BRAVE Ali will be one of the leading contenders for the Group 3 Chairman’s Handicap (2000m) at Doomben on Saturday after weaker than expected nominations were received for the $125,000 race.
The Armidale-owned gelding has won three races in a row since being based in Brisbane and should be hard to beat again.
Trainer Tony Gollan said the seven-year-old was “flying” and would turn up to Doomben in great order.
CONSIDERING he’s ridden more winners than anyone else in Australia, Robert Thompson could be forgiven for being a little bit arrogant.
However, the bush jockey is anything but.
So when Thompson crossed the line in front at Newcastle on Saturday to register his 4000th win as a jockey, I couldn’t help but smile.
I caught up with him in Armidale on Guyra Cup day in March, where he rode a winner.
A man of few words, he gave all credit to the horse, but if a 3kg claiming apprentice had been given the ride, the result would not have been the same.
He won’t ride 5000 winners, but his legacy in Australian racing will be legendary.
Lights, camera, action
EXCITEMENT is building in Armidale regarding the filming of reality TV show The Coach later this year.
Not only will Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart be the face of the program, but expect a number of high-profile NRL players to bob up in Armidale.
The likes of Paul Gallen, Michael Ennis, Johnathan Thurston and a couple of other stars have been mentioned in passing.
It’s great news for Armidale and this reporter has been informed that Stuart and the visiting players will make themselves available to the community at times.
What were they thinking?
I WAS not the only person amazed to see such a lop-sided Group 19 squad when selectors named the team last week.
A total of nine Moree Boomerangs players made the side, yet just two made it from Armidale, who beat the Boomies on their home patch on Saturday.
But it was the non-selection of several gun Glen Innes players that raised most eyebrows.
The pressure will be well and truly on the Boomerangs players to carry the side next week.
DAMIEN Connor says he is looking forward to life in the Northern Tablelands.
The new general manager of the Uralla Shire Council has travelled across Australia and halfway around the world in his working life, but says the time is right to settle down.
In many ways, he is returning to his roots.
Born in Armidale, Mr Connor, 35, grew up in Inverell before heading to Newcastle, where he tried to forge a rugby league career with the Knights.
He didn’t make the cut as an NRL player, but became renowned as one of the better football players in the bush, coaching sides in Gunnedah, Forbes and Cobar.
But his rugby league prowess didn’t see him land the job in Uralla.
Mr Connor said his background in local government and past performances gave him the upper hand.
“General manager jobs are pretty competitive around the country now because there are a lot of good people in local government,” he said.
“I think I just relied on my background and proven track record in delivering results.”
Most recently, Mr Connor was the executive manager for organisation performance and governance at Clarence Valley Council in Grafton.
He said it was important for Uralla Shire Council to stick to the “basics” as pressure mounts on local government around the country.
“The most important thing is to make enough income to offset expenses, renew infrastructure and engage with the community,” he said.
Mr Connor said the best part of the new job would be creating a new home.
“It’s been part of our longer term goal to make a home somewhere and settle down,” he said.
“We really enjoyed chasing jobs, but it’s nice to be close to home.”
His wife Melanie has family in Armidale, Walcha and Inverell, while Mr Connor’s mum still lives in Inverell.
The couple have two children who will start school in the next few years.
WOW! What a weekend … such a shock to the system following such warm, mild weather.
My garden had its first frost but the sun is shining and it was not a big one, hopefully with the sunshine the soils will warm back up a bit after the weekend freeze.
If you have not already mulched, put it to the top of the list of things to do. Mine is in desperate need as the cattle ate my big bales of lucerne mulch and as yet I have not found replacements so am now using the ‘electricity’ mulch made from the trees they removed from my garden and paddocks. It probably looks better and has no weeds but I still prefer lucerne for soil and plant health.
The one good thing with lower temperatures is water use diminishes dramatically, perhaps leaving some of our precious water for spring … oh, for town water! You don’t know how lucky you are not to have to supply your own.
The nurseries now have lots of punnets for winter colour as well as herbs, vegies and spring perennials ready to plant out. I doubt heat will wither them from here on in.
If you are thinking of planting camelias, the sasanquas have started to bloom so a great time to select what you like. Through all this horrid, droughty weather the plants that have really surprised me are the phododendrons, they appear to be incredibly tough, as well as incredibly beautiful. Both like protection from the western sun and wind as well as acid soil to flourish – iron chelates and sulphur are two ways of acidifying the soil if it needs it.
A pity some of the gorgeous autumn leaves have been blown off, however, the cold should intensify the colour on the ones left for us to enjoy.
ARMIDALE will unearth a new NRL player when it hosts filming of a new reality TV show featuring former Australian and NSW coach Ricky Stuart.
The University of New England, with the backing of Armidale Dumaresq Council, won the bid to have the show, titled The Coach, filmed in Armidale.
The Coach will see 13 rugby league hopefuls do battle for an NRL contract.
The show has the backing of the NRL and several high profile players.
The show’s contestants, who are already talented rugby league players, will be put through a number of gruelling challenges to impress Stuart, the current coach of the Canberra Raiders.
The show will air on Fox Sports and be replayed half a dozen times each week.
Filming will start in October and the show is likely to start airing in late November.
The joint initiative between UNE and the council to secure the filming was no mean feat in a highly competitive bidding process.
“Armidale won out in the end because of our state-of-the-art sporting and campus facilities at UNE, our proximity to national parks, and our location as a thriving regional centre,” UNE Life’s interim chief executive David Schmude said.
“The reality TV show will be a vehicle to showcase UNE’s sporting academic programmes and facilities as well as its on-campus college experience.
“The contestants and crew will stay at the new Wright College.
“Armidale is in an enviable position for a regional centre with sporting facilities that rival many of the big cities in Australia.
“I think it really was a ‘no brainer’ for the producers of the show to choose Armidale.
“Ricky knows Armidale and UNE well from his time with the Eels and enjoyed his time here.”
Armidale Dumaresq Council’s economic development, tourism and marketing manager Tony Broomfield said the national exposure presented the opportunity to showcase Armidale’s many assets.
“There will be an opportunity for engagement at the local level with the mentors, coach and participants, while the crew are here for the month of October filming the series of challenges,” he said.
“We should also note the economic benefits flowing to local businesses from this activity, perhaps from their involvement in some of the challenges.
“This has has been a great year thus far with Armidale achieving widespread national media coverage after being voted the third hottest destination by Australian Traveller magazine.”
It’s believed the winner of the TV show will be given a $75,000 contract with an NRL club, which would be exempt from the salary cap.
The Raiders, Bulldogs, Roosters, Panthers and Storm are believed to be the clubs interested in attracting the signature of the winner.