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Labor romps home in council elections at Lake Macquarie and Cessnock

TRIUMPHANT: Incoming Labor Mayor of Lake Macquarie Kay Fraser, centre, with supporters at Windale on Saturday night. Labor is expected to hold the balance of power in at least two Hunter councils after strong swings towards the party in Saturday’s local government elections.
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“Labor is back and we’re back for good,” said councillor and incoming Mayor of Lake Macquarie Kay Fraser, as she delivered her victory speech to a crowd of about 60 party faithfulat the Windale Gateshead Bowling Club.

“Its been a bit of a hard slog, we all know it was a difficult pre-selection and we’ve had to work extremely hard…but we’ve had a 12 per cent swing and we are back.”

Midway through thecount of first preferencevotes on Saturday night there was also an 18 per cent swing towards Labor in its Cessnock heartland, with incumbent Country Labor mayor Bob Pynsent all but certain of retaining power.

The party also expectedto secure two extra seats on the council.“We’ve had fantastic support from the community,” Cr Pynsentsaid.

Labor insiders suggestedsome of the state government’spolicies had been on the nose with voters in the lead up to the poll, including the greyhound racing ban and council amalgamations.

Lake Macquarie Liberal councillor Jason Pauling admitted both those issues had been raised by voters on the campaign trail.

“But I think clearlythe most prevalent thing is thereis a predisposition to Labor in this area, that is no surprise,” he said.

“For many decades it has been very heavily dominated by Labor and this is a Labor town.”

Cr Pauling said his party expected to again have three councillors on Lake Macquarie council, but with two new faces –Nick Jones in the East Ward and Kevin Baker in the North Ward.

”We’re pretty chuffed and we didn’t expect much more than that. Anything beyond that would have been a dream,” he said.

“From what we can see, particularly the independent Lake Alliance appears to have taken a bit of a pounding.”

He said he was “deeply disappointed” that Cr Fraser had castigated him for a negative campaign style in her victory speech.

“From our perspective, the Liberals ran a very positive message,” he said.

“I will highlightthat ALP heavyweights attacked all three of our candidates who have ultimately been elected.”

In the speech, Cr Fraserthanked her husband and sons Pete and Steve for their support andaccused Cr Pauling of running a “disgraceful” campaign by sending text messages to ratepayers saying Labor wanted to take away their weekly garbage bin collection.

She said the independents –including Cr Laurie Coghlan –had tried to run on the “coat tails” of the old Lake Alliance whileLabor had run a positive, grass-roots campaign.

“We’ve been getting upand going to train stations every morning –freezing –door knocking, letter-boxing, going to the markets, we have been working extremely hard.”

Cr Fraser was “elated” that she willbecome the second female mayor of Lake Macquarie when she takes over from MPJodie Harrison.

“Ithink as a female to run the council is really an honour and a privilege and Ithink we bring other values to that position as well,” Cr Frasersaid.

Tennis: Wally Masur, Ken Willis and Keith Carnall headline Tennis ACT Walk of Fame

Wally Masur in action against Boris Becker at the 1987 Australian Open at Kooyong in Melbourne.Wally Masur joked that being included in Tennis ACT’s Walk of Fame just means he’s old.
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Masur headlines a trio of Canberra tennis legends inducted into Tennis ACT’s Walk of Fame alongside Ken Willis and the late Keith Carnall.

The three will be honoured with inscribed pavers at the entrance to the Canberra Tennis Centre – a facility Masur believes could hold major events in the coming years.

“[Keith Carnall] is no longer with us so maybe it’s a sign that I’m on the wrong side of 50,” Masur said.

“It’s probably a coming of age for tennis, sport and the city of Canberra.

“I guess we’ve been on a bit of a journey, and that facility is absolutely world-class. A next-generation gym combined with the tennis centre and the indoor facility is just fantastic.

“That’s what tennis needs in this country, and the nation’s capital deserves a centre of that magnitude to hold events. I suppose the Walk of Fame is something for Tennis ACT to showcase some of the people that have been involved in the sport, different facets of the sport, and tie it in with this brand new centre.”

The recognition allowed 53-year-old Masur a moment of reflection on his days as a youngster looking to make a mark in the game.

“It’s always been a pretty vibrant tennis scene in Canberra,” Masur said.

“I was fortunate as a junior that the tennis scene – the A-grade scene and the junior scene – in Canberra at the time in the ’70s was very strong, and I was lucky to be a part of that.

“That was reflected around the country – tennis was pretty popular. Canberra was like a big country town at the time, it was was easy to get around, plenty of competition and I was pretty fortunate.”

Tennis ACT chief executive Ross Triffitt believes finding three candidates from vastly different eras is a nod to Canberra’s lengthy production line.

“They’re all outstanding candidates,” Triffitt said.

“It’s an exciting time and it’s probably a good time to ensure that we capture the history. Hopefully moving forward there’s going to be a great chapter with a great venue, boost in participation, and amazing individual performances.

“Some of our players are doing great things, so it’s certainly a great time to ensure that we’re capturing great things that happened in the past, and it looks very bright in the future.”

The Mail: Palentino leads the way for Weir quinella in Makybe Diva

The Darren Weir juggernaut continues to roll on, the champion trainer landing a one-two in the Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington to make it two out of two for the stable in group 1 races run in Victoria so far this season
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But the result was not quite what most punters expected, as Weir’s four-year-old Palentino, a $9 shot, got the better of the red-hot favourite ($2.05) Black Heart Bart.

The pair fought an enthralling duel through the final 200 metres of the long Flemington straight, the younger colt getting the better of the older gelding to score by a length. The David Hayes-trained $13 shot He Or She, partnered by Craig Williams, ran right up to his best to take third place, two lengths adrift.

Now the Cox Plate is very much on Palentino’s agenda.

“I was a little worried about him in the yard, but when he jumped he probably got a pair further back than we were expecting, but he was settled and he was just going through the motions. He got a beautiful ride, and even when he got to the outside of him [Black Heart Bart] I didn’t know if he would get past him, but I thought he would test him,” Weir said.

“He was always going to be a little bit vulnerable in those first couple of runs, but he’s come on and got the job done today. This is the race he was aimed towards, and if he measured up he will obviously head towards the Cox Plate. We will have to map out a plan for that now.”

MARTIN’S DOUBLE

Tim Martin can’t remember his last city double, “it was probably three years ago – more maybe” but Moral Victory and Heavens Above announced the talented trainer is back. Heavens Above, runner-up in the the Queen Of The Turf during The Championships, dropped back to 1200m second-up and took out the Sheraco Stakes.

“She is just a good mare and when she finally got clear she really hit the line,” Martin said. “We know she is only going to get better as they step out in distance and I can’t wait to get her to another group 1 mile. She will go to the Golden Pendant, then hopefully back up in the Epsom and Melbourne is there for her as well.”

Tye Angland had to wait for the run to come on Heavens Above but she charged late to win by a head from Ravi, with Magic Alibi a neck back third in a blanket finish. Earlier, Clare Nutman had got Moral Victory to win first-up for Martin.

JUST TOO GOOD

Sydney three-year-olds Detective and Kentucky Miss proved too good for their Melbourne rivals at listed level at Flemington on Saturday.

Joe Pride took Kentucky Miss to Melbourne and got some black type and might spell her and look at a race like the Galaxy in the autumn.

“Thrown in with no weight on her back, I think she could measure up,” Pride said. “It’s a handicap and it’s a good race for fillies if they’re smart. That’s why I’ll be mindful of where I place her in the spring.”

A race later Detective led home a Sydney quinella, beating Tessera for a black-type success, which could have him targeting the Caulfield Guineas.

“He just kept running second no matter where I took him [as a two-year-old],” co-trainer Peter Snowden said. “Those seconds have become wins now. It’s two for two this preparation. It’s good to see him show a bit of fight, he was well-ridden and it was good to see him get a win.”

Racing: Saracino Stakes his spring claim, but Baker unsure of his best trip

Flemington’s famous “straight six” can be a trap for inexperienced youngsters used to running around a bend and taking a lead from a rail.
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Kiwi trainer Murray Baker was concerned that his progressive three-year-old Saracino might struggle to adapt to the contours of the straight 1200 metres at headquarters, a course and distance not encountered anywhere else in Australia.

The wily horseman hoped that his New Zealand raider might find cover to tow him into the race, at least past the crossing where the straight course meets the round circuit for the last 600 metres.

He admitted after the $6 shot had shown plenty of fight to virtually lead all the way in the group 2 Danehill Stakes that he had been worried when he had jumped in a prominent position, particularly given his tendency as a two-year-old to idle when he hit the front.

But any concerns would have been shortlived as Saracino, under Damien Oliver, saw off all challengers to score  by a long neck  from the Godolphin-owned Archives ($6.50) , who had also  been in the vanguard throughout, with  filly Samara Dancer ($11), from the Adelaide stable of Phillip Stokes running on for  third.

Baker is not sure whether Saracino will stay the 1600 metres of the Caulfield Guineas, but he is unlikely to die wondering as the horse’s next target will be the 1400-metre Guineas Prelude at Caulfield in a fortnight.

Should he come through that and look as though the Guineas distance will be no problem he will probably head for the group 1 classic.

“I thought it was a very brave effort, he was in front a long way out,” Baker said. “We were going to probably try and ride him off the pace today to get him over the junction, but he was in front, he kept kicking all the way up the straight.

“You’d like to think he could make the Caulfield Guineas. Who knows, he might not be a miler more a sprinter. But there are plenty of options open for him if he’s not going to get the mile.”

The Caulfield classic could also be the target for Peter Snowden’s improving colt Detective, who took out the listed Starlight Express Room Stakes over 1400 metres under Chris Parnham, winning at his first ride for the Sydney yard.

“He’s getting further up the pecking order [in the Snowden stable], the trainer said.  “This preparation I first wanted to win a race with him. He did that at Wyong and today he stepped up in class and won with authority.

“Whether he is a Guineas horse I am not sure, but he’s in it and we will keep heading that path and see what happens.”

It’s not often that horses start at $201 in a metropolitan race, and even rarer that they make the frame – especially on debut in a listed contest.

But young  Japanese trainer Yoshitomo Shima, who is based at Ballarat, managed to almost pull off a massive shock with his filly Beyond The Dream, who beat all bar the  favourite Kentucky Miss in the Cap D’Antibes Stakes.

Shima has hardly had any runners and is little known, as was the filly’s jockey, Sydney-based Yusuke Ichikawa. The trifecta on the race paid over $8000, while the first four, not surprisingly, jackpotted at over $88,000.