The Cleaner tomake his return

Mick Burles with The CleanerLONGFORD trainer Mick Burles has altered plans for The Cleaner and the eight-year-old will now resume from a spell at Caulfield on Saturday.
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Burles had intended waiting for a race at Moonee Valley the following week but decided The Cleaner was ‘‘ready to go’’.

He will be shipped to Melbourne on Thursday night and run in the weight-for-age $200,000 P B Lawrence Stakes over 1400 metres.

‘‘It looks a good race for him, with my only reservation being that it’s at Caulfield,’’ Burles said.

‘‘He had his first run there when Robert Smerdon was training him and he finished near-last.

‘‘But he was crook and I had to bring him straight home.

‘‘The only time he’s been back was for the Easter Cup earlier this year when he ran a close fifth.

‘‘He sweated up badly before that race – I don’t know whether it was because he had bad memories of the place.’’

Burles has booked a new rider for The Cleaner as he embarks on a campaign aimed at a second start in the Cox Plate.

‘‘I’ve given Steve [Arnold] a rest because he’s ridden him eight times in a row and horses can get a bit too used to riders,’’ the trainer said.

‘‘I’ve booked Noel Callow for this week – he’s had one ride on him for one win.

‘‘Callow suits the horse because he can get them out of the gates [quickly].’’

Sod’s advice

A GOOD word from former Test cricketer and successful racehorse owner Simon O’Donnell was behind Dillon Hall’s move to Tasmania.

O’Donnell is a partner in OTI Racing, which owned Dillon Hall when he won two races in Victoria in July last year.

However, after 10 months without a win, Dillon Hall was put on the market and was recommended to Brighton trainer Gary White by a mate who had other horses in the Darren Weir stable.

‘‘I spoke to Simon O’Donnell to get an assessment of this horse and he suggested we would have a bit of fun with him in Tasmania,’’ White said.

Dillon Hall was having his third start for White when he won the Benchmark 62 Handicap at Spreyton on Sunday.

‘‘He found the 1175 metres too short at his first run here, then he got beaten a nose by a nose at his next start after copping some interference in the back straight,’’ White said.

‘‘He came again after being headed in that race so Damien [Thornton] suggested we swap his blinkers for a visor so he could see the other horses coming at him.’’

The gear change worked and, despite running about a bit in the closing stages on Sunday, Dillon Hall scored a comfortable win.

White said he was always philosophical about getting horses from leading Victorian stables.

‘‘You can’t improve on Darren Weir and you don’t have to – you just have to get them racing as well,’’ the trainer said.

Positive swab

THE old problem of horses eating feed contaminated by poppy seeds is about to rear its head in Tasmania again.

A thoroughbred trainer with a positive swab will provide evidence that his horse ate feed grown in a paddock previously used for poppy production.

In previous cases in Tasmania, the horse has been disqualified from the race but no action taken against the trainer.

That can’t happen in this case because the swab was taken at the trials.

Just short

LEADING reinsman Gareth Rattray has seemingly run out of time to bring up a century of winners for the third time in his career.

Rattray’s win on Last Guy Standing at Mowbray on Sunday night was his 91st for the season but there are only three meetings remaining.

Rattray drove 113 winners in 2007-08 and 115 winners in 2009-10. He has also finished in nineties three times.

Rohan Hillier has moved clear on the trainers’ premiership with 43 wins, ahead of Juanita McKenzie on 36 and Barrie Rattray and Nathan Ford on 35.

Tassie flicked

EVERYTHING comes at a price – even the welcome return to Sky Channel of Victorian racing.

Although one of the minor jumps races at Ballarat on Sunday started 4 minutes late, Sky 1 still gave it preference over a race at Devonport that started spot on time, yet got flicked to Sky 2.

As it turned out, Sky 1 would have had ample time to show the Devonport race and still cross back to Ballarat for pre-race comments.

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Defiant Newton refuses to raise the white flag

Knights players behind their goal line after conceding a try to the Roosters. Picture: Jonathan CarrollIF the Knights finish the season with the wooden spoon, departing forward Clint Newton reckons they will have earned it.
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Despite a frantic flurry of 22 points midway through the second half, when they rallied from a 32-0 deficit, the Knights suffered a 38-22 loss to Sydney Roosters at Hunter Stadium last Sunday to remain in the NRL cellar.

Newton believes they deserve to be last and that is where they will stay unless there is a change of attitude, application and attention to detail in their last four games.

Newcastle were tied with Wests Tigers on 16 points heading into the Tigers’ game against the Raiders in Canberra on Monday night but the Knights (minus-154) had an inferior points differential to the Tigers (minus-81).

The Tigers’ 20-18 victory means the Knights must beat them at Campbelltown on Saturday to join them on 18 points, but Newcastle will still have a job on their hands to close the for-and-against points gap with three rounds remaining.

Penrith (minus-87) and Gold Coast (minus-163) are also in the spoon battle on 18 points.

Newton said coach Danny Buderus had a simple message to the players at a team meeting after their recovery session on Monday morning: “Stay in the fight”.

“We can put up the white flag and say we’ll pack up stumps for the rest of the year or you can keep fighting. I know for me personally, giving up is not an option, but at the end of the day you’ve got to start to think when is the penny going to drop,” Newton said.

“Some people say it’s been unlucky in certain aspects this season but I’m a massive believer in you finish where you deserve to finish. We deserve to be last, there’s no doubt about that, but that doesn’t mean to say we have to stay where we are.

“We need to do the right things to get ourselves into a position to win football games, and who knows what will happen, but right now, we deserve to be where we are.”

After playing the Tigers, Newcastle will finish against the Storm (away), Bulldogs (home) and Panthers (away), but Newton said they could not look past the trip to Campbelltown.

“It’s certainly a massive game but we can’t be thinking two, three weeks down the track about where we might finish,” he said.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re in a position to give ourselves a chance to win this game, and that all comes from training, recognising the mistakes, holding people to account for the errors that they make, then turning up on Saturday with a mindset of giving ourselves an opportunity to win the game.

“If you don’t do that, whether you’re playing the Wests Tigers or whether you’re playing South Newcastle Lions, you can’t win if you don’t actually have a fair amount of possession.”

Newton is one of several senior players in their final season with the Knights. The 34-year-old former Country Origin and USA Tomahawks representative is retiring, skipper Kurt Gidley will join English club Warrington, Beau Scott will continue his career at Parramatta and David Fa’alogo has already retired because of a neck injury.

After their decision a fortnight ago to sack Rick Stone as coach and appoint Buderus as caretaker for the rest of the season, Knights management are considering showing other players the door as part of a review of all football staff.

Newton described the team’s performance against the Roosters as “60 minutes of pretty awful footy and 20 minutes of some quality”.

“Every week we’re behind and it’s not good enough at NRL level,” he said.

“This game is far too hard to every week have to come back from 12, 18, 20, 26 points, and then expect to have enough petrol in the tank at the end of the game to win the game.

“It’s all well and good to fight back – that’s fine. You can’t lose the game in the first 20 but you can certainly make it very difficult to have any chance of winning the game.”

Newton said the team’s long-suffering fans deserved better than what the Knights produced in the first 41 minutes against the Roosters.

“It’s unacceptable – it has been unacceptable all year. There’s nothing else you can say other than we’ve got to do better, and we’ll certainly try and do better,” he said.

Newcastle’s second-half resurgence was another example of their attacking potential when they controlled the ball and “that’s been the case for the whole season”.

“I think you see nearly every round, there’s been a momentum swing in nearly every game, and that’s the way it is at the moment with interchange, possession, fatigue and all those sort of things,” he said. “But what players have to understand is you can’t come from behind then try and get in front and still have enough energy to go again because it’s just too hard when you’re playing against good football sides.”

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Expect fierce backlash, Diamonds tell England

The Diamonds talk tactics during their match against New Zealand in Sydney on Sunday. Picture: Getty ImagesAUSTRALIA have warned England they may bear the brunt of the Diamonds’ stunning Netball World Cup defeat to New Zealand.
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Australian vice-captain Kim Green says her team have never been more motivated for a win after the defending world champions and hot tournament favourites suffered a shock 52-47 loss to the second-ranked Silver Ferns.

While reflection is still under way, Green believed the “unacceptable” performance had provided the Diamonds with more than enough incentive to bounce back stronger against world No.3 England on Tuesday night.

“We are fired up,” she said.

“I can tell you every single one of those players, as soon as we walked back into that change room, wanted to get back out there and play that all over again.

“[Tomorrow] we’ll still need to have that balance of that fire in our bellies, but also being smart with what we’re doing,” she said.

“But you can expect a very fired-up Aussie team tomorrow.”

Australia’s unexpected capitulation to a bold and clinical Silver Ferns – their first international defeat in 22 Tests – has opened the World Cup right up, as preliminary rounds wrap up and teams prepare for the pointy end of competition.

While their trans-Tasman rivals have topped pool A and move into a second-phase pool with fourth-ranked Jamaica, the hosts will have to contend with what Green said was potentially England’s best ever side.

The Diamonds hold a 92 per cent winning record against England, but they won’t have forgotten that only a year ago that was nearly lessened in an intensely close Commonwealth Games match in which Australia came from behind to win by a single point in the dying seconds.

Green said the Australian players were impressed with what they saw in England’s high-quality 54-50 win over Jamaica on Saturday, which cemented their stranglehold at the top of pool B.

“They’ve got the mix of the experienced players but also the real young ones coming through that have got that real fire, like [midcourter] Serena Guthrie,” she said.

“They’ve done a really good job with their selection for that team.

“The inclusion of [five World Cups veteran defender] Sonia Mkoloma, you could see in the Jamaican game [she] really made an impact.

“She’s got that court smarts, she’s been around the traps for so long – just having that experience will also strengthen their side as well.”

Veteran Australians Caitlin Bassett and Julie Corletto are both expected to make their 50th Test appearances on Tuesday. AAP

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Lillycette is off to Sydney after win

Lillycette wins Monday night’s finalCLASSY stayer Lillycette earned the right represent Tasmania in the National Distance Championship in Sydney next week when she easily won the state final over 720 metres at Mowbray on Monday night.
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Lillycette drew wide but crossed to the lead shortly after the start and quickly opened a commanding break on the field, which she maintained to the finish.

The first three placegetters went across the line in market order, with Lillycette ($1.50 favourite) beating Midnight Bird ($4.60) and Frosty’s Capable ($5.50).

The Ted Medhurst-trained Lillycette has been competitive on previous interstate visits, including two placings over the national distance final course at Wentworth Park in March-April.

She has now won 10 of her 16 starts on the Launceston circuit.

Breaker’s Tip, the fastest heat winner, ran right up to that form with a brilliant win in the state final of the National Sprint Championship.

The Gary Fahey-trained dog began quickly from box seven to settle outside the red runner Retail Chart and, by the first turn, had crossed to the lead.

He was never challenged from that point and went on to beat Retail Chart easily, with outsider Lisheen grabbing third place in a photo finish.

The first two placegetters dominated betting, with Breaker’s Tip starting $2.60 favourite and Retail Chart $2.80.

Breaker’s Tip was bred by Mangalore-based Fahey and his brother Greg, of Hobart.

The national sprint and distance finals are group 1 races worth $75,000 to the winner and will be run on Saturday week.

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Lleyton Hewitt to take Nick Kyrgios under his wing during US Open warm-ups

Lleyton Hewitt has agreed to take Nick Kyrgios under his wing in a mentoring and coaching role before the US Open, his mother Nill hoping his guidance will help her son who “wasn’t in a good head space” after his Davis Cup meltdown.
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Dogged by criticism over his on-court antics at Wimbledon, Kyrgios attracted more bad publicity after his shock loss to Aleksandr Nedovyesov on the opening day of Australia’s quarter-final tie against Kazakhstan last month.

The Canberran was heard uttering “I don’t want to be here” during the match and also broke a racquet in a rage, highlighting the stress the publicity had taken on him.

Kyrgios split with coach Todd Larkham just before Wimbledon and given he is yet to find a replacement, Hewitt has volunteered to help out as he approaches retirement.

The two-time grand slam champion will play doubles with Kyrgios when he returns to court at this week’s ATP Masters event in Montreal, and is also assisting Kyrgios’ close friend Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Hewitt copped his fair share of criticism for his brash approach early in his career and Tennis Australia and the Kyrgios camp felt his wisdom would be invaluable for the world No.41.

Nill said there was a strong chance Hewitt would remain in the role during the US Open, which begins on August 31.

She felt Nick would respond to Hewitt’s advice, given he had gone through the same ordeal himself.

“He will listen to Lleyton because he knows what he’s talking about, he’s been at the top and been world No.1,” Nill said.

“Definitely [Hewitt will be there] for Montreal and Cincinnati and depending on whether he plays the US Open or not, he’ll be there anyway. What Nick doesn’t like is when people who haven’t been in that situation give him advice, but he’ll listen to someone like Lleyton.

“Lleyton’s been through everything that Nick is going through. We touched base on it after Davis Cup because we knew Nick wasn’t in a good head space, he just wasn’t dealing well with the negative feedback.”

Nill said watching Hewitt’s tenacity and competitiveness up close would also be beneficial.

“It played havoc with his emotions and I think Lleyton knew that,” she said.

“For the moment it [partnership] is temporary, only because I don’t think Nick has asked anyone. Nick and Thanasi know he’s over there to mentor and coach if they want it, he’s there to make sure they’re heading in the right direction.

“They also need to be in a good head space for the semi-finals of the Davis Cup. They cannot go to the semi-final the way they did in the quarter-final. He’s not there to say ‘don’t do this or don’t do that’, he’s there to advise them gently on things they shouldn’t be doing, because they’ll regret it later.

“Lleyton was available and fortunately in a position where he’s just about to finish [his career]. He wanted to mentor these boys because he’s been in their shoes before. I think it’s great for Nick to have him there.”

Losses to Kyrgios and Kokkinakis put Australia in a 2-0 hole against Kazakhstan, before Sam Groth and Hewitt rescued things by winning the reverse singles ties and setting up a semi-final showdown with Great Britain.

“People perceive Nick got dropped, but there was no way the way he was [mentally] he could have won that singles match, he just couldn’t do it,” Nill said.

“It’s a team, you have to report back to your team members and say ‘I don’t think I can do it’. He’d just had enough at that point.”

Kyrgios starts his Montreal campaign against Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco early Wednesday morning (AEST).

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