Trainer Bjorn Baker boils the Billy for new two-year-olds season

Next crop: Bjorn Baker has a strong record with two-year-old performers. Photo: Fiona Morris Next crop: Bjorn Baker has a strong record with two-year-old performers. Photo: Fiona Morris

Next crop: Bjorn Baker has a strong record with two-year-old performers. Photo: Fiona Morris

Next crop: Bjorn Baker has a strong record with two-year-old performers. Photo: Fiona Morris

Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing

Bjorn Baker is just about to crank up his third crop of juveniles since setting up base in Australia – and it is not hard to see why he is keen to again race two-year-olds.

Twilight Royale, which chased a $2.4 million bonus in the Scone Guineas earlier this year, and Magic Millions winner Unencumbered have already pocketed big purses for Baker and his connections.

Baker’s next crop of babies were laid low at the start of the 2014-15 season after a virus swept through his Warwick Farm yard, but there is finally a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

John Singleton’s colt Billy Big Brown, by Kentucky Derby hero Big Brown, in which the advertising mogul also has a stake, will make his debut on the Kensington track at Randwick in the first event on Saturday.

“I love the early fast two-year-olds and that’s what Australian racing is about,” Baker said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have Twilight Royale and Unencumbered.

“This is really my third crop of two-year-olds and I’m hoping something will come out of the woodwork in the next couple of weeks or couple of months. Maybe it’s Billy Big Brown?

“It’s hard to get a line on him because he’s a pretty laidback colt.

“He’s a lovely horse and it’s a big ask to go to Randwick first time out, but we’ll give him the opportunity and you never know if they can do it. If he can, we might be able to look at some targets in the autumn.”

Billy Big Brown has won both trials he has contested, the latest a smart effort at Hawkesbury in which he stalked the speed before strongly finding the line.

He is one of eight on debut in the autumn-shaping race at Randwick – only Domanus and Italy have race experience – and Baker admits the verdict is still out on Billy Big Brown’s sire.

“I’ve only had a couple [of Big Browns] and I guess he hasn’t set the world on fire, but Billy Big Brown is a lovely type of horse and I’ve got another [Big Brown] up at Newcastle on Saturday which should run well as well.”

Baker’s Randwick team will be spearheaded by smart sprinters Encostanati and Burbero in the last, while Cyclone and last-start winner Off The Rails are well found in early markets for the fourth and fifth, respectively.

“I think [Encostanati’s] first-up run was really good and I thought he was just a little bit short in terms of his fitness,” Baker said.

“He had only the one trial going into it, but since his last run he has come on really well. His work has been excellent and he was knocking on the door in terms of a Saturday race last time.

“Burbero is a cunning old fox and, really, if he puts his best foot forward he can be in the finish, too.”

The ultimate racing guide with the latest information on fields, form, tips, market fluctuations and odds, available on mobile, tablet and desktop.

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Wall collapse: Grocon subsidiary Grocon Victoria Street Pty Ltd admits it failed to ensure a safe workplace

The shrine commemorating three pedestrians killed in a wall collapse. Photo: Angela Wylie The shrine commemorating three pedestrians killed in a wall collapse. Photo: Angela Wylie

The shrine commemorating three pedestrians killed in a wall collapse. Photo: Angela Wylie

The shrine commemorating three pedestrians killed in a wall collapse. Photo: Angela Wylie

A Grocon company has admitted it should have known of the risks before three people died in a Melbourne wall collapse, but argued its punishment for the safety failure should be limited to about a $250,000 fine.

Grocon Victoria Street Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of the construction and building giant, admitted that it failed to ensure a safe workplace in March last year when a brick wall collapsed at a vacant Swanston Street site earmarked for development.

The company pleaded guilty to one charge under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and now faces a maximum penalty of $305,000.

But defence barrister Ross Ray, QC, told a plea hearing on Thursday that a fine in a range of $250,000 better reflected the level of the safety breach.

He told the Melbourne Magistrates Court that the freestanding wall was built under a 1971 building permit and did not need to be re-certified when the company bought the former Carlton Brewery site from RMIT in 2008.

He said the company presumed the wall’s integrity due to the existing building permit and the fine should take into account the early guilty plea, which sees the company admit fault in assessing the risk, but not in causing the deaths.

“No one – no one – questioned the integrity of that wall,” he said. “All people in the industry have learnt due to this tragic incident.”

The Grocon company had contracted Aussie Signs to construct and attach advertising hoarding to a brick wall, which remained on the cleared and largely vacant site, he said. The majority of the buildings were demolished prior to Grocon purchasing the site.

Prosecutor Dr Gregory Lyon, QC, said the company’s failure to ensure Aussie Signs had taken steps to determine that the hoarding was safe resulted in a large number of people being exposed to the risk of injury or death.

“They had a responsibility,” he said. “This is a serious case.”

Teenage siblings Alexander and Bridget Jones, of Melbourne, and Frenchwoman Marie-Faith Fiawoo, 33, were killed when a 15-metre long section of the brick wall and advertising hoarding were pulled down in strong winds.

Mr Ray, for Grocon, said the risk of a wall collapse wasn’t picked up by the company’s normal processes because it wasn’t considered a construction site. The company, therefore, relied on Aussie Signs to assess the risk. “That reliance was not enough, he said.

Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg said he wanted to finalise the matter as soon as possible and would hand down his sentence on Friday morning.

A coronial inquest into the three deaths will be held at a later date.

Twitter: @lillebuen

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Mum caught drug driving with toddlers in the car

A 28-year-old mother has been caught drug driving in Melbourne’s west with three children, all under the age of four, in the car.

The unlicensed woman, from Melton South, was stopped at a police drug bus on Furlong Road, Cairnlea, shortly before 4pm on Wednesday.

There were three children in the car, all under the age of four, when the woman tested positive for illicit drugs, police spokesman Senior Constable Paul Turner said.

The woman has been charged with unlicensed driving and drug driving and is due to face court at a later date.

Victoria Police is currently conducting Operation RAID, which targets drink and drug driving, as part of its wider Summer Stay road safety campaign.

However, five people have been killed on the state’s roads since the Summer Stay campaign was launched last Friday.

One man has been charged with culpable driving after he was allegedly involved in a fiery crash on the Mornington Peninsula Freeway at Dromana on Monday that claimed two lives.

A 60-year-old motorcycist was killed on the Monash Freeway on Monday and a five-year-old boy was hit and killed by a car on a Hawthorn street on Sunday evening.

And a 74-year-old man, who was struck by a car while riding his mobility scooter in the coastal town of Rye on the Mornington Peninsula, died of his injuries on Friday.

The state’s road death toll currently stands at 223, 20 more deaths than at the same time last year.

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Oxygen damaging for heart attack patients, study says

A study shows oxygen could be damaging for heart attack patients. Photo: Angela Wylie A study shows oxygen could be damaging for heart attack patients. Photo: Angela Wylie

A study shows oxygen could be damaging for heart attack patients. Photo: Angela Wylie

A study shows oxygen could be damaging for heart attack patients. Photo: Angela Wylie

The routine practice of giving oxygen to patients having heart attacks has been linked to increased heart damage and a greater risk of repeat attacks in a landmark study by Melbourne researchers.

Researchers say the findings, presented at the annual American Heart Association conference in Chicago on Wednesday night, are likely to change guidelines for emergency treatment around the world.

Their study followed 441 patients who were treated by Ambulance Victoria paramedics for the most serious type of heart attack, called an ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), in which the coronary artery is completely blocked.

Half of the group were given oxygen through a mask in accordance with routine practice, even though their oxygen levels were normal. The other half did not receive oxygen and simply breathed normal air.

Researchers found patients given oxygen were five times more likely to have a repeat heart attack during their stay in hospital compared with those who did not receive oxygen.

Patients given oxygen were also found to have 20 per cent more damage to heart tissue as shown on an MRI scan six months later.

Researchers did not find any statistically significant difference in survival between the two groups. However, studies are under way overseas to assess this.

Principal investigator Stephen Bernard, a senior intensive care specialist at The Alfred hospital, said giving oxygen to patients with chest pain had been standard practice for decades.

“A heart attack is when an artery to the heart muscle is blocked and you suddenly get chest pain because that part of the heart is not getting any oxygen,” he said.

“For 30 or 40 years we’ve given oxygen, the theory being that part of the heart isn’t getting any so we should give it.”

Professor Bernard said it was only in recent years that doctors had began to question the practice, and worry about causing damage by flooding the injured heart with oxygen once the blockage was cleared.

Co-researcher and paramedic Ziad Nehme said oxygen could actually narrow coronary arteries and reduce blood flow to the heart, and may increase inflammation and stress on the heart tissue during a heart attack.

He said Ambulance Victoria had already modified its approach and gave oxygen to patients having a heart attack only if oxygen levels in their blood were below normal.

Professor Bernard said he expected patients undergoing emergency treatment for heart attacks would no longer routinely receive oxygen as a result of the study, which is due to be published in a journal, although it would take time for guidelines to be reviewed.

“People like to see a thorough review by experts, but we think the results are pretty compelling, and if I get chest pain tonight, I am not letting anyone give me oxygen,” he said.

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Grandmother accused of being heroin dealer seeks bail

A 60-year-old Melbourne grandmother accused of being a large-scale  heroin dealer wants to be released on bail to look after her four-year-old granddaughter, a court has heard.

The young girl is being cared for by the Department of Human Services after the grandmother, Suong Pham, and her two daughters, Linh Trinh, 26, and Thuy Trinh, 25, were arrested and charged with drug trafficking.

They are all being held in custody, as is the girl’s father. Defence barrister Ian Hill, QC, told the Supreme Court on Thursday during a bail application for Mrs Pham that she had been the primary carer for the four-year-old girl, April, and was missing her granddaughter.

Mrs Pham was arrested on October 9 after police raids on homes in Mentone, Footscray, Richmond, Braybrook, Thornbury, Sunbury, Fitzroy, and Flemington following an eight-month investigation.

She has been charged with one count of trafficking a large commercial quantity of heroin, one count of possessing heroin, one count of recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime, and 11 counts of dealing with property suspected to be proceeds of crime.

Mrs Pham, who does not speak English and needed the assistance of a Vietnamese translator during Thursday’s court hearing, was one of 17 people, including her two daughters, charged with being part of a large drug trafficking syndicate.

Police say Mrs Pham and her daughters ran the syndicate from their Braybrook home. The sisters allegedly flew business class to Sydney regularly to buy the heroin, which Thuy Trinh would hide in a backpack and bring to Melbourne on an overnight bus.

The women allegedly bought blocks of heroin for $95,000 cash, which were then sold to dealers for sale in Melbourne.

Police found more than $200,000 in cash in Mrs Pham’s home, with some of the money hidden in a child’s toy and in the toilet cistern.

Caulfield police divisional response unit senior constable Karen Goldschlager told the court that April’s mother, Linh Trinh, had taken the young girl with her twice on the trips to Sydney.

Opposing bail for Mrs Pham, police said she was not some small-level heroin dealer who needed to make the next sale to get cash.

She allegedly had access to large amounts of money and was a significant risk of fleeing the jurisdiction if released.

Cross-examined by Mr Hill, Constable Goldschlager agreed there was no evidence that Mrs Pham had travelled to Sydney herself to buy drugs.

Constable Goldschlager said the drug syndicate’s safe house in Footscray had been under police surveillance for months but Mrs Pham had never visited.

Mr Hill told the court the case against Mrs Pham was a weak circumstantial one, she had no prior convictions, had been a permanent resident in Australia since November 2010, and her trial would not be held until some time in 2016.

He said the prosecution case against Mrs Pham, at its best, might show she was associated in a minor way with her daughters and what they were doing.

There was nothing to prove Mrs Pham knew her daughters were involved in large-scale drug trafficking, Mr Hill said.

Justice Lex Lasry said he would make a decision on Mrs Pham’s bail application on Monday.

Mrs Pham and the 16 other accused are due to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on January 30 for a committal mention.

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Detention centre escapee with violent history captured

Leonard Gjeka. Photo: SuppliedA violent fugitive who escaped from a Melbourne immigration detention centre has been captured by police.

Albanian man Leonard Gjeka, 32, escaped from the Maribyrnong detention centre with New Zealand man Michael Dobson, 51, last week.

Gjeka was waiting to be deported to Albania.

Dobson was found by police on Monday, but his fellow escapee remained on the run.

However, Gjeka was arrested in Melbourne on Thursday, after more than a week on the run.

Gjeka and Dobson were reportedly met by two people outside the detention centre on November 12, who used bolt cutters to free the pair, before the escapees fled on waiting motorbikes.

Police warned the public that Gjeka had a violent history and links to outlaw motorcycle gangs. He reportedly survived two assassination attempts in South Australia in 2010.

Police spokeswoman Senior Constable Julie-Anne Newman said Gjeka was arrested in Melbourne “without incident” by detectives from the Fugitive Taskforce.

He is due to face Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday afternoon.

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Film review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

(M) ****

Director: Francis Lawrence.

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Jeffrey Wright, Donald Sutherland.

Mockingjay – Part 1 invokes everything from the American Civil War and socialist iconography to the influence of the modern media and the work of journalists in war zones.

DIVING back into the dystopian world of Panem and its arrow-firing heroine Katniss Everdeen continues to be a heady and exhilarating experience.

Three films into the four-film series (book three of the trilogy is being adapted into two movies) and the comparisons to Korean film Battle Royale are far behind us.

No longer focused on its child-versus-child death matches, The Hunger Games spreads its wings in this powerful and political third instalment that not only shifts the focus to the dictatorial machinations that have been simmering in the background, but showcases why these young adult novels have been so highly revered.

They deal with mature themes in an intelligent way that never speaks down to its intended adolescent audience, and if you thought the first two movies were dark, then brace yourselves because this a whole other shade of black.

Mockingjay – Part 1 tells of civil war and the power of propaganda – far more worthy subject matter for inquisitive teenage minds than love triangles involving sparkly vampires – and it doesn’t pull any punches in the process. There are executions, massacres, torture, and fields of blackened corpses. This is no walk in the park.

Watching the previous two films is a prerequisite as this one dives straight into where we left off at the end of Catching Fire.

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), having been whisked away to the supposedly uninhabited District 13, finds herself at the centre of a rebel uprising against the government of President Snow (Sutherland)based in the opulent Capitol City.

Reluctant at first to be used as the symbol of the rebellion, Katniss soon learns what has been going on – about the destruction of her home district, about the government’s suppression tactics, and what has happened to her beloved Peeta (Hutcherson) – and realises she can’t stand by while the lower classes are crushed beneath the military’s boot heel.

Podcast: The book versus the movieIt’s heavy stuff that invokes everything from the American Civil War and socialist iconography to the influence of the modern media and the work of journalists in war zones. Director Francis Lawrence keeps everything moving at a good pace and gives all the key players at least one moment to shine.

His biggest problem is grappling with the film’s high level of emotions, which feel way over-the-top at the start of the film because we’re coming in cold.

There is no easing your way in on this – Mockingjay – Part 1 throws you headlong into the storm of feelings left behind from Catching Fire and you’re expected to keep up. As such, this is for the fans and certainly not the place to start your passion for The Hunger Games.

None of this would work without great actors, which the series has a surplus of. Newcomer Moore is a welcome addition, Banks and Harrelson have reduced roles but chime in nicely, Hemsworth has his biggest part in the series to date, and the film is dedicated to the memory of Hoffman, who is as effortless as he always was.

And at the centre of it all is Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen – the film’s beating heart, its moral compass, and its sharpened arrow. When I reviewed Catching Fire I noted that future lists of the greatest movie heroines should read “1. Ripley, 2. Katniss Everdeen …”. I’m seriously considering bumping Everdeen to #1.

As with Catching Fire, Mockingjay – Part 1 finds a weird note to end on, as is always the case of a story part-told. It’s a bittersweet and slightly unbalanced finale, but one that tantalises the tastebuds ahead of the big finale due out 12 months from now.

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Busy year’s end for Probus

CHIT CHAT: Mollymook Beach Probus member Robyn Coogan enjoys a chat withthe Magic Pudding at the Norman Lindsey Gallery during the Club’s Blue Mountains visit.WITH the year drawing to a close, members of Mollymook Beach Combined Probus Club continue to achieve the club’s objective of active retirement.

Following the successful four-day trip to the Blue Mountains in late September, two activities were arranged and well supported in November. A dinner at Taffy’s restaurant allowed members to meet in a casual, social setting and to enjoy the company of friends and an excellent meal prepared by the hospitality students on the Ulladulla TAFE campus. Barefoot twilight bowls and barbecue is another social event which appears on the club’s calendar each year and is traditionally keenly supported by members, bowlers and non-bowlers.

This year was no exception with over 40 members signing on to compete.

The September monthly meeting was the first held in the downstairs meeting room at the Ulladulla Civic Centre, which is to be the venue for all general meetings in future.

The guest speaker was Peter Harris, who described how he and his wife migrated to this country and found employment at the Tidbinbilla Tracking Station during the earliest days of space exploration.

Peter was a technician whose first job was to maintain the most accurate timing system in Australia, which was fundamental to the station’s responsibilities for tracking satellites, and in time all of the space initiatives, in partnership with other Australian facilities at Siding Springs and Parkes.

Peter’s description of the early technologies available at the time of the first generations of space shots left many members wondering how any of the programs succeeded at all.

Computers were new and basic and had only a fraction of the power and sophistication of today’s.

Sending a single photo to earth could take several days or a week and when they did arrive they were processed with traditional photographic techniques, very different to the computerised systems used today.

The next meeting, also at the Civic Centre, will start at 9.30am on Friday, November 28.

The guest speaker will be former Shoalhaven mayor Max Atkins, a well known local rose enthusiast who will explain how roses can be grown in coastal areas.

This is the last general meeting of the year, the only function in December will be the Christmas party at the golf club on December 10.

The club’s committee is already planning its program of speakers and activities for next year.

The first general meeting (at the Civic Centre) will be on Friday, January 23, just a few days before Australia Day, so in place of a guest speaker we will have a musical morning featuring Australian songs.

Mollymook Beach Combined Probus believes a busy calendar of varied activities is core to its success.

Membership, which is limited to 130, is full, and there are several applicants on the waiting list already.

Anyone seeking information on the club can contact the secretary at 4455 1130.

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Mount Annan waits as NBN roll-out continues

Some Spring Farm residents have the benefit of being connected to the NBN because they live in newly-developed areas, built to the NBN Company’s specifications.Bringing Macarthur’s pockets of patchy internet availability up to world-standard will be a long process, according to a National Broadband Network Company spokesman.

Mount Annan residents, who have previously written to theAdvertiserabout their suburb’s slow and at times unreliable internet connections, continue to wait for the NBN to come their way.

‘‘They need to do something in Mt Annan — we can’t get NBN or ADSL cause there is no ports,’’ resident Emma Harris wrote.

‘‘They kept building house[s] with no high speed internet.’’

NBN Co spokesman Darren Rudd said the roll-out depended on a complex set of engineering prerequisites and the need to plan the build from the large exchanges to minimise costs.

‘‘They all have to be set up in a certain sequence and there is no priority or waiting list, it’s very much a technical engineering consideration,’’ Mr Rudd said.

‘‘There is an urgent need to upgrade the infrastructure across the whole country, to level out the infrastructure available and to close the gap between them.’’

The National Broadband Network Company’s roll-out map shows build preparation areas in green, while the brown area indicates where installation is underway. Purple zones already have broadband available.

He said a separate ‘‘greenfields’’ roll-out, such as those in Spring Farm,took advantage of builders putting up new housing developments to work the NBN specifications into the sites.

‘‘We connect them to the normal network using a temporary small exchange and then when we go through with our roll-out in those areas we essentially take those switches down and integrate them into the standard network,’’ he said.

Once the NBN is complete, Macarthur properties will have access to either fixed line, fixed wireless or satellite technology.

‘‘Macarthur will be typical of most areas,’’ hesaid.

‘‘We haven’t defined per-square-centimetre which house is getting what technology but essentially on average every local government boundary will receive a mix of technologies based on a number of considerations including property density.’’

Mr Rudd said suburbs with high property density were more likely to get fixed line services, which would be ‘‘cost prohibitive’’ to install to residents living on acreage.

He said there was enough capacity in the network to allow for Macarthur’s expected housing growth.

Mr Rudd said he was not concerned about a potential loss of data speed by using Australia’s ‘‘really old copper network’’ to deliver fibre to the node broadband.

‘‘These are world class proven technologies, big global companies like British Telecom use them around the world,’’ he said.

‘‘As we go through the installation we are going to look at the status of the copper and we are going to bring the exchange right up to the street so that means we can push more data through.’’

But University of Western Sydney’s director of e-learning Dr Ante Prodan is not as convinced.

‘‘I think the main point at the moment is that you can put enough data through [copper] for an average family, but it’s not future-proof,’’ Dr Prodan said.

‘‘We can see some limits there because of the physical limitations of copper.’’

He said installing an entirely fibre to the premises network had no drawback apart from the high cost of digging to each property.

‘‘Fibre to the premises has unlimited capacity,’’ he said.

‘‘The reality is that fibre is much more reliable and the cost of maintenance for fibre is lower.’’

Estimated ‘‘ready for service’’ dates:

■ Kirkham Rise: December 2014

■ Spring Farm: February 2015

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Beach warriors resume work on dunes

Job well done: Robyn Cail, Sean Hazelden, Dylan Gleave and Wayne Gill admire their handywork at West Beach.THE West Beach Warriors have been at it again, replanting the eroded sand dune in front of the middle section car park.

The warriors area team of volunteers from Esperance Weeds Action Group and staff from South Coast Natural Resource Management (SCNRM), whodedicate their lunch breaks to spreading out brush mulch.

SCNRM coastal corridors project officer Sean Hazelden said laying native brush mulch helped stabilise the soil.

“Before the car park was put in, there was a lot of random access and it got pretty badly eroded, so it’s time to fix it up,” he said.

The brush also discourages people from walking on the dunes.

“Every time a plant starts getting a foothold and people walk on it, it disturbs the soil, loosens it up and then the wind blows it and the roots are exposed and the plants can’t get away,” Mr Hazelden said.

“We’re using a variety of species that grow around the local area so if they do throw seeds, it is vegetation that belongs there.”

Despite focusing on West Beach in previous weeks, the group is also working on vegetation at various destinations along the coast. “We are looking at doing more at First Beach and the Salmon Beach headland on the west side that’s getting pretty eroded,” Mr Hazelden said.

“We’ve done a lot of brushing at Fourth Beach car park, because people go up to the look out, jump the rail and run down to the beach from there.

“Once a wind tunnel is created [in the dune], strong winds just keep blowing it out.”

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