropolitan. Fat Al gave Waterhouse a seventh Epsom to match her father Tommy Smith’s record in the big mile and will head for the Emirates Stakes later in the carnival.

However, Metropolitan winner Glencadam Gold will be the centre of interest in the next couple of days as he is favourite for the Caulfield and Melbourne cups following his 3¾-length victory on Saturday.

He remains unbeaten in four starts since coming to Australia to join the Waterhouse team. Glencadam Gold was given a 1.5kg penalty to take his Caulfield Cup impost to 51.5kg after his victory in the Newcastle Cup. Racing Victoria handicapper Greg Carpenter, who is in France for the Arc de Triomphe meeting, will announce another penalty later in the week and it will have to be at least a kilogram to assure Glencadam Gold a start in the cup on October 20.

”I don’t think he is going to get Nash Rawiller’s [weight], Tommy is going to get his chance to ride him again,” Waterhouse said. ”He did a marvellous job [on Saturday].”

Craig Williams confirmed he would ride Pierro in the Cox Plate if the unbeaten star continues on that path as expected following the Guineas. It seemed a no-brainer for Williams to choose to ride Pierro, but the hoop has to part ways with Green Moon to do so. He rode the import to win the group 1 Turnbull Stakes on Saturday.

with Andrew Eddy

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Group 1 double, no trouble … Tom Berry and his boss, Gai Waterhouse.Gai Waterhouse left Randwick racecourse on Saturday publicly elated at her record-breaking day at the races and confident that she has an unprecedented grip on the Melbourne spring carnival.

In fact, no trainer on the eve of Australia’s most celebrated five weeks of racing has shaped to have so much influence.

Australia’s most talked-about horse trainer has pre-post favourites in the Cox Plate and the Caulfield and Melbourne cups, and also prepares the shortest-priced favourite in Caulfield Guineas history in Pierro.

While the three-year-old is at $1.35 to give Waterhouse the classic, her other remarkable galloper, More Joyous, will also be favourite for the group 1 Toorak Handicap as she has her last run before being one of three the trainer intends to start in the Cox Plate.

While jockey managers across Australia have Waterhouse’s phone number prominently displayed, she yesterday spoke of her relationship with stable rider Nash Rawiller, who will shoulder the bulk of her hopes.

”I asked Robbie [Waterhouse’s husband] a few years ago to give me the name of the best heavyweight jockey and the best lightweight. He came back with Blake Shinn and Nash Rawiller. Shinn got straight on a plane to Sydney to speak to me, but Nash wanted time to discuss the proposition with his wife,” Waterhouse said.

While a relationship with Shinn never eventuated, Rawiller did take up the offer and today the former Bendigo boy and Waterhouse have a strong partnership. However, Sydney’s leading trainer said she had doubts even up until the end of the first 18 months.

”What most don’t understand is that I train differently to many other trainers. While they like to get them ready with a run or two, my horses are ready to go from the start.

”I like them to be dominant, I like them to be on the pace and some jockeys don’t get it. But after a time Nash and I worked out a good relationship with the team,” she said.

Waterhouse’s father, the late Tommy Smith, was arguably one of Australia’s finest trainers and enjoyed a strong relationship with jockey George Moore. Moore and Smith carved out hundreds of major race wins and numerous premierships.

”No, I didn’t follow on that style that dad did. Dad and Moore were pretty feisty customers. They had many arguments and I didn’t see the need for a trainer-jockey relationship to be as confrontationist as theirs was.

”I don’t like arguments and confrontations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a ‘yes’ person, but confrontations can be negative and if I find a person like that in my system, I weed them out of the operation,” she said.

Rawiller, throughout his career in Victoria, was known to be a patient and old-style jockey who liked his horses to settle and come home late. However, Waterhouse says Rawiller has refined that and rides as she wants, but she takes his input on board.

”He’s a deep thinker and I’m also a thinker, and it’s a good way to be as we’re always working towards the best for the horses. I know some of my jockeys think ‘here she comes again with another idea’ but that’s the way it’s got to be looking ahead and getting the best out of horses.

”Again, I’m a bit different from dad, whose jockeys were worked hard as he believed they were extremely well paid, better than any horse trainer, so they had to do their share.

”I let Nash cut his cloth to suit himself. He probably rides three mornings a week and he’s a terrific worker, but I’ve always got to remember that a jockey’s lifestyle is not easy and they are wasting to get down in weight and it’s got to tell on them.”

Just two years ago Waterhouse saw the opportunity of a jockey whose talents she believed could be moulded into the upper echelon of Australian riding ranks.

At the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast, Waterhouse approached Sydney jockey Tommy Berry and offered him a position at Tulloch Lodge. On Saturday, that belief materialised into the 21-year-old Berry winning the Epsom Handicap and Metropolitan double.

”Tommy is another who has fitted in well. His instructions [on Saturday] were to be positive and what happens, he’s successful on both after he went whoosh at the top of the straight.”

In the next five weeks Waterhouse will have upwards of 15 horses leave Sydney for Melbourne for a spring carnival in which she could rewrite the Australian racing record books.

She said yesterday she wanted to let the dust settle before making plans for her horses, but it would seem certain that she will have a mixture from speedy two-year-olds to dour stayers for the Melbourne carnival. Waterhouse, a noted perfectionist, says her stable riders will fly in and out of Melbourne on the day. ”They’re only an hour away,” she said.

If, as it seems, according to one bookmaking firm (Centrebet), Waterhouse is a $61 chance to win the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup treble this spring, her efforts at grooming jockeys will well and truly be worth it.

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Punters once had to line along the mounting yard to vent their anger and get up close and personal with jockeys. The demonstration was a rite of passage and gave the track its colour.

However, in the 21st century when punters are more likely to be in pubs or on their lounge rather than on course, they switch their attacks to Twitter. Social media makes everyone an expert and gives the man who had $50 on a beaten favourite an outlet for his frustration. It can be more personal because most top hoops have Twitter accounts.

They sometimes like to share their thoughts after a day at the track. Comments can get them in trouble as it did with the furore over Blake Shinn’s suspension at Hawkesbury a couple of weeks ago.

There was sniping and opinion from his fellow riders about Shinn that would have been kept to the jockeys’ room in the past.

Stewards had to step in and remind some of the jockeys that Twitter is a public forum. Ray Murrihy labelled the spat childish and not in the best interests of racing.

But what is?

This was real emotion and an issue that had been bubbling for months. It showed jockeys as real people and entertained their followers for an evening. Then, like most things on social media, it was quickly forgotten.

Stewards were right to step in and stop it becoming a free for all.

It was one of the growing pains of using social media. However, it is a new world racing needs to embrace because interaction between punters, jockeys and trainers will create more interest in the sport.

Race clubs, bookmakers and horse syndicators have Twitter feeds (and Facebook profiles) and possibly racing’s biggest name online is its greatest star, Black Caviar, which has more than 21,000 followers.

Her account provides the right mix of humour and interaction as well as the latest news relating to her unbeaten career.

Nathan Berry took to Twitter on Saturday to praise twin brother Tommy’s biggest day of his career. ”Congratulations today bro. G1 double what a great effort. Proud or (sic) you mate. The years of hard work is paying off #FLYING” his tweet read.

It is positive to have things like that out in public. As the traditional media gets smaller and racing finds it harder to be recognised, these Twitter interactions can give the sport a greater public face.

A quick poll of those jockeys with Twitter accounts in Sydney found, unsurprisingly, there is a fair bit of negativity directed at them. Most have experienced abuse but none want to talk openly about it.

”You know when you ride one bad,” a jockey said. ”You just have to move on and put it behind you. But on Twitter they will tell what you did wrong and how you should have ridden it. You cop it but that’s a part of it and I have to say it has got better since the Twitter troll campaigns.”

Even Gai Waterhouse has taken to Twitter. She took an image of her star Pierro after he won at Moonee Valley last week and shared it with her followers. Twitter has become the place to break news and discuss it. If there is an issue in racing, it is likely to be discussed and/or joked about on Twitter.

Black Caviar’s return to racing became public on Twitter and wags pointed out that books on her might have been premature.

It can only be good to spread word about racing but social media needs to be used with thought. There are endless supplies of tipsters who can send you broke or pay for dinner. There are also plenty of promotions from bookmakers, so in the end it is here to stay.

This carnival will probably define Twitter’s role in racing.

Most jockeys and trainers believe providing a little information and answering some questions helps.

It will be a case of getting the balance right.

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