GOVERNMENT MONEY FOR ALICE. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The NT Government will spend $3m on the Mereenie Loop Road and up to $6.2m – most likely $5m – on a pipeline taking treated effluent from the sewage plant to the Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) for irrigation projects during the next financial year.
This will reduce the flow of effluent into the Ilparpa swamp by 60 per cent in the first year, and lessen mosquito breeding and foul odours.
Power and Water is "within several months of an agreement" with a commercial user of the water for a horticultural project, planned for some of the AZRI land on the South Stuart Highway, according to P&W managing director Kim Wood.
In the meantime the water will be used for AZRI's own pasture.
Mr Wood says a proposal for injecting effluent into an underground aquifer for storage, and later re-use, is also "active".
This would free up some land currently taken up by the evaporation ponds, and take care of part of the purification process.
The land required would be 10 hectares instead of 50.
The primary treatment plant would cost around $2.5m.
CSIRO is assisting with the investigation.
Mr Wood says the town basin, from which irrigation water for parks is presently drawn, and the Mereenie basin, source of Alice Springs' water supply, are isolated from the proposed recycling basin and there is no risk of contamination.
Alice Springs properties are each using 1000 tonnes of water a year – double the national average.
P&W must stop all "dry weather" overflow into the swamp by the end of 2005.
Meanwhile work on the tourism icon linking Alice Springs with Ayers Rock "the back way", the Mereenie Loop Road, will start this year and cost $3m, the commencement of a $30m project.
The first task will be to "clear up the most unsafe parts of the road," according to Chief Minister Clare Martin.
Widening and sealing works will begin at either end of the road, starting at Hermanns-burg and King's Canyon.
Transport Minister Kon Vatskalis says: "This is a beautiful part of the Northern Territory that should be seen by as many people as possible, but at the moment, access is reserved only for those with a four-wheel drive.
"We want to open up this part of the world and make it a safe and enjoyable route to travel for locals and tourists."
SARS, WAR HAMMER TOURISM.
Sunbaking on an Aussie beach? Not quite. The water's a long way out for these two Swiss backpackers, recovering from a week of solid rain in Cairns … on the council lawns in Alice Springs.
But Michelle Peter (foreground) and Andrea Wolder are among a dwindling number of visitors in a tourist season hit by SARS and the Iraq war.
"The feeling on the ground is of great alarm and consternation," says CATIA's Craig Catchlove.
Occupancy at Ayers Rock Resort is at 40 per cent, when it would normally be double that (international visitation makes up 72 per cent of the resort's trade).
And in Alice Springs, drawing the Rock flow-on, the normal $170m annual earnings from tourism is likely to be slashed, says Mr Catchlove.
The second half of 2003 may still be saved if a cure is found quickly for SARS but if not, the year is likely to be a "total disaster". Decisions overseas about coming to The Centre are made this time of the year for the usual peak visitation between end of September and end of November, but chances are that this year people may well say: "It's all too hard.
"We'll stay home this year and go next year."
Mr Catchlove says next year is shaping up as "fantastic, for all those in the industry left standing".
VOLUNTEER FIRIES WILL ASK FOR A BETTER DEAL. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
Alice Springs Volunteer Bushfire Brigade will take advantage tonight
of the local sittings of Parliament to lobby the Territory Government
for a better deal.
Performing a vital service for the community, they receive basic funding to keep their fire-fighting vehicles on the road and equip their volunteers with some protective clothing.
The money hasn't increased in six years, despite the past two extremely busy fire seasons.
Additional money to pay for the toll on vehicles and equipment is being raised by the "vollies" themselves, passing round the hat in the form of donation tins, raffles and other activities, including this year's Volunteers' Ball.
Brigade Captain Richard Ball is reluctant to go public about the actual amount of their core funding, but believe me, it is tiny, especially when compared to the size of the task they have faced over the past two summers.
CONTROLThey are responsible, under the control of Bushfires Council, for fire-fighting within a 50 kilometre radius of Alice Springs Airport, excluding the town area.
Their work tends to be out of sight, out of mind, except when a pall of smoke comes over the town, but Bushfires Council's Neil Phillips says the volunteers have been "worth their weight in gold".
"We couldn't have done it without them – they've saved people's bacon a few times," says Mr Phillips.
In the last season (the 12 months ending October 2002) they fought 65 fires, putting in 1150 volunteer hours.
On top of that they spent 385 hours doing 16 hasard reduction burns. And then their other activities, not including fund-raising, took their total volunteer hours to 6000.
This season's efforts haven't been totted up yet, but Mr Ball remembers the weekend of November 17, when Owen Springs and Undollya were ablaze, as one of the worst, taking up 120 volunteer hours.
It's not all action though. The hours include training (all volunteers have to complete Level 1 of the nationally accredited Certificate in Wildfire Operations); fortnightly vehicle maintenance; and a lot of time at community events like speedway meets and the Finke Desert Race.
Even a wildfire can require little action, if, for instance, it is burning in inaccessible country.The fire-fighters' motto is often "Hurry up and wait", says Mr Ball.
The volunteers are very low key about their contribution and have no complaints about the fund-raising that they have to do.
"Some people do Rotary or Lions, we do Bushfires," says deputy captain, Mick Farrelly, while nonetheless saying that he thinks it's time for the government's contribution to go up.Mr Phillips says it's important that there be a volunteer effort in fire-fighting.
"Responsibility for fire-fighting ultimately rests with landholders, in other words with members of the community, so community involvement is healthy."The volunteering principle in fire-fighting is standard across Australia."
The government can do its bit, but the community can also dig deep.
While the fire seasons have been demanding, they seem also to have attracted people to the cause.
Some 15 people have put their hands up since last November.
That's good news but it costs over $200 to equip each one with protective clothing.BUDGET"If we get 30 extra volunteers, our budget's gone," says Mr Ball.
Making a special effort to keep in the black as well as to build a shed to store their gear, this year they've joined with NT Emergency Services to conduct the Volunteers' Ball on August 17 at the Convention Centre. It will feature the band "Rusted" and MCs Fiona O'Loughlin and Ray Rowe.Major sponsors are Desert Sounds, Bank SA, and Colemans Printing.
Lasseters Casino have donated an accommodation package as a lucky door prize; the Alice Springs Resort another, which will be one of the items put up for auction. Others include a football guernsey from the Collingwood AFL side, signed by all of this year's players, and a gold pendant necklace, donated by Hourglass Jewellers.
FLATS FIGHT: WHO'S RIGHT? Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
A furore over flats in Gason Street, previously owned by the NT Government, is the result of a "Chinese whisper", with the facts getting distorted the further they are passed down the line, according to a lawyer acting for the vendors.
John Stirk, representing Australian Property Projects (APP), says the sale of the 50 flats in the City Edge complex is on track.
But one buyer, Carrie Barlow, says the completion of the flats is delayed, and she and several others are being put under pressure to settle although the refurbishing work of the former Housing Commission dwellings is not completed.
She says the permit to occupy should not have been issued because the flats had – at the time of issue – not been completed to lock-up stage.
But David Cantwell, of Territory Building Certifiers, denies that.
"There are a number of things that don't have to be completed," he says.
"It is desirable for everything to be completed, not necessary.
"Painting and fencing, for example, don't have to be finished, but wet areas and health and safety issues must be completed, and they were at the time we issued the permit to occupy.
"All flats we certified were completed to lock-up stage."
However, the Alice News late last week saw wires sticking out of a wall of the main room of one of the flats, an apparent safety hazard.
Ken Patterson, of APP, says: "This is part of the procedure of getting the power onto the units by Power and Water.
"It is part of the certification of the wiring."
Mr Stirk says the sellers have fulfilled their end of the bargain by completing the structures to a point where permits to occupy could be – and have been – issued, followed by the issue of titles under the Unit Titles Act.
Mr Stirk says any minor works still outstanding do not invalidate the sales agreements, but are issues to be dealt with under obligations the sellers have during the "liability period".
The crime of statistics. COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.
There is a perception, whether correct or not, that the Berrimah Line is wider than it's ever been: that the Northern Territory Government spending is much greater in Darwin than in Alice Springs in all spheres, and that this expenditure is not proportionate to either our respective population bases or social issues.
The feeling is that because the Labor Government won the northern seats so easily in Darwin, that there is no real point trying to break the stranglehold that the CLP has always had in the Centre.
NT News headlines (April 15) read "Itinerants told by their own people: Go Home". Aboriginal elders and leaders from remote communities are going to visit Darwin and tell itinerants that they should go back to their own country: This is part of Minister John Ah Kit's strategy to combat the growing problem of (dare I write it?!) anti-social behaviour in town.
That particular item made the Weekend Oz "Shortcuts – 7 Days around the Nation" last week. The piece, "Street Cred Needed" began: " ‘They're an embarrassment' rings out the cry in the bijou downtown Darwin."
The NT Government has committed $500,000 to the project, which is very commendable, but there is no mention of such a program being introduced in the Alice.
Well, hello, northern most cousins, we've been battling with this particular problem for years, and our pleas have fallen on deaf ears – both Liberal and Labor ones.Some people are asking why mandatory sentencing isn't being re-introduced in the NT. The youth crime rate is high in both Alice and Darwin: the kids are out there abusing and threatening people, throwing rocks and damaging properties. It's no use quoting current crime statistics because, for whatever reason, they are not reflecting the true situation on the streets, and this issue has been debated far and wide. The real question is: What's causing this aggression in young people?
Peter Toyne has asked for positive comment, which is hard for the general public to give when we are not being informed of what steps Government is taking to try to overcome the problems. He tells us that there's been a huge drop in juvenile crime, that Juvenile Diversionary programs are working. Where is this evident?What is Government doing today about trying to direct the aggression on the street into positive energy, which can be used within the Alice Springs community?
The Sunday Terra's (April 13) headline "A Town Unlike Alice" with subheading, "Residents move on" was about Jodeen Carney's door-knocking experiences. Ms Carney related what she's being told, that people are leaving or thinking about doing so…
It's what makes the real estate industry in town so buoyant – some people leave, others arrive – but the damning thing is that we lose a lot of intellectual knowledge when long termers decide that they've had enough. Many newcomers, thinking that Alice is a short term strategy, decide that they don't want the commitment of on-going involvement in community activities, local politics, etc.
Some of those leaving may cite the wish to live near the coast, go fishing, enjoy a more clement climate but there's no doubt, people are talking about where else they might like to live if the violence, the use of foul language, the brazen "in your face" anti-social behaviour of the drunks and itinerants isn't capped.
Dr Toyne has challenged Ms Carney to come up with constructive plans instead of "talking down the town". For anyone to come up with anything constructive is a huge ask and task! The Government needs to be seen to be leading by example – and should be keeping the public aware of any new initiatives.
It's in everyone's interest to ensure that Alice Springs continues to grow and prosper. It's na•ve to assume that, by packing up and relocating, all social problems will magically disappear, but there is a perception out there, whether correct or not, that elsewhere there could be a better sense of safe-guarding a community, of people getting along together and preserving a lifestyle for everyone to enjoy.
In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy thought it could have been somewhere over the rainbow. In the Centre of Oz, where do we now think it could be?
Stuck in Rock traffic. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
The highways are long and the skies are big, but I made a pledge to myself not to write anything about driving for fear of making it sound attractive.
Heaven knows the car adverts spend enough time and money convincing us of that.
My pathetic little dream is that one day there will be a television commercial with a cool mock-African soundtrack (simple lyrics –‘"Zoom, zoom" or something) showing what a wonderful experience a bus ride can be. Or one featuring a bus using its enormously powerful and technical-sounding engine to drag a rock away so that a fair dinkum Aussie farmer can finish a fence.
Better still, how about a public transport advert billed as "A tribute to the bush" showing, yes, a bus trundling across this sun-parched land in a kind of sexy, metallic way and with a loud guitar soundtrack so that you can't hear the air brakes. We must have all seen adverts like this about cars.
In Germany, it is said that public transport is only for the three "As". When translated, these mean the poor, the sick and foreigners (mainly Turkish migrant workers). After my advertising campaign has been translated to German, even white men between the ages of 21 and 60 and with high disposable incomes would be seen using public transport again. In fact, it would only be a matter of time before everyone was absolutely convinced that buying a bus ticket was just about the trendiest, hippest thing you could do. In time, the world would be a better place. Zoom, bloody zoom, I say.Nothing compares with buses. But it was a hot summer and everyone's resolve gets broken in the end. You can get a bus to Uluru, but I drove. I hadn't been there before. It was a camping trip involving eskies and swags. We laid on the ground at night melting ice cubes on our foreheads, gazing at the moonlight and counting the hours until the beginning of the next sweltering day without air conditioning. Were we feeble and weak-willed? Yes.
Camping can sometimes be disappointing. But then again, if the alternative is the suburbs, then they hardly live up to expectations either. Surely there must be a "third way" that offers both the best of the suburbs and the best of camping in one neat package. Welcome to the monster that is the camper van, which neatly brings us back to driving, a subject that I was trying to get away from in the first place.
My trip to Uluru was full of minor incidents, but probably the most fascinating was the contrasting behaviour of people that I met. On the highway, some drivers waved so enthusiastically that it bordered on the frantic. I had to keep checking that the thongs of an innocent bystander had not become caught in the vehicle's rear wheel housing and that they were not still wearing them.
But after a while, I realised that these were just friendly people being extra-friendly. So I mustered up enough good cheer to return their waves all the way there.By the time we arrived at Yulara, I was looking forward to a good yarn with some of these uniformly chirpy people. But the strange part was that none of the guests at the campground even acknowledged that we existed. I tried to establish eye contact or exchange pleasantries, but they stared into the middle distance. I gazed admiringly at their tents and camper vans, but they ducked out of the way so as to avoid a conversation breaking out. No "g'days", no "how yer goings" and certainly no waves. Perhaps I just looked uninviting.
Whatever the reason, this is an unexplained phenomenon. It ranks with that ground-breaking book of last year about why Americans bowl alone (answer: communities are breaking down). Inside a car in remote Australia, people can be so cheery that if you pulled over they would probably slap your back and produce a four-course meal and a portable above-ground pool. Outside a car, they are reserved, shy, even miserable and they keep their distance.
Where is a psychologist when you need one? Clearly, I should have taken the bus.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Crime statistics Advocate style.
Sir,- In reply to your article (Alice News, April 23) on the crime rate in Alice Springs, an article in the Centralian Advocate of Thursday, April 24 was headlined: "New figures blast Toyne crime claim".
The article, by Jane McNamara, began, "There was a 32 per cent leap in Alice Springs crime last year, according to figures released by the Office of Crime Prevention".
There was also a cartoon to compound the embarrassment of Dr Toyne.
The actual figures released by the Office, as given later in the article, were:
• 962 assaults, a seven per cent decrease from 2001;
• 289 home break-ins, a three per cent increase;
• 266 break-ins of commercial properties or other premises, a 17 per cent increase;
• 239 motor vehicle thefts and related offences, a 12 per cent increase.
Assuming that these figures are correct, you can calculate the actual numbers of these crimes, and the totals, for 2001 and 2002.
The totals come to 1756 for 2002, and 1755 for 2001. The increase is one, or 0.057 per cent! The figure of 32 percent exaggerates it by 56,140 per cent. So where did the figure of 32 percent come from?
Here is my theory: Assaults, seven percent decrease, forget that, we're not interested in decreases.
The other categories, increases of 3, 17 and 12 percent – 3 plus 17 plus 12 equals 32. Eureka! A 32 percent increase!?
Lim's office a
Sir,- I look forward to your publishing this letter to demonstrate your political impartiality and your sense of honesty.
In your 23 April issue, you lead with the headline "Rally 'the biggest lie'; Toyne", and you wrote:-
"The flyer invites people to ring 8952 3666 for 'more details' – the number of Greatorex MLA Richard Lim's electoral (sic) office.
"The Alice News rang that number three times.
"The first time we got an answering machine.
"We left a message to ring us back, but no-one did.
"Two subsequent calls rang out."
You lead your readers to conclude that the office was a non-performer.
Should you be telling your readers that you rang my office on the morning of Good Friday, when it is almost certain that the office will be unattended on that holy day? In your own words of your message, you mentioned that it was Friday morning.
Not only did you misdirect your readers about ringing my office number, you had in your possession and publicly available, my home and mobile telephone numbers, which you have rung on many occasions.
For this important issue, which was to advise Alice Springs of the Law and Order Rally at 5.30pm, Wednesday, April 30 at the Convention Centre, you neglected to ring my other numbers to make contact with me.
Perhaps you were not really trying to make contact with me, but putting on an act that you were attempting to do so.
I believe you owe your readers an apology.
Dr Richard Lim
[Member for Greatorex]
ED – We conclude from Dr Lim's letter that he is the, or one of the organizers of today's rally, something not disclosed in the flyer. If he wanted to be phoned on his mobile he should have put the number on the flyer. He didn't.
Given the controversial and divisive nature of the rally Dr Lim should not have left his office unattended for four days. If he didn't want to ring us "on that holy day" he could have rung the next day, or the one after that, or on Monday.
We were working on all of those days. In fact he rang on Tuesday when, as he well knows, the Alice News had already gone to press.
We suggest he was avoiding answering some hard questions.
We think it is Dr Lim who owes the public an apology, not the Alice News.
Lim misleads Alice
on liquor restrictions
Sir,- Member for Greatorex Richard Lim has been exposed as a scaremonger and hypocrite over his recent attempts to undermine the trial on liquor restrictions in Alice Springs.
In an Opposition newsletter recently distributed in Alice Springs, Dr Lim claims that alcohol sales in Alice Springs may be restricted to beer only.
This ludicrous claim is nothing more than pure scaremongering. There is absolutely no truth in it.
Instead of making mischief, Dr Lim should get behind the community's efforts to minimise violence and anti-social behaviour caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
These restrictions are squarely aimed at reducing the anti-social behaviour of heavy drinkers. They are not about denying the general community the right to enjoy a drink.
Dr Lim is a hypocrite over his recent attacks on the trial of liquor restrictions.
Afterall, it was Dr Lim who chaired the original meeting in March 2001 which recommended that the Licensing Commission should implement trial restrictions on alcohol sales.
Dr Lim is also misleading Alice Springs residents with his claims that Minister for Central Australia Dr Peter Toyne extended the trial.
All decisions about the trial have been made by the Licensing Commission, a body independent of Government.
The trial period ended on 31 March 2003 – as originally planned.
However, the Commission has decided to keep the restrictions in place until after it has received a full report from the Evaluation Reference Group, which was set up to independently monitor the trials.
The group's report is due by 1 June.
While the trial restrictions have yet to be fully evaluated, it appears that they have brought about significant gains in terms of health and anti-social behaviour.
I urge Dr Lim to work with the community to reduce anti-social behaviour, instead of deliberately sabotaging their efforts.
NT Minister for Racing, Gaming and Licensing
CAIT WAIT'S PAINTINGS: STORY ABOUT GROG. Review by KIERAN FINNANE.
When artists portray other people, there are always questions to be answered about their relationship to their subject.
The questions are more acutely to the fore when the subjects are from cultures other than the artist's own and particularly when there is an imbalance in the power relationships between those cultures.Artist Cait Wait, who has had a long and important history in Central Australia and who is currently showing work at Araluen, has put herself in a position where these questions impose themselves and it's interesting to look at her strategies for answering them.
The subject matter for Skin, Bones & Overtones is drawn mainly from her experiences as a volunteer abroad, in the Central Pacific islands of the Republic of Kiribati, where she spent four years, and more recently, in Namibia, where she spent one.
There are also paintings of Aboriginal people and situations in Central Australia, where Wait first came in 1987. At Ltentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) she became the founding coordinator of Keringke Arts, which has gone on to make its mark in the Aboriginal art world. She worked in the community for six years.
Wait is still in close relationship with these artists and their community, working three days a week on a mural project for the church at Ltentye Apurte.
Paintings from Namibia dominate the present show and include its single strongest work, in my view. Interestingly "Last Chance Never Return – Ovamboland" is a work that is unlike the rest. It departs from the photographic style she has mostly favoured and adopts a story-telling stance.
Wait as the story-teller has painted herself in. The seat in the shade of a tree, opposite an emaciated man, which she might have occupied a moment before, is empty. She is exiting the stage, for this story anyway. The blue tinge to her skin denotes anxiety – this figure is far cry from the girl of languid yearnings in "Kiribati – Where do you go?" – and her look back into the painting suggests that it's not business that is easy to be finished with.
The rest of the painting, in a few strongly drawn elements, tells a story about grog, sex and AIDS, with a string of bars, prostitutes, prospective clients and the emaciated AIDS sufferer – the "stand-in" for millions of Africans.
Wait told me that she drove through a 60 kilometre stretch of "cuca" (grog) shops like these, counting over 90 establishments and recording their imaginative names, including those she has depicted.
She spent a frightening year in this environment, where her work to help establish a craft cooperative seemed to have little relevance, as all around her people were starving and dying of AIDS and TB, and where "social anarchy" reigned.
She cut short her contract and returned to the safe haven of Australia, but clearly has not forgotten what she witnessed.
In the other Namibian paintings of the show she chooses to "pay tribute", depicting her subjects in ways that emphasise their basic human dignity, but without context. The results are worthy but lack the power she achieved with "Last Chance…" and it's much harder not to fall into the domain of clichŽ when you abandon the specificity of context.
Having treated grog in the Namibian context, it's not surprising that Wait would feel that this subject imposes itself in Central Australia.
In "Under the Bridge – Stott Terrace, Alice Springs" there is context. Even without the title, all residents and many visitors would recognise the scene. However, Wait has employed a lot of distancing mechanisms in her depiction.
Instead of allowing the story (picture) to stand on its own, she has privileged design over story: the whole composition is encased in an African-style border of half-full, half empty wine bottles (not the obvious container to choose for this subject) and is organised in a centrally focussed, repetitive pattern.
The repetition of the narrative elements reduces their impact and it is not easy to read the significance of doing it this way. I thought that Wait may have been suggesting that the grog is drawing people into a vortex. However, the border, the colours, the style of her figures, the feeling of the painting all counteract such a reading.
Wait says she did not want to do "a sad story" and that the centrality of the design is a tribute to the aesthetic structures employed by Eastern Arrernte artists.
I hasard the thought that being more intimately acquainted with her subject, and living in its midst, Wait has found it much harder to tackle head on. I would be interested in a franker, less mediated take on this important subject.
RACING: CLASS ON TRACK. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
Ladies Day at Pioneer Park created an atmosphere not unlike that at Royal Randwick on Saturday, with the fashions of the field adding a touch of class, adding to the feast of good racing over the seven event card.
Racing began in a burst, with a 1000 metre Class One sprint sponsored by Murray Maintenance. Getting Lucky, who was beaten last week as a result of an injury incurred in the stalls, returned to the winners' circle with an all the way win.
Prior to running, Queen of the North had been backed from 6-4 to almost 2-1 on, but the Paul Denton ridden galloper had to be satisfied with running in the wake of Getting Lucky throughout the journey. At the line a tiring Getting Lucky scored by a length and three quarters, with Awesome Vento taking third money three and a half lengths behind Queen of the North.
In the Murray Neck Class Four over 1400 metres Navigator and Zedrovski set the pace to the turn when, as they tired, Brookman and Stockade Boy took over to fight it out into the straight.
Stockade Boy won by a long neck, but the run of the race came from the favourite Al Tayar, back in the field on the turn and literally flashing home to almost grab victory.
For the Hourglass Jewellers Class D Handicap over 1600 metres, Blechy was sent out as favourite but the heavy load he was assigned may well have caused him to finish fourth.
There's Dad assumed the role of pacemaker, Regent Copy up there, and Le Mire nicely placed in fourth. Le Mire then made a sustained move from 600 metres out, taking the honours by a long neck from the consistent Regent Copy with The Pharmacist battling on for third.Sylvan Green claimed the 1200 metre Peter Sitzler Memorial Class Two Handicap from early in the piece. Paul Denton jumped Sylvan Green to the lead from the gates and from there he dictated the running. In the back straight he snared a lead of three to four lengths and at the line registered a two and three quarter length win.
Wounds picked up second money after rattling home, having camped back in the field early. The Joel Hallam ridden Burran completed the placings.
The Jetset Alice Springs Maiden over 1200 metres saw Foghorn Leghorn and In the Swing set the pace, with the eventual winner Creditwise sitting comfortably in fourth place. In contrast the even money favourite Upton was forced to run wide after coming out of barrier 12. On the turn Creditwise got a good run to hit the lead, which he held to the line. Upton took second place and Brother Winston third. Brother Winston's run home was worth noting and he may warrant a wager in the mile race on Saturday.
The Darwin Horse Floats Open Sprint allowed Tim Norton to chalk up a riding treble, having tasted success earlier on with Getting Lucky and Le Mire. In the 1000 metre race Norton was on the mercurial Nappa who has in the past two months moved through the classes with consummate ease.
Norton camped Nappa on the fence behind the pace in the running, with Final Close setting the pace. The leader tired on the turn and in running off created an ideal opening for Nappa who bounded to the lead, opened a gap of two to three lengths and was never headed.
In contrast Son of Grace seemed to suffer in the running at about the 900 mark and did well to steam home from back in the field. C'est La Vie also impressed in the run home, being a nose away from Son of Grace.
The Yalumba Chief Minister's Cup over 1900 metres normally provides an insight into the Alice Springs Cup and Saturday's event was no exception.
The first three runners proved to be the only horses in the field to run the distance right out. Last year's Cup winner Sea Royal took full advantage of the sprint home after Cypress Lakes careered away, setting up an eight length lead in the back straight.
At the business end of the journey however Sea Royal simply had too many guns for Grey Desert who rattled on from fourth to pick up the second place, with Gong Napar taking third. Should Gong Napar gain entry into the Cup, he may be worth a dollar or two each way as he flew home from last to take the minor place.
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