Monthly Archives: August 2019

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Cummings and Robl get cream at Scone

Anthony Cummings thought he would have a good day at Scone on Saturday but it turned into ”groundhog day”.

The Randwick trainer has been enjoying his best season but stakes wins in consecutive races from Diamond Earth, Fontelina and Arctic Flight made it a day to remember.

”It’s groundhog day,” Cummings mused after Arctic Flight delivered on her potential, hanging on to win the Dark Jewel Classic.

”I was really happy coming here today because I had the right horses in the right races. It was the way the program worked out.

”I had three stakes wins on a day before when I had Casino Prince but this has just worked out perfectly.

”This carnival has been good to us in the past couple of years because we had three winners here last year.

”It is getting bigger all the time and if we can keep coming winning this many races I will be happy. ”

Each of the trio of victories was shared with stable rider Peter Robl, who had earlier kicked home Tweet for Grahame Begg for his best day at a metropolitan meeting.

”I have had five [winners] in the country and a few trebles in town but this is my best day,” Robl said.

”You look at the book of rides and think if everything goes right I could do this or do that. It has gone right.”

The next step for the Cummings trio will be Brisbane and potential group 1 racing.

Arctic Flight was sent to Cummings to try to get black type as she is out of Black Caviar’s granddam, Scandinavia.

”It was the plan to get that black type because of the family,” Cummings said. ”She has taken a bit of time to work out but her run at Hawkesbury [when runner-up in the Darley Crown] was very good.

”We needed to get that black type win and she has done that now and there are races for her in Brisbane.

”She is on the way up and a race like the Gai Waterhouse Classic and Tattersall’s Tiara are [not] out of the question for her.”

Arctic Flight showed great tenacity to fight off Pipette and Miss Stellabelle after looking in trouble at the 100m.

The truck to Brisbane will be full from the Cummings yard with Fontelina to head for the Stradbroke Handicap after his all-the-way win in the Luskin Star Stakes.

”He was always going to be very hard to beat once Pete [Robl] got a breather coming down the side,” Cummings said.

”He is the sort of horse that can reel off very quick sectionals and that is what he did.

”The Stradbroke has always been there for him and I think it is at the perfect trip for him. We are going to be pretty strong in it because Your Song is heading that way as well.

”I will need to find a new rider for him [Fontelina] but it shouldn’t be a problem after a win like that.”

Diamond Earth had kicked off the Cummings treble and she could go to the Tattersall’s Tiara as well.

Cummings called her ”the most durable horse” he had trained in the wake of her win in the Denise’s Joy Stakes over 1100m. ”At her last start she sat three wide and ran well so there’s a fair bit of merit there,” Cummings said. ”We will have to go home and have a look at the program and try and find a nice race for her before that [Tattersall’s Tiara].”

Diamond Earth is only the size of a pony, and holds a special place in the stable after winning two Inglis bonus races as a two-year-old. “She was winning those races on raw ability,” Cummings said.

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Latta’s Platinum Kingdom scores first Australian win at Doomben

Not even the temptation of a million dollars can sway the connections of Platinum Kingdom, the winner of Saturday’s $125,000 Fred Best Classic at Doomben.

The Australian-bred, New Zealand-raced three-year-old gave Awapuni trainer Lisa Latta her first Australian win when the gelding won the group 3 event.

Asked if she would consider a start in the $1 million Stradbroke, Latta was emphatic.

”Even if he won the Queensland Guineas, his next start, he won’t go to the Stradbroke,” Latta said.

”He’ll have one more run in a listed event after the Guineas then head home for a rest.”

Starting at $15 and ridden by Jonathan Riddell, Platinum Kingdom scored by three-quarters of a length over the Chris Waller-trained Boban ($10) with a nose to Academus ($3.50) in third.

The favourite Sizzling was stuck well back in the ruck with little galloping room but failed to run on as expected.

Purchased as a weanling for $62,000 at a Magic Millions Sale, Platinum Kingdom took his record to nine wins from 17 starts.

”He’s such an honest and tough horse. He tries his heart out every time,” Latta said. ”He thrived when he arrived in Sydney and has done even better here [in Brisbane].”

Both Latta and Riddell said Platinum Kingdom had been targeted ”as a wet tracker”.

”He goes on all tracks, he’s just tough,” Latta added.

The $350,000 group 2 Queensland Guineas (1400m) is run on June 1 at Eagle Farm. Latta will then look to the $125,000 listed Daybreak Lover (1600m) at the same track a week later.

Riddell has a soft spot for Platinum Kingdom.

”He’s got electric gate speed which makes the job easier,” Riddell said. ”He’s a positive horse and travelled well today. He’s a horse that has just kept improving.”

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Beaten Up dishes out cup hiding

Trainer Chris Waller believes Doomben Cup winner Beaten Up has the potential to develop into a genuine Cox Plate horse in the spring.

The English import on Saturday won his first group 1 event in Australia thanks to a patient ride by New Zealander Leith Innes in the $500,000 feature over 2000 metres.

”He probably won’t run again until the spring,” Waller said. ”Obviously he’s got to improve to be in a Cox Plate but the lead-up races will tell you that. He’s certainly got the potential.

Waller deserves much credit for harnessing Beaten Up’s potential.

The five-year-old gelding, who is raced by Rick Smith, Bruce Mathieson and William Haggas, the son of Beaten Up’s former trainer, arrived in Australia unheralded.

”He is a horse that had potential – it was just a matter of harnessing it,” Waller said. ”Overseas he was a horse with it all in front of him but he just lost his way a bit.

”The Australian environment and different training techniques have turned him around. It’s been a matter of keeping him happy.”

Waller’s decision to start Beaten Up in the Doomben Cup came late.

”We didn’t make a definite decision until Wednesday,” Waller admitted. ”After the good draw we decided to come to Brisbane.

”He arrived in Australia with no problems other than he can be a bit of a handful on the track. He’s like an unruly teenager. He wants to do everything right, but he’s got a few quirks.”

Beaten Up has had three previous Australian starts, the latest when runner-up to Mouro in the Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury on May 4.

The Doomben Cup represented a big step up in grade but Waller was always confident Beaten Up would acquit himself well. ”We haven’t panicked with the horse. We’ve kept him short of his pet distance, which is 2000 metres. We’ve been trying to teach him to settle. It’s worked.

”Full credit must go to Leith [Innes]. He showed great patience. That’s what it takes to win group 1 races; he’s a world-class rider. It doesn’t matter where you are, whether you are at Randwick, ‘Flemming’ [Flemington] or wherever, it’s a long straight and the post is where it counts.”

Waller has known Innes since he began training in New Zealand.

”Leith was an apprentice when I started and I’ve known him for a long time,” Waller said. ”When we decided to come to Brisbane and I didn’t have a jockey I was more than happy to put Leith on.

”He rode Sacred Falls [Waller’s Doncaster Mile winner] in his first six wins back home.”

Beaten Up started at $9.

Waller also prepared the quinella with $4 chance Foreteller beaten by three-quarters of a length.

Secret Admirer ($15) was a half-head away third.

Foreteller’s jockey, Jim Cassidy, who has won three Doomben Cups aboard the mighty Rough Habit (1991-93), played wisecracker after the event. As Waller was being interviewed by the reporters, Cassidy quipped ”Bloody Chris Waller, knocking me off … Onya, mate.”

Beaten Up’s victory was Waller’s seventh group 1 triumph this racing season. Waller later said he would be honoured if he topped the group 1 list of Australian trainers.

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Benji admits ego was bruised by bench role

Embarrassed: Benji Marshall made a late start. Photo: Brendan EspositoWests Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall has opened up about his demotion, saying he was ”embarrassed” to have been benched against South Sydney while promising to do everything he can to ensure it is a one-off occurrence.

”It’s embarrassing more than anything,” Marshall told Fairfax Media. ”Your ego takes a bit of a knock. But at the end of the day, he [coach Mick Potter] said he wanted a reaction … regardless of whether I was on the bench or not, I planned to play the way I played anyway. I don’t think it was going to change what I did. But he’s the coach, and he made the decision. You don’t have to be happy with it, but it’s his decision.

”I just hope it never has to happen again. I’ll do everything I can. I’ve been trying off the field to do everything I can, doing a bit extra. I’ve still got to do a job for our team, whether I’m on the bench or not. Hopefully, next week, I can do that from the kick-off, from the start.”

Potter, who made the dramatic decision to bench Marshall last week, has already indicated that he will return the Kiwi international to the starting side for Friday night’s clash against North Queensland at Leichhardt Oval.

Marshall, who sat on the bench for the first 17 minutes against the Rabbitohs, described the feeling as ”weird” afterwards.

”I didn’t really know what to do,” he said. ”It was unfamiliar territory. It’s heartbreaking, because you want to be out there helping your team. I know that I could have helped the team in the first 15. That was frustrating. But I went on and just tried to bring a bit of energy and spark to the team, and play the way I wanted to play. I thought I did that to a certain degree.

”I wanted to get involved a lot, try to get my hands on the ball as much as I could. I felt a little bit sorry for [halfback] Curtis Sironen, because I was taking over everywhere. But I had to prove a point. Whether I was sitting on the bench or not, or whether I started, I was still going to prove the same point.

”If you ask me if I was happy with the decision, no I wasn’t. But as a senior player in the team, you’ve just got to cop it. Considering how hard it was, I thought I handled it pretty well.”

Marshall, who last played off the interchange bench in 2006, said he had been ”shattered” when Potter told him last Tuesday that he would be replaced in the starting side. ”I argued a little bit about the reasoning behind it,” Marshall said. ”When you’re singled out a bit like that, it’s like, ‘Is it my fault that the team’s been losing?’ That’s what it sort of felt like. But he assured me that wasn’t the case. He just said he wanted a reaction. He’s the coach, he makes the decisions. He’s got to live and die by them. I just had to do a job when I came on and I tried to do that.”

Marshall handled the ball more times than any other Tiger except hooker Robbie Farah, and gave his side some spark when he was on the field. Yet he also conceded that he would be feeling the effects of his toe injury for some time yet.

Asked about the magnitude of the result, the Tigers’ worst loss to Souths – handing his club its longest losing streak in the process – Marshall said: ”Sometimes you’ve got to take into account the class of the team you’re playing against. I think some people forget we were playing the team that was on top of the table. They were on top of the table for a reason. They’re a good side, and they outplayed us in most facets of the game.”

Twitter – @Glenn__Jackson

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Leader of Tigers to bow out of fight

Falling on his sword: Steven Humphreys. Photo: Steve Christo Wests Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys has resigned, saying the move will help pave the way for a new spirit of cooperation between the partners of the joint-venture club.

Humphreys made the decision on Friday night but will continue in the role for the next two months while a replacement is sought. The former Qantas and British Airways executive, who took the job in July 2009, said he had made his decision with ”a heavy heart”. Humphreys and the entire club have been under pressure following a disastrous start to the season which has left them in last place. He made the decision before the embarrassing 54-10 loss to South Sydney on Friday night.

”I’ve got long personal ties with the club; I love it and have genuinely found it a privilege,” Humphreys told Fairfax Media. ”It’s a big call and one I do with a heavy heart, but I’m doing it because it’s in the best interests of the club.

”It’s in that context that I make that difficult personal decision. Wherever I might end up, I’ll always be looking out and trying to help out however I can.”

Humphreys has been caught in the middle of boardroom politics between the Balmain and Western Suburbs factions. Significantly, those parties have come together to work through their differences and resolved to modernise their corporate structure, with the help of the NRL, in the interests of working more harmoniously. It is in this context that Humphreys chose to step aside, to allow a new chief executive to drive the partnership.

”I love this club and have always found it a privilege to work here, but given that proposed change program the board is going through we have agreed now is the ideal time for a new CEO to come through and assist the board with some of that change work,” he said. ”We’ve agreed that I’ll be moving on in a couple of months. In that period of time it will be business as usual and I will do everything I can to improve things and support the board in particular and protect our commercial interests. After that period of time, they can bring in a new CEO.”

The son of former rugby league administrator Kevin Humphreys, Stephen was touted as a candidate for the job of ARLC CEO, which eventually went to Dave Smith. Humphreys has had a long history with the club since his time as a player. He wore the jersey 40 times at first-grade level.

While the club is going through a difficult period on and off the field, Humphreys was adamant Wests Tigers had a strong future. As for his own, he was unsure what his next move would be. ”I’ve not thought about what to do next professionally because I’m totally committed here and will be for the next couple of months,” he said.

”My mind will turn to that in time. I love the game and would dearly love to be involved. I’ve got skills and experiences I can apply to a range of different things and I’ll do that one step at a time. For me it’s been about making this decision, which has been difficult. Now it’s made, I’ve got two months to finish as well as I can here and it’s a commitment I’ve made to [chairman] Mike [Bailey], [deputy chairman] Nick [Di Girolamo] and, most importantly, myself.”

Bailey paid tribute to Humphreys, describing him as one of rugby league’s ”great communicators”. ”Steve has been a great ambassador for rugby league and this club,” he said. ”One of the most disappointing aspects in losing him was that he wasn’t here for the premiership we won in 2005.”

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