Kris Lees not looking forward to the Winx challenge with Lucia Valentina

Time for a break: Winx didn’t run on Saturday. Photo: James Brickwood Newcastle trainer Kris Lees will have Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Lucia Valentina for another season but says he is “not really” looking forward to the next challenge.
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With a turn of foot that left her opposition floundering, Lucia Valentina vindicated Lees’ two-run autumn preparation on Saturday, but he admitted he was glad another mare wasn’t there.

“I have got her for a season after that win, so she has gone for a spell and then we will work out where she will go,” Lees said. “There is a mare called Winx that wasn’t there on Saturday and I’m not really keen on taking her on but I guess they will meet eventually somewhere. They are going to be set for the same sort of races now.”

The Queen Elizabeth turned into an inverted race with those back in the field coming over the top of the leaders in the straight. Lucia Valentina put the race away with a stunning sprint down the centre of the track to make it group 1 wins at 2000 metres at three, four and five.

“She will have a good break because she didn’t have that going into the autumn and we will bring her back slowly and there are number of options for her,” Lees said.

It has been a good carnival for Lees, winning the Randwick Guineas with Le Romain, which is back at work preparing for June’s Stradbroke in Brisbane, as well as Sydney’s richest race. He can look for a third group 1 with Italian Derby winner Goldstream, which makes his Australian debut at Randwick on Saturday.

Goldstream won his first five runs before running fourth to Highland Reel in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington last year and finishing down the track in a German group 1.

“He has been out here a while and has settled in well and is a very nice horse,” Lees said. “I could run him in the All Aged Stakes or the benchmark 100 on the weekend. We just want to have a light preparation to have him at his best for the spring.”

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‘That’s just not the case’: No charges laid as 60 Minutes crew remain in jail

Tara Brown and the 60 Minutes crew were detained in Lebanon. Photo: Channel Nine Michael Usher spoke about his colleagues in a preamble on 60 Minutes. Photo: James Brickwood
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What was 60 Minutes doing in Lebanon?Seven people expected to be chargedMother arrested, children returned to father

An Australian television crew detained in Lebanon has not been charged and there is not expected to be movement in the case until Monday night Australian time, according to the Nine Network.

Journalist Tara Brown and a crew from 60 Minutes were arrested in Beirut on Thursday after the country’s police alleged they were involved in an attempt to kidnap two children.

The network was reporting on an attempt by Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner to reunite with her children Lahela, 6, and Noah, 4, who were allegedly not returned to Australia after going to Lebanon on a holiday with their father Ali Elamine last year.

Channel Nine executives deny their crew were party to the attempt to snatch the children back and deny their cameras filmed the incident, which appeared to be captured on nearby CCTV cameras.

In a preamble to 60 Minutes on Sunday evening, host Michael Usher acknowledged Brown and crew members Stephen Rice, Ben Williamson and David Ballment, who were detained “a world away” with Ms Faulkner.

“Everyone in the Nine News and 60 Minutes family is doing their utmost to support [them],” Usher said.

“It’s a stressful time for them and their families, and the last thing our team wanted was to become the subject of their own story.

“For those working hard for their safe return, we earnestly thank you and we’ll keep you posted as events unfold.”

Channel Nine director of communications Victoria Buchan said on Sunday evening that the crew had not been charged, despite reports from local media that charges were expected to be laid against seven people.

“There have been some reports out of Lebanon that they’re being charged. That’s not the case,” Ms Buchan said.

“Nothing will happen, as far as we’ve been advised by the consulate and our legal people, until Monday their time, which is Monday night our time.

“There’s no change to the situation. They’re still being held, and we’re still working with the consulate and legal representation to get them out and home as soon as possible.”

She said Brown, Rice, Williamson and Ballment remained in good health and good spirits.

“It’s obviously our concern to get them out safely.”

On Monday morning, entertainment reporter Peter Ford told Triple M’s Greg Martin and Ed Kavalee that the male and female detainees had been sent to different detention facilities overnight.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters at a press conference that he was in “very close” contact with Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop over the case.

“Our consular officials are in touch with the journalists and the crew that are in … prison and we are seeking through the usual diplomatic channels to ensure that they are kept safe and will be able to return,” he said.

Ms Bishop told ABC Radio she understands the crew are still being held in detention and the question of charges “will be determined shortly”.

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Australian Swimming Championships: Cameron McEvoy sets the pace but James Magnussen, Kyle Chalmers must lift in 100m free final

Man of the hour: Cameron McEvoy gives the thumbs up. Photo: Quinn Rooney Surprise package: Matthew Abood. Photo: Quinn Rooney
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In frame for Rio: Emma McKeon. Photo: Quinn Rooney

Cameron McEvoy shapes as the clear man to beat in the marquee men’s sprint at the Olympic swimming trials in Adelaide but the challengers have arrived for the second 100m freestyle spot, starting with rejuvenated veteran Matt Abood.

After McEvoy, who was second in this event in last year’s FINA World Championships, cruised through his semi-final in 48.09 all eyes turned to the showdown between James Magnussen and South Australian teenager Kyle Chalmers in the second.

The pair were in the middle lanes after strong heat swims on Sunday morning yet it was Abood, the 29-year-old, who raced ahead in lane one and wasn’t pegged back as he qualified second fastest for the decider.

Chalmers was fourth quickest with a 49.06 with Magnussen sixth fastest with 49.21. Both men were considerably slower than their heat swims during the morning session, while it didn’t take a genius to work out McEvoy was moving in the opposite direction.

With only the top two earning a spot in Rio, the swims of Abood, the returning James Roberts (third fastest) and Kenneth To (fifth fastest) have thrown the cat amongst the pigeons for those who pegged it as a three-horse race.

“I’ll be throwing spanners everywhere. I’ll give it a whirl,” Abood said. “I felt like I had something like that in the bag. It’s just a matter of sorting through the bag and getting rid of the crap.

“Big occasion, I’l be in the middle lane. It will be an interesting race. There will be a few guys going out like scalded cats and other guys coming home just the same.”

Chalmers has been put on a non-media diet so couldn’t comment on his performance while Magnussen hardly seemed daunted, saying he couldn’t wait to get into the race and saying he felt he could get back into the 1:47 range, which was the kind of form he was in before London.

How much of that is bravado and how much is genuine belief from a man returning from substantial shoulder surgery remains to be seen.

“I can really fire up for that final now. It avoids a bit of the pressure. There will be plenty of that,” said Magnussen, who was thrilled for close mate Abood.

“(I’ll need a) 47. It’s been a while. Tomorrow night’s a race and that’s what I enjoy. Tomorrow night I’ll race it.”

McEvoy said he had all the zip of a tugboat in the warm-up but pushed through to fire off a world-class time that he expects to be trimmed in what shapes to be an electric final, one that will also decide the additional relay swimmers.

“The warm-up was probably the worst I have felt all week so to come out like that, it’s exciting, it doesn’t happen often,” McEvoy said.

“You can’t always be feeling fresh. That time would have got third in the world, it’s good I can do a time like that feeling like this.”

As for the final: “I’m not a man of predictions. I am going to be vague and say the final will be very fast.”

Emma McKeon started the night in sizzling fashion, breaking her own Australian and Commonwealth Games record to take out the 200m freestyle in 1:54.83 seconds. Bronte Barratt was second and qualified for her third Olympic Games.

McKeon has been flying at this meet and the swim was the second fastest of the year thus far, only behind American Katie Ledecky’s 1:54.43 back in January. Expect that mark to be lowered at the US trials.

Swedish freestyle gun Sarah Sjostrom, who poses a major threat in the women’s sprints, has also gone sub 1:55 in 2016. But McKeon has answered that challenge with a classy swim that puts her right in the conversation in Rio.

Alicia Coutts, Australia’s best-performed swimmer in London, will return to the Dolphins after victory in the women’s 200m individual medley. Coutts had thought of giving the sport away after battling shoulder injuries but will now round out her career in Rio.

Melbourne swimmer Kotuku Ngawati beat out Blair Evans for second and will swim at her first Olympic Games.

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Queensland Reds co-coach Nick Stiles says win against Highlanders a just reward for hard work

Heave boys: Nick Stiles of the Reds yells out instructions to his players. Photo: Bradley KanarisQueensland Reds co-coach Nick Stiles said Saturday’s breakthrough win over the Highlanders did not so much relieve pressure off his and his team’s shoulders, but proved their unrewarded hard work was finally paying off.
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Against last year’s Super Rugby champions, Queensland raced to a 22-6 half-time lead that prompted a standing ovation from a Suncorp Stadium crowd who had witnessed a number of tough results in recent weeks.

The Reds weren’t able to celebrate early though as the Highlanders stormed back to within a point when eight minutes remained on the clock.

Queensland then showed a degree of resolve we had not yet seen from them this year and which impressed Stiles more than anything else as the Reds chalked up their first win for this season.

“You think, ‘here we are again’, but for me the pleasing thing was that we were under pressure from the reigning champions, where they were throwing everything at us and we were able to hold on and get the victory,” Stiles said. “We showed some composure that last minute to get the game shut down.”

With zero wins from fives starts – to go with the sacking of coach Richard Graham and the departure of chief executive Jim Carmichael – this season has been particularly tough for those north of the Tweed, but Stiles was adamant the one-point win had not relieved pressure on the positions of either him or fellow coach Matt O’Connor.

Stiles said the victory might be the spark the Reds needed before they embarked on a tour of South Africa, where they’ll take on the Bulls in Pretoria and the Stormers in Cape Town.

“We haven’t been worried about those pressures on us,” Stiles said. “We’re both very competitive and hopefully that’s been flowing through to the group and the win has been more a justification of the improvements over the past few weeks rather than taking pressure off anyone’s shoulders.

“As coaches you’re always highlighting the improvements to the squad. But to finally get the win, the players are getting some gratification and understanding that we’re moving forward and that’s what you’re after.”

Stiles said there was more satisfaction than jubilation in the Reds’ shed after the game because players knew how important it was to follow up on the win that might kick-start their season.

“The boys were happy but [were] understanding we’ve made a lot of progress on and off the field,” Stiles said.

Reds outside centre Samu Kerevi, who scored a try and played a leading role in another two, had his most impressive game of the season, according to Stiles.

He also lauded returning skipper James Slipper, who took his spot in the starting XV for the first time since having shoulder and knee surgery after the World Cup.

“His performance was a real leader’s knock,” Stiles said of Slipper. “He’s been frustrated because he wanted to be out on the field leading by example. To get him back on the field was great, but to have him with a full week of preparation for a game, where he’s training the whole team, was testament to him and that flowed through to the win.

“We haven’t had a cohesive performance and it was evident last night that we went out and performed very well as a 15. We’ve shown glimpses of it throughout the year, but hadn’t put in a performance like that.”

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