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Defended her husband against claims of misogyny … Margie Abbott, right, pictured here with Tony Abbott and their daughters.THE climate of personal attack is set to intensify with the government unperturbed by Margie Abbott’s defence of her husband against claims of misogyny.

Equally, the opposition is trying to turn the tables on the government, accusing it of rank hypocrisy for supporting the ”vile misogynist” Peter Slipper.

With Parliament set to resume tomorrow, the federal Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, said yesterday the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, was ”fair game” and she repeated her claim he had ”an issue with capable women”.

On Friday, Mrs Abbott mounted a media blitz and gave a speech defending her husband against claims, pushed hard by Labor, that he had a problem with women.

Public and private polling shows Mr Abbott is more unpopular with women than men and Friday’s exercise underscored in the minds of many that the problem was worse than thought.

”It must be really bad,” said one shadow minister surprised at Friday’s appearances by Mrs Abbott.

Mr Abbott said yesterday he was the victim of a ”nasty, personal campaign” because Labor could not attack him on substance. Mr Abbott has long had a perceived problem with women. Labor, which also detects this in its internal polling, seeks to reinforce the negative perception at every opportunity.

It used the recent unearthing of allegations that Mr Abbott physically intimidated a female political rival at university 35 years ago to label him a misogynist bully.

Ms Roxon said Mrs Abbott obviously loved her husband but he was ”not running in some election to be husband of the year or father of the year”.

”He wants to be prime minister and what I think is fair game for me, or any other senior minister, to do is to hold him to account for his public behaviour and his public comments,” she said.

”I don’t think because I am a woman minister I should be prevented from being able to do that, which seems to be what the opposition are suggesting. There’s a bit of reverse sexism in this.”

The government may learn today whether the sexual harassment claims against the Speaker, Mr Slipper, will proceed to trial or be thrown out of court.

If it is the latter, then Mr Slipper must still await clearance from the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions over allegations that he used CabCharges before he can return to the Speaker’s chair.

But the opposition is seizing on a fresh round of text messages between him and his accuser, James Ashby, to not only fight Mr Slipper’s return to the chair, but to blunt the attacks on Mr Abbott. A batch of private texts released last week included Mr Slipper using a vulgar euphemism for female genitalia.

The shadow attorney-general, George Brandis, said the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was to blame.

”Julia Gillard is the principal protector of Mr Peter Slipper, who has been revealed, in evidence read in the court last week, to be the most vile, misogynistic person it is possible to imagine,” he said. ”The fact that Julia Gillard, Nicola Roxon, and all the leading women in this government continue to protect his position now that he is exposed for what he is just goes to show how hypocritical their criticisms of Mr Abbott are.”

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JULIAN ASSANGE has hired lawyers to investigate suing the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, for defamation over a claim that WikiLeaks acted ”illegally” in leaking about 250,000 US diplomatic cables.

In an interview from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, Mr Assange said Ms Gillard’s comment, made in late 2010, was used by Mastercard Australia, which joined an online financial blockade of the organisation.

The White House and the Gillard government have condemned the release since November 2010 of more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables.

”I absolutely condemn the placement of this information on the WikiLeaks website. It’s a grossly irresponsible thing to do, and an illegal thing to do,” Ms Gillard said several days after WikiLeaks began releasing the cables.

The Australian activist group GetUp! recently interviewed Mr Assange in his makeshift home inside the embassy, where he is staying as part of a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over sexual assault allegations.

He said he would be vulnerable to arrest in Sweden by the US Justice Department, which is examining the possibility of charging people associated with WikiLeaks with espionage.

Mr Assange said the group’s work was stymied by Ms Gillard’s comments.

”Mastercard Australia, in justifying why it has made a blockade preventing any Australian Mastercard holder from donating to Wikileaks, used that statement by Julia Gillard as justification,” Mr Assange said.

”So the effects of the statement are ongoing and they directly affect the financial viability of WikiLeaks,” Mr Assange said. ”We are considering suing for defamation. So I have hired lawyers in Sydney and they are investigating the different ways in which we can sue Gillard over that statement.”

Mr Assange said the comments were particularly damaging because they ”licensed” other forms of attack on him and Wikileaks.

During the interview, Mr Assange also revealed the effects of the past two years on his family, saying his young children have had to move homes and change their names.

GetUp!’s national director, Sam McLean, said the interview was the first step in a campaign calling on the Australian government to seek a commitment from the US that it will not try to extradite Mr Assange over his publishing work with WikiLeaks.

”For too long the Prime Minister and the foreign ministers have put the interests of the US government ahead of Australian citizens. That is not good enough,” Mr McLean said.

”Our government must demand a binding agreement from the US that they will not seek the extradition of this Australian citizen for his work as a journalist and publisher.”

”GetUp! members expect the government to stand up for all Australians, even when it is not politically convenient.”


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There is no need for Sydney FC fans to worry. Not yet, anyway. But the weekend’s trip to Wellington provided a taste of what’s to come. At home, and especially away, the Sky Blues will be marked men.

The target on Sydney’s back has been there since season one but the red dot has swollen dramatically since the arrival of Alessandro Del Piero. To take them down with him in the ranks is a scalp the opposition crave.

That’s the inescapable reality of every Sydney match this season. Without fail, the opposition will emerge from the tunnel with a supreme motivation.

Some argue that professional footballers do not, or should not, require emotional urges, that they must perform to a high level regardless. That wrongly assumes players are robotic. Make no mistake: Sydney’s rivals will attack like hungry dogs.

The challenge for coach Ian Crook is not to gear his team to match the drive of the opposition but to give them a superior battle plan. They need a better strategy, one that overrides the red-blooded energy of the opposition.

Wellington had them covered for both strategy and desire on Saturday night. Ricki Herbert plays a simple game but it remains highly effective. Last season they finished fourth largely by retaining the best shape in the A-League.

Organisation was their forte then and on the evidence of this latest performance, little has changed. Throw in the yearning to humble Del Piero and company and the three points were hardly in doubt.

They got on top early, stripping Sydney not only of possession but belief. Doubt visibly crept in.

Then came the cold, the wet and, of course, the bone-chilling wind, conditions the Phoenix revel in, as do their fans. The Yellow Fever might be the only supporters anywhere who prefer rain to sunshine. Their loud, pointed jeering and mocking of every missed pass was unsettling. At full-time, Sydney couldn’t get off the field quick enough.

The Sky Blues’ sloppy passing will be most annoying for Crook. The cornerstone of his new philosophy is all about possession. Evidence of that was here but only in patches and attempts to play out from the back were rarely successful.

The transition through the midfield was, at times, woeful. What must have been going through Del Piero’s head when such simple passes couldn’t find their target? A few months back he was receiving balls from the great Andrea Pirlo.

But Sydney, even in the days of Dwight Yorke and Juninho, have never been an exceptional passing team. It’s going to take a cultural shift and it won’t be painless.

Crook has the right long-term approach for the club and that’s a positive. But for those expecting the addition of a new coach and a new marquee to equal an instant championship, think again.

It’s the rest of Sydney’s squad that will dictate their level of success. How quickly they can adapt will determine whether they are a contender this season. Adapting to Del Piero, too, is going to take some time. To the naked eye, he fulfils a similar position to Nicky Carle: behind the strikers or ”in the hole”. However, they are markedly different.

Carle was a runner, sometimes to his own detriment, especially in his first season, when his determination to be involved sometimes sucked him into central midfield. Del Piero is the opposite. He doesn’t run when he doesn’t need to. He walks, or has a light shuffle, when the ball isn’t close.

That’s not a criticism. At 37, he’s hardly going to be a sprinter. Instead of him collecting the ball, as Carle tried to do, his teammates will have to find him.

If they can, his true value will emerge. If opponents try to close him down, his canny feet and low centre of gravity will find a way past. Standing off him, however, is fraught with its own danger, for that gives him time to execute a defence-splitting pass.

Getting used to Crook’s plan and Del Piero’s poise will take time. As far as initiations go, this was a tough one.

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It all began 30 years ago. Australia v Scotland. Sydney Cricket Ground. After babbling my first Test match report for The Sun-Herald country edition to a similarly confused copytaker back in the old Fairfax office in Broadway, I headed to the Australian dressing rooms to get quotes for the then chief rugby writer Jim Webster.

One of the first people I saw in the room was Mark Ella, who had been overlooked for the Test but had come to congratulate his teammates on a 24-point win. I introduced myself and said I was covering my first Wallabies Test. Ella replied: ”Stick around … something’s brewing.”

He saved me. I did stick around. It was the night when there was a mass walkout of players for the coming 1982 Wallabies tour of New Zealand. There was chaos in the room when the word got out that nine of the victorious Wallabies had made themselves unavailable. So uproar on day one of covering this team. A tough initiation.

What followed was three decades of ”something brewing”, which meant trying to keep afloat in the ever-swirling cesspool of Australian rugby politics. That often got you down. What didn’t was the vibrancy and excitement of being almost always on tour with the Wallabies, and being ringside for such special moments as the 1986 Bledisloe Cup triumph and the World Cup victories in 1991 and 1999.

The standouts from 20-odd Wallabies tours and hundreds of Test matches? Easy. Best player: John Eales. Best match: 1991 World Cup quarter-final against Ireland in Dublin. Best individual performance: Tim Horan 1999 World Cup semi-final against South Africa at Twickenham.

Great friendships have been made, and have endured the test of time. But, most importantly, being with the Wallabies gave me, an innocent bushie, the chance to see the world at someone else’s expense.

And what a perfect venue to finish off – Rosario in wild and crazy Argentina, where this week there have been constant reminders of the reasons so many people are enchanted with this game. This was not the usual SANZAR ”in and out and get this Test over and done with” truck stop. This Test had flavour, meaning, international camaraderie.

Those few Australians who travelled halfway around the world for Saturday’s international were embraced by the locals, who celebrated the fact that Wallabies followers had made the effort to get here. The Wallabies players were also made to feel welcome – a great relief after a week of solitary confinement in South Africa.

The media in Rosario could not have done more for the three Australian scribes at the Test. Match day began with the ”third half” – a sumptuous feast on the banks of the Rosario river, with every meat cut known to man sizzling away on a coal barbecue. There were endless photographs and speeches before the Australian media pack was handed its present – a five-kilogram meat hamper. That will take some explaining at Sydney customs.

Onto the game. More hugs and kisses from the locals. And more chaos. We had walked into an ”old school” ground. No clock. No electronic scoreboard. And gargantuan spiders had invaded the press box, with the match program’s best use being to squish anything that came near our laptops. Then we witnessed a gutsy, courageous Wallabies victory under the most trying of conditions.

To top it all off, hours after full-time, the members of the Australian media pack, knowing about six words of Spanish between them, flagged down a dilapidated bus that went past the ground, hoping it was heading to the centre of town, not Buenos Aires or the Amazon. To our shock, it dropped us off in front of our hotel. What a city. What a country. A memorable day and night. The ideal finale.

But is that the sun rising? The tango must eventually end. It’s time to turn the page. Chapter two beckons. Taxi.

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Step up … Jolie Bay.Glencadam Gold, Saturday’s dynamic winner of The Metropolitan at Randwick, has been easy to underestimate, beating second-raters at best. Even the merit in his latest triumph is suspect. ”Gai [Waterhouse] is outstanding but how rivals keep letting her horses dictate with soft early sectionals is beyond me,” aax emailed to Racenet, an excellent source of learned turf knowledge. ”Gai will keep winning while rival jockeys and trainers just hand it to her like that.” PJ wrote: ”He is a serious horse but I couldn’t help but get flashes of Herculian Prince [the Waterhouse winner two years ago]. He isn’t going to get a lead like that in either of the cups and that’s when we’ll see just how good he really is … pressure in running is a funny thing.” J.W. asked: ”How can they persist with that [The Metropolitan] as a group 1? The winner looks OK but the rest are just G3 at best.” Under normal circumstances, the Turnbull at Flemington, taken by Green Moon on Saturday, would be a better cups guide than the Randwick staying test but it, too, was run at a farcical tempo that enabled the winner to race wide throughout. Glencadam Gold keeps improving. He beat Kelinni, a Chris Waller stayer hardly proven against the elite but in great form and made to look ordinary by the winner. Husband Robbie said the key to success with Glencadam Gold was reducing the weight carried between his legs.

Whipping fallout

”My bugger needs a good whack with the whip,” Gwenda Markwell said of the performance of Rolling Pin, the minor placegetter in Saturday’s Epsom at Randwick. ”He always finds when he gets that. Chad [Schofield] rode him perfectly but just lacked that strength at the end.” Schofield was a late replacement when Christian Reith was ”indisposed” – steward-speak for sapped from weight reduction. Schofield was fined $200 for using the whip in a forehand manner more than five times before the 100 metres. Schofield did better than another Markwell jockey. ”He came out yawning and rode like he was asleep,” she said. At Flemington, Ben Melham also struck whip trouble, slugged $1200 for four breaches.

Old adage proved

Those who waffle about the ”bank interest” benefits of taking short prices, particularly under even money, again had a setback at Randwick on Saturday. The Gai Waterhouse pair Sugar Rush ($1.55) and Proisir ($1.28) emphasised the folly of an anticipated gilt-edged result while Ichihara ($1.80) also went down. ”Odds-on, look on” is better advice.

Jolie Bay’s class act

Jolie Bay, in the Roman Consul at Randwick on Saturday highlighted the change in class racing. Jolie Bay is promising but came off a Hawkesbury maiden success to take the group 2 sprint. She follows Buffering and Foxwedge, while Exceed And Excel and Fastnet Rock, sire of Jolie Bay, also feature in the past decade’s Consul honour roll. Every race will have a substandard year but a provincial maiden winner?

Coming up roses

The scent of handout golden roses replaced the beautiful waft of dollar notes in Saturday’s Randwick members’ betting ring. It was alien territory, with hardcore racegoers like Jim Mason and Bill Henneberry replaced by a demographic from an upmarket Paddo pub. The secondary betting ring in the public sector obviously attracted most diehards. Sure, Royal Randwick was a construction site and, under the circumstances, the Australian Turf Club did well on a dirty day for the more than 10,000. The course proper, the most important factor for top-class racing, played well. But the experience was a savage difference from the Melbourne grand final (nearly 100,000) a week earlier at the MCG, one of the great sporting arenas, matched in racecourse facilities if not the course proper, by Flemington. Which makes it difficult to understand why naysayers wanted a patched up, antiquated headquarters when Sydney will have a world-class racecourse.

Horse to follow

Rockford, the Gai Waterhouse two-year-old, went down by a long head in Saturday’s Superracing Stakes at Flemington after being ”slow to begin” and subsequently hampered, according to Racing Victoria stewards.


Bel Sprinter, the $2.80, favourite, finished only fifth in the Gilgai Stakes at Flemington on Saturday but trainer Jason Warren pointed out: ”I was concerned by gate one, which didn’t help his chances. Also he didn’t get any cover, which he needs when he races over 1200m. He’s better suited at Moonee Valley and Caulfield.”

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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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Rematch … Kerrin McEvoy brings Guineas Prelude winner Epaulette back to scale.MEMORIES of the Todman Stakes and Epaulette’s narrow defeat by Pierro are fuelling Kerrin McEvoy’s ambition of back-to-back Caulfield Guineas successes on Saturday.

Epaulette, which is a Commands half-brother to Helmet, last year’s Guineas winner, headed Pierro in last year’s Todman before Gai Waterhouse’s still-unbeaten star fought back to win by a short half-head.

”I felt like I was home. We got there [to the front] and [he] had a look around,” McEvoy said after the Todman as Nash Rawiller claimed he had taught Pierro how to fight.

It was the closest any horse has got to Pierro and in two meetings since, Epaulette finished last in the Golden Slipper, which is best forgotten, and 2½-lengths third in the Run To The Rose dominated by Pierro.

”He [Pierro] is the benchmark for the three-year-olds there is no doubt about that,” McEvoy said. ”The Todman is a long time ago but it is the closest anything has got to him. My horse has definitely got better since but so has Pierro. He definitely has the runs on the board and is a lot stronger and has been very impressive in everything he has done.”

The $1 million Guineas over 1600 metres will be the first time Pierro steps up to group 1 level as a three-year-old but his record of eight wins without defeat, including the Golden Slipper, Sires’ Produce Stakes and Champagne Stakes, entitled him to the short quote of $1.35 with bookmakers. His Bill Stutt Stakes romp over the mile at Moonee Valley 10 days ago helped to trim that quote further.

Epaulette is the only real threat and $7 is freely available about his chances, even after his Golden Rose victory and a workmanlike performance in the Guineas Prelude at Caulfield eight days ago.

”He has been good at his past two [runs] but this is the ultimate test,” McEvoy said. ”This is the race we have targeted with him and we are taking on a very, very good three-year-old in Pierro. All I can say is I’m very happy with my horse.”

It will be Epaulette’s first run at 1600m but he looks like he will be suited by the trip. McEvoy indicated the barrier draw could play a big role in how the Guineas is run, but expects Pierro will be in front of Epaulette during the race.

Epaulette relaxed at the tail in the Golden Rose and stormed home to win at Rosehill, but showed versatility to be much closer in the Prelude but lacked the killer instinct when it looked as if he was going to blow his rivals away.

”It would be as good to be as close as possible to Pierro but we won’t be making any decisions about that until after the barrier draw,” McEvoy said. ”He is going to have something to chase this time I’m sure of that.”

Pierro will be the only runner from the Waterhouse stable as Kabayan and Proisir will be saved for targets later in the spring.

McEvoy has picked up the ride on Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Shahwardi in Saturday’s Herbert Power Handicap, which offers direct entry into the Caulfield Cup.

The Melbourne Cup-winning jockey’s European experience helped in getting the ride on the French stayer, which has 51.5 kilograms in the the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, and ran a close-up third in the Prix Kergorlay at Deauville at his most recent outing on August 19. It is the race Americain and Dunaden came through on their way to Melbourne Cup victory in the past two years. Also, Shahwardi is a two-time winner over the Caulfield Cup distance of 2400 metres, albeit in 2009.

McEvoy will get acquainted with the seven-year-old when he works him at Werribee this morning in preparation for Saturday. ”I have never ridden for Alain before, so it was a honour when he rang to ride Shahwardi,” he said. ”He needs to win a race like Saturday’s if he is going to get into the cups and it will be interesting to see how he measures up.”

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