Monthly Archives: May 2019
Back to back Country Championships would be the ultimate swan song for veteran trainer Greg Bennett.
The day after the $400,000 race is run, he is shutting down his Scone stables to take up a role at Queensland-based breeding facility, Aquis Farm, and he’s keen to go out with a bang.
Bennett has three strong changes for the Hunter and North West Country Championships qualifier at Scone on Sunday – a race he won last year with Clearly Innocent who then went on to claim victory in the final.
Leading the charge is All Summer Long who is back for a second tilt at the title.
The Snippetson gelding qualified for the final after finishing second behind Clearly Innocent last year, but was scratched.
“We decided straight away we’d like to target this race again so he has been held back on purpose,” Bennett said.
“We gave him a good long spell after his last preparation and I am very happy with where he is at now.”
Tommy Berry Greg Bennett and – Bradleys
He ran a strong race for second in the Country Championships Prelude at Scone on February 17.
He lumped 62kgs in that race and won’t know himself when he drops down to 56kgs as a class three horse in a set weights race.
“He gets in good at the weights and with a trial and two races under his belt, he is cherry ripe,” Bennett said.
“All we need now is a soft surface and a barrier inside eight to give him the best chance.”
Invienna is also back for round two after finishing fourth in the Scone qualifier and fifth in the wildcard.
“She was really unlucky not to get into the final last year,” Bennett said.
“Obviously she had Clearly Innocent and All Summer Long to contend with at Scone and was caught wide at Muswellbrook.”
Invienna was only a length behind the winner in the Country Championships Prelude while carrying 61kgs. In the start before that she recorded an impressive win in a Class 3 1100m race at Scone while carrying 62kgs.
She too will appreciate a turnaround in the weights, dropping to 57.5kg in the Country Championships.
“She’s race fit and is deserving of a spot in the final,” Bennett said.
“She needs a good surface and will try and settle midfield but that plan might have to change when the barrier draw comes out.”
Sassaby rounds out the Bennett trio and while his last run yielded a disappointing result, he says it should be forgotten.
“He’s stripped fitter for the run and I’m happy with him.
“It’ll be a good strong race though. There are more than a few smart horses in the mix,” Bennett said.
Things are pretty great … as long as this is where you work. Photo: UnknownThree Sydney districts contributed nearly one-quarter of all the growth in ‘s economy last financial year as inner-city job hubs power ahead of the rest of the nation.
New analysis of district-level economic performance has revealed huge variations across the country.
Sydney’s CBD area, the inner northern suburbs and the Ryde district together delivered 24 per cent of gross domestic product growth in 2015-16, research by consultancy group SGS Economics and Planning shows.
All three districts are within Sydney’s “global economic corridor” which arcs from Macquarie Park through the CBD to Kingsford Smith airport. Many high value, knowledge-intensive industries have clustered in that corridor including finance, IT, professional services, engineering, research, healthcare, marketing and media. The Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury district also registered very strong growth.
Terry Rawnsley, an economist at SGS Economics and Planning and the report’s author, said the city’s booming construction and finance industries underpinned the strong performance.
“Inner Sydney is not only driving the Sydney economy but also the national economy,” he said.
Inner Melbourne also stood out – it contributed 11.4 per cent of ‘s GDP growth last financial year.
But the report warned that the disparity in growth rates across the country was now greater than at any time during the mining boom.
The economies of five statistical districts in regional NSW contracted in 2015-16 including Riverina (-0.6 per cent), Murray (-0.5 per cent) and the Central West (-0.3 per cent)
While there were patches of strong economic growth in Western Sydney, it was hampered by the ongoing decline in manufacturing, one of the region’s major employers. Manufacturing’s share of Sydney’s economy hit a record low of 5.7 per cent in 2015-16.
Mayfield nurse Alison Wright . . . ‘Within the first two or three treatments I was starting to feel better already.’ Picture: Jonathan CarrollI can sense Greg Cleveland’s burden, his 51 years of suffering, when I meet him at a Newcastle cafe. He is tall and thickset, but his every word, every laugh and gesture, is careful, muted, as though he is secretly deactivating a bomb while he talks.
The Adamstown Heights man is a long-term migraine sufferer. He was first diagnosed and hospitalised in Scone at age seven, 12 months after being involved in a car accident. By the time he wasa teenager, they became severe enough to make him throw up. Sometimes they literally leave him tearing his hair out. Not surprisingly, he has sufferedfrom depression.
Somehow he found the strength to complete an engineering degree at the University of Newcastleand workaround as a consultant and project manager. Wherever he went, the headaches went with him.
“I remember my wife came home one day and thought I’d had a heart attack,” he says. “I was on the floor. I couldn’t move, and it was because my headache was that bad.”
Now 58, Cleveland has tried “everything you can think of” to find relief: neurology, chiropractic medicine, brain scans, X-rays, massage, acupuncture, medication.
“I’ve been suffering basically on and off for 51 years. There’s heaps of people that claim to be able to cure headaches.”
His is a harrowing story. It doesn’t have the happy Hollywood ending: there is no miracle cure. But Greg has found a good deal of relief in the past two months – enough to make his life “manageable” – since his GP referred him to Damien Cummins, one of a handful of physiotherapists in who specialise in treating headaches using manual therapy on theupper neck.
“I was getting two to three bad migraines a week, to the point where they were debilitating,” Clevelandsays.“So I had an appointment with him, and basically right from the very first treatment there was a marked improvement in my migraines.”
Greg Cleveland has been living with migraine headaches for 51 years. Picture: Michael Parris
He says he still gets headaches – “he never promised to cure me” – but they are less frequent and far less severe.
“I suffer from depression. I went to my doctor and said, ‘Do you know what’s going on? I have a good job, good house, good family. I have nothing to be depressed about.’ And she said it was just from putting up with pain for so long.
“If I woke up with a headache previously, by the end of the day I’d be that crook that I wouldn’t be able to drive or do anything. Now I can do a few exercises and by lunchtime or mid-afternoon it’s faded.
“I was a bit sceptical when I went because I’ve been to that many people. You just grin and bear it. You get to the point where no one’s going to help and this is just the way it is and there’s people who are a lot worse off than I am.But it’s improved my life to the point where I can start doing more stuff in my time off.In the old days it would be get home, take more than the prescribed dose of tablets and then go to bed and not move. Now I can go home and still function.”
Cummins has been focusing on headache treatment for the past five years and set up the Newcastle Headache Clinic as an offshoot of his Mayfield physio practice.
A fit, angular 47-year-old with an enviable sweep of dark hair, he talks excitedly about his work, leaning forward, imploring you to share his enthusiasm.He is quick to point out that he is no miracle worker, that his clinic is one of several treatments available to patients, and that he can’t help everyone, but even Newcastle pain specialist Dr Anthony Schwarzer says his colleague has a “specialability” for diagnosing and treating headaches through manual therapy.
“We see amazing results with some people who are struggling,” Cummins says. “The person often doesn’t realise their neck is such a big part of the problem. And it doesn’t seem to matter how chronic the condition is.”
He and Dr Schwarzer presented a talk to Hunter doctors on Tuesday about establishing a pathway for treatment starting with GPs, via physiotherapy assessment and therapy and then on to pain specialists if the manual therapy does not work.
Cummins, who is undertaking his own research through the University of Newcastle, says there is “slowly mounting evidence” suggesting a link between neck stiffness or tenderness and many headaches, and that manual therapy can help.
He says research has showed that about 20 per cent of headaches are cervicogenic, or neck-related, and that manual therapy can offer clear benefits in these cases.But clinical practice is indicating that such treatment can also help migraine sufferers if their neck is one of the triggers for their pain.
“What we think is going on is the brain stem is sensitised, so the brain stem gets signals from the upper three neck joints, as well as signals from lots of other places.
“There’s some early research that’s coming out that we can use neck mobilisation – we can normalise the neck movement – and it can have a desensitising effect on the brain stem. We don’t know how it works yet.
Damien Cummins at his Mayfield physio practice . . . ‘You just change their lives. It’s unbelievable. It’s great. It’s fun.’ Picture: Jonathan Carroll
“Neurologists treat this sensitisation with the use of medications to desensitise the brain stem. That’s established. We know migraine is to do with this sensitisation issue, but we didn’t know that the neck treatment can have a desensitising effect. There’s reallystrong evidence to suggest we’re having an effect on the nervous system. We just don’t know why.”
DrSchwarzer, who trained as a rheumatologist and pain specialist, has a PhD in spine medicine and a masters degree in pain management from Sydney University. He is aformer senior lecturer in anatomy at Newcastle University and has fellowships with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Faculty of Pain Medicine in then and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and the Australasian Faculty of Musculoskeletal Medicine. He is also an original member and former president of the US-basedSpineIntervention Society. It’s fair to say he knows what he’s talking about.
He says Cummins has developed a special interest in the management of neck pain and headaches and is seekingto add a scientific foundation to his work.
Dr Schwarzer, whose research on spinal pain has built on the work of celebrated Newcastle spinal pain specialist and anatomist Dr Nikolai Bogduk,regards Cummins’ treatmentas a valuable option for some of his patients.
“He’s helped in the management ofpatients with neck pain and headaches,” Dr Schwarzer says. “He sorts out whether the patient is mechanically responsive. If he gives them relief long-term, they stay with him. If it’s short-term, then he can actually identify a source of pain we can do something more with using injections and other treatments.”
“Likewise, if I do the nerve blocks and radiofrequency treatment, which we offer for neck pain, they’ll come back to Damien for further treatment.It was probably not mainstream 20 years ago, but it’s probably more sophisticated and accepted now.
“Damien is enthusiastic about ensuring what he does is backed up and validated by my diagnostic work.”
Dr Schwarzer says most specialists in the field are keen to avoid long-term medication and invasive procedures when possible.
“They would all be supportive of what he [Cummins] does. I don’t know how many of them know he exists, to be honest. Again, they would have the view that anything to avoid surgery would be the way to go.”
Another of Cummins’ patients, Katerina Mudd, a 54-year-old legal assistant from Maryland, says her headaches had turned her into a “cranky pants”, avoiding family events, movies, restaurants and her musician sons’ concerts. She was taking Voltaren every few days to alleviate her symptoms, but the pain would cycle back. Her doctor referred her to a neurosurgeon, who in turn suggested physiotherapy as a first alternative to desensitising injections in her neck.
“I left his office that morning and I rang Damien’s office as soon as I got out the door. I was desperate. I really needed something that day. I was disappointed I didn’t get a jab, but I know you have to try other things.
“I still had a headache when I went and saw him the next day. The day after that I woke up and there was no headache. I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘Oh my god. I’m so onto a good thing here.’
“And then the first eight days I went four times. Each time I went it felt better and better and he gave me exercises to do, which I did religiously.I’m over the moon. I haven’t had a headache since.”
Mudd, who has arthritis in her fingers, feet, shoulder and neck, says the treatment has transformed her life.
“I can look over my left shoulder now when I’m driving. Just the little things that bring joy to my psyche now, whereas before it was like, ‘I can’t–I’ve got a headache. I can’t do this and I don’t want to do that and I don’t want to go there, and I don’t want to go to the movies because it’s too loud.’
“It’s unbelievable, and I said to my husband, ‘I wonder how many people out there are suffering?’ We need to get it out there.”
Cummins has trained under n physiotherapist Dean Watson, the founder of the Watson Headache Approach and a researcher at Perth’s Murdoch University.
He says he is far from a saviour, despite the messianic way some of his patients talk about him.
“I’m not. There’s other people who can do this, and the goal is to train other physios. I’m training other people at work, and they’re gettingbetter at it.I’m treating 40 necks a week, and that’s all I’m doing.”
Charlestown neurosurgeon Dr Richard Ferch says he often sends patients to Cummins due to his specialisation and expertise.
“Headaches are commonly associated with neck problems, and treatment of the neck problem can improve the headaches, and surgery doesn’t generally improve them,” Dr Ferch says.
Mayfield nurse Alison Wrightsays it did not occur to her there could be a link between her neck pain and headaches until a GP colleague suggested she see Cummins.
The 38-year-old had an operation two years ago on a shoulder she injured playing rugby, then began to feel increasing pain in her neck. About the same time she started to suffer regular headaches, from behind her left ear to her left temple.
“I was probably taking at least a day off work a month. I was having them a couple of times a week. I thinkwithin probably the first two or three treatments I was starting to feel better already, hadn’t had a headache for probably a couple of days. He’s able to manipulate a spot and replicate a headache. He’ll push a spot and I’ll go, ‘Yep, that’s it.’
“I even get the occasional migraine which is actually completely on the other side of my head, and I must say I’ve had nowhere near the occurrence that I’ve had since we started doing this.”
Wright, whodoes her daily neck exercises sitting at traffic lights on the way to work,says she is down to monthly visits to the clinic and Cummins is “weaning me off him”.
Cummins says he can tell within four or five visits if his treatment is working.
“You can’t help everyone, either. It’s not like a cure-all.If we can’t change anything in four or five goes, you’re wasting your time. I usually say, ‘I’ll sack myself from treating you.’But with many patients certainly there is a clear effect. You just change their lives. It’s unbelievable. It’s great. It’s fun.”
“He’s able to manipulate a spot and replicate a headache. He’ll push a spot and I’ll go, ‘Yep, that’s it.’
“It was all related to that musculoskeletal positioning. He had me doing strengthening exercises and realignment, and it’s just been amazing.
“I even do get the occasional migraine which is actually completely on the other side of my head, and I must say I’ve had nowhere near the occurrence that I’ve had since we started doing this.”
Alison, whodoes her daily neck exercises while sitting at traffic lights on the way to work,says she is down to monthly visits to the clinic and Cummins was “weaning me off him”.
Cummins says he can tell within four or five visits if his treatment is working.
“You can’t help everyone, either. It’s not like a cure-all.If we can’t change anything in four or five goes, you’re wasting your time. I usually say, ‘I’ll sack myself from treating you.’
“But with many patients certainly there is a clear effect. You just change their lives. It’s unbelievable. It’s great. It’s fun.”
Winning return: Ben Looker returns to the winner’s stall with Art D’Amour after the gelding produced a stunning run to win Friday’s Country Championship Preview at Scone.Unbeaten four-year-old Art D’amour will be chasing his fifth win in a row when he lines up in the $150,000 Hunter and North West Country Championships qualifier at Scone this Sunday.
The Cody Morgan-trained gelding is coming off a strong first-up win in the 1300m Country Championships Prelude at the same track on 17 February.
He missed the start and sat third last for most of the race but flashed home to snatch the win from All Summer Long who was runner-up in the 2016 Scone Qualifier.
“That run exceed my expectations,” Morgan said.
“I thought 1300m would be too far, especially first up, and I would have been happy with a top five finish.
“He’d had enough by the time he hit the line but he has this incredible will to win.”
Distance is the only query for Art D’amour heading into the 1400m Country Championships qualifier.
He is a small horse who prefers 1200m or shorter but for Morgan, a shot at the Country Championships was too good to pass up.
“It’s a $150,000 restricted race and there have been plenty of 1000m and 1200m horses who have given it a go and performed well,” he said.
“He has his whole career to drop back if this doesn’t work.
“I’m hoping natural improvement will help him find the line strongly.”
Morgan decided to aim Art D’amour at the Country Championships after his hard-fought win over 1150m at Newcastle last November.
“I’d always thought he would be a 1000m horse but when he won sitting outside the leader I thought we could have a chance,” he said.
“I had a runner in a maiden on Country Championships day last year and I stuck around all day to watch the qualifier. I’m a big fan of Clearly Innocent and he had a huge win. It was a great atmosphere.”
Morgan concedes Greg Bennett’s horses will be hard to overcome but remains upbeat about his chances.
“For Art D’amour to win I think he will need to be in the second half of the field,” he said. “He isn’t strong enough to sit in the first few and kick away against good horses.”
“Missing the kick last start actually helped him by enabling a soft run.”
A former jockey, Morgan rode more than 150 winners during his four-year apprenticeship but like many, was forced to give it away when he was unable to keep his weight under control.
Shortly after that, he applied for his trainer’s license and has being doing that from his Tamworth base for the best part of the last decade.
He stills rides a lot of his own trackwork though and says it’s a great advantage.
“It’s handy to ride every day because it gives me a better understanding of the horse and allows me to notice any changes or issues,” he said.
He also broke Art D’amour in.
Owners, P & L Moore, took the horse to Morgan’s stables after they purchased him from the Scone Inglis Yearling Sales for $14,000.
“They’re great people,” Morgan said.
“I’ve done a lot of breaking in for them but this is the first time they’ve entrusted me with a horse to train.
“They’ve been very patient with Art D’amour and allowed him to flourish in his own time.
“He is very small but he is very fast and tries very hard.
“He is constantly surprising us and maybe he will again in the Country Championships.”
The Xperia XZ Premium has a lot going on. Photo: SonyAt Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Sony has unveiled the Xperia XZ Premium, a monster of a phone that seems designed purely to fit as many high-end specs as possible into a single handset.
The Premium is a bigger, bolder version of last year’s XZ flagship, adding a 5.5-inch screen that can display 4K and HDR content and covering the whole thing in a mirrored chrome finish (not unlike 2015’s Z5 Premium, which was the first phone to pack a 4K screen).
Driving the huge number of pixels is the brand new Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (which should also make it compatible with the new generation of super-fast mobile internet) and an Adreno 540 graphics processor, backed by 4GB of RAM and a big 3230mAh battery, but Sony spent most of its energy promoting the device’s new camera.
Dubbed ‘Motion Eye’, the system behind the 19MP Exmor RS sensor can capture video in a ridiculous 960 frames per second, making it the first mobile phone capable of producing super slow-mo. For context, most phones can shoot as fast as 240fps.
The camera also has ‘predictive capture’, which apparently starts capturing images before you’ve even hit the shutter button to make sure you get the shot. It also has the same triple sensor array and hybrid autofocus first seen on the standard XZ.
The Premium is plated front and back with Gorilla Glass 5, and on top of the new screen, internals and camera it packs many the same features as the standard XZ, including the rounded-edge ‘loop’ design, Hi-Res audio, water resistance and adaptive charging.
While it remains to be seen if consumers need or even want the level of screen resolution or cinematic fidelity offered by the XZ Premium, Sony hedged its bets by also introducing updates to its mid-range line. The two Xperia XA1 phones — one with a 5-inch screen and one with a 6-inch — keep the XZ aesthetic but feature considerable lower specs.
Local pricing and availability is yet to be confirmed.