Man stranded at Spirit of Tasmania terminal after Melbourne’s COVID lockdown sank ferry plan


A Tasmanian man has been stranded at the Spirit of Tasmania ferry terminal in Melbourne because his COVID travel documentation was not approved in time for this morning’s sailing, while almost 290 other passengers have been forced to cancel their travel plans at the last minute.

Tasmania declared the entire state of Victoria as high-risk as of midnight on Friday in the wake of the Holiday Inn COVID outbreak, meaning those travelling to Tasmania from Victoria are now required to get a G2G (Good to Go) pass to enter.

Returning Tasmanian, Jake Pike, applied for his G2G pass at 3:00pm on Friday, but it wasn’t approved until after 10:00am on Saturday — well after the ship’s departure time of 8:30am.

“I only came back to Melbourne for 24 hours,” he said.

“I moved back to Tasmania several months ago and just had to pick up some stuff from my old house at the end of the lease.”

Mr Pike said he was turned away from this morning’s sailing because his pass had not been approved earlier.

Jake Pike in happier times.(Supplied: Jake Pike)

“My process went through, the people who were on the team doing that worked through the night, but unfortunately there’s only one person in Tasmania who can do the final sign-off and they had left work much earlier,” he said.

“If there’s only one person that can approve the passes, maybe they needed to work longer hours or someone needed to be granted special privileges to be able to do that as well.”

A spokesperson for the Tasmanian COVID Coordination Centre said there was a “sudden and significant” increase in G2G applications from people wishing to travel to Tasmania, due to the fast-moving situation in Victoria.

“We are aware of a number of G2G applications from people wanting to travel on the Spirit of Tasmania to Devonport this morning that had not been assessed in time for the sailing,” the spokesperson said.

“Unfortunately, it was not possible to process all applications prior to the vessel departing.”

‘I’m trapped in the Spirit of Tasmania terminal’

Mr Pike said he spoke to a security guard at the port who told him 286 people cancelled their Saturday morning sail on the Spirit.

Eighty vehicles turned up but only 76 were allowed to board, and 70 vehicles didn’t show up at all.

When asked how many booked passengers hadn’t made it onboard that morning, a spokesman for the ferry operator TT-Line said they did not provide passenger numbers.

Vehicles queued and waiting to embark the Spirit of Tasmania.
Luckily for Jake Pike, the Spirit has two departures from Melbourne on a Saturday.(Facebook: Spirit of Tasmania)

TT-Line said they would reimburse anyone that was unable to sail due to the last-minute border restrictions.

But Mr Pike said he is stranded at the port in Melbourne until tonight’s sailing.

“Because I don’t have a fixed address here, I legally don’t have anywhere I’m able to go,” he said.

“I can’t visit a friend because they’re not allowed to have visitors, I can’t go out in public, so essentially I am just trapped in the Spirit of Tasmania terminal until tonight.

Geoffrey Carr was also due to sail on the Spirit of Tasmania this morning but had his travel pass cancelled at 5:00pm on Friday.

“How can you get home by midnight or out of Victoria by midnight?” he said.

“It’s impossible [with] seven hours notice.

“There’s only two ways to go and that’s boat or fly.”

Mr Carr had only been in regional Victoria for three days and was planning to bring a trailer-load of work equipment home.

Determined to return to the island state for work commitments, he boarded a charter flight with other Tasmanians desperate to return home from Victoria.

The flight landed in Launceston around thirty minutes before the new border restrictions came into force, with biosecurity officers meeting the travellers on the tarmac to check their temperature.

The chief executive of Vortex Air, Colin Tucker, said their phone started ringing with enquiries about chartering flights as soon as the border restriction was announced.

“It just got very hectic for a couple of hours because people were coming from all over,” he said.

“We had Tasmanians coming from three to four hours away out of Melbourne, so north of Ballarat and Latrobe Valley, trying to get to Moorabbin.

View of the Spirit of Tasmania bow from a vehicle ramp.
Travellers have been caught out due to Melbourne’s lockdown and border closures.(Facebook: Spirit of Tasmania)

Twelve people boarded the $800-a-seat flight from Moorabbin put on by Vortex Air last night.

While Mr Carr said he was “not over the moon” about the cost, he heard of others paying a much higher price.

“There were several people on the flight that had some really bad experiences,” Mr Carr said.

“Two young ladies had been scammed $1,400 by a company that didn’t exist, that said they could get them home.”

He said others were seeing the price of the flight they were trying to book increase by hundreds of dollars every time the page refreshed.

“It was just a nightmare,” he said.

More details about the current COVID measures are available at the Tasmanian Government’s coronavirus information website.

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TT-Line accused of hiking Spirit of Tasmania fares in wake of $6 million federal subsidy to equalisation scheme


Some visitors to Tasmania believe the cost of travelling to the state aboard Spirit of Tasmania has increased, despite ferry operator TT-Line receiving a $6 million federal government subsidy intended to make the trip cheaper.

Passenger vehicles are subsidised on the Spirit of Tasmania under an equalisation scheme designed to make the cost of taking a car across Bass Strait similar to driving the same distance on the national highway network.

Last month, a funding agreement was struck as part of the passenger vehicle equalisation scheme that meant tourists could bring a car or motorbike to Tasmania aboard the ferry free of charge in a bid to encourage visitation to the state.

But some passengers allege those savings are not being passed on to travellers, and that prices of passenger and cabin fares are being hiked by TT-Line, counteracting the vehicle discount and resulting in a higher overall cost.

In question time on Thursday, federal MP Andrew Wilkie asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack to investigate the claims.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie wants the PM to order an investigation.(ABC News: Andrew Greaves)

Some Spirit of Tasmania passengers believe they are now paying more to travel to-and-from Tasmania, despite the added vehicle discount.

One passenger, who wished to remain anonymous, said their trip to Tasmania aboard the Spirit, which was booked before the promotion came into effect, was more than $50 cheaper than their return trip, which included the discount.

Another passenger who contacted the ABC, but did not wish to be named, also noted a significant price rise for sailing in the month of March.

TT-Line said it has not increased its pricing structure since the introduction of the Federal Government passenger vehicle rebate.

A spokesperson for the operator told the ABC that passenger fares and cabin prices on the Spirit of Tasmania “fluctuate on each sailing depending on demand and availability” and that “prices were not guaranteed until payment is processed”.

It added that “demand has been high since the fare went on sale”.

[photo: sot]

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Pet owner’s desperate search after dog goes missing during Spirit of Tasmania voyage


A desperate search is on for a dog missing after a voyage on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry.

Holly Alexander and her dog Ester were on ferry on Monday, travelling from the island as part of Ms Alexander’s move to Queensland.

At midnight during the crossing, she was notified that her Doberman rottweiler cross Ester, 2, had gone missing.

“I had put my dog in a kennel and checked it twice to make sure that the door was shut,” Ms Alexander explained in a post on social media.

“I was woken up at midnight to one of the security guards telling me that she had escaped and they had been trying to find her but had no luck,” she said.

Ms Alexander said the crew “couldn’t find her” and “didn’t raise any alarms when they were trying to get people to disembark or check their cars as they seemed to think that she might have jumped in the utes or trailers”.

The operator of the Spirit of Tasmania said it was “working with the owner”.(Facebook: Spirit of Tasmania)

On Wednesday, Ms Alexander told ABC Hobart she walked around the cars parked in the ship’s hold calling out the dog’s name until early morning to no avail — and while she was doing so vehicle alarms were going off and she “doubted [Ester] could hear me”.

She said staff told her “hopefully when everyone starts their cars up, it will scare her enough to come out” — which did not eventuate.

Ms Alexander said her dog was “already frightened, that would only make it worse”.

She said a supervisor agreed to review CCTV footage of the ship’s hold, but that surveillance of the area where animals are kept was “limited”.

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“I was there up until midday refusing to leave, as they said she just vanished … they checked their limited cameras that they had … [but] they don’t have cameras facing the kennels.”

Ms Alexander said she hopes someone has found Ester and she is in a pound somewhere.

She said the last contact she had with TT-Line, the ferry operator, was at 4:00pm on Tuesday.

Holly Alexander and her dog Ester.
Holly Alexander said Ester is her “best friend”.(Supplied: Holly Alexander)

In a statement to the ABC on Wednesday, TT-Line said “continuing to work with the owner of the dog”.

Ms Alexander said Ester was her “best friend”.

“I just want her back,” she said.

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Sydney Sixers look to emulate Melbourne Storm spirit after home game snub


“We thought we might be a chance of reduced crowds and playing a couple of games here,” he said. “It’s unfortunate for our fans and our members that we can’t get there; it was a bit of a shock.”

The Sixers are keeping their fingers crossed they will be able to host at least one BBL final at the SCG in the back end of the season.

The Sixers will finish the regular season as the only side not to play at home.Credit:Getty

“It would be very important if we get the opportunity for that go ahead,” Hughes said. “Having a home game advantage in finals is huge … they are conditions that you’re used to.”

Sixers boss Jodie Hawkins said the club would be out to emulate the Storm spirit and take out the premiership while based interstate.Mitchell Starc, Moises Henriques, Sean Abbott and Nathan Lyon are also all scheduled to return in the coming weeks.

“If you look at the Melbourne Storm, it’s the season of winning away and you just have to do it any way you can,” Hawkins said. “We’ll start the conversation with Cricket Australia about finals next week, and we’re hopeful we’ll be able to get back [to Sydney].”

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The Sixers will finish the regular season as the only side not to play at home. The second-placed Thunder have played at Manuka Oval nearly every year and are no strangers to the conditions in Canberra.

“The Thunder have been able to stay put in one spot longer than anyone else,” Hawkins said. “They’ve had a good crack at Manuka and know the conditions well, and we don’t really get that benefit.”

Also disappointed by the decision for Sydney games to be relocated, Thunder skipper Callum Ferguson said the Sydney Test had given his side a false “glimmer of hope”.

“We thought that might have given us a little bit more of a chance,” he said. “But we’ve just got to ride the wave and take every challenge that comes.”

Ferguson also confirmed Daniel Sams was set to return from concussion.

“Obviously his health is the most important thing, not just now but in the long-term future,” he said. “Now that he’s passed all the tests, been through all the protocols, he’s ready to go and excited to be playing in the derby.”

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COVID-19 fails to put a damper on villages’ creative spirit



Despite the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the cancellation of countless festivals and events – the creative spirit lives on in the Bellingen Shire.

Sunday, January 10 to January 17 marks Bellingen Shire Arts Week.

One of Bellingen’s major events, Camp Creative, is usually held in January however this has been postponed until 2022 due to COVID-19.

Photos from Camp Creative in 2018:

To fill the gap, locals are set to revive the original Arts Week held in 2013.

The talented locals will showcase their works and lives through a variety of exhibitions and events, all in a COVID safe environment.

There’ll be workshops, shopfront art displays, music, drama, poetry, writing, photography, bushers, pavement art and much more across Bellingen, Urunga and Dorrigo.

Things kicked off with an official opening ceremony at Urunga Town Centre on Sunday morning (January 10) with addresses from Mayor Dominic King and Oxley MP Melinda Pavey and the unveiling of artist David Bromley’s mural and commemorative plaque.

Click here to see a list of all the events and activities, and to find out how to book yourself into a workshop.

Be quick to secure your place.



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Mark Newnham has Sydney Cup plans for Spirit Ridge


Mark Newnham will let his impressive import Spirit Ridge shoot for Group 1 glory in the autumn after he won back-to-back cup races at Randwick.

The six-year-old was even better yesterday than he was when taking out the Summer Cup (2000m) a fortnight ago and that’s what Newnham needed to see.

“I thought he had more improvement because last start when he won the Summer Cup he was probably only at his top for the last 150m,” Newnham said.

“He was locked away and only got out late.

“The best part of his race was on the line. In the autumn he’ll get up to a 2400m and maybe even the Sydney Cup might be on the agenda.”

Spirit Ridge boasts a regal heritage having been bred by Juddmonte Farm, the breeding arm of Khalid Abdullah of Frankel fame.

The Form: Complete NSW Racing thoroughbred form, including video replays and all you need to know about every horse, jockey and trainer. Find a winner here!

Spirit Ridge is a son of Galileo’s King George winner Nathaniel who has sired more than 400 winners, none of them better than Juddmonte’s own two-time Arc de Triomphe winner, Enable.

On top of that, Spirit Ridge’s dam – Tates Creek – was a mare of the highest order winning Grade One races at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita.

Spirit Ridge won his first race at Catterick in England beating Loveisili who was himself in action at Royal Randwick forty minutes after Newnham’s gelding completed the Summer Cup/January Cup double.

Jockey Robbie Dolan made all the right moves to give him the best possible run in transit.

“It was another peach of a ride from Robbie,” Newnham said.

“As we discussed prior to the race, if we could get that position it would be the ideal spot and, like last start, it all went as expected and he executed well.

“He loves a fight and with the way they ran it they probably turned it into a sprint and he was at his top at the top of the straight but you could see his staying qualities shine late.”

Dolan had the $3.10 favourite stalking the speed set by Wolfe and didn’t let Laure Me In pocket him in when it made a move around him at the 500m.

Once they got into the straight he let his horse’s superior staying ability take over and he didn’t look like losing over the final 200m.

He beat home a brave Wolfe by three quarters of a length with Mr Marathon Man ($26) running above his odds in third.

‘’It was tricky on paper, obviously with Wolfe and Gone Bye drawn on the inside of us, it was going to be fifty-fifty whether I was able to get into a position,’’ Dolan said.

“Thankfully I had a nice horse under me and he jumped out well and brought me into a position himself.

“Jay (Ford) came upside me on the bend and nearly caught me napping on the bend but he is the superior horse in the race and he is going to go onto bigger and better things than that.

‘’He really enjoys himself and that is a big asset for him. He loves his racing, he loves a day out, he pricks his ears everywhere you go and that is a good sign.

“He has got a really good turn of foot for a horse that gets over a bit of ground and I would definitely be looking forward to seeing him get over further.”

Spirit Ridge was quickly inserted as a $51 chance in the Sydney Cup in April and will obviously have to go to another level to claim a major.

“It’s a stronger race these days because it’s worth $2 million and we’re getting more of these horses in it and he’s still improving,” Newnham said.

“His level of improvement from the middle of last year until now has been great and I think he’s got more left in him. He was going away on the line.”

Newnham will take him to the Manion Cup on the way to the Sydney Cup.

“He’ll have a couple of weeks out. He’s a real European stayer who is clean winded and doesn’t take long to come up,” he said.

“Even off a two-week break I might kick him over an 1800m race. He showed today that further than 2000m isn’t going to be an issue.”

AT THE TRACK

PRINCE OFF TO PADDOCK

Pinnacle Prince will not be aimed at this year’s Country Championships but his trainer Brett Cavanough has a plan that could get him to the $1.3 million Kosciuszko (1200m) in the spring.

The Hinchinbrook colt won his second Highway race in as many weeks and Jason Collett said he’d love to ride him in Tamworth’s Country Championships qualifier on March 7.

“He’ll go for a spell,” Cavanough said. “The Country Championships might be coming too quick for him.

“You definitely won’t see him inside the next 21 days.” He’ll come back to racing later in the winter and if he keeps winning he’ll get his shot at the Kosciuszko.

Jason Collett’s winning ride on Pinnacle Prince came at a cost after he was suspended for careless riding when making the winning move to shift out on the horse and cause interference.

As he was waiting to talk to his manager chief steward Marc van Gestel said: “Are you happy to have the charge against you? “Yes, well I’m not really happy about it, but yes,” Collett replied. The hoop got three meetings and will miss next week’s racing.

WINX STAND WORKS UNDERWAY

Here’s the work currently going on to complete the new Winx Stand at Randwick. The facility will be completed in early 2022.

STABLE LIFE ON HOLD FOR FOREIGN WORKERS

While stables are generally always looking for an extra staff member, the pandemic has made it even harder to get workers.

“Usually, at this time of the year you’re inundated with people from the UK on working visas coming over here to get away from their winter,” Newnham said.

It meant Newnham, like many trainers, had to work on Christmas Day.

“It doesn’t bother me,” he said.

“We’ve only got one son and he’s 23 so it’s not like we’ve got little kids. My wife and son came to the stables and helped feed the horses then we had a later lunch.”

McEVOY IN NO HURRY TO SACK PAIR

Kerrin McEvoy wasn’t about to give up on Greek Hero and Handspun winning races again soon.

He said Greek Hero, who ran seventh to stablemate Ulysses, needed an easier race.

“I thought he ran fine, I told the connections that he’s finding it hard in Saturday grade to give them a start and win the race.”

I told them to go back to Wednesday grade,” he said.

Handspun just didn’t get a race run to suit.

“I was happy enough. It was a case of the race being run quite quick which had me gassed over the last furlong but I was still happy with the run,” McEvoy said.

CAVANOUGH APPLAUDS RACING NSW

Racing NSW changed the conditions for the Country Championships and Provincial Championships.

Horses that are stable returned for the first time (previously unraced) must have been legitimately under the care of a NSW Country or Provincial trainer by September 1, 2020.

And horses must remain under the care of a NSW Country or Provincial trainer for a period of 12 months after the series Final.

Some trainers don’t like it but Brett Cavanough isn’t one of them.

“When do Racing NSW bring in a rule that’s not good? I think it’s a great rule and you can quote me on that,” Cavanagh said.

The Scone trainer’s son Jack is doing well since a track work fall in July when suffering a bleed to the brain and took Another Sin to the Gold Coast.

“He’s in Toowomba with a couple of horses. He’s not allowed to ride for a year but he’s getting back involved,” Cavanough said.

***

Follow: Fifteen Aria (on the way up), Subedar (nice return), Brutality (still going well)

Sack: Greek Hero (disappointing), Matowatakpe (struggling)

Ride: Robbie Dolan on Spirit Ridge (ripper)

Quote: “That was a 12 out of 10 ride.” – Mark Newnham to Robbie Dolan after winning the January Cup.



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Spirit Ridge takes another cup and Newnham looks to bigger things


It was part of the process of getting him to the autumn carnival.

“The best part of his race was on the line. In the autumn, he’ll get up to a 2400m and maybe even the Sydney Cup might be on the agenda,” Newnham said.

“His level of improvement from the middle of last year until now has been great, and I think he’s got more left in him. He was going away on the line.

“He’ll have a couple of weeks out. He’s a real European stayer who is clean-winded and doesn’t take long to come up.

“Even off a two-week break, I might kick him off over an 1800m race. He showed today that further than 2000m isn’t going to be an issue.”

Dolan is keen to continue his association with Spirit Ridge and a light weight of 50kg in the Sydney Cup would not be a problem for the Irishman.

“I’ll ride him at whatever weight he gets,” Dolan said. “He has got great assets – good out of the gates, relaxes well, and a good turn of foot when you need.

“He is still untapped. Wait til he gets over a mile-and-a-half, then you will know he is around.”

Earlier, Kerrin McEvoy donned Bon Ho’s colours for the first since winning the Everest on Classique Legend on another handy Les Bridge-trained galloper building a good record. All Time Legend made it five wins from seven starts and left Bridge with some thinking to do.

“He is still learning what to do in his races and he is still winning,” Bridge said. “He is talented and there is a good race in him, but when that will be is the question.

“He is back at a good time of the year, but we have to think where might be best placed.

“It takes a good horse to come out and win from behind the way he did first-up and then lead all-the-way like that.”

McEvoy took bad luck out of the equation by going to the front on Saturday and appeared to have something left in the locker as All Time Legend ($1.45 fav) held off Subedar ($6).

“He is open to further improvement over a bit further. He is in benchmark races at the moment and he is dominating, which is a good sign and all you can ask for,” McEvoy said.

Meanwhile, former Sydney deputy chairman of stewards Philip Dingwall has accepted a position as a senior steward in Perth.

The internationally experienced steward will move west next month and bolster the ranks of the West Australian panel.

“I’m looking forward to being an energetic member of Brad Lewis’s panel,” Dingwall said.

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Spirit of Tasmania ferries to allow free travel for cars from March in bid to boost tourism


Spirit of Tasmania ferry passengers will be able to bring their car or motorcycle at no charge for a period of four months under an expansion of the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme to be announced today.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the expansion of the scheme would help Tasmania’s tourism industry recover from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For travel between 1 March 2021 and 30 June 2021, Australians can take their car or motorbike to the Apple Isle at zero cost and discover everything this beautiful state has to offer,” Mr McCormack said.

The free travel for cars and motorcycles applies to travel on both the Melbourne to Devonport crossing and Devonport to Melbourne.

Assistant Industry Development Minister Jonathon Duniam said Spirit of Tasmania bookings dropped by 85 per cent because of the pandemic.

Senator Duniam said the free car travel would be a saving, on average, of about $240 return for travellers.

“That’s money they can now spend at small businesses, with tourism operators and in the many communities that are eager to welcome travellers back with open arms,” he said.

“Visitors who travel to Tasmania by sea are among the most valuable to the industry, they spend more, stay longer and travel further into our regional areas.

“In fact, these travellers account for 12 per cent of all visitors to Tasmania yet they contribute a massive 20 per cent of all annual visitor spending.”

The expansion of the scheme is worth $6 million and will go towards an estimated 25,000 Spirit of Tasmania return fares.

The free vehicle travel will end on June 30, or when the $6 million is spent, whichever happens first.

Passenger vehicles are already subsidised on the Spirit of Tasmania. The equalisation scheme exists to make the cost of taking a car across Bass Strait is similar to driving the same distance on the national highway network.

There is currently an average gap of $120 for a standard vehicle between the cost for ferry operator TT-Line to transport a vehicle across Bass Strait and the value of the equalisation scheme subsidy. The price gap is added to the ticket price.

Vehicles queued and waiting to embark the Spirit of Tasmania.
The free travel will end on June 30, or when the $6 million is spent, whichever happens first.(Facebook: Spirit of Tasmania)

When the expansion of the scheme comes into effect, people travelling with a caravan or motor home will receive an average $240 saving for their vehicle.

When travellers book their ticket, the rebate will automatically apply.

The subsidy will also apply to passengers transporting an eligible passenger vehicle on routes to and from King Island or the Furneaux Group.

‘Historic and important’

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania CEO Luke Martin welcomed the decision and said the organisation has been calling for the relief since COVID-19 hit the state in March last year.

“It’s effectively the subsidy that’s paid to TT-Line for every vehicle that travels across the Bass Strait in lieu of the fact that we don’t have the national highway,” he said.

“They’re committed to increasing the subsidy temporarily from the 1st of March to the 30th of June, to effectively make it free to put a car on the Spirit of Tasmania service.”

Chairman of the former National Sea Highway Committee Peter Brohier said the deal has been a “long time coming”.

“It’s so important to lock that in for the future of Tasmania and Victoria,” he said.

“By dropping passenger fares on the Spirit of Tasmania, it allows the highway system to connect the whole nation.

“That’s historic and important.”

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Festive Spirit on Times Square as New Year’s Eve Looms in New York City



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Times Square is traditionally one of the most crowded and popular places in the world to meet the beginning of a new year, with the show and the countdown attracting tourists from all over the world. Year 2020, however, has made its adjustments.

New Year Eve celebrations have kicked off in Times Square in New York City on Thursday, this year with no visitors and no tourists.

The festivities, which will be live-streamed due to the raging coronavirus pandemic in the US, will be ongoing from 31 December 2020 into 1 January 2021.

Last year as usual, Times Square, one of many beloved spots for those celebrating the New Year Eve, saw crowds of people flocking to the square to watch the ball drop and count down the seconds until the incoming year.

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Talent shines through in Summer Cup for Spirit Ridge, Dolan


“Robbie’s at that stage of his career where it is hard-going,” Newnham said. “He’s up against the best jockeys and the top three or four in the market in each race go to the same three or four guys.

“But these are the sort of opportunities he will get and he gave him a 10 out of 10 ride. We discussed before the race if he could give him a positive ride early, find [Greysful Glamour’s] back she will take him a long way in the race.

He is a great ride and he is just a proper racehorse.

Robbie Dolan on Spirit Ridge

“He just had to put the foot down late and it all worked out really well.”

Dolan followed Greysful Glamour to the home turn and then needed Spirit Ridge to show his talent late.

“He pinned his ears back [in the finish],” Dolan said. “Hughie [Bowman on Best Of Days] come to beat me and he had the momentum to beat me and [Spirit Ridge] still knuckled down and beat him.

“You get on these sort of horses every now and again and it was great to capitalise on it and great to do it for the boss as well.

“[Spirit Ridge] will get as far as you want [in terms of distance]. He is a great ride and he is just a proper racehorse. He flies the lids and puts himself in the race, switches off, and then has a fight at the end.”

The way Spirit Ridge found the line in the final stages indicated 2400m and beyond is probably where his future lies. He simply wanted to win, which amounted to a narrow head victory, but the nature of it made it more impressive.

“We wanted to see him put his heat out when it mattered,” Newnham said. “I want to get through this summer campaign and keep trying to get his rating up. He was disadvantaged today at the weights because he was out of his grade.”

Earlier, Wagga trainer Scott Spackman’s first thought after Rocket Tiger become his first city winner was a Wellington Boot but he admits he might have to lift his sights.

Rocket Tiger sat outside Vandoula Lass, which had been third favourite for the Magic Millions, and was too tough for her to maintain an unbeaten record after a win on protest at Canberra at his debut.

“I told Kathy [O’Hara, jockey] before the race he is the type of little horse that if he gets his head in front he doesn’t like anything going past him,” Spackman said.

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“He is the best horse I have had ever. He will go for a quick little break now and I will talk to the owner and he could go to a Black Opal or a Wellington Boot.

“But they were talking about the other horse as a Slipper chance, so I don’t know.”

It was a beautiful ride from O’Hara, who made it a winning double on Bowery Breeze later in the day. She believed the win was due to the traits his trainer briefed her about.

“Scott said he would find a lot off the bridle and he did,” O’Hara said.

“I wanted to keep the gallop honest with the favourite [Vandoula Lass], I didn’t serve it up to her but I did make sure she wasn’t going to get away from me. The more I asked of him, the more he found. He is a tough.”

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