Canberra winner Olivia Rogowska tastes Chinan Open

An n Open main draw wildcard spot is so close Olivia Rogowska can almost taste it after she dominated the Canberra International tennis final.

Rogowska edged closer to an n Open main draw wildcard when she beat 17-year-old Destanee Aiava 6-1, 6-2 in the women’s final at the $60,000 tournament at the Canberra Tennis Centre on Sunday.

World No.117 Matt Ebden beat Japanese international Taro Daniel 7-6(4), 6-4 to clinch the men’s title in an epic battle that could see him jump inside the top 100 in the world as early as Monday.

Rogowska is set to jump into the world’s top 200 having won 19 of her past 21 matches and believes she can can better her career-best 102 if she continues her stunning run.

Tennis will give one female player an n Open wildcard for the best performing player in Canberra and Bendigo.

The lure of a wildcard spot had the 26-year-old jumping straight in the car following her straight sets win to drive to Melbourne to prepare for the Bendigo tournament.

It’s Rogowska’s final tournament of the year and her eighth week of competition in a row, a stretch that has proved how far she has come in the wake of a change to her mental approach.

“I feel like I’m just getting that little bit more experience. I know when to take that mental break, I know when to take a physical break now,” Rogowska said.

“I’m feeling relatively fresh physically and mentally going into week eight so I feel like that’s been a huge improvement.

“I used to get burnt out pretty quickly in week three, week four, but I’m feeling great so I feel like I’ve definitely improved in that department.

“I’m just going to work really hard in my off-season to prepare for January, I can’t believe it’s that time of year already.”

Sixth seed Rogowska says she “barely scraped through” the early rounds of the tournament but was “flawless” against Aiava, whose refreshing honesty caused a stir when admitting she only plays tennis for money, in a 57-minute win.

It’s a tournament run in stark contrast to that of men’s champion Ebden, who says he played a “near perfect” game in the early rounds but was locked in a tight battle in the final.

Ebden is now set to take Japan by storm with two tournaments to round out his year before he switches his focus to the main draw of the n Open.

“I think I should push into the top 100 now or close to it. It might be 98, it might be 101, it might be 100 or something like that,” Ebden said.

“But it’s good for me, I got the maximum amount of points out of this week that I could. I’ve done everything I could here and can’t ask for much more than that.

“I’ve just got to kick on and finish the year well in the next couple of weeks and then look to the off-season, then next year and the Aussie summer.”

JUNIORS: Newcastle netball trio to play 2018 Chinan Indigenous Schoolgirls Netball Championships

ACROSS THE COURT: Newcastle 12-year-old trio Chloe Pattison, Jillarnie Ahoy and Tyra Jarrett will represent the under-14 NSW Echidnas at the the 2018 National Indigenous Netball Championships. Picture: Josh CallinanNEWCASTLE trio Chloe Pattison, Jillarnie Ahoy and Tyra Jarrett cover the entire netball court and next year they will combine their skills on the national stage.

The goal defender, goal attack and centrehave been picked in the under-14 NSW Echidnas squad to contest the n Indigenous Schoolgirls Netball Championships on the Gold Coast in January (3-7).

They impressed selectors in their respective positions at trials held at the University of Newcastle in October before being named in the 20-player squad last week.

It followed on directly from theannual three-day NSW Koori Netball Tournament at Charlestown withPattison, Ahoy and Jarrett joining forces to make the under-15 semi-finals with Koti-Ta Connections.

They are alsopart of the Newcastle under-13 representative squad.

Fern Bay-based Pattison plays juniors for Wests while Cardiff South’s Ahoy and Wallsend’s Jarrett team up for The Junction.

* MACQUARIE College’s Sienna Eve has been named in the NSW Primary School Sports Association squadto play nationals in January following the girlscricket championships atMaitland last week. Kate McTaggart of The Junction was announced in the state invitational team.

* THEnation’s best junior playerswill be on display at Newcastle International Hockey Centre next year with the venue to host the 12-years-and-under School Sport Championships in August (12-17).

* HUNTER Sports High School under-15 boys’ basketball team claimed bronze at the NSW CHSChampionships last week after defeating Westfieldsin the third-place play-off.

* TRIALS for next year’s inaugural Newcastle Knights’ Tarsha Gale Cup nine-a-side under-18 girls’squad kick-off at Berkeley Vale on Saturday.

Two people dead after crash on M1 at Cameron Park near George Booth Drive

TRAGEDY: The scene of the fatal accident at Cameron Park. Picture: Max Mason-HubersUpdate, 1.30pm:

A WOMAN and young boy who died on the M1 at Cameron Park were killed instantly after the woman went to rescue the boy who had walked out onto the motorway.

Senior police said the 27-year-old – who was the boy’s carer – opened the side door of the car which was parked in the breakdown lane.

“What we do know yesterday was that a Tarago van was travelling south on the M1 at Cameron Park. They pulled into a breakdown bay,” Traffic and Highway Patrol Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said on Monday.

“The driver got out of the vehicle and opened the side door.

“At that stage, we believe an eight-year-old child has entered the roadway followed by a 27-year-old carer.

“Obviously both were killed, we believe instantly, when a pantech truck travelling south collided with both of those individuals.”

Emergency services were called to the scene near the George Booth Drive exit shortly after 5.30pm.

The woman was from Cooranbong and the boy from Woy Woy.

The truck driver, a 57-year-old man, was taken to John Hunter Hospital for mandatory blood and urine testing.

“The weekend has been an absolute tragedy on NSW roads,” Mr Smith said. “A tragedy is probably an understatement. We had nine deaths.”

The M1 was closed heading south for several hours on Sunday night, sparking significant delays as traffic was diverted onto Newcastle Link Road.

There were nine fatalities on NSW roads at the weekend – including one involving an elderly woman at Tuncurry.

Police said most were avoidable deaths.

Mr Smith said hundreds would be grieving at the moment.

“It is a tragic day for emergency services, but the nine deaths on the weekend would be affecting hundreds more,” Mr Smith said.

“There would be families who are grieving today. All of the investigations are under way and it’s critical we get to the bottom of them.”

Police urged motorists to slow down in wet weather and leave a safe distance between the car in front.

“If you are not comfortable in heavy rain, you need to pull over and wait for it to pass,” Mr Smith added.


TWO people – including a child –have tragically died after being struck by a truck in a horror crash on the M1at Cameron Park.

Emergency services were called to the scene near the George Booth Drive exit shortly after 5.30pm on Sunday.

A 28-year-old woman and an eight-year-old boy were killed in the incident.

The two are not related but were known to each other.

The driver of the truck, a 57-year-old man, was treated for shock and was taken to John Hunter Hospital for mandatory blood and urine testing.

Specialist officers from the Metropolitan Crash Investigation Unit also attended the scene and are investigating the incident.

At the scene a Toyota Tarago parked on the shoulder of the roadwas seen with its sliding door open.

The M1 was closed in a south-bound direction near the scene of the crash, sparking significant delaysfor several hours, with traffic diverted onto Newcastle Link Road.

Traffic was then diverted from Lake Road to Cessnock Road to rejoin the motorway at Ryhope.

A senior police officer described Sunday’s crash as “a tragic set of circumstances”.

It is the second deadly crash on the M1in as many weeks after a 68-year-old Leura man was killed at West Wallsend on October 28.

Meanwhile, another crash at Tuncurry claimed the life of an elderly woman on Saturday.

Police said the 85-year-old died after her Holden Barina left the road and crashed into a tree in the front yard of private property on South Street.

Paramedics began resuscitation but she died on the way to hospital.

Manning/Great Lakes police appealed for any witnesses to the crash to come forward.

GSP firms as Whittaker’s UFC title opponent after beating Bisping

Interim UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker will almost certainly fight UFC legend Georges St-Pierre in 2018 to unify the belts after a comprehensive victory for the Canadian on Sunday against England’s Michael Bisping.

Despite it being some four years since St-Pierre, who is widely considered one of the greatest UFC fighters ever, if not the greatest, had stepped inside the octagon, he showed no signs of rust through a fairly even first two rounds before choking out Bisping in the final minute of the third round, as the n applauded at ringside.

“I don’t have a word in my mouth right now. It’s a dream come true,” he told Joe Rogan after the fight.

“He hurt me, a few times I got stung – I tried to hide it – I wouldn’t like to do that fight again!”

When asked about whether he would remain at middleweight to defend the gold in a fight with Whittaker, ‘Rush’ ruled out any chance of his foray into the middleweight division lasting just one fight. When speaking about his weight, he said: “There’s a point that it’s too much – but now I’m at the point that it’s OK.

“I studied a lot of Michael’s tape. I knew he had problems with a shot coming to his right. Michael is the toughest guy I’ve fought. This man is amazing. He’s a true example of hard work and perserverance. All my respect to you, man.”

Known in the sport as one of the greatest trash talkers ever, Bisping was humble after the defeat, offering praise to the new champion. “You gotta give it up to Georges. He was the better man tonight,” he said, while also ruling out any talk that this would be his last fight.

“I’m not done. I know I spoke about retirement.”

Bisping had ruled out travelling to Perth for UFC 221, but with GSP taking the win, we now may see Whittaker v GSP as the headline to the pay-per-view – in what would certainly be the biggest fight in n MMA history, and perhaps the biggest in any combat sport.

Earlier, there were a pair of title upsets in the lead-up, with two previously undefeated champions each being shocked with an early stoppage.

Bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt, who was 11-0 going into the fight, was beaten by former friend turned bitter rival T.J. Dillashaw, who registered a TKO win midway through the second round.

After a cagey opening five minutes, Dillishaw rocked the champ with a vicious kick to the head, before closing in with a barrage of blows that forced a stoppage. It is Dillashaw’s second title reign, after losing the belt in a controversial split decision to Dominick Cruz at the start of 2016.

Dillishaw had entered the contest as a slight betting underdog, but that was nothing compared to the women’s strawweight title fight that preceded it, which gave us possibly an even bigger upset than when Ronda Rousey was knocked out by Holly Holm in Melbourne.

Joanna J??drzejczyk entered the octagon at Madison Square Garden with 14 fights and zero losses – with eight of those wins coming since joining the UFC back in 2014. Few gave American challenger Rose Namajunas much of a chance, but she didn’t take long to shock the world, ending the fight after roughly three minutes of the first round with a flurry of punches.

Uniting to imagine next step for our city

THISweek, we are making history.

Between November 6 and November10, 50 brilliant rising leaders from cities across the globe will converge in Newcastle to learn what happens when the people of a city come together with regional government to imagine new ways to thrive and compete in the global economy.

I am the chief executive, president and publisher of Next City, an American organisation with a mission to inspire change in cities through journalism and events.

You may know Next City from our website, NextCity苏州桑拿, where we publish our award-winning reporting on urban innovation in UScities and around the world.

But as Newcastle will soon see, we are more than a website. The Next City Vanguard conference is an experiential leadership program that brings together inspiring young urban change-makers and this week, we are holding our first Vanguard program.

It will be the first Next City conference held outside of North America, hosted by a local committee that includes representatives of the New South Wales government, Newcastle City Council, the University of Newcastle, Hunter Development Corporation, and Transport for New South Wales.

Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes is another one of our generous hosts. She uses three adjectives to describe her city’s future: smart, livable and sustainable.

It’s an aspiration undoubtedly familiar to anyone who has been paying attention to the turnaround efforts of older industrial cities worldwide. From Pittsburgh to Marseilles, France, cities are working to build cleaner economies and more livable neighborhoods.

The theme of the Vanguard conference is sustainable, equitable and accountable reinvention. It is an idea at the heart of Next City’s mission to inspire better cities — and at the centre of ongoing global conversation about fighting climate change, growing inequality and other challenges of the 21st century.

At Next City, we always strive to ensure that our conferences lead to impact. With that in mind, this Vanguard conference will culminate in Newcastle’s first Big Idea Challenge.

A public design competition to be held at Watts Street Arc on Thursday evening, the Big Idea Challenge will be an opportunity for our Vanguards to compete to provide Newcastle with visionary adaptive reuse concepts for two dormant architecturally and culturally significant historic landmarks in the city center: the old Newcastle post office and the old Newcastle rail station.

As Novocastrians know, these two beautiful buildings hold the potential to be incredible destinations within a thriving city centre.

We are honored by the opportunity to participate in these historic revitalisation projects and want to hear from you about what you see for the future of these places.

Please connect with us on Twitter and Facebook under the handle @nextcityorg and look for the hashtag #VanguardOz to follow our trip. You can find me on Twitter at @TDallessio.

Then again, we hear Newcastle is the kind of city where you tend to run into people you want to see. So if you encounter a group of smartish-looking folks taking in the city sights over the next few days, please don’t hesitate to say hello and fill us in on what you love about your city.

We are here to learn from you.

Tom Dallessio is the Next City chief executive, publisher and president

Get ready for $1.30 a litre petrol all next year

A global oil price surge is set to drive up the cost of petrol through the Christmas holiday season and experts are warning the pain at the bowser is likely to intensify in the New Year.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel has slashed production levels over the past year, at the same time as American and Russian producers pulled back, raising prices strongly in recent months.

The Brent Crude benchmark climbed to a two-year high on Sunday reaching $US62.07 ($81.10).

And those price hikes are already flowing through at the pump. CommSec economists say last week’s jump of more than 8 per cent was the largest week-on-week spike in 13 years.

The National Bank forecasts expect another jump in petrol prices, with no respite in the coming months.

“Higher [oil] prices, combined with our expectations for a lower n dollar, are likely to lead to higher fuel prices for n motorists,” NAB analysts said.

“The September quarter saw petrol average around $1.23 per litre [nationally], but we see petrol in the December quarter around 3.9 per cent higher at $1.28 per litre.

“Our forecasts point to petrol being above $1.30 per litre for most of 2018.”

Oil has been on an upwards trajectory since both America and the OPEC agreed to cut production levels to “rebalance the market” in December 2016.

Earlier this year, 24 oil-producing countries began to cut output levels by 1.8 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, over an initial six month period, but quickly agreed to extend the deal to March 2018 in order to reduce oversupply and lower existing crude oil inventories.

OPEC nations soon ran above compliance levels for the agreement, hitting 120 per cent of its reduction target in September. They further reduced output from September to October by an additional 180,000 barrels a day, marking an overall production rate of 32.59 million barrels per day.

Now, this agreement may again be extended, beyond 2018, as OPEC nations meet once more ahead of the release of OPEC’s World Oil Outlook on Tuesday.

The joint ministerial committee monitoring the current agreement’s compliance, the JMMC, said a number of avenues are being explored to strengthen the oil market.

“The JMMC will continue to monitor other factors in the oil market and their influence on the ongoing market rebalancing process,” it said.

“All options are left open to ensure that every effort is made to rebalance the market for the benefit of all.”

Analysts are confident this indicates extending the output reduction agreements.

“The market is becoming increasingly confident that production cuts will be extended,” said Ric Spooner, an analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney told Bloomberg.

“Despite fluctuating week-to-week figures on U.S. crude inventories, we’re at a situation now where stockpiles are trending lower.”

This return to strength marks a growth of 32 per cent from oil’s low for the year in June, when prices fell to $US46.89.

Macquarie analysts believe $US60 per barrel is likely to be the new price floor and could be a stabilisation price for oil, which has tracked a volatile path since the 1990s.

This will have a flow-on effect at the bowser, which has broadly tracked ahead of the oil price, as the tapis crude price – a measure more closely aligned to n petrol prices – has increased its premium against the brent crude price.

Kuwait, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, which collectively account for more than half of total OPEC output, as well as Russia, have already indicated supporting an extension of the reduction agreement, which would prevent another potential oil glut in 2018.

UBS analysts have also forecast strong growth ahead for the sector, although it believes the price may soon hit a ceiling.

“We forecast a continued recovery in oil prices over the next few years, assisted in the near term by OPEC’s decision to reduce output,” UBS analysts said in a note to clients.

“Three consecutive years of underinvestment in conventional oil supplies will lead to larger oil deficits from 2018, justifying higher oil prices.

“While the oil may be peaking for now, it should remain reasonably well supported with ongoing supply discipline and good global demand from a strong global economy.”

Canberra Vikings set to wear heritage strip in NRC final

The Canberra Vikings are set to wear their ACT Kookaburras heritage strip in the National Rugby Championship decider as they look to unite the rugby community.

The Vikings will host the firing Queensland Country in the National Rugby Championship final at Viking Park on Saturday night.

Queensland Country hammered the Fijian Drua 57-21 in the semi-final, a day after the Vikings read Western n rugby its last rites and booked a ticket to their second grand final in three years.

Vikings coach Tim Sampson has thrown his weight behind wearing ACT colours in a bid to win the support of fans across the region.

The Vikings were keen to wear the Kookaburras strip in their 40-35 semi-final win against Perth, before competition officials quashed the plan because it was too similar to the Spirit’s kit.

They would have no such issues in the final, having already worn ACT colours in the season opener against Queensland Country in September.

The Kookaburras were the ACT’s representative team and a wore blue, yellow and white strip, but those colours were left behind when the NRC was established three years ago.

The Vikings opted to wear the same colours as the Tuggeranong Vikings – red, white and black – due to the club’s stake in the NRC outfit.

The move irked the ACT rugby community, a large portion of which felt the NRC club didn’t represent all of the ACT, rather just a part of south Canberra.

But Sampson believes Canberra’s run to the minor premiership combined with a home final in ACT colours could change everything.

“It’s not something we identify and speak too much about it within the squad,” Sampson said.

“But with players coming from many different clubs, I think the success we’ve had so far has created a lot of interest throughout the clubs, so hopefully we get a fair bit of support there on Saturday.

“That’s why we went that way last week, to wear the Kookaburras strip. It would be pretty nice to see.

“That was discussed last week, we obviously missed out because of the clash with Perth. We have a meeting [on Monday], I’m sure that will be a point of discussion.”

Queensland Country dominated from start to finish against a spirited Fijian outfit, running in nine tries to secure a grand final spot.

“It sounded like they were pretty dominant at the set piece, a few of their individuals are a bit of a handful,” Sampson said.

“They have a pretty balanced team through the forwards and outside backs. The throw it around a bit with size and speed so they’ll be a handful.

“We [pulled up] pretty clean. They were a little bit bruised and battered, it was a pretty physical game. We came out of it pretty well.”

Meanwhile, plans for the new Indo Pacific Rugby Championship have been revealed with the competition set to launch in 2019 in the March to June window.


Saturday: Canberra Vikings v Queensland Country at Viking Park, 7.30pm.

Sydney FC looking to sign Portuguese winger in January

They may just be five games into their season, but Sydney FC are already turning their attention towards bolstering their forward line in the mid-season transfer window with the potential signing of former A-League star Fabio Ferreira.

Fairfax Media understands the Portuguese winger is close to joining the Sky Blues in January after playing his last game Malaysian club PKNS last weekend.

The 28-year-old former Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United player is understood to be the club’s primary target for the next transfer window as they look to further bolster their already impressive roster ahead of a busy second half of the season, including an Asian Champions League campaign.

Sydney have held initial talks to bring Ferreira to Moore Park for the second half of the season where he will alleviate some of the pressure on Sydney’s veteran forwards in the back end of the season.

After losing Bernie Ibini and Filip Holosko at the end of the season, the Sky Blues lost pace and power in their forward line and believe the speed and movement of Ferreira would compliment their current wide players, David Carney, Milos Ninkovic and Adrian Mierzejewski.

Should Ferreira move to Moore Park in January, it raises questions as to how coach Graham Arnold will manage his squad during the Asian Champions League as the former Chelsea youth player would not be registered as a local player. While Ferreira spent five years in the A-League and may be eligible to apply for n citizenship, he does not yet have an n passport. The continental competition’s regulations permit four foreign players per club, one of which reserved specifically for an Asian player.

Signing a fast-paced winger is a priority for the Sky Blues before the busy end of season schedule after their depth in wide areas has already been tested due to an injury to Mierzejewski. The Polish international missed the Sky Blues’ 1-0 win over Melbourne City on Friday night that propelled Sydney to the top of the table with Arnold suggesting it was largely as a precaution.

“I think if we maybe played in Sydney he would have been fine but with the travel and knowing this field as well as I do it’s fast, it’s slippery, it’s hard and the most important thing for us that we get him right. He’s come from the Middle East where the training and the intensity of the game isn’t what it is here,” Arnold said after the game. “The most important thing is we get him right, he’s ready and he’s available for the whole season, not just a couple of weeks.”

Pool closed for several days as investigation into girl’s drowning continues

CLOSED: Orange mayor Cr Reg Kidd said the aquatic centre would be closed for several days as police continue their investigations into the tragedy. Photo: ANDREW MURRAY 1105ampool3ORANGE mayor Reg Kidd has said staff at Orange Aquatic Centre are being offered support and are “working with police” as they investigate Saturday’s tragic drowning of a young girl.

The pool will remain closed for several days as police investigatethe circumstances of the four-year-old’s death.

About 3.35pm on Saturday emergency services were called to the aquatic centre on Hill Streetafter a girl was found motionless in a pool.

Attempts to revive the child were made by family and lifeguards on scene before she was taken to Orange hospital where she was pronounced deceased.

Orange mayor Reg Kidd said the communities’ thoughts and prayers were with the family following the tragedy.

“Nothing we can say today can ease the pain the family is going through, other than to say that they are not alone,” he said.

“Everyone who has swum at the Orange pool can imagine the sadness and grief the family and our staff are feeling today. Today is a time for offering that support.”

Police from Canobolas Local Area Command have commenced an investigation into the incident and are speaking to witnesses and reviewing CCTV footage.

“Staff are working with police as they prepare a report for the formal investigation,” Cr Kidd said.

“Staff too are being offered personal support, and so the pool will remain closed in the coming days.

“Police take a leading role in an investigation such as this, and while their inquiries continue, it’s appropriate that police handle all queries surrounding this tragic death.

“The council encourages anyone who was a witness to contact police directly. This is very sensitive matter and due process needs to run its course.”

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page:www.nsw.crimestoppers苏州夜网.au.

Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

‘I thought Kathy could be dead’: Trainer recalls day he feared worst

Some men run wildly down the Randwick straight celebrating, others run frozen with fear at what they’re about to confront.

Trainer Nick Olive hadn’t stopped smiling for two weeks. He had just won his first group 1 with a horse no one seems to rate and she was making her move as the n Oaks field rounded the home turn and prepared to thunder down the famous stretch of grass.

A horse to the inside of his filly, Single Gaze, tried to edge out. It clipped her heels and her jockey, Kathy O’Hara, crashed to the turf. It was one of those moments when the world keeps moving and the race keeps going but everything just seems to stop.

“You care for your horse straight away, but for Kathy I thought …. there’s no way she’s going to come out of this,” Olive says. “I thought there was every possibility she could be dead.

“I remember running up the course proper and all the emotions – by the time you get up there – I had tears coming down my cheeks.”

It was the longest 400 metres of Olive’s life. His horse, remarkably, bounced back up to her feet and sidled up to the outside fence, where she waited for someone to collect her.

But O’Hara lay prone on the ground, a distraught Olive shoving his way past paramedics just hoping to find a pulse.

“When I got up there, Kathy had a million people around her and she was like, ‘Where’s Nick? Where’s Nick? Is the horse all right?’ That just blew me away,” Olive says.

“She’s literally lying there half unconscious, broken up and everyone’s working on her – and that’s all she cared about. It was pretty emotional.”

Says O’Hara: “I don’t remember saying that, but if I did, obviously I meant it. It wasn’t my first fall and it won’t be my last. And my injuries weren’t that bad.”

Most would beg to differ. O’Hara suffered concussion, chest and collarbone injuries. She required surgery and she was out of the saddle for months. Yet she knows she was lucky.

The horrifying tumble prompted Racing NSW’s then chief steward Ray Murrihy to describe her as the toughest rider in the Sydney jockeys’ room – and he wasn’t referring just to the female quarters. Never judge a book by its cover.

Horrifying: Kathy O’Hara is stretchered away after she came off Single Gaze during the n Oaks. Photo: AAP

Then there’s her horse, the one she hugged like her own daughter after it boldly hit the front in the Caulfield Cup inside the 200 metres a fortnight ago before clinging on for second.

The modern Melbourne Cup is a personal playground for squillionaires and sheikhs. Then there’s a horse that is cheered wildly in pubs and clubs in Canberra and rural Gundagai, a throwback to yesteryear.

She didn’t cost a lot, $70,000 to be exact. The Not A Single Doubt filly was the only horse Olive bought from the Gold Coast’s Magic Millions sale in 2014 and was bred to sprint, not stick.

Single Gaze was so far last in her first race start her part-owner, Martin Hay, who runs the Gundagai Tigers rugby league club with the horse’s other major shareholder David Tout, wondered what they had got into.

Yet the filly rocketed home and won at $81, with O’Hara in the saddle. Olive reckons some other riders might have given up, so hopeless was their mid-race plight.

“Four hundred metres after her first start, I looked at Dave and we said, ‘What’s he got us into here?’ Never in your wildest dreams do you think a couple of years later she’s going to be running in the Melbourne Cup,” Hay says.

Hay has barely left his mare’s side in Melbourne for the past few weeks. He’s put his earthmoving business in Gundagai on hold for a few weeks and is instead moving manure out of his horse’s box in the countdown to the Cup.

Olive has left his family for much of the past couple of months, his right-hand man and former jockey Billy Owen rarely straying from Single Gaze’s side since August in the hope of making it to the first Tuesday in November.

“The kids are bloody excited,” Olive quips of his two daughters, Jesse and Chloe. “They rang me after the Caulfield Cup and said, ‘Dad, does this mean we’re going to the Melbourne Cup?’ I said, ‘Yep’.

“They were running around the backyard screaming out and telling all their friends. They’re pretty excited. You start at the bottom earning crap money working seven days a week and to get here … it’s been a good journey for everyone.

“I never thought about giving [training] up. But I’ve thought, ‘This is so hard’. Sometimes it gets you down, but you learn to balance that a bit more as you get older. I’ve thought that a lot of times, but not one day have I thought I want to give this away.”

Days like Tuesday is the reason he hasn’t. It will be the first time Canberra has had a horse in the Melbourne Cup since Ain’t Seen Nothin’ ran in the 2003 race, Makybe Diva’s first of three straight triumphs.

Michelle Payne is the other famous female most etched in modern Melbourne Cup history, revealing after Prince Of Penzance’s shock win two years ago some of the horse’s owners didn’t want her to keep the ride in the Cup.

O’Hara was bumped from Single Gaze in the $2 million Magic Millions Classic for Damien Oliver at the start of last year. Olive and Hay are the first to admit they erred.

“They wanted to go with him and they tried a few other jockeys and luckily she didn’t really run for them,” O’Hara says. “[But] there’s never been any questions this preparation or last preparation. [Hay’s] always said, ‘She’s yours’. It fuels you with confidence and I want to do the right thing by them.”

She has and will now have her first Melbourne Cup ride.

To understand how unlikely this story is would be to consider only one horse in more than 20 years has run in the Golden Slipper scamper as a two-year-old and then taken their spot in a Melbourne Cup over the gruelling two-mile test. Single Gaze will be the second.

Olive’s red and blue colours are being used in cocktails in Canberra bars. Gundagai RSL hasn’t heard a roar like the one in the final stages of the Caulfield Cup. They love the Cup there, and they love their horse more.

Hay and Tout’s Group 9 rivals are also on the bandwagon, traditional arch rivals of Gundagai united by a chestnut mare they can’t know enough about.

“It just gets under my skin that these two blokes Billy and Nick don’t get the credit they deserve,” Hay says. “They’ve done a wonderful job with this horse. The horse has built its own reputation now and hopefully that will filter through to these two blokes. They deserve the credit they’re slowly getting.

“You can draw your own conclusions on how the public treats her. Everyone loves her, but she’s always 30-1. The racing enthusiasts don’t respect her yet, but that’s slowly starting to change. And after Tuesday hopefully that will change more.”

Adds O’Hara: “She’s always been an underdog. She’s always been underrated her whole career and she still is. She just keeps … proving everyone wrong. There’s no pressure on her and she continues to defy logic.”

O’Hara might have been talking about herself for a moment.

Some will argue O’Hara has been swimming against the tide for years. Just like Payne, no one will expect her to do much in the race that stops the nation. But we all know how that unfolded.

And as for the horse she will be riding?

“We know she’ll do us proud,” Hay says. “And I’ll be honest, after the fall I’m happy to see her go around and come back. If she wins it’s a bonus. But I’m just happy to see her competing again at this level.

“Winning’s not everything to us. We’re just proud of her. She’s 430 kilos and 230 kilos of that is heart I think.”