But perhaps a stronger pointer is her dominant debut win back in April when she ploughed through a heavy 8 surface. Her dam, Besame Mucho, was a noted wet-track performer and group 3 winner from only 15 starts.
The stable will certainly get a solid guide on where she is at given she will be up against capable wet-trackers Divine Jewel and Hit The High Note. Scone filly Lucky Banner and Warwick Farm-based mare Latina Beauty are also well in the race.
Emerging Muswellbrook mare Cecilia looks set to notch a second career win in a class 1 handicap (1200m) to open the meeting.
A daughter of outstanding Kiwi stallion and five-time group 1 winner Darci Brahma, Cecilia resumed with a strong closing effort in a class 1 at Port Macquarie and was a comfortable second-up winner at Scone last preparation.
Emerging four-year-old staying type Unamerican looks a good thing in the Cessnock Cup (1900m) after an outstanding third-up win at this track, but the Jungle Juice Cup (1350m) is more open.
Hawkesbury five-year-old Zouologist is likely to head the betting after being run down late resuming in the Denman Cup at Muswellbrook, but a few others are well placed to strike.
Heading that charge is talented Newcastle five-year-old General Soho, who looks well suited after four runs back. Punters can also warm to tough home-track sprinters Got Unders and All from Scrap, but second emergency, Super, needs to secure a start after blitzing a benchmark 68 field here by more than five lengths. Supplied by Racing NSW
As he prepares for his first AFL grand final, athletic beast Noah Balta is still some way off the complete defensive package Richmond expect he will become.
And despite the obvious comparisons being drawn, he’s not a clone of former champion Alex Rance.
But the emerging star, who turns 21 on Friday, is already a crucial piece of the Tigers’ unusual eight-man defensive puzzle.
They’ve just got to iron out a few kinks.
“He’s had moments where he’s done unbelievable things,” Richmond defender Nick Vlastuin told AAP.
“Then he’s had moments where he probably wishes he could take them back, kicked it straight up the guts a couple of times and stuff like that.
“It’s been fun along the way and he’s just so athletic, you can always get some highlights out of him.”
Balta, already a 194cm and 100kg phenomenon, will be the youngest player in Saturday night’s grand final against Geelong and is the only Tiger still chasing his first premiership.
He arrived on the AFL scene in round one last year in what turned out to be Rance’s final game, when the five-time All-Australian was cut down by a knee injury.
It became a changing of the guard and the comparisons were inevitable as Balta worked his way into the vacant position.
They were validated by Richmond coach Damien Hardwick’s declaration earlier this year that Balta is a “young Alex Rance”.
But fellow key defender David Astbury notes some clear differences and believes the 29-gamer is poised to forge his own identity out of the shadow of one of the modern game’s great backmen.
“Noah’s marginally more athletic, whereas Rancey would just beat you up for days with discipline and stubbornness,” Astbury told AAP.
“Noah is just a young bloke trying to find his way, but by goodness he’s got some potential and we want to maximise that.
“At different stages throughout games he shows his physical attributes and they’re just extraordinary.
“He’s still got quite a ceiling to reach and right now, even though he’s playing some really good footy, he’s still a fair way off it.”
Balta played 13 games last year – reviewing tape of each one of them with Rance by his side offering guidance – but missed selection for the successful finals series.
His true emergence came this year when Astbury spent almost three months on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Balta stepped up and blunted some of the game’s best key forwards, including Charlie Dixon, Jeremy Cameron, Matt Taberner and Max King.
“For a guy his age he’s probably as (physically) mature and strong as anyone I’ve ever seen really,” Richmond defensive coach Justin Leppitsch said.
“He’s got a lot of upside and there’s a long way to go in his career and a lot of achievements to be had, but for a guy his age to be able to play on mature guys like Charlie Dixon and match them in that strength battle is a really good sign.
“Where can Noah improve? Like anything in time, maturity and decision-making, all those sorts of things. They’re things you get better at the more you do.”
In round 17, when Richmond last met Geelong and scored a convincing 26-point win, Balta limited likely grand final opponent Tom Hawkins to one goal despite his relative inexperience against the 14-season veteran.
“He’s a great player and he’s got a lot of talent and attributes,” Coleman medallist Hawkins said.
“In the past I’ve played on Alex Rance and David Astbury … but Noah’s a great athlete and from what I’ve seen of him he reads the game pretty well.”
Astbury’s return to action late this season, coupled with ruckman Ivan Soldo’s knee injury, has seen Hardwick and Leppitsch tweak their defensive approach yet again as part of an ongoing evolution.
Selecting eight defenders in the best 22 has allowed Astbury to offer Toby Nankervis some relief by pinch-hitting in the ruck.
Balta, Astbury, Vlastuin, Dylan Grimes, Nathan Broad, Jayden Short, Bachar Houli and Liam Baker will all roll through the back line during the grand final.
“Change is good sometimes and over the last couple of years in the absence of Rancey, who was a once-in-a-generation player, the system has still worked,” Astbury said.
“Noah’s done such a remarkable job and I’m enormously proud of that man.
“He’s really invested in the culture and what we believe in here and he’s also really invested in his own development, and that’s why we’re seeing such rapid growth.”
Acquires marketplaces in Columbia, Tunisia & Morocco for A$56mil
Leverage experience building iProperty, replicate in emerging markets
Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) listed Frontier Digital Ventures (FDV) has today announced the successful completion of the institutional component of a A$100 million (RM300 million) capital raising to fund three acquisitions from Norwegian based global online classifieds specialist Adevinta ASA which like FDV, operates digital marketplaces.
But while FDV specialises in building and operating leading property and automotive marketplaces in emerging markets globally, Adevinta operates in Europe mainly and with operations in South America in Brazil, Colombia and Chile and in North Africa in Moroccos and Tunisia.
But executing a strategy to optimise its portfolio, Adevinta is now divesting its North Africa interests and from Colombia, entering into agreements to sell 100% interests in Fincaraíz, the leading real estate marketplace in Colombia, Avito, the leading general classifieds portal in Morocco, and Tayara, the leading general classifieds portal in Tunisia, to FDV.
According to its announcement made to the ASX, the capital raising by FDV consists of a non-underwritten Institutional Placement of up to A$63.4 million (Placement) and non-underwritten 1 for 9 Pro-Rata Accelerated Non-Renounceable Entitlement Offer of up to A$36.6 million (Entitlement Offer) to raise up to A$100 million.
A$56 million will go towards the acquisition of Fincaraíz, Avito and Tayara while A$44 million will go towards further growth capital, balance sheet flexibility and payment of transaction costs.
The iProperty influence on Frontier Digital Ventures
FDV, founded and headquartered in Kuala Lumpur since 2014, saw its valuation increase from around RM150 million on its IPO in August 2016, to over RM1.5 billion this morning, an increase of 10x in 4 years, making it one of the most valuable tech companies in Malaysia.
FDV was founded by Patrick Grove (pic) and Shaun Di Gregorio after they sold iProperty to Australian listed company, REA Group in Nov 2015 in one of Southeast Asia’s largest startup exits.
Grove had acquired a Malaysian property portal from a husband-wife team in mid-2007 and renamed it iProperty. The site grew from being worth RM60 million when Di Gregorio first joined in 2009 as group CEO to being worth over RM2.25 billion when it was sold to REA Group.
“We learnt how to build iProperty in Malaysia and how big a property marketplace could be if you did certain things correctly. We also realised that great entrepreneurs in emerging markets neither had access to capital and mentorship nor the case studies we had. After leaving iProperty, we designed FDV to provide both financing and mentorship to these great local entrepreneurs,” explains Grove.
As CEO of FDV, Di Gregorio aims to leverage the experience building iProperty and replicate it in emerging markets around the world.
“It has been great to build a global business from Malaysia, with primarily Malaysian leadership. In many instances, we were one of the first internet investors in some of these markets, such as Pakistan and Myanmar. These latest acquisitions see FDV evolve into becoming a leading operator of emerging market marketplaces.”
Following the new acquisitions, FDV’s portfolio will consist of interests in 15 online marketplace businesses active in 20 markets across Latin America, Africa and developing Asia which it describes as being entire Asia minus its five developed economies of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore plus China.
In the Fremantle changerooms on the Gold Coast, first-year coach Justin Longmuir stood like a teacher at the front of a classroom as his seated students — not one eye deviating — soaked in every word.
The Dockers had just posted their highest score of the season and dismantled North Melbourne by 64 points to claim a seventh win from their past 12 matches.
They are emerging and — while they will not play finals in 2020 — the future looks increasingly bright.
“That’s (the players listening to Longmuir) a terrific sign … that means the player want to learn, they’re buying into what he’s trying to teach,” Essendon premiership player Adam Ramanauskas told ABC Grandstand.
“They’ve just had a great win and usually it’s taps on the back and ‘rah, rah, rah’.
“They’re focussed, they’re listening, they want to improve … Michael Walters, he’s just kicked three goals, he’s sitting in the front row and his eyes have not left Justin Longmuir.”
By contrast, North Melbourne’s new coach Rhyce Shaw understandably struggled to look his players in the eye after a performance he described as not being of AFL standard.
While Longmuir fronted his triumphant players, Shaw and his assistants lingered in the coaches’ box pondering how to respond, what to say and what to do next.
North Melbourne has lost 13 of its past 14 matches and on Saturday played without the spirit that has long defined the proud and under-privileged club.
Saturday afternoon was a match between two sides looking to re-emerge under new leadership but it only served to show the enormous gap in progress between the two.
Yes, North Melbourne has endured a horror run of injuries to key players, but against another developing side — and in ruckman Todd Goldstein’s 250th match — the Roos’ performance was truly awful.
Tackles didn’t stick, players didn’t chase and insufficient pressure was applied.
While North Melbourne has difficult list decisions to make, Fremantle has already assembled many of the pieces for future success.
David Mundy and Nat Fyfe remain key contributors, but the Dockers midfield is now benefitting from the youthful exuberance of Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cera and the likely rising star Caleb Serong.
Critically, Longmuir has given this young group a sense of ownership and backed them in.
A club long reliant on the ruck dominance of Aaron Sandilands has found a promising replacement in Sean Darcy and the Dockers’ defence has become highly dependable, even despite the absence of key players including Joel Hamling and Alex Pearce.
Brennan Cox hurt his shoulder but remained a pillar against the Kangaroos and Luke Ryan further enhanced his claims for All-Australian selection with his intercept marking and constant repelling.
Longmuir is well renowned for his defensive smarts and has immediately stiffened this aspect of Fremantle’s game style after a 38-point loss to the Giants last month, the club’s heaviest defeat this season.
On Saturday, there were glimpses of what the forward line could produce as well. Walters and Lachie Schultz were dangerous, Matt Taberner continued his career-best season and Jesse Hogan kicked four goals, his most productive return as a Docker.
The key forward has endured a spate of injury and off-field troubles, which have threatened to reduce his career to one of wasted potential.
Hogan kicked over 40 goals in a season three times before he had turned 23. He is now only 25 and could yet have an enormous long-term impact for the Dockers.
Fremantle plays the Western Bulldogs in Cairns to end a season of significant steps forward and fans will be justified in thinking the side is a legitimate chance to contend for a top-eight finish in 2021.
Giants roll the dice on Coniglio and fail
While optimism surrounds the Dockers, last year’s beaten grand finalist Greater Western Sydney has slumped to a worryingly low ebb after a five-point loss to Melbourne that will likely see the Giants miss the finals for the first time since 2015.
Like many, I was gobsmacked by the decision to drop first-year captain Stephen Coniglio, whose form has certainly dropped but not to the extent that he is outside of the club’s best 22 players.
The images of Coniglio sitting on his own, glumly watching the game on Saturday night, were uncomfortable. He looked ostracised and helpless, a leader unable to influence the fortunes of his side in a critical game.
Geelong premiership captain Cameron Ling told ABC Grandstand his omission was a huge mistake.
“I cannot believe what the Giants have done … dropping their captain Stephen Coniglio,” Ling said.
“He’s 26 years old … you do not drop your captain. It just undermines his leadership going forward from here.”
Giants coach Leon Cameron did not back away from the decision despite the narrow loss to the Demons.
“If there have to be more tough calls next week, there will be,” he said.
Cameron now has a conundrum in deciding whether Coniglio returns for Friday night’s must-win-clash with the Saints.
If, as expected, the captain comes back in, what did he do to earn his place and what message does it send to the playing group?
The dropping of Coniglio was a statement designed to jolt a highly talented but floundering team into action, a bold move that failed. The captain has lost face and so has the club.
Neale copping unnecessary attention
Last night the Brisbane Lions locked away a top-two finish with a 32-point win over the Sydney Swans in Cairns.
It means the Lions secured the double chance and are assured home finals at the Gabba, where this year’s decider will be played at night on October 24. A huge opportunity has presented itself.
Sydney made Brisbane earn it. Just four days after Lions coach Chris Fagan drew attention to bruises and scratches on the body of Lachie Neale following the win over Gold Coast, his star on-baller was again the subject of some questionable attention against the Swans.
Sydney’s Ryan Clarke did a superb job in restricting Neale but routinely took his eyes off the ball, blocking or holding Neale without possession.
Only once was he penalised by the umpire. I’m often surprised by teams that don’t deploy defensive run with players on the opposition’s most damaging midfielder.
Taggers are an important part of the game, but they have to play by the rules. If they don’t, officials are obligated to intervene.
Despite a quiet performance, Neale is two votes clear of Port Adelaide’s Travis Boak in the ABC Footballer of the Year award standings with a round to go.
If he claims the award, Brisbane’s outstanding number nine will join an honour role that includes his highly decorated contemporaries Patrick Dangerfield, Tom Mitchell, Dustin Martin and Gary Ablett.
We will wait and see if the umpires agree with our experts and whether Neale joins the quartet as a Brownlow Medal winner too.
As many US cities witness a decline in reported coronavirus cases, three cities still struggle to contain their outbreaks. At a news briefing on Friday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the lead coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, identified lingering hotspots in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, DC.
“Even though Washington has remained closed, LA has remained closed, Chicago has remained closed, we still see these ongoing cases,” Birx said. She added that she had asked the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to work with these municipalities “to really understand where these new cases are coming from and what do we need to do to prevent them in the future.”
Washington, DC and its suburbs have the highest rate of positive coronavirus tests in the country, Birx said on Friday. Around 18% of the district’s coronavirus tests have come back positive since the start of the outbreak, the Washington Post reported. That share dropped down to 11% over the last week, but Maryland’s weekly rate is still around 18%. In Northern Virginia, the weekly rate of positive tests was 25% as of May 18.
Birx said 42 states have seen weekly positive-test rates of less than 10% – an indicator that they have reached sufficient testing capacity, according to Harvard’s Global Health Institute.
As of May 17, the northeast region of Illinois, which includes Chicago and its suburbs, had a positive-test rate of around 18%. If that rate stays below 20% for two weeks straight, the region could begin reopening non-essential businesses like salons and barbershops. But Illinois state health officials announced more than 2,700 new infections on Friday.
LA, DC, and Chicago are still headed toward reopening
Local officials in each city still have their sights on reopening.
“Overall the data points are looking pretty good on our journey to recovery,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, LA County’s public health officer, told Courthouse News on Friday. “We are moving in the right direction.”
“Everything is trending cautiously in the right direction,” Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said at a briefing on Friday. “We’re keeping an eye on it, but feeling confident that we are are starting to get on the other side of our peak.”
“We’re heading in the right direction, but not with a steep drop like you see in many other places,” Dr. Lynn Goldman, dean of the George Washington University School of Public Health, told NPR about the district’s outbreak.
White House guidance suggests that states should see a two-week decline in cases before reopening. LA, DC, and Chicago may be nearing that point – but they haven’t reached it yet.
India reported a huge spike of 24,248 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours along with 425 fatalities, the Union Health Ministry said this morning. The number of recoveries stands at 4,24,433, with 19,693 people have succumbed to the disease till now. Stay with TOI for live updates.
LeapFrog is one private equity fund that manages $1.5 billion with the majority of its companies based in India, Asia and across Africa. However, chief executive Andrew Kuper said it was dangerous to apply a broad brush outlook to all countries.
“Ghana is an advanced democracy that is managing its economy in the face of COVID extremely well, for example,” he said. “Then you have India with its faltering response. Initially there was nothing to support non-bank financial companies and SMEs, then the government has come out for a much bigger stimulus recently.”
“It differs by country and by industry and it depends when you ask because different mechanisms come out.”
The investment climate hangs on the speed social distancing restrictions are lifted and the lower life expectancy in emerging markets countries means this could happen faster, Mr Kuper said.
“The average age in Africa is 19. And in emerging Asia is closer to 26. So, if you have a think about that in Australia and how many in that age group have got sick and died, it’s very limited,” Mr Kuper said.
“Every death is a tragedy and we know people who have died. I really don’t want to take this lightly. But from an investor and business perspective, there is a certain resilience to investing in emerging markets.”
LeapFrog’s investments in financial companies, like Indian-based digital lender NeoGrowth, are struggling. India’s sharemarket is plunging, its exchange rate has slumped and its banks are under pressure. While Mr Kuper said none of LeapFrog’s companies were facing liquidity problems, the restrictions would need to be lifted within nine to 12 months.
“Where you’re making the loans out to borrowers in lockdown, you’re having to restructure some of those loans. So those companies right now are fine but it depends on how long the lockdowns go on for.”
However, Mr Kuper said the crisis had unearthed opportunities for private equity investors as the acceleration of digital uptake meant greater demand for products reliant on mobile apps.
“A number of people have gone from late 19th century to 2020 technology in weeks,” he said. “Something that used to be a luxury good, a phone, has become a commodity and a necessity.”
WorldRemit is one company backed by LeapFrog that has seen enormous growth over the pandemic period, with the number of new customers doubling in the past three months.
It’s main competitor is Western Union and Mr Kuper said that company had typically benefited from strong brand recognition and its branch network but COVID had seen demand for cheaper, digital products gain traction in emerging markets.
“Now WorldRemit doesn’t have lots of branches but in a COVID-world that’s actually a win,” Mr Kuper said.
On Thursday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “All In,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) reacted to the dropping of charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn by stating the move “really puts us back in the category of almost an emerging democracy, where the rule of law is not yet firmly established, where prosecutorial decisions are made on the basis of politics.”
Schiff said, “I think we lost 50 years’ worth of ground in solidifying the independence of the Justice Department after Watergate. This really puts us back in the category of almost an emerging democracy, where the rule of law is not yet firmly established, where prosecutorial decisions are made on the basis of politics. Here, Bill Barr, once again, doing the political dirty work for the president in making a case go away that the president tried to get Jim Comey to make go away and then fired him when he wouldn’t, tried to get Jeff Sessions to make go away and he wouldn’t.”