WA mare wins feature

RECORD: Wesley Vale-trained Art Of My Art (inside) breaks the track record while narrowly beating Blues Ace at Burnie on Friday night. Picture: Greg MansfieldFormer West Australian mare Washington Express gave her Launceston owner a quick return on his investment when she won an incident-packed NWTLHA Mares Feature at Burnie on Friday night.

The seven-year-old was having only her second start for new trainer Ben Yole and was driven by his brother Mark as she accounted for backmarker Odins Call Girl and Multiple Choice in the $7800 race.

Washington Express settled second behind stablemate Girlsnpearls after Ainsleys Dream had made a mess of the start and all but wiped out the favourite Dellas Command in the process.

The winner then drifted up the track in the home straight but it had no bearing on the result.

Ben Yole said owner Bob Cunningham was one of his best stable clients and had “taken a gamble” buying Washington Express relatively late in hercareer.

“But he’s now got a nice, little mare and she is going to be a good addition to his team of horses,” Yole said.

The state’s leading trainer also won earlier in the night with Pushkin driven by Natalee Emery.

ART OF MY ART broke the track record while winning the Ian Heazlett Memorial, rating 2:01.8 for the 2180 metres.

The gelding is trained at Wesley Vale by John Castles who also prepared the previous record-holder Sarah Roland.

Castles said Art Of My Art was gradually getting back to the form that saw her win five races last season “but is not quite there yet.”

The mare was given a gun run by Rohan Hillier who went on to complete a driving double on the Robert Gillie-trained Mobi Doc who led all the way in the Bob French Memorial.

STRANGE CONDUCT continued driver Todd Rattray’s good run on the Burnie track when he sat outside the leader to win the Liza Storm.

Rattray had trebles at the two previous Burnie meetings.

Strange Conduct is trained at Underwood by Heath Szczypka and it was his first win since being purchased by well-known owner Paul Turner and some partners about six months ago.

“We bought him from the Yole stable for only $1500 and he had already paid for himself with a few minor placings,” Turner said.

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Changing the game: A day of culture and unity

Margaret Walker, Fay Jorgensen, Gloria and Edward Shipp, Jean Millgate, Pat Powell and Joanne Carr.UNITY was the aim of the game at the Central West Elders Olympics on Thursday.

About150 people from 14 different teams flocked to Sir Neville Howse Stadiumto compete in the games.

FUN AND FRIENDSHIP: Anne Williams and Marg Thurn took part in the relay together. Photos: EMILY BENNETT

This included elders from across the Central West as well as students from James Sheahan Catholic High School and Canobolas Rural Technology High School.

COMPETITIVE SPIRIT: Jan Millgate and Fay Jorgensen were keen competitors on the day.

Aboriginal community engagement officer Jordon Moore said seniors and elders alike were engaged with the activities offered on the day.

“The competitive spirit was definitely there,” Mr Moore said.

“It’s about engaging with the community,our seniors and our elders.”

The event included traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander games such as a hunting game as well as modified sports such as volleyball.

Mr Moore said elders and seniors benefited from the collaboration between high school students.

“We’re looking at preserving and sharing our stories, with students hearing them straight from elders and seniors,” he said.

“With those kids involved we’re passing onculture and respect.”

Mr Moore said the event was a good way to promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

“It invites social inclusion and engagement with our elders,” he said.

“It’sa platform for that holistic sense of community, unity and partnership.

“It’s [also] about changing the perspective of the wider community of Aboriginal and Torres Strait culture.”

Orange Elders Social Group team member Daphne Monagan, who was a part of the winning team on the day, said her overall experience was positive.

“It was so exciting,” Ms Monagan said.

“It’s about catching up with old friends and meeting new friends.”

Mr Moore said a highlight of the day was the march with all of the teams.

“The whole point of the march wasto showcase each team and theirbanners,” he said.

“You get the feel of representing your group and town.”

The 4th annual games was designed for competitors over the age 50 years and featured age and disability-inclusive events.

Teams travelled to Orange from Parkes, Bathurst, Forbes, Cowra, Condobolin and Dubbo to compete in the games.

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‘Late-night threats’ from ex-Bomber part of AFL blackmail probe

Former Essendon premiership player Dean Wallis allegedly made a series of late-night irate and threatening phone calls to senior people within the AFL and Essendon and is now one of the subjects of a blackmail investigation by police.

Wallis, a two-time premiership player, is understood to have called AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and former Essendon chief executive Ian Robson, making serious allegations and threats.

Wallis and another former employee, John Elliott, have made serious allegations about the club as part of a compensation claim after losing their jobs at the club. Elliott’s father, also named John Elliott, is understood to also be the subject of a police blackmail investigation.

The AFL advised Essendon to go to the police with a blackmail complaint after the club had sought the league integrity unit’s help in how to deal with the two disgruntled former employees.

The Bombers executive team is understood to have contacted the AFL’s integrity unit several weeks ago in part to alert them to the serious allegations that were being made about the club in a Workcover claim and secondly to seek advice on how to handle threats that were being made against the club and individual employees.

Xavier Campbell is understood to have informed the league that demands had been made for money by Wallis as part of the compensation claim but also by Elliott Snr that unless money was paid then they would go to the media with serious allegations.

News Corp Australia on Thursday published a sworn statement by the pair as part of the Workcover claim. They alleged cocaine use and sexual harassment claims at the club involving at least one senior figure had been covered up. They further alleged that the club had been in negotiations with underworld figure Mick Gatto at the height of the Stephen Dank, Shane Charter drug-injecting saga.

In a TV interview on Thursday night, Gatto claimed he had been approached by Essendon to help “sort out” the supplements scandal, but that he had also approached the club on behalf of biochemist Charter.

Essendon chairman Lindsay Tanner released a statement on Thursday night claiming Gatto had contacted the club offering his services, not the other way around.

“As previously stated, Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell has had no dealings with Mick Gatto and kept the AFL Integrity Department informed at all times,” Tanner said.

“I am advised by my predecessor Paul Little that he was approached by Mick Gatto offering his services and this offer was declined.” The club strenuously denied these allegations and it is understood these were among the allegations which were threatened to be made public that were at the heart of the blackmail claim.

Wallis and Elliott signed sworn statements for investigators also alleging a fraud involving the healthcare rebate. The pair claim to have blown the whistle on the scam to senior club officials only to be told to keep quiet about the claims.

The AFL Integrity Unit, which employs former senior police officers, advised Essendon that the seriousness of the threats and allegations warranted them making a complaint to police.

Victoria Police on Thursday confirmed they were “investigating a report of a blackmail matter. As this investigation is ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time”.

Workcover investigated the claims made by the pair who had both lost their jobs at the club – Wallis had been an assistant coach who did not have his contract renewed and Elliott, who had been hired by James Hird at the time of his arrival as coach was made redundant after a department restructure.

Workcover interviewed more than a dozen current and former Essendon employees as part of its investigation and rejected the Workcover claim. Elliott is appealing the Workcover decision. The pair has also made a claim against the club’s insurer for stress.

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WA Liberal MLA spotted ‘handing out’ One Nation election material

A Liberal MLA has been accused of handing out how to vote cards for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation as early voters cast their ballots in Esperance in Western Australia’s south.

Dr Graham Jacobs, who entered parliament in 2005, has represented the electorate of Eyre since 2008 and is standing for re-election in Saturday’s ballot.

At a polling station in Esperance, he was spotted handing out his own party’s how to vote cards – but also holding One Nation election material.

A witness at the pre-polling station at the Esperance Courthouse, who did not want to be named, said a number of voters were perplexed when he allegedly tried to hand them the One Nation cards.

“He’s the sitting MP so people know who he is,” the witness said.

A spokesperson for Mr Jacobs denied he was distributing One Nation how-to-vote cards to voters, or that it had anything to do with the preference deal.

“He was probably just having a look at it,” she said.

The Liberal party agreed to a controversial preference deal with the far-right minor party, which will see the party preference One Nation above the Nationals in the upper house country regions in exchange for support in all lower house seats.

Acting WA Nationals director Nathan Quigley said:”These are desperate and high-risk tactics. If this election doesn’t go well for the Liberals the architects of this preference deal will have a lot to answer for.”

A leaked internal poll for the Liberals shows the state government is in a “far worse” position than that shown by published surveys, which point to a Coalition loss on Saturday, and that the preference deal with One Nation is to blame.

A Liberal source said the dismal forecast for this weekend’s state election was the result of a major backlash to the Liberal Party’s preference deal with One Nation.

“Liberals want to be able to say we’re for stronger borders but we’re not racists,” the source said.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is in WA on a last ditch effort to invigorate support for her party, which has been plagued by infighting.

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