Nelly’s dream run not over yet

How was that? Neil Werrett with Black Caviar after her win in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot last June. Photo: Julian AndrewsSaturday has been a couple of years in the making for Black Caviar’s managing co-owner, Neil Werrett, and he can’t wait for her return to Randwick.
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The man who put the unbeaten mare’s ownership group together has had a great ride, but having her in his home town is special.

“I have been waiting two years to get her back here, and to have her arrive safe and sound, and for Peter [Moody] to be so happy with her is a great plus.

“Let’s hope she can go out and do her thing again.”

Black Caviar’s remarkable career amounts to 24 wins, with 14 coming at group 1 level. She will become the Australian record holder for group 1 wins if she is successful in the $1 million T.J. Smith Stakes (1200 metres) at Randwick on Saturday.

Black Caviar, or Nelly, ceased to be a betting proposition for most punters a couple of years ago, since she proved so superior to her rivals that she starts about $1.10 or less in her races.

Werrett marvels that she has become part of common language for excellence in Australia.

“That is funny thing with her, that you will be watching the football and they will be talking about a team that has won a few in a row and her name will come up,” he said. “It’s hard to describe when things like that happen, you sit there and think, ‘Wow, is this real?’

“It not just that but how she has become so well known … people who would never have watched racing are interested in her.”

Most of the public would have thought they had seen the last of Black Caviar when she just won the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot last year but she has come back as strong as ever.

She broke a track record in her return in the Lightning Stakes at Flemington in February and a month later took care of business in the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley under lights three weeks ago.

Werrett put together the owners, a syndicate of friends, on a houseboat trip on the Murray River and has never regretted it. They have grown into an extended family. “You wouldn’t want to be in this alone, it wouldn’t be as much fun” he said. “We get together for every start and catch up with people we would only see once a year more regularly.”

Werrett said the future for Black Caviar would be decided next week.

“Everything is still on the table. We want to get through Saturday and then sit down together. We’ll talk it over and Ascot, Brisbane and Adelaide are options.”

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Kent takes double shot at Derby glory

Mick Kent has two runners in the Australian Derby, one by the all-conquering High Chaparral and the other, second favourite Philippi, by the lesser-known Host.
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Both are bred to be there because they will stay, but as Kent put in his understated way, “They’ve run into a champion.”

It’s A Dundeel is a $1.25 favourite for the blue ribbon after taking the first two legs of the triple crown. In the Randwick Guineas he was dominant, in the Rosehill Guineas comprehensive.

He is one of four sons of High Chaparral to make the Derby field, including Kent’s immature High Shot, and a repeat of the trifecta for the stallion of three years ago when Shoot Out beat Descarado and Monaco Consul is on the cards.

“High Chaparral has taken over from Zabeel as the sire of stayers in this part of the world,” Kent said. “He just works here because he had the turn of foot we need in our horses. He showed that by … winning the Breeders Cup Turf, which is on firm ground, and won it twice. There is no doubt Galileo is best stallion of stayers in the world but [his stock] doesn’t work under our conditions [of racing]. You need a turn of foot because we stop and start.”

It’s A Dundeel’s breeding reads perfectly for a Derby, given he is by High Chaparral out of a Zabeel mare in Stareel. Kent’s part of the dynasty, High Shot, draws on the same line, being out of Sir Tristram mare Queen Caelia. He gets to 2400 metres where he should be most comfortable but it might have come too soon for the colt. “I will put the blinkers on him but he is very coltish and has just been switching on and off in his races,” Kent said. “He might be a preparation away but this is the trip he is bred for.”

High Shot won a Cranbourne maiden in October, and Kent opted to miss the spring to concentrate on the autumn.

He has run in four group races, including the Australian Guineas and last week’s Tulloch Stakes, and been about a half-dozen lengths off the winner each time.

“He has been a little backwards, and I have ran him short of his best a couple of times just to try to get him to settle, but has got pulling,” Kent said. “He is the sort of horse which could put it together at this trip, and we have put the blinkers on him to make a difference.”

Philippi comes from a winning platform in the spring when he started his career with three on end. He was sixth in the Australian Guineas and runner-up in the Alister Clark before proving too smart for his rivals in last week’s group 2 Tulloch Stakes.

“I don’t think [breeder-owner Rick Jamieson] was thinking an Australian Derby when he did the mating but the breeding suggests 10 furlongs [2000m], and he won very well at that trip last week,” Kent said. “The mile-and-a-half is still a mystery with him but he is a very nice horse and will go a good race.”

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Internationals skyrocket Inglis sales results

British bloodstock agent Angus Gold roves the world for blueblooded yearlings for his main client, Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Stud, and summed up this week’s unprecedented Inglis sales: “There are more international buyers here than I have ever seen.”
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Sheikh Hamdan, who raced Melbourne Cup winners At Talaq and Jeune, has been a supporter of the Hayes family, firstly with the late patriarch Colin then Peter and now David.

Gold was an absentee at last year’s Inglis sales but bought 19 yearlings in the first two sessions for $7.1 million, including four by Lonhro and More Than Ready and three by Redoute’s Choice. David Hayes will get most of the yearlings to train but so, too, will Mike de Kock, the champion South African who also has a great strike rate in Dubai. De Kock was involved with Gold during the sales and alongside him for several of his buys.

The internationals were busy at the Inglis complex with three sheikhs present – Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, who bought four lots for $1.57 million, as well as linking up with Sheikh Nasser Lootah to buy half of the $4 million Fastnet Rock x River Dove colt on Wednesday.

Dunaden’s owner Sheikh Fahad Al-Thani made his first trip to the Easter sales, buying seven fillies for $1.97 million.

Darley was also buying for Sheikh Mohammed, adding four yearlings to his huge number of home-breds for $1.27 million. They were by Darley stallions, two by Lonhro and one each by Street Cry and Shamardal.

The big newcomer was China’s Teo Ah Khing, who linked up with Coolmore to spend $2 million-plus on yearlings by Fastnet Rock for the China Horse Club.

The Queen’s racing manager, John Warren, selected Khing’s buys, and they will remain in Australia; Gai Waterhouse is likely to prepare several of them.

Khing is behind the establishment of the Tianjin Equine Culture City, and Coolmore is a partner with Khing along with the leading French breeding operation Arqana.

Tianjin will train 8000 equestrian professionals, breed 1000 stud horses, hold auctions and international and domestic professional races.

The Hong Kong buyers were on hand but the Jockey Club was restricted to five lots at the first two sessions for $1,465,000; George Moore bought four yearlings for $1.42 million. Anton Koolman was also buying for HK owners, and his five yearlings cost $1.07 million in conjunction with Hermitage Bloodstock. They will race in NSW.

The turnover on the first two days was staggering. A total of $75,310,000 (up 32 per cent) was spent and the average went up 36 per cent from $221,734 last year to $302,450.

The two stallions generating the huge dollars were naturally Coolmore’s Fastnet Rock and Arrowfield’s Redoute’s Choice, which are serving phenomenal broodmare bands in Ireland and France respectively.

Fastnet Rock had 33 sell for $21,240,000 (average of $643,636), and four of his yearlings were among the eight to fetch $1 million-plus.

Redoute’s Choice had the top-priced lot, Black Caviar’s half-brother from Helsinge, which brought $5 million. He was one of 20 yearlings by the latter which accumulated sales of $13,105,000, averaging $655,250.

Snitzel had his first $1 million yearling when Dr Edward Bateman and wife Belinda took a fancy to a colt. Snitzel’s average for nine yearlings was $352,222.

Breeders to excel included Bruce Neill’s Cressfield stud, near Scone, and Kia Ora Stud, which is owned by Malaysian billionaire Ananda Krishnan and also in the Hunter.

Cressfield had three yearlings sell for seven figures, highlighted by the River Dove colt, which sold to Emirates Park’s Trevor Lobb for $4 million. Kia Ora sold the Fastnet Rock x Dream Play colt for $1.5 million to Coolmore and the China Horse Club, and then James Bester went to $1.55 million for the filly by Fastnet Rock from Mani Bhavan.

Peter Moody signed for five lots for $2.2 million, while John Hawkes, who is in line to train the two top colts, spent $1.94 million on five lots.

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Champions deserve only recognition

Back at Royal Randwick and with a champion’s presence on Saturday, does it get any better?
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Headquarters is the field of scintillating memories, and Black Caviar, in the T.J. Smith, promises to add to them if Peter Moody deems to get her hooves wet should the circumstances arrive.

Black Caviar carries the title champion but that doesn’t satisfy many. ”Better than Tulloch and Kingston Town” has been mentioned but how can a sprinter, untested beyond 1400 metres, be compared to the two most effective over considerably longer journeys?

“Obviously Black Caviar is a champion. But as a racing fan I am left with a slightly sour taste with the way she is constantly and unnecessarily mollycoddled, and protected from possible defeat and injury,” emailed Jason Keegan.

“Moody has stated if the track is wet this Saturday he may scratch. I understand the desire to protect her unbeaten record but as I am sure you would agree a true champion does not skirt the strongest competition nor the most difficult conditions against such.

“So what if she lost? It will not diminish her memory. Allan Border is remembered as a true champion because he performed so gallantly against the mighty West Indies and the great and most fearsome fast attack of all time. There are many more similar sporting analogies. Her finest victories are when she defeated Hay List in the T.J. Smith and the Newmarket when we had a real contest. I do not remember many of her other victories.”

However, Moody, on Racenet, was defensive regarding the depth of performances from her 24 straight wins for which the trainer has been the catalyst: she has rarely been out of the comfort zone in distance, track condition and well-being. This is more credit than criticism.

”She’s now beaten 35 individual group 1 winners, and they have [yet] to beat her,” Moody said. ”We’re not talking shit saying that. She’s beaten Golden Slipper winners, Cox Plate winners, Caulfield Cup winners, she’s beaten them all. I’m respectful of that, and if they’re not respectful of her, that’s their issue.”

Saturday’s Randwick reopening after $160 million spent on a grandstand and the ”Theatre of the Horse” should be another chapter in the remarkable history of what was described by British author Nat Gould in the 19th century as “one of the finest racecourses in the world” and “a place where the secretary has succeeded in his endeavours to keep loose women off the course”.

Great past events at Randwick come to mind.

In 1879, the Australian Jockey Club gave permission for Siegfried Franck to test the first pari-mutuel (tote) at Randwick. It operated on the AJC Plate, and was won by hot favourite Chester, a champion.

Hopefully, Black Caviar backers get a better dividend. Punters who invested a pound on Chester received only 18 shillings back, and the state government barred the tote and threatened legal action against Franck.

Randwick has always brought the best out in jockeys as well as horses. Consider 1969 when George Moore won 15 of the 29 races staged at the Easter carnival, then at its rightful home.

Moore and his partner in success, Tommy Smith, would have attempted to hatch a plan, all fair and above board, to bring Black Caviar undone.

Certainly not to the degree of the most infamous Randwick ride, by Mel Schumacher on Blue Era, when he impeded Summer Fair with an iron-like grip on rival Tom Hill’s leg in the 1961 AJC Derby.

It appears unlikely any rival will get close enough for long enough to Black Caviar to get any sort of grasp, but at the worst she will fare better than Shannon in the 1946 Epsom. Shannon, too, looked unbeatable to take his second Epsom, but was left at the open barrier and beaten a head. The circumstances instigated one of the wildest Randwick demonstrations seen against Darby Munro. Later the starter admitted liability for the calamity.

Finally, in 1947, barrier stalls were installed at Randwick.

Tulloch and Kingston Town showed their greatness and durability in the Randwick autumn.

On April 5, 1958, Tulloch beat Prince Darius by 20 lengths in the St Leger (2800m). Four days later, he notched the All Aged Stakes (1600m), accounting for Doncaster winner Grenoble, and on April 12 the Queen Elizabeth (2200m).

Kingston Town followed his Tancred (2400m) triumph on March 29, 1980, with the AJC Derby on April 7 and Sydney Cup five days later. Incidentally, Kingston Town was beaten only once at Randwick when pocketed down the straight in the 1982 Chelmsford. Jockey Malcolm Johnston cried after the defeat.

When weighing up the greats, ponder on this advice: “Champions don’t deserve to be compared, just recognised.” – Bart Cummings.

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‘You’re just not Australian’: actor’s audition spoof wins audience

‘It’s Oarstraylian for beer’ … Brian Guest takes the piss, quite literally, in a fun online video aimed at Australian actors.It’s now the oldest, and least funny, joke in Hollywood: an Australian walks into the casting room… .
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For almost a century – from Errol Flynn to Rod Taylor, Mel Gibson and Nicole Kidman – Australian actors have held pride of place on Hollywood’s billboards.

But 2013 sees Tinseltown under attack from an almost unprecedented Aussie invasion.

As Fairfax reported last month more than 20 Australian actors have been cast in US pilots this year.

But this week, a lone American actor struck back. Brian Guest, whose credits include small roles in Southland, Hawaii 5-0 and Torchwood, produced a short for the comedy website Funny Or Die.

In it he plays an American actor who, frustrated by the lack of American roles on American TV left for American actors, turns the tables on the Aussie invaders.

“You’re doing great work, you’re just not Australian,” his agent tells him in one scene.

It’s a gentle parody, and it even has a few Aussie actors in on the joke.

The casting assistant in the film is played former Neighbours actress (and Jason Donovan’s sister) Stephanie McIntosh.

And the Aussie actor at the audition Guest hopes to trump is played by Andrew Lees, an Australian actor best known for a starring role on Nine’s Rescue: Special Ops. He also had a role in the HBO miniseries The Pacific.

The clip has gone viral, and caught the attention of Australian media, who are bemused by the reaction of one of Hollywood’s own at the prospect of a full-scale Aussie invasion.

No less than five former Home and Away actors – Luke Mitchell, Bob Morley, Chris Egan, Lincoln Lewis and Luke Bracey – have booked gigs in US television pilots this year.

Rachel Griffiths, Rodger Corser, Dena Kaplan, Tim Pocock, Tom Green, Rachael Taylor, Miranda Otto, Bojana Novakovic, Jacki Weaver, Anthony LaPaglia, Rebel Wilson, Adelaine Kane, Toni Collette, Meegan Warner, Daniel Henshall, Rick Donald and Melissa George have also booked pilots or series.

Every January and February the US networks cast more than 70 drama and comedy pilots, from which perhaps only a few dozen will get the green light.

The successful pilots, and some that are undecided, are screened to international programmers every May at a week-long event known as the “May screenings”.

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On board: verdict on Gaddafi’s $697 million luxury liner

I am taking in 180-degree views of the sparkling Mediterranean while sipping on a stiff gin and tonic that has been served to me by a strikingly tall Ukrainian lady, who looks as if she was previously a supermodel.
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Life doesn’t get much more glamorous than in the exclusive Top Sail lounge in the Yacht Club section on the 16th-level of the newly-launched luxury cruise ship MSC Preziosa.

And I am very lucky to be here. The man who was supposed to have been enjoying the views of distant Barcelona and the top-shelf drinks is none other than the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi and his cohorts.

The MSC Preziosa was originally ordered and designed by the deposed Libyan regime leader’s son Hannibal and was under construction in St Nazaire in Brittany when Gaddafi was toppled in 2011.

Italian billionaire Gianluigi Aponte, whose Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) Cruises is now the third-largest cruise company in the world after having been formed only just over a decade ago, stepped in and snapped up the half-finished vessel and had it finished to MSC specifications.

Out went Gaddafi’s plans for a massive shark tank to dominate the fifth-floor atrium; in went a glittering staircase and a Hyatt-style glass elevator.

Christened late last month at a glittering black-tie ceremony in Genoa, the MSC Preziosa was sent off on her maiden voyage by veteran actress Sophia Loren, the “Godmother” of the MSC cruise fleet, to music conducted by the great composer Ennio Morricone.

The new-look Preziosa, which will start life doing seven-day cruises visiting Naples, Messina, La Goulette in Tunisia, Barcelona and Marseille, has a total of 1751 cabins and can host up to 3500 guests at any one time.

At 330 metres long, more than the length of three football pitches, she has a top speed of 24 knots. She is the 12th ship in the MSC Cruises fleet and the fourth Fantasia class vessel.

The Preziosa cost $697 million to build and has four swimming pools, 26 lifts (still not enough at peak times), a mini bowling alley, and no fewer than 21 bars and restaurants over 18 decks. It feels less like a ship and more like a city afloat.

The exclusive Yacht Club suites, originally conceived as the Gaddafi family’s private quarters on board, are just 69 in all and home to the movers and shakers on each cruise. These guests sip their drinks, barely getting their lips wet, as a pianist in the lounge tinkles unobtrusively in Richard Clayderman-style.

Those staying in the Yacht Club enjoy cabins with walk-in wardrobes, full bathrooms with bath and showers (and towels that are replaced twice daily on request), a complimentary mini bar, balcony or panoramic views and room service. There’s king-sized bed with Egyptian cotton sheets, widescreen TV and a reserved area in the ship’s Aurea Spa facility, operated by Balinese therapists.

Yacht Club guests also have their own private pool and jacuzzis on the bow of the ship, unlimited alcohol and canapes, and are served high tea each afternoon, while a daily paper from your home country is delivered to your cabin each morning. Everything a dictator could wish for, really.

There are private butler and concierge services as well, should you need another selection from the pillow menu or to book a shore excursion. Concierge Maria, an Italian who speaks six languages, organises my visit to Carthage and Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia, while butler Jeannot, from Madagascar, is on hand to help should I need escorting to the Palmeraie restaurant on the first night of the cruise.

Rather bizarrely, the Palmeraie, the dedicated restaurant for Yacht Club guests, is at the stern of the ship – several hundred metres away. No one seems to have an explanation for this – maybe it was a Gaddafi foible.

The food throughout the ship has a largely Mediterranean vibe – and many of the chefs and waiters are Italian, although there were crew from 48 different nations on board the inaugural cruise.

The boast is “the flavours and aromas of the Mediterranean”, which seemed to please most guests, with the possible exception of a stern group of Russians and their pneumatically-enhanced companions, who spent much of their time in the small smoking section of the Top Sail Lounge apparently fearful that the world was about to run out of cigarettes.

The rest of us enjoyed the 120-metre-long Vertigo water slide (the longest on any ship), and nightly entertainment offerings as diverse as bingo and the on-board casino to a 4D cinema, wine bar and the Eataly restaurant – the first afloat – which highlights artisanal Italian dishes like roast veal with vegetable couscous and organic Italian wines.

There are black-tie dinners on board for those who enjoy a bit of pomp, but plenty of options for those who do not – and meals from the two buffet restaurants are on offer 20 hours a day. There’s shopping and dancing – and also the chance to switch off. I missed one early morning appointment because I was still fast asleep.

There are children’s clubs and facilities for when mum and dad need a break and there is the choice of organised excursions at each port, or self exploration. Naples is grim but fortunately Vesuvius, Pompei, Capri and Sorrento are all close by; while Messina is a jumping off point for Toarmina and Etna, although I just took a train to the delightful seaside resort of Giardini.

Choose from historic Carthage or Medina, or both, in Tunisia, while both Barcelona and Marseille, the European capital of culture for 2013, are stunning in the spring.

As someone who can be seasick on the Manly ferry, I found the Preziosa wonderfully stable. The lift queues were sometimes annoying, disembarkation needs attention and I would have liked more choice of TV channels. These, however, are minor quibbles about a very special experience.

Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed by Libyan rebels in late 2011. No doubt many of them objected to his luxurious lifestyle. His son Hannibal survived but fled to Algeria. I, meanwhile, ordered a cocktail and thought how fortunate I was.

Photos: On board the MSC Preziosa

The writer was a guest of MSC Cruises and Emirates Airways.

Seven-night Yacht Club class cruises on board the MSC Preziosa start from $2369 per person including priority check-in, butler service, complimentary drinks and al a carte dining. For bookings and introductory offers contact MSC Cruises at

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Sydney gets real-time train apps

In train: Real-time apps take the uncertainty out of commuting. Photo: Louise Kennerley Sydney train commuters are now able to track in real-time how far away their train is with smartphone apps.
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State Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian unveiled six updated apps on Thursday that will have the real-time capability, which makes use of markers on stations that will receive information from trains, and then pass it on to the apps.

The release of up-to-the-minute information about where trains are on the network follows the release late last year of real-time bus information.

Before Thursday, Sydney public transport apps had been limited to providing published train timetables. But – as commuters know only too well – trains often arrive well outside their scheduled time.

“This government has been committed to providing customers with more information and the launch of these real-time train apps follows the successful roll-out of the real-time bus apps in December which have so far been downloaded more than 1 million times,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“The train apps mean customers will know when to leave work or home to meet their train at the station and also provides the information customers need to make decisions about their journeys,” she said.

Each of the six apps – TripGo, Triptastic, TripView, Arrivo Sydney, Hidden City and TransitTimes – offers different features for customers and there are free versions as well as versions costing up to $2.99. The apps are available from the iTunes Store, Google Play and the Windows App Store.

The apps will initially provide real-time train location information for trains on the Western, Bankstown, Inner West, Northern, Cumberland, Airport and East Hills, South and North Shore Lines as well as the Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra Line to Heathcote.

The six apps have been developed in conjunction with app developers who won a competition organised by the NSW Government. Transport for NSW said it would continue to work with the developers to further improve and expand the information provided for future releases.

with Jacob Saulwick

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When a dinner complaint got out of hand

Jamil Hossan, who claims he was stabbed in the hand with a skewer at Hot Chilli restaurant, Lakemba. Photo: Sahlan Hayes Restaurant stabbing
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Jamil Hossain clearly remembers what he ordered for his five friends at the Red Chilli restaurant in Lakemba after celebrating Bangladesh’s Independence Day on March 31.

“Eight naan, two roti, a vegetable dish, a lamb and chicken curry and a beef vindaloo,” he said.

It was to be a sumptuous meal after a day celebrating his country of birth’s struggle for nationhood, when it seceded from Pakistan in 1971.

But little did the 47-year-old father of three think he would end up on the end of a tandoori skewer.

“The skewer went right through, it had to be operated on and I still have it wrapped in bandages,” he said.

Mr Hossain spent the night at Sydney Hospital , which specialises in hand and eye injuries.

“I was scared and very frightened,” he said.

On Wednesday, Campsie police arrested the owner-chef of Red Chilli, Rehana Mati, who will face Burwood Local court on May 2 on a charge of reckless wounding.

Pakistani-born Mr Mati, 43, declined to comment when contacted by Fairfax Media.

Mr Hossain, who won a Canterbury Council Citizen of the Year Award in 2010 for his community work in local cricket, said he will never eat at Red Chilli again.

“It was the first and will be the last time I go there. It was a terrible end to a truly wonderful day,” he said.

Mr Hossain said after celebrations at Wiley Park, their group arrived at the restaurant at 9.30pm but had to wait half an hour to be served, then almost another hour for their food.

Mr Hossain said the dispute arose after they asked how much longer their food would take to be served.”

“It was unbelievable. There were only two other customers. We politely asked the waitress where our food was.”

Mr Hossain’s group, who he says weren’t drinking as “we are Muslims”, felt intimidated and left the restaurant before calling police.

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Elegant masterpiece comes with a man shed

Home work: Architect Roger Nelson’s renovated three-level St Kilda West home has a roomy interior and a tropics-inspired garden. The home in St Kilda West.
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The home in St Kilda West.

Attention!: The five-bedroom 61 David Street, Preston, was once a Salvation Army barracks.

61 David Street, Preston.

Entertaining: This riverside home at Hawthorn is family-friendly.

This riverside home at Hawthorn.

Creative: A feature pond by Ola Cohn at the house built by Marcus Martin.

1A Wellington Street, Brighton.

740 Burwood Road, Hawthorn East.

222/299 Queen Street.

Known for his work on city landmarks such as QV, the Melbourne Convention Centre and the redevelopment of Myer’s Bourke Street store, architect Roger Nelson has turned his attention to a smaller-scale project – the sale of his St Kilda West home.

Nelson is the principal of NHArchitecture, which at present is involved in projects including the redevelopment of the Margaret Court Arena and part of central Christchurch, in New Zealand.

He and his wife Jane, who have four adult children, bought the house, which dates from the early 20th century, in early 2004 and completed a ”major overhaul” of the property – including the addition of new bathrooms and repolishing of the floors – two years ago. They’re now upsizing to accommodate the extended family on a single site.

The three-level property at 327 Beaconsfield Parade features up to five bedrooms, including one they use as a library, and a loft bedroom, or home office, on the top floor.

The first floor features open-plan living and dining areas leading to a balcony and bay views, while the ground floor has a back family room that opens to extensive decking and a tropics-inspired garden with fish ponds. There’s also a ”man shed” built into the home’s north wall.

The property goes to auction at 1.30pm on May 4, with expectations of $2.9 million-plus. Graeme Wilson, of Wilson Agents, is handling the sale.

Family gem by the river

Builder Renato Virgona, of Virgon Constructions, has listed his riverside Hawthorn house for private sale with an asking price of $3.75 million, after it failed to snag a buyer via expressions of interest.

Mr Virgona built the three-level property at 5 Muir Street about five years ago. It has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, formal and informal living areas as well as a home cinema or rumpus room and a gym. There’s also a three-car garage, pool and spa, and a child-friendly garden.

Sam Wilkinson, of Kay & Burton, is handling the sale.

History and society style

The former South Yarra home of prolific mid-20th century society architect Marcus Martin will be auctioned at 12.30pm on April 27.

The property, 240 Walsh Street, was built by Martin, who died in 1981, as his residence about 1935.

Previously listed for private sale, the property comes with an Edna Walling-designed walled garden and a central feature pond designed by Ola Cohn.

Jock Langley, of Abercromby’s, is quoting $2 million-plus.

If the walls could talk

Its uses have been many and varied – from a Salvation Army barracks to palais de dance and gospel hall – but the building at 61 David Street in Preston, which dates from the early 1890s, has more latterly been used as a home.

It has five bedrooms, including a separate guest bedroom or retreat with its own balcony, open-plan living and dining area with a central aquarium and a double garage.

Listed for auction at 11.30am on April 20, Andrew Montalto, of Hocking Stuart, is quoting $950,000 to $1.05 million.

Fame and charm

You might recognise this Brighton property from its appearances in housing magazines and television commercials, including ads for Country Road and Tassal Salmon.

The house of interiors stylist and social worker Jo Neal and her venture capitalist husband John, 1A Wellington Street has been refurbished since they bought it five years ago. ”We ramped up the charm,” says Ms Neal, who describes it as ”Beatrix Potter-style”.

Only metres from the beach, the two-storey house has four bedrooms, five living areas and a second-storey deck. The garden, which has featured in the Open Garden Scheme, includes a trampoline, swimming pool, chicken coop and even a small citrus grove.

The house is for private sale. Kate Strickland, of Marshall White, is asking $2.89 million.

Big kids at the back

The Hawthorn East house of internet pioneers Rod and Liz Keys was designed to provide space between parents and their adult offspring by including a self-contained two-bedroom apartment at the back.

The Keys, directors of Total Internet, bought the Victorian-era property at 740 Burwood Road about eight years ago and in 2012 completed the apartment above the carport for the elder two of their three sons.

But with work commitments requiring a move closer into the city, they’re selling it with expectations of $1.5 million-plus.

Apartment aside, the main house has three bedrooms, a separate sitting room, open-plan living and a deck.

Scott Patterson and Judy Balloch, of Kay & Burton, are overseeing an expressions-of-interest campaign closing at 5pm on May 7.

Grand city views

Eye surgeon James La Nauze is selling his inner-city property as he looks to spend more time at his other house in central Victoria.

Mr La Nauze bought the property at 222/299 Queen Street more than five years ago and extensively reconfigured and renovated it.

”[It’s] created even more of a sense of space,” he says.

On the 22nd floor of the Nonda Katsalidis-designed Republic Tower, the three-bedroom apartment features a two-storey glass-walled void with city views, a home office or upstairs retreat and two carparks on title as well as access to common facilities such as a gym, swimming pool and sauna.

Anton Wongtrakun of Dingle Partners expects $2.5 million-plus. Expressions of interest close at 5pm on April 30.

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

Let us keep dividend, RBA urged Swan

Treasurer Wayne Swan asked for a $500 million dividend from the RBA, saying it was ‘‘appropriate’’ that taxpayers receive the payment. Photo: Andrew MearesThe Reserve Bank projects it will have $550 million available for distribution in the 12 months to June 30, a year after it was forced to hand the government almost half its earnings against Governor Glenn Stevens’s wishes, documents show.
Nanjing Night Net

Mr Stevens urged Treasurer Wayne Swan to forego a dividend from the RBA for the year to June 2012 to allow the governor to rebuild a buffer drained by the high currency.

‘‘This would be consistent with your earlier agreement to this approach to begin the process of restoring the balance of this Reserve,’’ Mr Stevens wrote in a July 13, 2012, letter to Mr Swan released today under a Freedom of Information Act request by Bloomberg News.

Mr Swan rebuffed the request, and asked for a $500 million dividend from the RBA, saying it was ‘‘appropriate’’ that taxpayers receive the payment.

The conflicting claims reflect the impact a higher local currency is having on Treasury, where tax receipts are weakening, and the central bank, which has lost money on its international assets.

‘‘The position of the Reserve Bank has been complicated by the strong Australian dollar and the fact that it keeps going higher and higher,’’ said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors. ‘‘Paying the government a dividend isn’t a problem in normal times, but if difficult financial conditions fall on the economy it may restrict the central bank’s ability to provide assistance.’’

In a February 8, 2013, letter from the RBA to Treasury, the central bank said it projected earnings of $863 million for the year to June 30, 2013, with $550 million of that available for distribution as a dividend in the following financial year or to credit the Reserve Fund.

‘‘Exchange rates, in particular, can fluctuate widely over time and may have a significant effect on the bank’s profits,’’ RBA Assistant Governor (Corporate Services) Frank Campbell wrote in the letter to Treasury.

‘‘Although the bank currently records unrealized gains so far in 2012-13, if the Australian dollar appreciated over the remainder of 2012-13 unrealised losses may be recorded.’’

The Australian dollar traded at $US1.0520 this afternoon, up 1.6 per cent from the $US1.0353 level on February 6 that was used by the RBA when making its projections for distributable earnings in fiscal 2013.

The forecast distribution available noted in the February letter was $413 million higher than a September projection, Mr Campbell wrote. He said the Reserve Fund’s ‘‘balance remains below a level consistent with the board’s policy for this Reserve, which is to target a balance of 10 per cent of assets at risk.’’

A 10 per cent appreciation in Australia’s dollar could result in an unrealised loss of about $3.43 billion, he wrote.

The Reserve Fund, which provides the capacity for the RBA to absorb losses, stood at $1.9 billion in February, Mr Stevens told a parliamentary panel in Canberra on February 22. He said that when the central bank held between $6 billion and $7 billion ‘‘that was roughly at the target at the time.’’

In Mr Stevens’s July 13 letter to Mr Swan, he wrote: ‘‘The board seeks your approval to transfer all of the bank’s distributable earnings in 2012 to the Reserve Bank Reserve Fund.’’

In a reply dated August 28 from Mr Swan to the governor, the Treasurer said ‘‘the government believes it is appropriate that tax payers receive a dividend from the Reserve Bank where circumstances permit.’’

‘‘However, I agree it is prudent that the Reserve Bank work towards replenishing the Reserve Bank Reserve Fund, and for this reason should retain a portion of its 2011-12 profits,’’ Mr Swan wrote in the letter.

The Reserve Bank Act states that the central bank’s owner, the Australian government through the treasurer, determines how much of the earnings available for distribution will be taken as a dividend. After paying the dividend to Treasury, the RBA had $596 million of its earnings in 2011-12 left to top up its Reserve Fund, according to its annual report published in September.

‘‘My preference would be to keep all of it, frankly, until we rebuild the capital, but it is the treasurer’s prerogative to decide,’’ Mr Stevens told lawmakers in Canberra on February 22. ‘‘In the current situation he was quite amenable to us keeping more than half of the earnings available for the year, but he wished to take the 500 dividend. That is his prerogative, and he is perfectly entitled legally under the acts to do.’’


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