Kiwi can conquer European raiders in Cup

AJC Derby winner Nom Du Jeu has the right credentials to win today’s Melbourne Cup. Picture: GETTY IMAGESAn overseas raider will win the Melbourne Cup but the journey for Nom Du Jeu was a couple of hours rather than a couple of days.The talk has been of European domination but friendlier fire from the AJC Australian Derby winner should give New Zealand its first Melbourne Cup victory since Ethereal in 2001.Nom Du Jeu has had a faultless preparation, even though he hasn’t been winning, with the Melbourne Cup his fifth run this campaign.He charged home late to be placed in the two main weight-for-age races at home before heading to Australia for the Caulfield Cup.The second in the Stoney Bridge and third in the Kelt Capital held him in good stead when he flew home from last to beat all but All The Good at Caulfield.”He is on a little bit of an upward profile and I think he will improve again on Tuesday,” assistant trainer Bjorn Baker warned.”He has been working well and we are very happy.”The Melbourne Cup is about having all bases covered and the perfect preparation can all be for nothing if the horse doesn’t stay.Every year jockeys come back with the same story “it didn’t see out the trip” but even though Nom Du Jeu hasn’t raced over two miles his breeding indicates it will not be a problem.His father Montjeu was a champion. As a three-year-old, he won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the Irish Derby and the Prix du Jockey Club and he was voted the Three-Year-Old European Champion Colt and World Champion.He went on the following year to win the Champion older horse in Europe with Group One wins in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, Tattersalls Gold Cup, and the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.Now his sons are winning derbies around the world, Nom Du Jeu in Sydney, Motivator (2005) and Authorized (2007) at Epsom in the English Derby and Frozen Fire in this year’s Irish Derby. Montjeu has also produced Hurricane Run, the World Champion in 2005.Nom Du Jeu’s mother Prized Gem won the 2002 Brisbane Cup, when it was run over 3200m, and New Zealand’s biggest race, the Kelt Capital Stakes and ran 14th in the 2002 Melbourne Cup, which was her final run.”The one thing we know (is) he should stay on pedigree,” Baker said.Looking for dangers amongst the Europeans is the place to start and with rain around in Melbourne there is no use going past the topweight Septimus.He has won his past four on end and grows a leg when the track is wet. He is the best stayer in Europe.Irish master trainer Aidan O’Brien has got serious this year and, while Septimus leads the team, Honolulu and Alessandro Volta are able lieutenants.Honolulu is a dour stayer and will run a good race but Alessandro Volta, a three-year-old in Europe, could be the Mahler from last year and bob for a place. Luca Cumani trains favourite Mad Rush, who could be suspect at the trip, and Bauer, his second stringer, who won the Geelong Cup, is also a place chance.Two-time Cup winning trainer Dermot Weld has brought Profound Beauty but she needs a dry track to show her best, while the best of the Australians are down the bottom of the field in Barbaricus and Moatize. They produced the two best runs on Derby day and could provide a surprise.
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French must salvage pride: Monie

French skipper Jerome Guisset at a training session at the university yesterday. Picture: GREG TOTMANCoach John Monie yesterday ordered the French players to “get back on the bike that you’ve fallen off” after the shattering World Cup loss to Fiji at WIN Stadium.Left to lick their wounds with a recovery session at Wollongong’s Continental Baths on Sunday, France were back in the gym and video room yesterday before a likely consolation clash with Tonga on Saturday.Monie yesterday challenged his players to salvage as much as they could out of the World Cup after being bundled out of semi-final contention when hammered 42-6 by a rampant Fiji.”You can walk around with a frown on your face for a couple of days,” he said.”But after the talk is over and video is done it’s time to put a smile back your face and get back on the bike that you’ve fallen off.”Raging favourites to beat Fiji on Saturday night and secure top spot in Group B and play-off place against the winner of Group C, a shellshocked France will wait in Wollongong until Thursday for their next opponents.The Scotland-Fiji and Samoa-Ireland games tomorrow night will decide who and where France play in the consolation game.Adding to their woes, former Illawarra Steelers young gun James Wynne travelled to Sydney yesterday for MRI scans on his dislocated elbow.Wynne is the second hooker the French have lost in as many games, forcing Monie to switch star halfback Christophe Moly to hooker and bring Maxime Gresque into the starting line-up.”We’re snookered a little bit,” Monie said.”Our plans have been thrown out the door after losing both our hookers.”Monie believes the prospect of playing Tonga in the consolation game in Rockhampton would keep the French players motivated.”Whether we won the pool or finished second, playing either Tonga or Samoa was going to be on the cards,” he said.”It’s disappointing where we are, but there was nothing between Tonga and Samoa the other night and it would still be a big game for us.”Attack wise, we just didn’t throw enough at Fiji and it’s another challenge for the players.”
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Fijians fry France but Sims no fan

Newcastle Knights winger Akuila Uate thrilled the Fiji fans at WIN Stadium on Saturday night with three smart tries against France. Picture: GREG TOTMANFiji second-rower Ashton Sims has warned his players about the danger of being a “one-hit wonder” in the rugby league World Cup.Sims’ comments came after the Bati’s breathtaking 42-6 thumping of France at WIN Stadium on Saturday night.The Fijian victory effectively ended France’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals and puts them in a prime position to win Group B and a potential play-off showdown with Samoa if they can overcome Scotland in Gosford on Wednesday.Sims refused to get carried away with the significance of the win, declaring the team’s sole focus must be on beating Scotland.”I know we played well tonight, but it’s a big trap to fall into,” Sims said.”We don’t want to be known as a one-hit wonder.”But it was one of the more emotional and one of the more exciting wins in my life.”Fiji, $4 outsiders to beat France and $251 to win the World Cup, made a massive statement in the victory, scoring seven tries and running away with the game in the second half after leading 18-6 at the break.Newcastle Knights winger Akuila Uate scored a hat-trick of tries, while Parramatta flyer Jarryd Hayne scored twice to help wow a respectable WIN Stadium crowd of 9213.”Those outside backs were outstanding and that’s why they play NRL,” Sims said. “Obviously that’s our strength – in our backs. But I think our forwards showed tonight that they’re going to stand up and be counted.”A couple of things were said this week about our lack of size, but I think a few of the guys took that personally and it fired them up.”The victory can’t be completely contributed to the NRL talent, with five-eighth Alipate Noilea also starring.He set up a brilliant try for Parkes Spacemen team-mate Semisi Tora in the second half.The victory was the culmination of five years of rugby league development in Fiji, involving St George Illawarra coaching staffers Max Ninness and Paul McGregor.And Sims said he hoped the victory would make waves in the Pacific island nation.”Hopefully it’s a statement back in Fiji,” he said. “Rugby league is very big back there and tonight we took some positive steps.”
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Hawks claw into top four

Taipans forward Larry Abney drives to the baseline on Hawks centre Cam Tragardh in their NBL match-up in Cairns. Picture: Courtesy of CAIRNS POSTThe Wollongong Hawks left no doubt they can compete with the NBL’s heavyweights, breaking through for their maiden away win of the season with Saturday night’s 89-87 defeat of the Cairns Taipans.Tipped by many observers to finish with the wooden spoon, the Hawks (6-5) climbed into the top four for the first time in more than two years.”I told the guys before the game that it was a great opportunity to move up to fourth and that there was no sense in hiding from it, so it was really pleasing to see us put it together on the court and get that monkey off our back on the road,” Wollongong coach Eric Cooks said.Backing up from last Wednesday’s home win over the Taipans, the Hawks thoroughly deserved Saturday’s victory. They were down by 10 at different stages of the first half and headed to the locker room facing a 52-47 deficit.Taking the initiative after the break, the visitors opened with a 20-5 run and ultimately took a four-point lead into the fourth period.Centre Cam Tragardh (18 points, six rebounds) and forward Glen Saville (12 points, two blocks) hit clutch shots down the stretch to give the Hawks valuable breathing space, but Cooks endured some anxious moments when Kavossy Franklin and Tragardh each missed two free throws in the final seconds when Wollongong were protecting a two-point lead.Taipans veteran Martin Cattalini forced up a desperation three-point shot on the full-time siren, which never looked like finding the net and the Hawks had their much-needed road win.”Everybody scored, everybody contributed, and we had a great second half defensively to hold them to 35 points,” Cooks said.”It’s a big win for so many reasons for us. It gives us the (head to head) split on the Taipans, so if we finish tied we go ahead of them, not to mention it puts us in fourth spot, which is as high as we’ve been.”We didn’t close it out from the foul line the way we should have, but it’s a very tough place to play and we got the win we were looking for. Maybe now it gives us some more respect and changes some of the perceptions out there.”Dusty Rychart tallied 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks, while Anthony Petrie finished with 12 and 10.Cooks said back-up forward Dan Jackson was outstanding, racking up eight points (2/2 threes) in 10 minutes off the bench.”Jacko hit some big shots and played real well,” he said.”He’s been training real well and deserved a run. He was aggressive and assertive the minute he was on the floor and came up with some huge plays at both ends for us.”Cooks has given his side two days break and will resume training on Wednesday.The Hawks don’t play until Friday week’s home game against last-placed Gold Coast.
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Briefs

Bombs spoil festivities
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[BB] NEW DELHI – Dozens were killed or injured, many of them children, in two blasts in India as the country’s Prime Minister marked Indian Independence Day on Sunday with a pledge to wage an unrelenting fight against terrorism. “We will unitedly combat this. Let there be no doubt on this score because violence cannot lead to development and progress,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.

His speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort in the capital, New Delhi, came as festivities were marred by a powerful blast at a college parade ground in the rebel- infested north-eastern state of Assam that killed 15 people.

Najaf fighting resumes

NAJAF – US tanks and troops rolled back into the centre of Najaf and were battling Shi’ite militants yesterday, reigniting violence in the holy city just as delegates in Baghdad had opened a landmark conference in the country’s movement toward democracy.

The collapse of the cease-fire in Najaf after the failure of negotiations cast a shadow over the National Conference in Baghdad, which gathered 1000 religious, tribal and political leaders from across Iraq.

Some of the delegates threatened to walk out unless the Government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi put an end to the fighting.

In the volatile Sunni city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, US warplanes bombed three suburbs on Sunday, killing five civilians and wounding six others.

Troops killed by blast

QUETTA, Pakistan – Four paramilitary troops were killed and at least as many wounded when a blast destroyed their vehicle in south-west Pakistan yesterday.

The troops were escorting employees of a state-run oil and gas company when their vehicle was hit by a landmine or some other explosive device, said Abdul Rauf, home secretary of the Baluchistan province.

The blast occurred near the town of Sui, 280km south-east of Quetta, the provincial capital. “We are trying to determine whether it was a landmine,” he said.

14 die in bus crash

JAKARTA – A pile-up involving two buses, a minibus and a pick-up truck left 14 people dead and 29 injured on a highway in Indonesia.

The crash happened late Sunday when the driver of a speeding bus apparently lost control and swerved into an oncoming minibus carrying eight people on a toll road near the city of Bekasi, east of Jakarta.

A pick-up truck behind the minibus was also involved while another bus, trying to avoid the collision, swerved sideways but overturned, said Mr Rukmana of the Bekasi police.

Kerry ahead in polls

WASHINGTON – Democratic challenger John Kerry has pulled ahead of President George W. Bush, even when Ralph Nader and other presidential candidates are counted, according to a new poll.

Mr Kerry led Mr Bush 47-43 per cent, even with Mr Nader, Libertarian, Constitution and Green Party candidates included in the Zogby poll.

Rwandans aid Sudan

EL FASHER, Sudan – About 140 Rwandan soldiers arrived in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, becoming the first foreign armed force deployed in the Iraq-sized region since Arab militiamen began attacking black African farmers.

The Rwandan contingent was airlifted to Darfur to protect unarmed military observers monitoring a four-month cease-fire between Sudanese Government forces and rebels.

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