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Moscow opposes more sanctions to isolate Tehran

MOSCOW: Further sanctions against Iran would be counterproductive, Russia’s top diplomat has said, rejecting pressure for a tougher stance against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.The remarks by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, delivered at the side of the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, appeared to undercut hopes that Moscow might agree to additional steps that would isolate Iran.”We believe … all efforts must be focused on supporting the negotiating process,” Mr Lavrov said. ”Any sanctions and threats in the current situation will, in our view, be counterproductive.”Mr Lavrov admitted the odds of reaching a diplomatic settlement with Iran ”might not be 100 per cent” but insisted chances were still strong.However, his language – ”at this stage” and ”in the current situation” – left open the possibility that the Russian position could change in the future.A US State Department official briefing reporters travelling with Mrs Clinton, who is visiting Russia to discuss a range of issues, said that the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, had told her in a separate meeting that if Iran failed to allow full inspections of a previously undisclosed nuclear site and fulfil other agreements struck in Geneva, new sanctions should be imposed.Many analysts now believe that Russia is exactly where it wants to be: in between the West and Iran, enjoying the lobbying and attention of both sides. ”Being in this position of having America trying to get Russia on board makes Russia look important and equal, a strong nation,” said Masha Lipman, a political analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Centre.”If Russia delivers, it’s losing an important trump card. So Russia is consistently avoiding making firm and formal commitments on Iran.”There were reports in the Russian media that the White House had agreed it would no longer criticise Russia’s democratic failings while it courted its support on Iran.The United Nations Security Council has already imposed sanctions on Iran in each of the last three years. Russia has long been wary of responding to Iran’s nuclear program with additional sanctions. Moscow has extensive trade relations with Iran. Hopes that Russia would take a more forceful tone with Iran were raised last month after US and UN officials revealed that Iran was building a previously undisclosed facility to enrich uranium.Mr Medvedev said that ”in some cases, sanctions are inevitable”. The remark encouraged some US officials to conclude Moscow might be inching towards a tougher line on Iran’s nuclear program, which Iran insists is designed for peaceful purposes but many in the West fear will lead to the production of nuclear weapons.Mr Medvedev’s stern statement came shortly after the Obama Administration said it had decided to scrap planned missile shield installations bound for Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia had called repeatedly on the US to drop the planned sites, which it regarded as a threat.The decision to revamp the missile shield plan was widely regarded as a concession to Moscow. Many analysts believed it was the first part of a quid pro quo under which Russia would strike a tougher stance on Iran’s nuclear program.Los Angeles Times, Guardian News & Media, Bloomberg
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Brown ready to boost Afghan force

LONDON: The British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is prepared to send extra forces to Afghanistan despite rising opposition to his country’s military presence. Under pressure from military chiefs, he will say he has agreed to send 500 more soldiers to join the 9000 deployed.FULL AFGHANISTAN COVERAGEMr Brown is likely to set a number of conditions to deploying the extra forces, including NATO training of Afghan civil and military personnel, upgraded equipment and a firmly established new government.Britain has the second-largest NATO contingent in Afghanistan behind the US, and the additional forces would bring the British presence to about 9500, which is the highest level since the US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban in 2001.The move follows a series of meetings of the cabinet’s Afghanistan and Pakistan committee, attended by military chiefs and senior ministers. They have been held in parallel with meetings in the US, where the President, Barack Obama, is also under pressure to send more troops.Mr Obama said on Tuesday he would decide in ”coming weeks” whether to meet the request of the US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, for reportedly up to 60,000 more personnel.The decision on reinforcements is only one aspect of his review, Mr Obama stressed. Other components include building civilian capacity in the country.The British Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, has described the decision as difficult, saying the extra troops must be properly equipped. On Tuesday, a committee of MPs criticised the Ministry of Defence for not providing adequate armoured vehicles.Military commanders say more forces are needed in areas captured from the Taliban.Mr Brown is expected to tell the House of Commons that he has agreed to send the troops subject to three conditions: that they are properly equipped; that when Hamid Karzai is, as expected, declared winner of the recent presidential election, he promises to deliver ”Afghanisation” of the security forces; and that there is co-ordination with other NATO countries.Guardian News & Media,Agence France-Presse
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From Italy with love: Mussolini was a spy

ROME: History remembers Benito Mussolini as a founder member of the original Axis of Evil, the Italian dictator who ruled his country with fear and forged a disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany. But now a previously unknown area of Il Duce’s CV has come to light: his brief career as a British agent during World War I.Archived documents have revealed that Mussolini was a 34-year-old journalist when he got his start in politics in 1917 with the help of a £100 weekly wage from the British intelligence agency, also known as MI5.Mussolini’s payments were authorised by Sir Samuel Hoare, an MP and MI5’s man in Rome, who ran a staff of 100 British intelligence officers in Italy at the time.A Cambridge historian, Peter Martland, who discovered details of the deal struck with the future dictator, said: ”Britain’s least reliable ally in the war at the time was Italy after revolutionary Russia’s pull-out from the conflict. Mussolini was paid £100 a week from the autumn of 1917 for at least a year to keep up the pro-war campaigning – equivalent to about £6000 a week today.”As well as keeping the presses rolling at Il Popolo d’Italia, the newspaper he edited, Mussolini also told Hoare he would send Italian army veterans to beat up peace protesters in Milan, a dry run for his Fascist blackshirt units.”The last thing Britain wanted were pro-peace strikes bringing the factories in Milan to a halt. It was a lot of money to pay a man who was a journalist at the time, but compared to the £4 million Britain was spending on the war every day, it was petty cash,” said Mr Martland.”I have no evidence to prove it, but I suspect that Mussolini, who was a noted womaniser, also spent a good deal of the money on his mistresses.”After the armistice, Mussolini began his rise to power, assisted by electoral fraud and blackshirt violence, establishing a Fascist dictatorship by the mid-1920s.His colonial ambitions in Africa brought him into contact with his old paymaster again in 1935. Now the British foreign secretary, Hoare signed the Hoare-Laval pact, which gave Italy control over Abyssinia.Deposed following the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943, Mussolini was killed with his mistress, Clara Petacci, two years later by Italian partisans while fleeing Italy in an attempt to reach Switzerland.Guardian News & Media
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US senator crosses great divide on health

WASHINGTON: The chances of Barack Obama achieving a near-universal health-care system – and the most significant extension of the US social safety net since the 1930s – have dramatically improved after a lone Republican voted with Democrats for a compromise proposal.There are many steps in the convoluted legislative process still to come, but Senator Olympia Snowe’s willingness to support the bill developed by the Senate finance committee gives the President a much better chance of gaining the 60 votes he needs to pass a bill in the Senate.Politically it gives him at least a modicum of bipartisan support for what he hopes will be the big achievement of his first term.Describing the bill as a milestone, Mr Obama thanked Senator Snowe.”Now, this bill is not perfect and we have a lot of difficult work ahead of us,” he said. ”But I do believe the work of the Senate finance committee has brought us significantly closer to achieving the core objectives I laid out early in September.”The Baucus bill, named after the Democrat head of the committee, Max Baucus, is different from the house bill and another Senate version as it does not include a public insurer option but proposes a co-operative, non-profit entity to compete with private insurers and offer subsidised health care to the uninsured.The idea of the co-op – similar to a credit union in Australia – is to drive down premiums in the private market, too. But many liberal Democrats and the unions argue nothing short of a publicly owned insurer will be truly able to provide competition to the huge private health insurance companies.The White House has also been stressing its plans to prevent insurers from denying cover on the basis of existing conditions.Senator Snowe and her fellow senator from Maine, Susan Collins, were always considered the Republicans most likely to support expansion of health care. But Senator Snowe made it clear her support was not guaranteed at the final vote – it depends on what happens to the bill during negotiations between the two chambers – and Senator Collins is yet to declare her hand.”Is this bill all that I would want? Far from it,” Senator Snowe said on Monday. ”But when history calls, history calls, and I happen to think the consequences of inaction dictate the urgency of Congress to demonstrate its capacity to solve the monumental issues of our time.”The Baucus bill is now likely to emerge as the preferred option. The next stage is for it and the other Senate version to be combined, which will be a painful process for the Democrats. The Senate will then meet with the House to harmonise a final bill to be put to a vote. The White House is hoping the President can sign it before the December recess.
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Panel voices fears as unlabelled GE canola hits shelves

FOR the first time, locally produced genetically engineered canola is entering our food chain.From oils to margarine, baby food to snacks, muesli to dairy products, GE canola oil can be found in many processed foods, but consumers are oblivious to what food it is in.A report released by Greenpeace last September said there was only one year left to stop the potential GE contamination of canola, and tonight, as part of the Sydney International Food Festival, a public forum will explain its concern about GE foods.The forum, called ”Out of the Frying Pan” will hear from the food writer and activist John Newton, the author Dr Carole Hungerford, the Greenpeace campaigner Rochelle Porteous and the chef Alex Herbert.Ms Porteous said the risk of locally grown GE canola becoming part of Australia’s oil supplies was a critical issue.She said there were concerns about health problems, sustainability and biodiversity, apart from agricultural contamination. ”There hasn’t been any long-term tests on the impact on human health,” she said.”There have been a number of studies that have shown GE food to have serious health impacts on the immune system.”We have studies that show over 90 per cent of Australian consumers want to know exactly what’s in their food.”Alex Herbert, from Bird Cow Fish in Surry Hills, is one of more than 180 Australian chefs to sign the Genetically Modified Free Chefs Charter opposed to serving genetically modified or engineered foods in their restaurants.The charter calls on the Federal Government to legislate for the compulsory labelling of all GE foods, as well as encouraging the NSW Government to reinstate its suspension on growing GE canola.Ms Herbert said as the long-term implications of planting GE crops were unclear, people should not rush to plant something which may have negative consequences in 10 or 15 years.The author of Good Health in the 21st Century, Dr Carole Hungerford, said there could be health implications for gut bacteria if GE food was consumed regularly.”I believe that man’s ingenuity can sometimes outrun his common sense,” she said.”The genes from GM foods can get into the gut bacteria and the gut bacteria is the most critical thing.”Sixty to 90 per cent of your immune system is in your gut.”Dr Hungerford said the best defence against the increase of allergies and auto-immune deficiencies was to keep gut bacteria healthy.
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Boss supremely confident on Irish Lights but Ryan backs Melito

THREE-TIME Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Glen Boss won’t hear of gun Victorian filly Irish Lights being beaten in Wednesday’s group 1 Thousand Guineas at Caulfield. But Sydney trainer Gerald Ryan warns not to drop off his star filly, Melito.Irish Lights is set to start a short-priced favourite and Ryan is at a loss to comprehend how Melito, a winner of the Furious Stakes before running second and fourth to More Joyous in the Tea Rose Stakes and Flight Stakes, has eased alarmingly to be at double-figure odds before today’s final field declaration and barrier draw.”I can’t believe we are out to as much as $15,” Ryan said yesterday.”Last month we were favourite for the race. Irish Lights has looked good winning in Melbourne, but Melito certainly hasn’t gone backwards.”She wasn’t suited on the wet track in the Flight Stakes, but she still ran well. The Thousand Guineas is a race we’ve been aiming her at after Sydney and I couldn’t be happier with her. She travelled to Melbourne last Tuesday and has settled in great. Corey Brown will ride her and there’s no reason she can’t win. A decent barrier would be nice though.”Boss has been on the David Hayes-trained Irish Lights in her two runs back from a spell with both resulting in strong-finishing victories. Resuming at Flemington, Irish Lights gunned down speedy filly Avenue, which trainer Peter Moody said was bound for the Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington on Victoria Derby day after blitzing rivals at Caulfield at the weekend.”Irish Lights has always promised to be something special,” Boss said. ”At her first start in a race she ran second to Rostova and that filly was flying at the time. Irish Lights was right up high in the betting to win the Blue Diamond at one point but by the time that race came around she’d had enough, didn’t pull up the best.”Craig Williams had been on Irish Lights in those two runs, but Boss said he kept in contact with Hayes in an attempt to snare the ride. ”She looked the filly to me that was going to make a three-year-old,” he said. ”She’s by Fastnet Rock and I know about him having ridden him. I thought his progeny would make it as three-year-olds and she is going the right way. She is maturing all the time.”Boss said he thought Irish Lights was a deserving favourite in the Thousand Guineas as ”the form around her looks very strong”.”She’s beaten a class filly like Avenue on her merits and beat her easily,” he said. ”And the fillies she competed against in the Thousand Guineas Prelude are pretty much the same ones she’ll be racing against again on Wednesday.”She was dominant in that win and she’s going just as good now as she was then. I think she can win.”Randwick trainer Anthony Cummings will send around Flight Stakes runner-up Sister Madly in the Thousand Guineas with Blake Shinn to ride. ”She blundered on that wet track the other day and it cost her a bit of ground,” Cummings said yesterday. ”A return to a drier surface will suit her and the form around More Joyous looks good.”
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Alcopop the one to add a little fizz to carnival

Alcopop, from Victor Harbour in South Australia, is set to become the Aussie battler, not only against the overseas invaders but also Melbourne Cup giants Bart Cummings, Lloyd Williams and Lee Freedman. Broken in rounding up cattle and used as a polo pony, Alcopop, named in frustration after about 16 earlier submissions were knocked back, the gelding produced dazzling figures to take the Herbert Power Handicap at Caulfield on Saturday. “The last Melbourne Cup winner to come out of the Herbert Power was Rogan Josh, rating 113, but Alcopop produced 115,” reported Gary Crispe, who does the highly regarded Timeform ratings in Australia. His finishing sectionals were brilliant at the end of the 2400 metres, indicating a dash of freak. Breeder, part-owner and trainer Jake Stephens said the five-year-old might not run before the Big One and pointed out he had left improvement in Alcopop. “He has an astronomical power-to-weight ratio and while he is not a heavy horse, he puts in 110 per cent,” Stephens said. While millions are spent trying to find a Melbourne Cup winner, Alcopop is out of Iota Of Luck, a no-account mare, but has a Cup link being by Jeune. Alcopop also won at Morphettville on Melbourne Cup day last year. No doubt big-timers will be trying to jock the Mauritius-born Dom Tourneur off Alcopop. Stephens, though, is adamant Tourneur will retain the ride although the hoop has had more experience at outposts such as Marble Bar and Gascoyne Junction than Flemington. HAPPY VALLEY Perhaps they raced on vastly different tracks but Alcopop in the Herbert Power on good to firm ground was equally as impressive as Speed Gifted’s overwhelming Metropolitan effort in the Randwick slop the previous Saturday. Alcopop had won the JRA Cup at Moonee Valley but Valley form is treated with caution. Still, Avenue’s blitz at Caulfield on Saturday confirmed credentials established previously at the Valley. Incidentally, Lee Freedman, trainer of Speed Gifted, mentioned at Caulfield that his advice from Britain regarding Speed Gifted was that he didn’t handle the wet. PAYNE GAIN The Michelle Payne touch was justifiably acclaimed for her effort on Allez Wonder in the Toorak at Caulfield on Saturday. While hard-luck stories abounded and a bunched finish made the form suspect, that special gene that makes the Payne family fine horse-people and honed to perfection by their youngest came to the fore. And on Saturday at Rosehill another example of it came to light. God’s Hand, which attacks the winning post like an acrophobic approaches the Gap, was given every chance by Brenton Avdulla but wouldn’t hit the line. The last time God’s Hand scored, his first success for more than a year, was under Michelle Payne in February after which four others have attempted to get the same result without any joy. PROTEST WORRY Victoria has gone soft on the new whip rules but the possibility a protest by rival connections can be upheld is very much alive. Following the edict by Russell Lewis, chairman of the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board, that penalties concerning the whip debacle were “manifestly excessive”, the chief steward down south, Terry Bailey, said the national guidelines would be hard to enforce. Little action was seen on the whip front at Caulfield on Saturday but Ray Murrihy, the Racing NSW chief stipe, continued his vigilance at Rosehill. Murrihy doesn’t like the protest rule but is bound to enforce it. But he’s aghast at the Victorian soft-penalty policy, pointing out on the ABC’s News Radio Weekend Half-Time at the Races yesterday, that the only reason the win-at-all-costs attitude has been tempered in the Golden Slipper is because of harsh fines and penalties. HORSE TO FOLLOW Apache Cat showed that the horsepower of his prime hasn’t diminished when runner-up to the record-breaking Lucky Secret in the Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday. Obviously the 1000 metres was too short but looking at him before the race, Apache Cat still had scope for improvement. DISAPPOINTING The highly rated Trusting , lacking anything like his normal finish, failed in Saturday’s Caulfield Guineas. Perhaps he was lame after cooling down but jockey Craig Williams reckoned he couldn’t feel anything amiss when he pulled up after the race. WINNERS & LOSERS ‘I was getting very much to the point that I was going to end up in a hole.’Jockey Dom Tourneur, rider of Alcopop, which triumphed in the Herbert Power at Caulfield on Saturday, recalling when his life ran off the rails.
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Ollie keeps his head at the crucial moment

The serious part of the spring carnival started pretty much as everyone expected. There were some messy scenes in the tunnel that leads from the track to Caulfield’s corporate marquees – known here as The Vomitorium – and Whobegotyou won the Yalumba Stakes.Impressively enough to stamp him a clear-cut Cox Plate favourite? It depended whether you thought Damien Oliver’s brilliant thread-the-needle ride had flattered the four-year-old cult figure or merely enhanced his not quite imposing three-quarters-of-a-length victory.But as the connections of runner-up Heart Of Dreams and third-placed Vision And Power made it known Whobegotyou would be easier to hunt down than he is to pronounce at Moonee Valley, trainer Mark Kavanagh could enjoy the warm glow that comes with having a horse which will have the chance to prove he is either very good or an out-and-out champion.”It’s great to have a headline act,” said Kavanagh, who once seemed likely to be remembered as the trainer who endured that harrowing Caulfield Cup when the bloodied Maldivian returned to the mounting yard after being injured in the barriers. Two years later, with Maldivian to run in this week’s Caulfield Cup before trying for back-to-back Cox Plates against his stablemate, that day seems a distant memory.If Kavanagh and Whobegotyou moved towards the elite, Oliver’s ride would set the trend for a day that would be as much about the riders as the horses. And not, as the confusing pre-spring arguments had suggested, the number of times they flogged a live horse.Oliver’s 2000th victory – his first was on Mr Gudbud at Bunbury in 1988 – was about nerve, not sheer force. ”I took a punt,” he said of his decision to wait for the shaft of light that finally appeared. ”Sometimes you’ve got to put your head on the chopping block and hope the guillotine doesn’t come down.”With his 86th group 1 trophy on the mantlepiece, Oliver knows better than most how to keep his head. Michelle Payne, the youngest of 10 children and the eighth jockey from a legendary Ballarat racing family, has not had many opportunities to show she could avoid the sharpest blade.Her moment of truth would come as Allez Wonder turned for home in the Toorak Handicap with momentum, and the exquisite timing of Bart Cummings, on her side. About 400 metres later, Payne had coasted to her first group 1 victory, enjoyed the prospect of riding a genuine Caulfield Cup contender and would be the subject of the funniest line of the spring so far.”She’s a pretty little thing and she rides all right,” said the 81-year-old Cummings when asked about Payne’s performance.From anyone else’s lips, that might have inspired the feminist version of the blackface skit outrage. But given Cummings trained the winner of the same race in 1966, he enjoys the same leeway with politically incorrect language that senior citizens get with tricky gadgets and highway speed limits.For those who did not see Allez Wonder’s blistering midweek gallop – the type of gallop you hear about only after a $41 shot has won – Cummings’s big moment was supposed to have been in the Caulfield Guineas with So You Think, alongside fellow Sydney stars Denman and Manhattan Rain.Instead, as jubilant connections turned the mounting yard into a post-race mosh pit, Starspangledbanner, trained by Cummings’s long-time foreman Leon Corstens, did more than Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize to restore America’s international reputation.Starspangledbanner’s victory was a defining moment for the long-overshadowed Corstens, who backed himself to get a horse that had been misfiring ready to take on the nation’s best three year-olds. It was also a nice earner – from both the $600,000 prizemoney and the now greatly enhanced stud value – for the many, including Makybe Diva’s renowned owner Tony Santic, who own anything from a hoof to a strand of mane.The jockey was again at the centre of the story, although Danny Nikolic, who is re-establishing himself after a stint in Mauritius, was lost in a heaving pile of celebrating owners.Which might have brought an eventful day to a riotous conclusion. But then came a barnstorming run in the Herbert Power Handicap of a Melbourne Cup bolter, Alcopop, which was ridden by a once down-and-out bush jockey with a name (Dom Tourneur) like a more affordable version of the French bubbly and owned and bred and trained by restaurateur Jake Stephens.It shapes as the perfect story for the first Tuesday in November.And, as you made your way back past the Vomitorium, Alcopop might also be the first missed omen of a taxing month.
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Oliver closes in on another cup triumph

HALL of Fame jockey Damien Oliver is warming to his chances of winning a record-equalling fifth Caulfield Cup on Saturday to match the legendary Scobie Breasley.Oliver will ride the Luca Cumani-trained English raider Cima De Triomphe and after partnering the grey in a workout at Sandown last Friday he has no doubts the horse has the talent to give the $2.5 million race a shake. ”He is quite an impressive horse,” he said.Oliver was taken by the win of the Jake Stephens-trained South Australian stayer Alcopop in the Herbert Power Stakes at the weekend and was relieved to hear the horse was not in the Caulfield Cup.”That makes everyone else’s job easier,” he said. ”It is lucky Alcopop is not in the race, he is the horse on the up and he keeps doing everything right.”Oliver has had an association with Cumani over the past two spring carnivals. He rode Purple Moon to a second placing behind Efficient in the 2007 Melbourne Cup for the trainer and then rode Mad Rush for the stable in last year’s Caulfield and Melbourne cups. Cumani also brought over Bauer last year with that horse winning the Geelong Cup before a close second to Viewed in the Melbourne Cup.”Luca is a great trainer and he knows what type of horses to bring over for the cups,” Oliver said.Cima De Triomphe was a winner of the Gerard Stakes at Sandown earlier this year and since then he has finished fourth to the world’s best thoroughbred, Sea The Stars, in the Coral Eclipse before another fourth, in the Arlington Million.Bart Cummings will have two runners in the Caulfield Cup with Toorak Handicap winner Allez Wonder to be joined in the race by Viewed. Michelle Payne, who scored her first group 1 win when partnering Allez Wonder in the Toorak, sticks with the mare while Viewed will be ridden by Brad Rawiller.”She [Payne] said she can make the light weight in the Caulfield Cup so she can have the ride again,” said Cummings, who after the Toorak win said Payne was a ”pretty little thing and she rides very well”.Allez Wonder is striving to be the first horse since Cole Diesel in 1989 to complete the Toorak-Caulfield Cup double.Cummings is favouring missing the Caulfield Cup with his AJC Australian Derby winner Roman Emperor to instead have a crack at the Cox Plate the following weekend. The trainer said he would chase another group 1 at Caulfield on Wednesday when Faint Perfume contested the Thousand Guineas with Michael Rodd in the saddle.Cummings’s son, Anthony, will saddle up Red Lord and Zavite in the Caulfield Cup while Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien will have two starters with 2007 winner Master O’Reilly backing up after a fourth in the Yalumba Stakes at the weekend. Former pre-post favourite Vigor will also run for O’Brien.”He was just not quite quick enough over the 2000 metres on Saturday but he’s starting to look well,” O’Brien said of Master O’Reilly. ”His coat is about to come and he’ll really relish the 2400 metres [of the Caulfield Cup]. Vigor pulled up well from his Turnbull run and with the weight drop [to 51kg] I’d expect him to be right at his top on Saturday.”Craig Williams has been booked to ride Vigor but he must successfully appeal a careless riding suspension in Melbourne this morning to be able to fulfil the engagement. Corey Brown and Glen Boss are in the running to take over should his appeal fail.Meanwhile, trainer Lee Freedman is still yet to decide if he will start favourite and The Metropolitan winner Speed Gifted in the Caulfield Cup or instead wait and try to secure a run in the Cox Plate as he pushes towards the Melbourne Cup.Speed Gifted has won three of his four starts since joining Freedman’s stables from Britain. He was penalised 2kg for the Caulfield and Melbourne cups after his The Metropolitan success and a win in the Caulfield Cup would attract another penalty for the Melbourne Cup.
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Boss supremely confident on Irish Lights but Ryan backs Melito

THREE-TIME Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Glen Boss won’t hear of gun Victorian filly Irish Lights being beaten in Wednesday’s group 1 Thousand Guineas at Caulfield. But Sydney trainer Gerald Ryan warns not to drop off his star filly, Melito.Irish Lights is set to start a short-priced favourite and Ryan is at a loss to comprehend how Melito, a winner of the Furious Stakes before running second and fourth to More Joyous in the Tea Rose Stakes and Flight Stakes, has eased alarmingly to be at double-figure odds before today’s final field declaration and barrier draw.”I can’t believe we are out to as much as $15,” Ryan said yesterday.”Last month we were favourite for the race. Irish Lights has looked good winning in Melbourne, but Melito certainly hasn’t gone backwards.”She wasn’t suited on the wet track in the Flight Stakes, but she still ran well. The Thousand Guineas is a race we’ve been aiming her at after Sydney and I couldn’t be happier with her. She travelled to Melbourne last Tuesday and has settled in great. Corey Brown will ride her and there’s no reason she can’t win. A decent barrier would be nice though.”Boss has been on the David Hayes-trained Irish Lights in her two runs back from a spell with both resulting in strong-finishing victories. Resuming at Flemington, Irish Lights gunned down speedy filly Avenue, which trainer Peter Moody said was bound for the Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington on Victoria Derby day after blitzing rivals at Caulfield at the weekend.”Irish Lights has always promised to be something special,” Boss said. ”At her first start in a race she ran second to Rostova and that filly was flying at the time. Irish Lights was right up high in the betting to win the Blue Diamond at one point but by the time that race came around she’d had enough, didn’t pull up the best.”Craig Williams had been on Irish Lights in those two runs, but Boss said he kept in contact with Hayes in an attempt to snare the ride. ”She looked the filly to me that was going to make a three-year-old,” he said. ”She’s by Fastnet Rock and I know about him having ridden him. I thought his progeny would make it as three-year-olds and she is going the right way. She is maturing all the time.”Boss said he thought Irish Lights was a deserving favourite in the Thousand Guineas as ”the form around her looks very strong”.”She’s beaten a class filly like Avenue on her merits and beat her easily,” he said. ”And the fillies she competed against in the Thousand Guineas Prelude are pretty much the same ones she’ll be racing against again on Wednesday.”She was dominant in that win and she’s going just as good now as she was then. I think she can win.”Randwick trainer Anthony Cummings will send around Flight Stakes runner-up Sister Madly in the Thousand Guineas with Blake Shinn to ride. ”She blundered on that wet track the other day and it cost her a bit of ground,” Cummings said yesterday. ”A return to a drier surface will suit her and the form around More Joyous looks good.”
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