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Avoca fire images linger

30 years on: Ian Burt, now the Talbot CFA captain, in front of the old Amherst School building. PICTURE: DAVID JEANSDEVASTATION can make or break a community.

The 30th anniversary of the Avoca fires, which devastated the central goldfields region, has brought memories swelling back for the CFA volunteers who protected their communities that day.

The fire started in Avoca on the morning of Monday, January 14, 1985.

The bushfire was burning in a straight ribbon before the wind swung 90 degrees and turnednorth into a 25-kilometre front burning towards Daisy Hill, Talbot and Majorca.

Ian Burt, then in his early 20s, was dropping garbage at the Talbot tip when he heard the fire siren shortly after midday.

As a volunteer firefighter, he raced to the Talbot fire station and hopped on a tanker on its way to Avoca.

“We saw the smoke rising above the trees and from the east side of Avoca while we were trying to put out the bush and grassfire,” Mr Burt said.

“Once it reached the bush on the outskirts of Avoca, it started crowning. Because it’s all bush between Avoca and Talbot, it crowned the whole way. And that’s when the fireballsstarted.”

The Maryborough Advertiser reported at the time that 200 trucks and up to 1000 firefighters were fighting the blaze.

One person died after the bushfire tore through 50,800 hectares, destroying 101 homes and 500 farms, killing 40,000 sheep and 500 cattle.

Reports the fire was threatening homes in Talbot prompted Mr Burt’s crew to return home just after 4.30pm.

Upon returning to Talbot, Mr Burt’s crew and others were unable to save buildings in neighbouring town Amherst as the fire prevented them from passing the town’s cemetery.

Mr Burt recalls working through the night, fuelled by adrenalin and the determination to save his community.

Talbot CFA volunteer Roy Randall said his wife and children made a daring escape on the day from their home in Red Lion.

“My wife Maree escaped as the fire reached Red Lion and dragged the kids through the flames,” he said.

He walked through the remains of the homes and properties the morning after.

“You just start helping people clean up and helping those who lost their homes,” Mr Burt said.

“It was just a major clean-up.”

The pain from the 1985 fire has seared a deep wound in many of the Talbot townspeople and the anniversary didn’t come easy for some.

Some homes took 10 years to rebuild while other families simply packed up and moved on.

“A lot of people don’t want to reflect on it. There is just memories. The people that lost their houses don’t want a reminder of the valuables they lost and the hardship,” said Mr Burt, who is now the Talbot Fire Brigade captain.

“People took their anger and frustration out in different ways.”

Thirty years on, the brigade had changed for the better in attitude and equipment, Mr Burt said.

“We’ve come a long way from the Leyland truck,” he said.

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Southern cruise to Bradman Cup title

Southern have won the Bradman Cup for the first time in 13 years after ­turning the tables on title holders North Coastal in a grand final replay of last season.

Southern cruised to a 10-wicket victory in the final of the Bradman Cup.

Southern, who were beaten by North Coastal at Robins Oval in the corresponding decider 12 months earlier, never gave their opponents a chance in their convincing 10-wicket victory at Singleton’s Howe Park yesterday.

Southern took a wicket on the first ball of the day, courtesy of a clean bowled from opener Sam Skelly.

This set the tone for the match with Skelly and off-spinner Daniel Toser ­helping Southern dismiss North Coastal for 79.

Player of the final Matthew Gilkes and skipper Daniel Leedam then guided Southern home without loss.

Southern last won the Bradman Cup in 2002 when they defeated a Hunter Valley side featuring players such as Maitland first grade skippers Matthew Trappel (City United), Andrew Vickery (Eastern Suburbs), Tyler Power (Kurri Weston) and Josh Callinan (Northern Suburbs).

Preliminary matches from this year’s tournament were played between Singleton and Maitland.

Wet weather earlier in the week forced organisers to shift fixtures from turf to synthetic pitches with Fieldsend Oval and King Park 3 used on the opening few days of ­competition.

Robins Oval was fit for play on Wednesday.

Hosts Central North, who were based at Singleton, won only their second outing against Western, but were skittled for 20 by Newcastle on Wednesday.

This was the second straight summer that the under-16 NSW Country Championships had been held in Maitland and Singleton.

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Asian Cup 2015: Ray Wilkins defends Ahmad Hayel

Jordan coach Ray Wilkins on Wednesday night made an impassioned defence of his striker Ahmad Hayel, who failed to provide a sample in a botched drug test after his Jordan team’s loss to Iraq on Monday.

Hayel arrived back at the team’s hotel after the doping test suffering from “polar, semi-coma, general weakness, and hypothermia,” the Jordanian FA said in a subsequent statement, and Wilkins will not be able to use him in Jordan’s must-win match with Palestine at AAMI Park on Wednesday.

That, however, was not the issue, the former England international and ex Fulham, QPR and Chelsea boss  said.

“We must always put football in perspective. People are more important. Ahmad lost so much fluid the other night, we were very concerned for his wellbeing. People are for more important than the game of football. My player the other night was struggling.

“He’s a very important player for us. Whether he can recover in time is a matter for his body. I will not chance any young man if he has a problem.”

Wilkins said he had yet to hear from the Asian Football Confederation about the fall-out from the failed test.

The AFC on Wednesday issued a statement confirming the Jordan player was unable to complete the required procedure due to his dehydrated condition.

“He had some dizziness, felt nausea and vomited after his second attempt, which was an hour after his first attempt, to give urine sample for the test and as such the AFC Medical Officer, Dr Paisal Chantarapitak, decided to discontinue the doping control procedure on the said player,” the AFC said.

“Dr Chantarapitak said that the usual procedure was followed as per the regulations and the facilities and equipments provided for the AFC Asian Cup in Australia are world-class.

“As per the procedure, the AFC Medical Officer always recommends players selected for doping control to drink water as per normal practice, especially for the player who has played for 90 minutes. It is at the player’s discretion to follow the recommendation or not. The player is not forced to drink plenty of water in short time.

“The assistant team doctor of Jordan national team was present during the entire doping procedure,” the statement said.

Wilkins was in a lively mood, also hitting back at the Palestinian FA president Jibril Rajoub who earlier this week had said Wilkins was disrespectful to his country following his remarks that qualification for the quarter-finals from this group would likely be determined by the result of the Jordan-Iraq clash, with the winner of that game going through as runner-up behind Japan.

According to reports, Mr Rajoub had said he would call Prince Ali, the head of the Jordanian FA, to complain.

Wilkins riposted: “He can say what he wants because words are cheap.”

Wilkins, like his Palestinian counterpart Ahmad El-Hassan, acknowledged the importance of the match. Defeat would mean the final game for either side was immaterial, as they would be out of business.

Even if Jordan were to win, it will still probably need to defeat Japan in its final game to progress.

“Its a crucial game for us. The team will give 100 per cent, ” said striker Odai Al Saify, who added that there would not be any clashes of loyalty for Jordanian players born of Palestinian backgrounds. Allegiance, he said, would be to the team a player turned out for.

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Fishing frenzy behind scenes

Danielle Goddard wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this cracking 40-centimetre bream caught in Lake Macquarie off Coal Point recently. ‘‘It was very thick in girth and height,’’ hubby Trent reported. The fish was caught on an Asakura Hornet deep diving hard body lure. Call into Tackle Power Sandgate, at 53 Maitland Road, Sandgate, to collect your prize, mate. Don’t forget to bring a copy of the fishing page for verification. To enter Fish of the Week, email pic to [email protected]南京夜网.au with contact phone and catch details.IT’S been shark, shark and more shark this week if you read the papers but as most fishos know, they’re always out there and the real news is how good the fishing’s been.

Masses of marlin have been tagged up and down the coast, the mahi mahi have been magic, estuaries are alive with whiting, bream and jew, and the freshwater scene has been going off.

“There’s been a lots of marlin and big dollies caught this week off Newie, Swansea, Port Stephens and even Sydney,” Geoff “Kanga” Ruse, from Freddys Fishing World, said.

Jason “One For” Nunn, from Fishermans Warehouse, reports blacks have been spotted free jumping off Moon Island near Swansea.

Catches up at the Port Macquarie Game Fishing Club Golden Lure tournament over the weekend were certainly encouraging.

Over the first weekend of the 31st edition of the tournament, which runs from January 10 to 17, a total of four blue marlin were tagged, 20 blacks, one yellowfin and a mountain of dolphin fish, one weighing in at 20kg on 15kg line.

According to Day 2 reports on Facebook: “Quite a few more blacks lost, lots of free jumpers spotted, a couple blues lost and we had a free swimming blue over 200kg that wouldn’t eat a lure.”

Kingfish caught

ClOSER to shore, Ross Duff, from Salamander Bait and Tackle, reports guys have been getting kingfish off Nelson Bay and the headlands at Boat Harbour.

“The Pure Fishing boys got fish up to 18kg off Fingal this week,” Duff said.

“There have been a few little blacks out the front too, coming in close.

“Trag have come on off the Gibber this week and a few snapper on the bite at Cemetery Point.”

Justine Allen, from Marylands, got a very nice snapper up at Crowdy Head last Monday.

Divers spooked

THE one thing Jason “One For” Nunn, from Fishermans Warehouse, knows for certain about all the shark news is that it’s kept people out of the water.

“We normally sell a stack of hand spears this time of year, but we can’t give them away at the moment. People are spooked. No one is going into the water.”

Fair enough too, perhaps.

A Warehouse customer caught a two-foot remora in the lake this week. Remora are sucker fish and tend to attach to sharks and stingrays.

“I don’t think remora are free range, normally they hang around a big host, and this was a big remora, looked like a small cobia,” Jason said.

Apart from shark tales, the big highlight for Jason is the prawn run, which will probably kick off on Saturday night about 10pm.

Good whiting

THE prawn run is only going to fire up the estuaries, which have been hot as it is with whiting, bream, flathead and jew.

“Great whiting coming out of the lake at the moment. Guys have been getting great results with Bent Minnows and Sammys,” Kanga said.

“The beauty of the Sammy is they cast a mile and get you out of the fish’s range.”

Brynlee Davies, 6, from Killingworth, caught a 40cm whiting fishing with her dad at Swansea this week.

Phillip Grub hooked a handy flathead in Lake Macquarie.

Tony Palmer landed a 42cm bream off Pulbah Island near Wangi, using large prawns.

Matt, Dan, Sam and Noah Ingle have been harvesting holiday bags of bream, whiting, tailor and flathead using fresh squid, which they have caught working squid jigs around the drop over in the lake.

“The boys have been dining on freshly caught blue swimmer crabs and squid, not a bad way to spend the holidays,” father Chris reported.

Duff reports similar conditions in the bay with sand whiting coming off Jimmys Beach and trumpeter across the port. Lots of squid and crabs about too, according to Karuah resident Bob Ingle.

Beaches have been working well for big whiting, upwards of 46cm, which are running from Fingal all the way down to Blacksmiths and beyond.

Big jew around

THERE’S still a few jew getting caught, sporadic, but big, according to Kanga and Duff.

Dan Ahlsen got a 21kg mulloway off Stockton on Sunday night and Jackson Butler, 12, got his first jew off the Anchorage last Friday night. It weighed 12.5kg and was caught on a brined pilchard.

Freshwater gear

POWERBAIT Shads, Slick Rigs and Chubbys have been popular with freshwater fishos chasing bass, according to Kanga.

“Ecooda have a diving copy of the Chubby, which has been proving popular for the guys who can’t afford Chubbys,” he said.

“We also have a good stash of the Tiemco soft shell cicada lures, which can be hard to find, too.

“They are brilliant for surface walking and twitching.”

ECOfishers’ forum

ECOfishers will hold a forum at South West Rocks Country Club on Saturday, 1pm to 4pm. All political parties have been invited to outline their fishing policies in the lead-up to the state election on March 28.

“We need to be voting to keep our fishing open,” Kanga said.

“There are plenty who want to close it down but the science needs to be in place and we want to make the government accountable on that front.”

Event heats up

ORGANISERS of the inaugural Newcastle Game Fishing Club East Coast Classic Tournament are getting excited. The event will run February 7 and 8 with $40,000 of cash and prizes on offer and will be the first hosted by the fledgling club.

Don’t forget, too, entry forms are now available for the Big Fish Bonanza, hosted by Lake Macquarie Game Fishing Club on January 30 and February 1. And if you’re not into game fishing, give a thought to the Port Stephens Family Fishing Competition at Soldiers Point Marina on February 7 and 8.

Defending champion Juan Martin Del Potro knocked out of Sydney International

Juan Martin Del Potro’s Sydney International title defence is over after with Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin outmuscled the Argentine with a straight-sets victory on Thursday.

Del Potro, who was playing only his third match in nearly a year after a career-threatening injury to his wrist, lost in two tie breaks against the world No.66.

The former US champion, whose ranking slipped to 338 while he was recovering from major surgery, had enjoyed an encouraging first two rounds on the comeback trail, taking down Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky and the top seed Italian Fabio Fognini.

But Del Potro could not find a way to get ahead of Kukushkin, with neither player’s serve broken and no break points, during their quarter final clash on the showcourt in Sydney Olympic Park.

Both players traded holds in the opening set, forcing it to a tie break. Del Potro took the mini-break after a volley error from Kukushkin but lost it by hitting a forehand well out. Kukushkin pulled ahead and with a celebratory first pump took the opener 7-6 (5) in just under an hour.

The second set progressed as a mirror image of the first with the players again dominating their serves and neither managing a break. In the nail-biting tie break, a Del Potro error gave Kukushkin the edge he need as he seized the lead 3-2.

Despite an enthusiastic cheer squad rallying from the stands for Del Potro, Kazakhstan’s top player stormed ahead taking the game on a service winner and the set 7-6.

The two had crossed paths on the professional tour only once, with Del Potro defeating Kukushkin in the quarter finals of the Davis Cup in 2011.

The former world no 4 has made a remarkable return to professional test this week but said his wrist had hurt during the match against Kukushkin.

Del Potro said Kukushkin played “very smart” targeting his backhand, and playing slices.

“I served well, but my wrist hurts a little bit more than yesterday, and I couldn’t hit harder than my last match,” Del Potro said.

“I got lucky playing three matches in this tournament against good players. I’m still here, I’m still alive. I feel tired, but okay.”

The Tower of Tandil, as Del Potro is nicknamed, entered the tournament as the wildcard after winning the final the previous year against Australia’s Bernard Tomic.

Following on from that win he had a second round exit in the Australian Open last year and played in two more tournaments before being sidelined by his wrist injury.

Del Potro said he was still building towards full fitness but will not lighten his training load ahead of the Australian Open on Monday. The 26-year-old still has to undergo lengthy treatments on his injury and rehab regimes before and after matches.

“I need to keep training, and training hard every day,” Del Potro said.

“I don’t have a magic solution. Just be patient, stay calm, and do my best every day to do a big effort to come back. This is my biggest challenge on my new career again.

“We go day by day. It’s dangerous for me if I’m looking forward for the next tournaments or the next month.”

Del Potro said he was at least looking forward to catching up with some old friends in Melbourne.

“I want to meet also Federer, Djokovic, these guys, because I miss them when I was at home. I only speak with them on WhatsApp or by phone. Now I will meet the biggest players of this sport again.”

Kukushkin, who reached the second round in the Brisbane International, will play in the quarter finals on Friday.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

The past 35 Cup winners

2009 winning driver David Butcher

1980: Deans Special

1981: Taronga

1982: Popular Alm

1983: Copper Way

1984: Thor Lobell

1985: Henry Bruce

1986: Bag Limit

1987: Bag Limit

1988: Quite Famous

1989: Rowleyalla

1990: Empire Fella

1991: Aim First

1992: Lord Muckalee

1993: The Unicorn

1994: Dark Paul

1995: Knight Rainbow

1996: Brabham

1997: Anvils Star

1998: Captain Rufus

1999: Hushed World

2000: Tailamade Lombo

2001: Bancoora Next

2002: Mother Courage

2003: Sokyola

2004: Robric Jonboy

2005: Scruffy Murphy

2006: Regal Dash

2007: Sting Lika Bee

2008: Safari

2009: Changeover

2010: Sammy Maguire

2011: Smoken Up

2012: Decorated Jasper

2013: Sushi Sushi

2014: Im Corzin Terror

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City United plan to rebound in top of table clash

City United will want to recapture that winning feeling at Robins Oval this weekend when they meet Kurri Weston in a top-of-the-table clash which could go a long way to deciding the Maitland district cricket first grade minor premiership.

City United bowler Paul Brownlee is congratulated by teammates after taking a wicket in their loss to Eastern Suburbs. City hope to bounce back from their first defeat of the season in the weekend’s top of the table clash against Kurri Weston.

Competition frontrunners City (41) lost their first match of the season on Saturday with a 110-run loss to Eastern Suburbs.

Second-placed Kurri Weston (36) recorded a comfortable 53-run win over Western Suburbs to close the gap to just five points on the ladder.

It means the result from the upcoming double header, a two-day fixture played over Saturday and Sunday, will be critical in determining which team finishes on top of the standings at the end of the regular rounds for 2014-2015.

Both teams will be close to full strength. City welcomes back skipper Matthew Trappel, opening bowler Ben Davies and Andrew Mullard.

Kurri Weston are largely unchanged, with Daniel Chapple included in a 12-man squad.

City were successful when the teams last met in round two, a 54-run triumph in a one-dayer at Kurri Central after defending 204.

In other round nine encounters, five-time defending minor premiers Northern Suburbs (31) host sixth-placed Thornton (17) fresh from the bye at Lorn Park. Fourth-placed Western Suburbs (22) are at home to winless Raymond Terrace (6) at Coronation Oval.

Play starts at 12.30pm each day.

Eastern Suburbs (21) have the bye.

In other cricket news, Maitland juniors Josh Trappel and Josh Geary will go head-to-head at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

The Maitland duo line up for Hamilton Wickham and Merewether respectively in the SCG Cup final.

The decider starts at 10am.

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Robinvale housing crisis worsens

GROWING PROBLEM: Robinvale councillor John Katis says State Government help is needed to alleviate the region’s growing housing problem.ROBINVALE councillor John Katis says the district’s entrenched housing crisis is only becoming worse.

The Swan Hill deputy mayor said repeated requests to the Victorian Government for more public housing had gone ignored for a decade.

Cr Katis said the town had been hit by a double whammy.

Itinerant workers and migrants from Asia and the Pacific Islands arrive seeking work in Robinvale’s burgeoning horticultural industry while the town’s established population also continues to grow.

Not enough new homes are being built to cope with demand and anything on the market is snapped up immediately.

“I know one young couple who have just had a baby and they’ve got nowhere to live,” Cr Katis said.

He said he could drive around Robinvale and point out several modest family homes crammed with people.

“Overcrowding is the biggest issue. I know properties that have two caravans in the backyard,” he said.

“Council can only do so much.”

Cr Katis said the district’s true population was very difficult to estimate.

“Coming into Robinvale you’ll see a sign which says there’s a population of 4000 but, if you were a local, you’d know damn well we’re talking 6000 plus,” he said.

“It has to be anything from 6000 to 7 or 8000.”

Demand for housing in Robinvale has far outstripped supply with those seeking public housing facing a wait of years.

“God knows how long the list is,” Cr Katis said.

“We need residential properties opened up as soon as possible.”

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Fans roll in for country music festival

JUST CHILLING: Amelia Way, 4, Alyssa Way, 6, Jaycob Dean-Wallis, 8, Harry Way, 9, and Joseph Way, 11 from Newcastle at Tamworth’s Riverside camping ground ahead of the festival.HUNDREDS of campervans and tents have set up and organisers at Tamworth’s main riverside grounds expect scores more ‘big rigs’ to roll into town on Friday as the 43rd Tamworth Country Music Festival prepares for its official kick off.

Already long snaking lines of traffic are clogging the roads in town and more roads will close from Friday as the Country Music Capital of Australia prepares to host up to 20,000 visitors over the next 10 days.

Two out of three people on the street are wearing boots, nearly everyone has a hat on – and the party, according to the Tamworth mayor, is just about to begin.

Councillor Col Murray has missed only one festival in those 43 years – he went camping to Nambucca Heads – but has sworn ever since he won’t let one go by without joining the biggest hoedown in the southern hemisphere.

Hundreds of Newcastle and Central Coast fans join him every year too.

The mayor, along with 14 country music Queen entrants officially kick it all off Friday evening – literally, with their linedancing boots on.

Superstar songstress Kasey Chambers headlines the opening concert in Bicentennial Park in the middle of Tamworth where a crowd of more than 10,000 people is an annual institution too.

Tamworth has moved in hundreds of portaloos for the camping grounds that will see up to 4,000 people, another 20 green spaces like footy fields and school grounds take touring nomads and musical fans, and extra staff are rostered into the hospital emergency services unit to handle what becomes the walking wounded of strains, sprains and dehydrated patients.

Two hundred extra police began arriving Thursday – they become the beat police in the special country music blues brigade – patrolling on foot and on bikes to not so much try to keep the peace but make sure the music is sweet.

Antisocial behaviour is generally below the norm – and local police chiefs think that is set to continue this year if all goes to form.

The festival sees some 500 advertised musical acts playing a couple of thousand gigs across some 80 venues – and organisers expect up to 600 more busking acts to line the main drag that is the country music boulevard, Peel St.

The festival continues over the next 10 days and culminates with the red carpet industry night of nights – the Golden Guitar awards on Saturday night January 24.

Darren Smith to be a test case before further cobalt announcements in NSW

Testing times: Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy Photo: Jenny Evans Testing times: Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy Photo: Jenny Evans

Testing times: Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy Photo: Jenny Evans

Testing times: Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy Photo: Jenny Evans

Racing NSW stewards will proceed with what appear to be test cases against trainers Darren Smith and Paul Murray before revealing whether any other horses returned elevated readings last year in what is feared to be a cobalt epidemic in Australian racing.

Big-name trainers Peter Moody, Mark Kavanagh and Danny O’Brien are this week helping Racing Victoria with investigations after returning horses with elevated cobalt readings during the spring carnival. Racing Queensland announced on Thursday it had also found cobalt irregularities, some during the winter carnival, which would undergo further testing.

However, Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy said he would would not discuss whether there had been any other irregularities uncovered in the state until the Smith and Murray cases were concluded. He did, though, confirm that since April last year, when testers began screening for cobalt in NSW, no horses had returned elevated readings of the fad drug, apart from the 16 samples taken from Smith’s horses.

“Intelligence had made us aware there was a problem that existed regarding cobalt,” Murrihy said. “There have been no elevated findings since the population survey, which was conducted in April and May, involving some 400 samples, other than the ones already on the public record. However, we have hundreds of frozen substances and we have the ability to test them. We would not be making any more announcements until we have finished the investigations that are currently opened.”

Stewards have given Smith until January 23 to make submissions before making any determinations about whether to proceed. Smith’s case does not concern whether the trainer’s horses returned samples above the cobalt threshold. That is because there was no threshold in place at the time of the alleged offence. Instead, stewards are investigating whether he can be charged under the rules of racing for using a prohibited substance, namely cobalt.

One of the rules stewards are looking to is Australian Racing Rule 178B, which states “substances capable at any time of causing either directly or indirectly an action or effect, or both an action and effect, within one or more of the following mammalian body systems”.

Much of the evidence heard in the inquiry last month was about the definition of whether cobalt fell under these rules. It is up to Smith and his legal team to make submissions to that fact.

The Murray case has been adjourned to a date yet to be fixed.

Meanwhile, Racing Queensland general manager of stewarding and integrity Wade Birch has indicated some samples in the sunshine state had been sent for further analysis in regard to cobalt irregularities.

“Our trainers were then made aware that Racing Queensland would be testing for cobalt in October 2013 and a number of samples from both thoroughbred and harness horses have been frozen since then in anticipation of the new threshold, which came into effect on January 1 this year,” Birch said.

“These samples are in the process of being split to obtain a B-sample for further testing, in accordance with state legislation, which includes the need for the process to be filmed in its entirety.

“Queensland legislation is very stringent in relation to testing methods. However, this ensures all sampling activity is conducted with the utmost integrity in the interest of Racing Queensland as the [controlling] body and the trainer.”

Birch said any samples found to exceed the threshold, could see trainers face lengthy bans.

“We make no apologies for this stance and trainers have had ample warning that as soon as the testing capabilities were in place, we would pursue this course of action,” he said. “The underlying principle of racing integrity is to ensure the sport is carried out in a fair and just manner in the interest of the punter, the participant and most importantly the horses themselves.”

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