Clarke looks to carry on his winning track form

BIG CHALLENGE: Axeman Stephen Foster … will take on Olympic sprint cyclist Ben Kersten. Kersten will endeavour to complete a lap of the Silverdome track at top speed before Foster can cut through aThe $3950 Praties Launceston Wheel is the feature event on the programme with action in the afternoon session starting at 12.30pm and the evening session at 6.45pm.
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Newly-crowned Latrobe Wheel winner Nathan Clarke showed great form in his hometown victory on Boxing Day but will find it more difficult to take out the double on the indoor track.

Launceston’s Matthew Goss is defending Launceston Wheel champion and has had a stellar season overseas which saw him in the winning team’s pursuit and madison at the world junior championships.

His task of winning back- to-back wheel races will be more difficult off 40m compared to last year’s mark of 70m.

However Goss’s ride for third place in the Latrobe Wheel and his win in the 16,000m A Grade scratch race shows he cannot be discounted.

Traditionally the scratchmen have not had a happy history of winning the Launceston Wheel but the way they dominated at Latrobe on Boxing Day suggests that they will be a real threat on the faster Silverdome track.

Olympic dual gold medallist Graeme Brown showed he is in outstanding form with his win in the A. J. Clarke & Sons Handicap and second in the Latrobe Wheel.

He has plenty of top-class support from the likes of Ben Kersten, Ashley Hutchinson, Jame Carney and German Christian Laderman plus local scratch riders in Mark Jamieson, Nathan Clarke and Stephen Rossendell.

Middle markers Ben Price (100m), Kaidan Homan (140m) and Will Robinson (150m) are local riders in with a show of pulling off a Launceston Wheel victory, along with Victorian Cameron White off 130m.

The 68-event programme will include a special challenge between axeman Stephen Foster, son of Tasmanian legend David Foster and Olympic sprint cycling star Ben Kersten.

Kersten will endeavour to complete a lap of the Silverdome track at top speed before Foster can cut through a 310mm block of wood.

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Worker thought body was dumped asbestos

Grim discovery: The site where a man’s body was found sealed between timber and secured with duct tape. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODOA Gujarat mines employee has told how he made the gruesome discovery of a body at Mt Ousley after initially mistaking it for a load of dumped asbestos.The body had been sealed between two planks of timber before being wrapped in black lino, secured with duct tape and partially buried under dirt and leaves beside a Gujarat NRE Minerals’ gate, about 30m from busy Mt Ousley Rd.The 52-year-old Gujarat employee, of Shellharbour, said he first saw the body last Tuesday but left it until Friday to make a proper inspection.”I just fobbed it off as someone’s dumped asbestos; that they’d put it there because they didn’t want to pay the money to dispose of it,” he said.”When I cut the end of it, that’s when I realised it was more than old refuse.”Police have confirmed the body was that of a 27-year-old Chinese national who had been living in inner Sydney before being reported missing by two friends on March 4.A post-mortem was conducted yesterday and the cause of death was expected to be announced today. The man’s name has yet to be released.The state of decomposition suggested he had been dead for at least a week.The mineworker, whose role includes securing the perimeter of the Gujarat property, said he was working with two colleagues trying to close off a track that was being illegally used as an access point by 4WD vehicles and trail bikes.The team were welding fences and putting concrete blocks in place when he noticed the body.”It was wrapped up in vinyl – like lino – that had come off an old kitchen floor. It was wrapped pretty tightly and elaborately, then secured with 50mm grey duct tape.”They went to a lot of trouble to secure whatever was in there,” he said.The team returned on Friday when the grisly find was made about 11am.”I took an excavator driver over with me. He just stood behind me when I opened the package up.”It was between two flat boards, 6ftx21/2ft (1.8mx75cm). “I thought it might be a body but when I tipped it to find out what it was, it was hard and that’s what threw me. I thought, ‘It can’t be a dead body’.”Once I broke the seal … I didn’t want to go any further.”He contacted emergency services and a Police Rescue unit was dispatched.”They didn’t even touch it, they just called forensics and all hell broke loose after that,” the man said.”They contacted me later that afternoon and confirmed it was a body.”The worker said little effort had been made to dispose of the body once it had been dumped.”They didn’t even have the courtesy to drive in up the track a little. They just dumped it on the edge in a partial grave of dirt and leaves.”Detective Superintendent John Alt, of the State Crime Command’s Asian Crime Squad, said the dead man had a visa but could not say whether it entitled him to work or study in Australia.”There were some circumstances of him going missing that were of concern (but) it hasn’t been until recently that we were able to confirm the location of the body that he is in fact deceased,” he said.Detectives from State Crime Command, Police Rescue and forensics continued working at the scene on Saturday but ruled out any connection with the death of a 33-year-old woman whose body was discovered at Pheasants Nest last week.”We can strongly say that we believe there is no link to any recent homicide – or any other for that matter,” Mr Alt said.Police are investigating a series of cases involving Asian students and business figures in Sydney since November.This includes the disappearance of businesswoman Wei Chen, 39, who went missing from her Lidcombe home three weeks ago, and the murders of two Chinese women who worked as part-time prostitutes.
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Further incentive for scheme
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SYDNEY – Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’Landys has continued his push to increase returns to owners with the announcement of a further incentive to the Breeder Owners Bonus Scheme. The popular scheme currently rewards winning owners of a BOBS-eligible horse with a cash bonus on top of their first place prizemoney.

If their horse wins a Saturday race in town, that bonus is currently $16,000.

However, as of January 1, a winning owner will be given the option of taking the bonus in cash or taking double the amount of cash in the form of a voucher, which is to be exclusively used to buy a BOBS-eligible yearling from the sales.

“The alteration is part of the strategic plan and its objective is to incite winners to reinvest in horses,” V’Landys said.

“It should also be noted that country non-TAB and picnic meetings have now been included in BOBS for the first time.”

John Messara, principal of Arrowfield Stud and chairman of Aushorse, welcomed the announcement.

“This is a landmark initiative by Racing NSW in consultation with the breeders,” Messara said.

Purton chasing Millions ride

BRISBANE – Star Queensland jockey Zac Purton will test the Jack Denham-trained Junebug in Sydney on New Year’s Day as a possible mount in the $1 million Magic Millions (1200m) at the Gold Coast next month.

Purton, who is currently serving a month’s careless riding suspension, will partner Junebug in the Widden Stakes (1100m) at Randwick.

Junebug finished second in the Gimcrack Stakes (1000m) at Randwick on October 2 and impressively won a 900m trial at Rosehill last Tuesday.

Junebug, a daughter of Shovhog, was a $60,000 purchase at the Magic Millions sales.

“I’ve been under suspension for nearly a month and it’s been hard trying to get a ride in the Magic Millions,” Purton said.

“Junebug’s a chance if she can qualify so I’m going down to ride her in Sydney to test her for the Magic Millions.

“She ran well in the Gimcrack Stakes at her only start and she trialled quite well this week.”

Purton, who is now managed by Damian Hay, former long-time manager of champion jockey Darren Beadman, said his decision to ride in Sydney was not a forerunner to a permanent move interstate.

Cropp to ride Aussie sprinter

AUCKLAND – Top jockey Lisa Cropp has dumped Clean Sweep for Australian galloper Not A Single Doubt as her mount in the $186,741 Railway Handicap.

The Melbourne-trained Not A Single Doubt was heavily backed this week on both sides of the Tasman to bring him into $4 favourite on the New Zealand TAB’s fixed-odds market for the Group One race at Ellerslie on Saturday.

Managing owner John Messara said the decision to send Not A Single Doubt to Auckland was made on Tuesday night after an impressive trial earlier that day.

Cropp had been engaged to ride Clean Sweep, winner of the Group One Two Thousand Guineas (1600m) for three-year-olds last month, and rode her in an impressive trial on Tuesday at Ellerslie.

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Bathers’ Pavilion makeover refined

Bike racks and extra outdoor showers are part of the improved Bathers plans.Plans for the refurbishment of the North Beach Bathers’ Pavilion have been modified in response to public comments made during a month of consultation.The development application will be one of the city’s first projects to be determined by the new Joint Regional Planning Panel. The independent panels, introduced by the State Government in July, are now responsible for deciding on development proposals costing more than $10 million or community infrastructure and council developments worth more than $5 million.Restoration of the 71-year-old pavilion is expected to cost $5.9 million, with work to be completed over four stages.Four of the 11 projects awaiting assessment by the panel have been referred by Wollongong City Council. The others include a masterplan for a 158-unit retirement village on Hooka Creek Rd at Berkeley, and two research buildings proposed for the University of Wollongong Innovation Campus. The community lodged 95 submissions on the Bathers’ Pavilion proposal during extensive consultation in June and July.More than half the comments gave the plans the thumbs up, just over 20 raised negative points and the remainder raised questions about the proposal.In response to community concerns, some aspects of the plan have been revised and the development application is now on public exhibition until September 11, giving residents another opportunity to comment.Director of infrastructure and works Peter Kofod thanked residents for their earlier feedback, which influenced the amended plans.”Extra parking for the commercial side of the pavilion has been provided in the development application,” he said.”Bicycle racks and two extra open air showers are also now included in the plans.”The development application contains wheelchair access to the beach, increased security of the building and a waste servicing enclosure.”The first and second stages of the refurbishment – estimated to cost $2.9 million – would involve conservation and remedial works, structural work, replacement of the concrete floor, male and female amenities and change rooms at the northern end of the building, and upgraded lifeguard facilities.
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Old sighting raises hopes in Cheryl Grimmer cold case

Cheryl Grimmer with her father Vince. She went missing in 1970.After nearly 40 years, a vital clue may have emerged in the case of missing Fairy Meadow youngster Cheryl Grimmer.Wollongong detectives are investigating the sighting of a child matching the three-year-old’s description, six months after she disappeared from Fairy Meadow beach on January 12, 1970.If the claim proves correct, it would mean Cheryl might still be alive.Cheryl disappeared after attending the men’s amenities shed with her brothers Ricky and Stephen, following a day at the beach.After the story of Cheryl’s disappearance was recounted in the Mercury on August 1, the newspaper was contacted by a 79-year-old Windang man who was adamant he saw Cheryl on Windang Beach in the winter of 1970. The man, who asked not to be named, said the sighting had haunted him for 39 years.”I tried twice to tell police. The second time I was told the case was too old and to just forget it,” he said.The man said he was with his four-year-old daughter on the beach in June or July of 1970 when a little blonde girl approached them.”A cold westerly wind was blowing and this little girl came from nowhere. She was a blonde girl with a fringe, exactly the same as what was in the paper.”She was wearing a pair of black school shoes with no laces in them. She had the same chubby legs.”She was more interested in our dog than she was in us. I thought, ‘what would she be doing running around by herself?”’I asked her, ‘How are you?’ She just looked at me and ran off.”I followed her back to the caravan park. ”She went into this bus where two dark people were, they were Portuguese or something and I thought, ‘how could they have a little girl that fair?”’Despite living at Windang since the 1950s, the 79-year-old said he did not connect the youngster on the beach with the Grimmer case.”About Leg 2five years later the Mercury put out a photo of Cheryl with her father and when I saw it I said ‘that’s the little girl from the beach’.”The man said he reported the sighting to police, but baulked after being asked why he had not reported the information sooner.”I thought I was interfering with somebody’s life. They might have been a legal family so I left it.”Another Mercury article in 1980 prompted the man to contact a detective who was a family friend.”He said he would pass the information on. A couple of days later he said, ‘Just forget about it, it’s gone on too long’. ”But I’ve been unable to forget about it. ”I’ve worried all this time that it was her.”The man described the vehicle in which the child entered as a newly reconditioned early model school bus that was about 6m in length. It had a dark blue body, black mud guards and black roof and ”brilliant” white wheels.”Somebody must have seen those two people with a blonde girl, if not at Windang then elsewhere moving around in that bus.”The man’s sighting has some correlation with Cheryl’s disappearance, when a dark skinned man was also reported carrying a small blonde girl wrapped in a blanket leaving the Fairy Meadow surf club amenities block.Wollongong Detective Senior Sergeant Brad Ainsworth said the man’s claim was being looked into.He said if police believed it held substance, it would be included in a report to the NSW Coroner.”The report is 95 per cent complete and the coroner will make a directive based on the information provided in the report,” he said.Cheryl’s brother Stephen, 45, of Mt St Thomas, said he would let the detectives decide what to do.”It’s been so long,” he said.
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