Feb 10

Jennings family set for huge day of deciders

Day of reckoning: Michael Jennings is ready for the big one. Photo: Wolter PeetersSydney Roosters centre Michael Jennings says at the start of the season he hadn’t expected to be playing in Sunday’s grand final – let alone have brother George play on the same day.

Jennings, who joined the Roosters after receiving an off-season release from Penrith, will watch as George plays for the Panthers in the under-20s curtainraiser against the Warriors before preparing for his own game.

“I wish we were playing for the same team but unfortunately we are not,” Jennings said. “I am so proud of him and he will obviously be playing before us, so it should be a good day for the family. I am excited for him.”

Jennings said he had not thought about winning a premiership this season when he signed with the Roosters after being on the outer at Penrith.

However, the NSW Origin centre said Roosters coach Trent Robinson had helped him to make changes on and off the field that improved his game.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect to be here at the start of the season,” Jennings said. “I was just really nervous coming to a new club and I really just wanted to do my job and do everything right by the team and earn the boys’ respect.

“It has changed my whole life off the field and especially on the field. I am more clear about what I am doing and I am more mature in my approach.

“Obviously it was a new club, a new attitude and I had to change a lot of things.”

Despite being committed to the Roosters, Jennings said he would not try to persuade George – a centre or winger – to move from Penrith or even to choose a career in the NRL.

“I tell him to do whatever he wants to do. Whatever path he chooses is his decision, I won’t try to change that,” he said.

“That’s his decision because he is quality, he is good enough. It is just the choice and if he really wants to be there.”

Jennings also has another brother, Robert, coming through the juniors ranks with Penrith’s SG Ball under-18s team. “Everyone has got good raps on him but there is still a long way,” Jennings said.

“It was my goal to see my brothers come up.”

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Feb 10

Watmough rejects silvertails tag

“We were battlers there for a while, we’re getting back there but we’re definitely not the silvertails”: Anthony Watmough (far right). Photo: Marco Del GrandeGrand final week: Read The Manly Mirror

Anthony Watmough implored rugby league supporters from Sydney’s west to get behind Manly in Sunday’s grand final by describing his Sea Eagles as their socio-economic brethren and not the long-despised silvertails.

Manly was bestowed the tag by Fairfax columnist Roy Masters in the late 1970s when he coached the Western Suburbs Magpies. He declared a class war when he baptised the Magpies “the fibros” and the beachside Sea Eagles “the silvertails” to make the perceived differences in personal wealth between the two areas a cause for his team to fight for.

It stuck, but as Watmough prepared for the NRL decider against Sydney Roosters – a team that represents Sydney’s most expensive real estate – the tough forward said that life on and off the field on the northern beaches was far from a sunbake in the land of milk and honey.

“How are we the silvertails?” said a bemused Watmough. “[Our club] has been broke, we’ve been brought up from the ashes … we’ve been together for a long time. I don’t know how we’re the silvertails. We were battlers there for a while, we’re getting back there but we’re definitely not the silvertails.”

Watmough, who moved to Narrabeen when he was only eight, described life for the average Joes on the peninsula as a constant struggle. “People don’t own their own houses over here,” he said. “People choose to live here and pay rent and work their butt off to pay their rent because of the lifestyle; it’s a great lifestyle over here but the mums and dads who work 70 or 80 hours a week, to come home to pay the $1000 rent so their kids can have a good lifestyle and good upbringing, they’re the battlers.

“I don’t think any of my mates own a house.

“They just work hard to pay the rent to live the lifestyle they do.”

Watmough said he would give his all for his mates – and other battlers – from Narrabeen and beyond on Sunday.

“It means a lot to me,” Watmough said of the place he calls home. “Playing for Narrabeen, I was a Narrabeen junior, all the guys get behind us and it’s such a good feeling knowing that support is there. And it’s not just Narrabeen, you go down the road and every second person now is congratulating you.

“The buzz around this area is amazing at grand final time. We explained it to the guys who haven’t experienced it before, we just said sit back and enjoy this week because it’s going to be something special you’ll remember.”

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Feb 10

She’s Archie keeps giving Weir reason to be happy

When 40-1 shot She’s Archie nearly pulled off a huge boilover in the 2003 Melbourne Cup, beating home all bar the mighty Makybe Diva, the four-year-old mare put little-known trainer Darren Weir on the map.

Back then, Ballarat-based Weir was familiar to punters who ploughed Victoria’s provincial circuit in pursuit of winners, but his metropolitan success rate was low. That year, for example, he had only four city winners, and the following season he had none at all.

These days, Weir has a much higher profile: he prepares the Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune, has become a group 1-winning handler and is atop the Melbourne metropolitan trainers’ table.

But he is still closely connected with the mare that almost gave him the biggest prize in Australian racing.

May’s Dream, a daughter of She’s Archie (by New Approach) scored easily in the opening race at Caulfield on Sunday and shapes as a likely chance to allow Weir to tick another career box by giving him his first classic winner, in the Thousand Guineas.

The filly won with a minimum of fuss under Nick Hall, running down the David Hayes-trained Bulbula in the straight to score in the manner of a progressive filly and gain her second win in four starts. It was the first winner in a treble on the day for Hall, who has a high opinion of the lightly raced three-year-old.

Weir will press on to the Guineas, for which May’s Dream is among the main challengers to the favourite, Guelph. But the trainer’s only concern is that May’s Dream is a small filly and a late foal and she may not stand up to the rigours of a demanding spring campaign.

”She began better than expected and Nick gave her a beautiful ride and she was really strong to the line,” Weir said after she won over 1400 metres in a small field on Sunday. ”The Thousand Guineas is the plan … the only query is that she is a November foal, and looking at her in the yard, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of her.”

May’s Dream is the third foal of She’s Archie, whose name still brings a smile to Weir. ”She’s Archie came along at the right time in my career. She was a great horse to us and it’s great to get one out of her that looks as though it’s got a bit of potential.”

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Feb 10

Hoop dreams: how to stay in the black this spring

Still got it: Jim Cassidy. Photo: Mick TsikasDuring the spring carnival millions of dollars will be wagered on the biggest races in the country, and the decisions by the jockeys on what to ride and how to ride their mounts will decide which horses salute.

While the horses change and trainers have their influence, the common thread in all group 1s is the men who ride them. Who is the best and why are they the best? Here’s Roots ‘n’ All’s rankings.Group 1

Glen Boss

No one is more outwardly confident than Boss. He has the ride on Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune and Rupert Clarke winner Rebel Dane. He rides light and will be highly sought by trainers and owners.

Hugh Bowman

Always in high demand and will ride in most of the major group 1s. Given the right horse, Bowman usually gets the job done. Should find some handy rides.

Jim Cassidy

On 99 group 1 wins in a great career. He has the rides on Zoustar and Hawkspur, which he has declared the Melbourne Cup winner. Might not get the opportunities, but is still highly effective.

Kerrin McEvoy

Should open his group 1 account for the year on Guelph in the Flight Stakes on Saturday and also has the ride on Doncaster winner Sacred Falls for Chris Waller in the Epsom, though being Darley’s No.1 can limit outside opportunities.

Craig Newitt

Already has two group 1s in his bag. Not the first name that comes to mind when big rides are on offer but can ride light, which is an advantage.

Nash Rawiller

A good chance of kicking off his tally for this season with Fiorente in the Turnbull. He has been at the top of his game for the past couple of years. Rides for Gai Waterhouse and when he doesn’t, Chris Waller is keen to put him on.

Michael Rodd

Should have the rides on Atlantic Jewel and Super Cool, which is right in the Caulfield Cup mix, as stable jockey for Mark Kavanagh. Only kicked home two group 1 winners last season but was placed in 19 of 39 top-level rides.

Craig Williams

Only had three group 1 winners last year but is always on the top of the list of trainers. He will have to decide what to ride, rather than taking the first offer that comes.Group 2

Tom Berry

Had a breakthrough season in 2012-13 and now must back it up. He has the backing of the Waterhouse yard and will have fond memories of this weekend last year when he won the Epsom-Metropolitan double on Fat Al and Glencadam Gold.

James McDonald

Champion Kiwi finding his way at the top level. His past five group 1 wins in Australia have been on It’s A Dundeel. He is one of the stars of the spring but McDonald needs to prove himself on other rides.

Luke Nolen

Nolen will always be known for his deeds in the salmon and black spots of Black Caviar. Stable rider for Peter Moody and will get his chances to shine during the carnival, although his team looks a little slim at the moment.

Damien Oliver

Controversy dogged Oliver last spring and eventually led to 10 months on the sidelines for placing a bet. He has come back focused but got a suspension on Friday night, so misses this weekend.

Glyn Schofield

The former South African has travelled the world riding and proven himself in many markets. He has a great book on Saturday with Boban in the Epsom and Moriarty in The Metropolitan.

Blake Shinn

Already a Melbourne Cup winner on Viewed, Shinn has worked hard to get back to the top level after a lengthy ban for betting. He won the George Main on Streama and rides equal Epsom favourite Toydini. Both are trained by Guy Walter, for who he does most of his riding.

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Feb 10

Fire destroys family’s bus, home, business

TO a group of arsonists on a late-night spree of senseless vandalism they must have been just two more vehicles that could be spray-painted and torched.

But to a young family on the other side of the world, the two motorhomes parked in a quiet Heatherbrae street were their life, their livelihood and their home.

Trish Tucker-May, her husband Joe May and their children Roary, 3, and Jack-Patrick, 5, were in England in early August when an Australian friend sent them a link to a story on the Newcastle Herald website about two motorhomes that had been gutted by fire.

Ms Tucker-May, who runs a mobile fresh-pressed juice business, and Mr May, a clown, have split the past 10 years between England and Australia, stopping at festivals like Glastonbury in the UK before spending summer travelling to places like the Woodford Folk Festival, WOMADelaide, Rainbow Serpent in Victoria and the Tasmanian Circus Festival back home.

‘‘While we are in Australia we are on the road for four or five months,’’ Ms Tucker-May said.

‘‘Our bus is where we live, where we home-school our children and where we run our businesses.

‘‘It is our everything – our office, our lounge room, our bedroom and the way we travel to each festival.’’

Ms Tucker-May said without family in Forster they would be homeless when they returned to Australia.

‘‘We have festivals booked and rents paid and now our season cannot happen,’’ she said.

‘‘This has deeply shocked our family.’’

Ms Tucker-May said in 20 minutes vandals had destroyed what her family had worked 10 years for. ‘‘Vandalism sucks,’’ she said. ‘‘It destroys people’s livelihood, it destroys people’s homes. ‘‘It took us 10 years of work to buy that bus.

‘‘We are not rich grey nomads travelling around in our retirement fund, we are a hard-working family making a living out of our small businesses and that has a lot of challenges.

‘‘Your actions have ruined what we have worked for.’’

She said a mix-up with the paperwork had meant the bus was not insured.

The motorhome blaze was one of more than 20 late-night fires across Port Stephens within a few weeks.

Police suspect an arsonist or arsonists are responsible.

Friends in England have started a crowd funding page to raise money to buy a new bus/home for the family.

The page can be found at: http://www.gofundme苏州美甲美睫培训/4dohv0

HOMELESS: The Tucker-May family have lost their home in a suspicious fire which gutted their motorhomes.

UP IN SMOKE: The two motorhomes were destroyed in a fire believed to have been started by arsonists.

UP IN SMOKE: The two motorhomes were destroyed in a fire believed to have been started by arsonists.

UP IN SMOKE: The two motorhomes were destroyed in a fire believed to have been started by arsonists.