Brenton Avdulla has narrow escape from stewards as Wyong Magic Millions in focus

Near miss: Brenton Avdulla bagged an early treble at Warwick Farm. Photo: bradleyphotos南京夜网南京夜生活NSW premiership leader Brenton Avdulla can further Chris Waller’s hopes of a first Magic Millions success after stewards admitted they were hoping the state’s hottest jockey won a controversial photo finish that prevented a serious charge at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.

Avdulla, who will be legged aboard Madame Moustache in the $200,000 Wyong Magic Millions Classic on Thursday, bagged a quartet of winners at Warwick Farm that had him under the microscope of stipes for his riding late on Good Time Charlie, the second leg of his four-timer.

Fearing Joe Pride’s three-year-old was shifting ground over the final metres, Avdulla’s vigour relented for a “stride and a half” as Good Time Charlie had just a half-head to spare in a photo from the fast-finishing Gauguin wide out on the track.

“Watching the race live we were hoping the photo finish would go your way,” acting chief steward Phillip Dingwall told Avdulla. “All’s well that ends well.”

Avdulla explained to stewards he could hear yelling behind him and was concerned a runner might have been to his outside, but Dingwall said there wasn’t a rival within “cooee” and his explanation “wouldn’t be a successful defence against a charge and you’re fortunate you got the bob in”.

“I didn’t go 100 per cent on him because I could feel him shifting,” Avdulla said while explaining the horse was hanging the entire race.

The in-form hoop had earlier ridden Waller’s Oklahoma Girl to victory in the first race and will be hoping the winning combination can be preserved for 24 hours on Madame Moustache, who is already a Saturday metropolitan winner in Sydney.

Subsequent Golden Slipper and Magic Millions hero Capitalist won the Wyong race en route to the Gold Coast last year when beating Niccolance, who was the first big money-spinning ride for then apprentice Koby Jennings.

Jennings has been booked for Gary Portelli’s smart trialist Single Bullet ($5.50), who is on the third line of betting behind Madeenaty ($2.10).

“It was really good to stick with Niccolance until then and it was the first horse I had ridden that was in the market [in a big race],” Jennings said.

“[Single Bullet] is a laid-back bugger and he showed a lot more [last] Saturday morning because he worked alongside Falconic.

“He looks really sharp, but on [Tuesday] morning he just did his own thing before a horse came up alongside him and then gave me a good feel.

“He feels like a natural speedy two-year-old and a few of his workers have had a bit of an opinion of him.”

Meanwhile, Tony Hodgson has been appointed deputy chairman of Racing NSW as the governing body prepares for boss John Messara’s retirement at the end of the month.

Acting racing minister David Elliott extended Hodgson’s term by another three years and elevated him into the role, which was previously occupied by Russell Balding who will take over from Messara.

“During his tenure on the board Mr Hodgson has played a significant role in helping establish the Championships, a destination event to reinvigorate the Sydney autumn carnival as the state’s premier racing event, increasing prize money to over $200 million per year and introducing stronger integrity measures,” Elliott said.

Black lung rears its ugly head

New research pointing to a resurgence of black lung disease among US coal miners has raised concerns about the potential for the disease to reappear in the Hunter.

A case study published in theDecember 15 edition of the US-basedCentres for Disease Control and Prevention journalfocused on 60 patients at a radiographic practice in Kentuckywho had symptoms ofblack lung, also known as progressive massive fibrosis.

“Surveillance data have indicated a resurgence in PMF in recent years, but the cases described in this report represent a large cluster not discovered through routine surveillance,” the journal article said.

The disease is caused by overexposure to respirable coal mine dust and leads to inflammation and fibrosis in the lungs.

The incidence of black lunghas fallen in recent decades with the introduction of stringent safety measures.

While several instances of the disease have been reported in Queensland in recent years, no detections have been made in NSW.

It was suggested Kentucky black lung cluster may have reflected the reluctance to investigate early symptoms.

“Some miners might have chosen to not seek radiographs or other health-related information during the earlier stages of their career to avoid threatening their ability to continue working in the industry,” the journal said.

The potential for the disease to occur in NSW was the subject of the NSW Minerals Council’s 2016 Health and community conference.

An updated version of the Protecting Against Airborne Dust Exposure in Coal Mines was also launched.

Coal Services chief executive Lucy Flemming said NSW standards relating to black lung were set by four state government standing orders that were designed to minimise dust, enforce control techniques and monitor worker health.

“The robust nature of the legislation and diligence of the dust monitoring and environmental standards in NSW coal mines has allowed us to help protect mine workers’ health and keep lung diseases such as pneumoconiosis at bay,” Ms Flemming said.

Matt Stieger bounces back from Japan Tour Q-School disappointment with win at The Jack

NARRABRI’S Matt Stieger had the pain of narrowly missing qualification for the Japan Tour eased with victory at theJack Newton Celebrity Classic on Wednesday at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.

Stieger hits back at The Jack | Photos TweetFacebook Jack Newton Celebrity Classic 2016 | PHOTOSThe 25-year-old shot back-to-back rounds of 69 for four under and a one-stroke win over Charlestown’s Jake Higginbottom, who led with a 67 after day one. Next best was Waratah’s Leigh McKechnie at one under.

Jack Newton and tournament winner Matt Stieger on Wednesday. Picture: Supplied

Stieger said the $10,000 first prize on Wednesday was “a greatChristmas present and would help pay for a few” after hisdisappointment at the Japan Tour Q-School just two weeks ago.

“I played on the Challenge Tour over there this year and then went to qualifying for the main tour and missed out by two shots, which when you playsix rounds, it’s tough to take,” Stieger said.

“But that’s golf, I guess. I came here with no expectations, so it was nice to get the win.”

It was Stieger’s fifth appearance at the Jack Newton tournament, which doubles as an end-of-season party for many of Australia’s professional golfers,but it was thefirst time he has been in the mix for the victory.

“I’ve only just come back from the Japan Tour school, so it was good to come here,relax andcatch up with everyone,” he said.

The 2011 Australian Amateur champion and 2012 NSW PGA winnerplanned toheadback to JapanforChallenge Tour events in June-July.

The celebrity section winners were former world longboard surfing champion Josh Constable and rugby league caller Frank Barrett on plus seven.

Wellington interim coach Chris Greenacre is focused on their next game, against Newcastle, rather than retaining his job.

Wellington interim boss Chris Greenacre insists there’s nothing but Newcastle on his mind as he enters his third game in charge.

Wellington co-coaches Des Buckingham, left, and Chris Greenacre.

Greenacre, alongside co-coach Des Buckingham, has obtained four points from six in his two A-League games against Central Coast and Western Sydney. Replacing ex-boss Ernie Merrick a fortnight ago, the British duo are both being considered for the permanent top job, as a pair and individually.

Greenacre, whose side will travel to Newcastle on Christmas Day for their Boxing Day clash with the Jets, said he had no interest in speculation about the job.

He and Buckingham were simply keen to get their side in shape for a tough match against the fifth-placed Novocastrians.

“The media circus surrounding it, I’m fully aware of it but it’s just not me and I’ve got a job to do alongside Des,” Greenacre said. “It’s the Jets on the horizon, and that’s the nature of it.”

Recent reports from New Zealand have also linked at least three unnamed European coaches to the Nix job.

Others in line for the role, which is now unlikely to be filled before Christmas, include Auckland City boss Ramon Tribulietx, Mark Rudan and Luciano Trani.

The coaches’ decision to both change team formation and re-sign striker Shane Smeltz suggests they’ve been given a chance to stamp their own mark.

Greenacre said it was always in the club’s plans, including during the reign of Merrick, to hold funds over for January acquisitions.

Smeltz will be eligible to play for his new side, where he previously scored 21 goals in 39 A-League games, from January 5 against Perth.

“If I was a coach coming in, signing Smeltz would be a welcome addition, I think,” Greenacre said.

“You always need goalscorers in your team.”

The 35-year-old Smeltz, for his part, said he didn’t need any assurances about the future Nix coach before signing on the dotted line.

He was keen to contribute to the side’s A-League run-in after a short stint in Malaysian football for Kedah FA.

“Going forward, I’m signing with the football club,” Smeltz said.

“I wasn’t too concerned with what’s happened in the past.”

Hunter pools more likely to be unsafe than safe

NOT COMPLIANT: Hunter pool fences are overwhelmingly failed on first inspection. Common reasons for failure are gates that don’t self-lock or self-close, climbable objects outside the pool fence and not clearly displaying a CPR sign.More than half of Hunter pools are failing their first safety inspection, a survey of local governments has shown.

Figures obtained by theNewcastle Heraldshowthat Maitland pools are the least compliant in the region, with 86 per cent of pool fences failed after first inspection sinceJuly, 2016.

The rate remains high in Cessnock, with more than 71 per cent of inspected fences foundnon-compliant during the 2015/16 financial year.

Non-compliance rates were significantly lower in Lake Macquarie, where there was an even split between pass and fail rates.

However, Royal Life Saving has named Lake Macquarie as a NSW “blackspot” for backyard pool drownings in the 0-5 age bracket.

Mayor Kay Fraser said Lake Macquarie was“proactive” in pool safety, with “a range of awareness and safety campaigns” being rolled out across the local government area. She said council wasworking with Royal Life Saving to help reduce backyard pool drownings.

Newcastle was the only council that returned a positive compliance rate, with more than 57 per cent of pools being passed.

Port Stephens Council were unable to provide conclusive figures, but said in a statement that a high percentage of pools were failed.

All councils provided mostly the same reasons for non-compliance, with faulty gates being the most common reasonfor failing, including latches that did not self-lock or self-close.

Other pools were found non-compliant because of climbable objects, such as pot plants or barbecues near the outside of the fence. A CPR sign not clearly displayed in the pool area was another common reason for failure.

When told about high rates of non-compliance, Kids Alive –Do the Five founder Laurie Lawrence said he was “shocked”.

He reminded pool owners that“the gate is the weakest link, that’s why you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the very best hardware”.

Despite the Hunter’s high failure rates, they were still lower than anecdotal evidence from Royal Life Saving, which suggested up to 90 per cent of pools across NSWwere failed on first inspection.

However, Mr Lawrence said the emphasis on fencing legislation and compliance would not remove the risk of drownings.He called for more pool safety education programs and for owners to take responsibility for pool safety.

Michael Ilinsky from Royal Life Saving has urged pool owners waiting to have their pools reassessed to keep kids away from the area.

He said owners who have had their pool found non-compliant needed to have it fixed as soon as possible.

Strike Force Benni releases images of man inside South Maitland service station during armed robbery

Do you know the man on CCTV | photos CCTV: Police wish to speak with this man, who entered the South Maitland service station on October 29 before it was robbed by a woman. Picture: NSW Police.

CCTV: Police wish to speak with this man, who entered the South Maitland service station on October 29 before it was robbed by a woman. Picture: NSW Police.

CCTV: The suspect vehicle was also caught on security cameras at the South Maitland service station. Picture: NSW Police.

TweetFacebookSPECIALIST detectives have released images of a man wanted for questioning over a South Maitland service station armed robbery.

Strike Force Benni was established earlier this year to investigate the hold ups at Muswellbrook, Maitland, Raymond Terrace, Heatherbrae and Islington during June and July.

On Wednesday, detectives released images of a man they believe could assist with the investigation into an armed robbery at a service station at South Maitland on October 29.

Just before midnight, the man was in the service station, when a woman armed with a knife entered the store and threatened the console operator, demanding cash and cigarettes, police said.

The console operator handed over cash and cigarettes, before the woman ran from the area.

Shortly after, the man left the service station.

The man is depicted in the security image as being of Caucasian appearance, aged in his 30s, about 170cm-175cm tall, with a slim build, brown hair with a receding hairline, and a beard.

Detectives have also released an image of a vehicle which was seen in the area around the time of the incident.

It is depicted as a two-door, white Hyundai Excel and described as having a centre exhaust with distinct dark circles on the bumper on each side of the exhaust.

The female suspect is described as being of Caucasian appearance, about 165cm tall, with a medium build.

She was wearing a black hooded jumper, with a bandana covering her face; black shorts with white trim and white sneakers. She was also carrying a brown pillow case.

Anyone with information that may assist detectives with their inquiries is urged to come forward.

Five men and a woman have been previously arrested and charged in connection with Strike Force Benni. Their matters remain before the court.

Mandurah woman continues to fight for justice after murderer’s appeal

Crime victim demands justice Debbie Tippett outside court in 2015.

TweetFacebookLindsay’s not here anymore.But I am.And I want answers.

Debbie Tippett

Following Collard’s guilty plea – after appeal – to the lesser charge of manslaughter, Ms Tippett said she felt forgotten by the Director of Public Prosecutions, and planned to agitate for the original charge of kidnapping to be upgraded to attempted murder.

“If it can go one way for him, why can’t it go that way for me?” she said.

“He tried to kill me.If he can appeal, I should be able to, too.

“This is just a kick in the guts.”

Disgust: Ms Tippett says she still struggles to sleep since the day Collard threatened to kill her. Photo: Kate Hedley.

Ms Tippett, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following her ordeal at the hands of Collard, said she still struggled to sleep since the day he threatened to kill her.

She has never received criminal compensation, and claims she has been offered no help in dealing with the mountain of paperwork stemming from the court case.

“Why isn’t this over?” she said.“Why aren’t I able now to just get on with my life?

“More effort goes into protecting the criminal.When I ask for help I can’t get it.”

Ms Tippett said she had requested a meeting with the Attorney General to discuss her concerns.

“I am just hoping for victims to be treated with far more respect than criminals,” she said.

“I don’t know why that’s not happening now.I feel like screaming.

“I want answers.”

This article first appeared on Mandurah Mail

Claire DunnLively lesson with Principal Marsden

NEW SCHOOL: Writer John Marsden is now a full-time teacher.A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing John Marsden – one of Australia’s national treasures and a quiet campaigner for the rights of education, imagination and nature.

For most of us, Marsden is best known as the author of Tomorrow, When The War Began and the Ellie Chronicles, his provocative and often dark novels gathering a cult following here and overseas.

In what is almost the ultimate sacrifice for a prolific writer, in recent years Marsden has put down his pen and taken upfull-time teaching at Candlebark, one of two independent schools he founded on properties outside Melbourne.

While Marsden once said that he dreamt of fame and fortune before his writing career took off, the time constraints put on our interview make it clear how priorities have shifted.

“Before becoming a principal I wrote about three books every two years. Since then, it’s been three booksin 11 years. My days are filled with school management issues. I work on school stuff 10 to 12 hours a day, six to seven days a week,” he says.

As a kid, John read voraciously, one of his favourites The Children of Cherry Tree Farmby Enid Blyton. Some have likened John to Tammylan, the main character in Blyton’s fiction, who lived rough and had a great affinity with nature.

“Certainly, like Tammylan, I pick up other people’s rubbish wherever I go – in the bush, at school, along the street, at the kids’ soccer matches. And I hate to see wild animals killed, or wild places desecrated,” John says.

Time spent in the bush is still one of the things that he relies on to nourish his soul.

“I’ve always loved the bush and bushwalking. I bought this property, the Tye Estate, near Romsey, supposedly the biggest privately owned block of native vegetation in Victoria, to preserve it from developers. Spending time in the bush, watching kangaroos, wombats, echidnas, cockatoos and wedge-tailed eagles, is the most profound spiritual experience I know.”

Described by some as a cross between Steiner and The Simpsons, Candlebark is based on a philosophy of creative ‘lively’ learning, including how to use log splitters and chainsaws, microwaves and blenders; lighting fires and playing ‘rambunctious roughhousing games’ like British Bulldog.The school quickly filled to capacity, and in 2016 Marsden opened Alice Miller, the arts-focused secondary school, also in the Macedon Ranges. He considers the schools viable alternatives to the “inherently unworkable” model of mainstream education.

“The basic idea, that you take the biggest possible number of kids, squash them into the smallest possible space, and provide the fewest possible number of adults to look after them, is not viable. We should have brilliant, knowledgeable adults working with small groups of kids – and we should provide heaps of room for the children to run, play and explore.”

When asked how he maintains hope while remaining aware of the dangers of climate change and ecological crisis, Marsden is characteristically both philosophical and practical.

“When I was a kid, I read a quotable quote in, of all things, Readers Digest, which said: ‘Loving the world is easy; it’s loving the guy next door that’s difficult.’ I think this applies to many situations. We can all talk glibly and beautifully about the need for global action, but do we stoop to pick up the plastic bag in the gutter that otherwise may end up in the ocean? I think we should campaign globally, but at the same time make sure we do all we can on a micro level.”

Thinking globally but acting locally is exactly what Marsden has achieved, although the ripples of his actions have extended far beyond the pond in which they began.

Pauline Hanson pledges to pursue Bender inquiry

Helen Bender with One Nation leader Pauline Hanson on her tour of Chinchilla last week to hear concerns about unconventional gas mining on landholders. Picture from Ms Hanson’s Facebook page.ONE Nation leader Pauline Hanson has told Chinchilla locals she will follow-up “personally” with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the whereabouts of a Senate inquiry into unconventional gas mining.

The inquiry was instigated in the previous parliament by former Queensland Palmer United Party member, turned independent Senator, Glenn Lazarus.

That inquiry was due to hand down its report on June 30 this year but the process was interrupted by the calling of the July 2 double-dissolution election where Senator Lazarus failed to be re-elected.

It was subsequently called the “Bender inquiry” after Chinchilla cotton farmer George Bender who took his own life late last year, after a decade-long battle against Coal Seam Gas mining in his home area, in seeking to give farmers the right to prevent mining companies entering their land.

That cause has since been taken up by his daughter Helen Bender who spoke at a community meeting held last week in the Queensland farming district and was one of the landholders that Senator Hanson spent time with during her tour of the region.

Ms Bender told the forum – that was also broadcast on social media – the situation with her father was, “much harder to talk about now than ever before”.

“I’m pretty proud of my father, he said ‘no’,” she said.

“Basically games are played by the industry and basically through those games, it led to the death, of George, taking his life, that’s just over a year now.”

Ms Bender said Senator Lazarus had established the Senate inquiry in honour of her father but Mr Turnbull’s decision to call a double dissolution election had provided a “very convenient” method for him to “just basically push it out the back door, and under the carpet and let’s not deal with the real issue”.

“Hopefully Pauline, and for all the voices in the gas fields, we can have our voice back again, because we do need that,” she said.

Senator Hanson said she only learned about the Bender inquiry on the day of her tour of the area but pledged to follow through and see where it was now at and “speak to the Prime Minister himself personally”.

Senator Pauline HansonThis article first appeared on FarmOnline

Holiday fun with prawn run

FISH OF THE WEEK: Five-year-old Hamish Dunne wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for the monster 87cm flathead caught on poddy mullet in Swan Bay.

HOLIDAY fun with the prawn run, and everything that chases the Aussie Christmas treat, will be on the wishlist ofmany anglers over the festive break.

With the sun expected to break through the clouds over the weekend, Jason “One For” Nunn, from Fisherman’s Warehouse Marks Point, said there was no better time to scoop up your own Christmas lunch.

“The highlight has got to be the prawn run,” Jason said.“That will be the thing on everyone’s mind when they see how much prawns are, they’ll want to catch their own.”

He said the prawn run started on Wednesday night but will be in full swing over the weekend on Lake Macquarie.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for people to get out there with their family and experience it, whether they are walking around in the shallows or getting out in the channel and anchoring up with a light,” he said. “I always like to get out in the boat but the key is you’ve got to get out on the beginning of the run-out tide.”

Brent “Hammer” Hancock, from Tackleworld Port Stephens, said the Myall River “up around Tamboy” has been a hot spot for prawns in his region.

PRAWN CHASERSThe prawns on offer should make for great fishing for whiting, bream, jew and flatheadover the Christmas weekend.

Whiting and bream have been mainstay catches in recent weeks, while flathead have also been in solid supply, as can be seen by our fish of the week winner, Hamish Dunne.

Proud grandmother Lorraine Davies took the photo of five-year-old Hamish and his grandfather Warren Davies with the whoppingflathead caught on December 10.

“He came over to our place for a fish off the jetty in Swan Bay, Marks Point,” Lorraine wrote.

“First throw out I thought he had snagged the bottom and I watched from a distance as he was fighting to reel the fish in. He was excited with his efforts on catching this beauty flathead measuring 87cm. Now he said he is going to teach Pop how to fish.”

Jason said the catch was a sign of things to come.

“That’s a big fish,and what you will start to see is these fish gather up, because they are not far off going in for that spawning period,” he said.“These big females will now be carrying lots of eggs and we’ll see through January and February them coming in to mate.

“There’s been some really good catches of flatties in the channel and I’ve had some really encouraging reports of bream. Salts Bay has been fishing quite well but also in the Marks Point, Belmont Bay area.”

He said the mix of prawns, spawns and warmer weather should make for plenty of bites.

“Whether it’s the seaward side of Salts Bay or up towards the dropover, and of course on the fringe of the lake, fish will cometo take advantage of the situation,” he added.

He said lake jew around the 90cm mark were getting caught on high tide usingsoft plastics, while there had beengreat reports of bream around the Wangi area, some around 45cm.

It’s been a similar story at Port Stephens.Brent said bream were biting at the back of the Nelson Bay, around the racks at Soldiers Points.

“One of our customers got one that was about 1.6 kilos on a surface lure during the week,” he said.

There were also solid reports of flathead up Tilligerry Creek, near Lemon Tree Passage, whilejew had been on the chew in the bay.

”Adam Hodges got one over 20 kilos there early in the weekup around Soldiers Point,” he said.

Matt, from Duff’s Salamander Bait and Tackle, said “crazy Steve the painterwas down into the bream the other day off Marsh Road.He got four bream and two weighed over a kilo and a half.”

LIVELY OFFSHORETruckloads of trag and some striped marlin are the talk of offshore fishing, which has improved with warmerwaters.

“Everyone is catching trag, from Broughton Island toNorah Head,” Jason said. “They are everywhere and I heard of a five kilo fish getting caught the other day. There has been snapper and nice catches of jew, but the guys who are catching the jew offshore are going out of an evening and live-baiting.”

Brent said “there’s a few striped marlin starting to turn up on the shelf, a few boats have been out there getting one or two a day.”

Dolphin fish up to 10kg have also been caught on the FADs. Matt said one customer brought in four.

DARTING INWhiting continue to dominate beach fishing but dart have also made an appearance.

“Usually the larger dart are around the Coffs Harbour area, but there’s a lot around mixed in with the whiting, and some flatties,” Jason said.

Brent saidheaps of whiting had come in off Shoal Bay beach with live tube worms the No.1 bait.

Mattsaid Dave “Schoey” Schofield was into the whiting again on Wednesday morning.

“He had 15 whiting, two bream and a very large skipjack, which looked like a queen fish, all on live worms, down on Stockton Beach at about three and a half ks,” he said.