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Why Glencore’s Ivan Glasenberg buckled on coal

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Why Glencore’s Ivan Glasenberg buckled on coal

So where does God come into any of that?

Well, as it turns out, the Church of England – a rich investor in its own right – has played an influential role in taking the message of Paris and climate change mitigation directly to Glencore.

The end result of this sustained climate diplomacy is a statement of carbon intent that limits further growth from a division that has absorbed at least $US3.5 billion of Glencore’s growth and sustaining capital over just the past two years.

To be clear on that, Glencore invested $US2.7 billion grabbing a lion’s share of Rio Tinto’s Australian assets and a further $US845 million on sustaining and expanding the company’s pre-existing local coal estate.

Strong investment case

The Rio deal effectively doubled Glencore’s Australian capacity, leaving it capable of producing something considerably better than the 104 million tonnes that the expensively expanded system will send to our region in 2019.

Glencore is a coal business of three arms, with operations in South Africa and Colombia and, all told, the company expects to produce 145mt this calendar year.

But the Glencore commitment revealed overnight Wednesday says that volume will be that. It also seems to say that Glencore will work to contain commentary by its own people and those who represent it that might be construed as negative to the Paris Agreement.

“To deliver a strong investment case to our shareholders, we must invest in assets that will be resilient to regulatory, physical and operational risks related to climate change,” Glencore’s concession statement says.

“To meet the growing needs of a lower carbon economy, Glencore aims to prioritise its capital investment to grow production of commodities essential to the energy and mobility transition and to limit its coal production capacity broadly to current levels,” it continued.

Glencore has also committed, among many things, to make more transparent account of its internal assessment of scope three emissions (that is, the carbon dioxide produced by the end user of its products) and to run a BHP-style review of the industry associations that count Switzerland’s global miner among its membership.

“Glencore believes that it is appropriate that we take an active and constructive role in public policy development and to participate in relevant trade associations,” the company said before setting firm new climate boundaries for its lobbies.

Glencore said it recognised “the importance of ensuring that its membership in relevant trade associations does not undermine its support for the Paris Agreement and the Paris Goals”.

“Glencore will consider whether its membership in relevant trade associations aligns with the company’s stated positions in this statement. The result of this review, including any material misalignments identified and action that will be taken, will be made public in 2019,” the company finished.

Growth opportunity

To be clear on all of this, it is just very hard to imagine that this was where Glencore wanted to go when it laid its very big bet last year on Australian coal growth.

As recently as last October sell-side analysts on a tour of Glencore’s new Hunter Valley domains appeared to be offered coal as a growth story. A slide pack laden with local and regional data predicted that surging Asian coal demand would mitigate erosion in Europe and America. Drawing on its own data and the International Energy Agency outlook, Glencore predicted net coal demand would rise by 20 per cent, or 965 millon tonnes, between 2016 and 2040.

Glencore then noted that the supply-side response to this projected demand surge had been muted, observing that since 2014 the annual growth investment in Australia – the home of the region’s best coal – had run at circa $4 billion annually.

Management also indicated confidence that it would further reduce an already highly competitive cost base and assessed that the business would generate $US6.2 billion in EBITDA annually based on prevailing prices and steady state production.

Glencore’s tourists were advised that the new business offered a wealth of potential brownfield growth opportunity given appropriate demand and price incentive.

Now what we are hearing is that coal will struggle to secure investment in anything but sustaining the existing business. It is suggested that even investment that aims to replace the tonnes from, say, Clermont and Liddell, mines which will be exhausted within the next five to seven years, will be hard to justify.

Now, at one level, Glencore’s embrace of the cap as a concession to the climate challenge might be received as both sensible and self-serving.

Few mainstream majors are as wedded to a supply-side deficit as Glasenberg. In October Glencore indicated that Australia’s response to price signals had been cautious. And regional customers have already expressed some concern over the grip on the top end of the Newcastle coals that the Rio deals have delivered Glencore. Now this climate deal will leave Glencore with no choice but to sit on its hands even if thermal prices run stronger for a lot longer.

But whatever this might mean for Glencore, the optics of this concession statement are gloomy indeed for Australian coal generally and the thermal sector in particular.

As a nation that is weaning itself off coal generation faster than many imagined was possible, Australia is finding it increasingly difficult to live with our carbon paradox. How can we export coal that will only add to the global climate woes?

Taken angry exception

Not two weeks ago a judge of the NSW Land & Environment Court decided that global emissions mattered more than national income. Judge Brian Preston knocked back a coal development in the Gloucester Valley first because it was far too close to a town that did not want it but second because it would make an unwelcome, if very small, addition to global emissions of carbon dioxide.

The addition of scope three emissions to the agenda of local planning decisions is something new and something not demanded by Australia’s external treaties. It is hard to imagine that this decision will stand. But Preston’s logic reflects the inner urban vibe.

But this vibe is not universal. As The Australian Financial Review revealed on Monday, the most powerful state branch of the coal union has taken angry exception to the idea that there might be any sort of “just transition” away from coal.

Leaked minutes from a December board meeting of the Queensland branch of the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division signalled a split with the Labor Party over jobs. The union has subsequently pushed the button of division in announcing it will require targeted Labor candidates for the next federal election to offer commitment to support Adani’s Carmichael coal mine.

Then, just 24 hours before Glencore’s concession landed, Australia’s other very big coal producer, BHP, told shareholders that it was not ashamed of its exposure to coal mining and it was content to hold on to its two purely thermal coal assets “for now”.

That little addendum says everything about the uncertainty that has quite suddenly enveloped Australian coal. I have little doubt that the sector will continue to make a lot of money for decades to come. But just who will make that money, well, only time will tell. Because successive statements of subtly curbed intent by two of the world’s biggest producers hint at the potential that coal might one day very soon not be the right commodity for listed multinational miners.

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Scotland tour of Oman: Hosts respond to 10-wicket loss to win by 93 runs

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Scotland tour of Oman: Hosts respond to 10-wicket loss to win by 93 runs
Richie Berrington top scored for Scotland with 37
Second 50-over match, Al Amerat, Oman
Oman 248-8 (50 overs): Sharif 3-60
Scotland 155 (40 overs): Berrington 37
Oman won by 93 runs
Scorecard (external site)

Scotland slipped to a 93-run defeat against Oman in the second game of the three-match series – just a day after bowling their opponents out for 24.

The hosts recovered from their 10-wicket thrashing on Tuesday to post 248-8 from their 50 overs.

Khurram Nawaz struck 64 from 45 balls, including three fours and five sixes, while pace bowler Safyaan Sharif took 3-60 for the tourists.

In reply, Scotland were bowled out for just 155 with 10 overs remaining.

The three-match series finishes on Friday, with the score level at 1-1.

Mohammad Nadeem joint top-scored with 64 for Oman, before taking 3-38 as Scotland struggled with the bat.

Richie Berrington was the top scorer for the tourists with 37 as just five Scottish batsmen reached double figures.

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Monthly gains in January and February historically signal a 20% average market advance for the year

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Monthly gains in January and February historically signal a 20% average market advance for the year

A market signal with a nearly perfect track record points to a strong year for stocks, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

S&P 500 was more than halfway there, with a nearly 2.8 percent advance for February and a 7.9 percent gain for its best January performance since 1987.

“We’ve never seen two months in a row ever to have every single segment of the U.S. equity market up,” Gunzberg said in a “Squawk Box” interview. “I think we could have a good year. But I think it’ll look a lot different than it does right now.”

“The strength across the board has been driven by the macro picture,” said Gunzberg, but argued that going forward whether the U.S. and China reach a trade deal or not, there are going to be companies whose stocks will be winners and losers. “I think we’re going to start to see a split in sectors.”

It’s also worth noting that the gains in January alone have often signalled a strong rest of the year. According to the Stock Trader’s Almanac, going back to 1950, the “so goes January, so goes the year” metric has worked 87 percent of the time.

The S&P 500 was still about 5.4 percent from its closing record high on Sept. 20, 2018. The stock market tanked in the final three months of last year, culminating with December’s terrible 9.6 percent decline, the worst final month of the year since 1931. The S&P 500 lost 6.6 percent for all of 2018.

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Ryder Cup: Steve Stricker named US captain for 2020 against Europe

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Ryder Cup: Steve Stricker named US captain for 2020 against Europe
Stricker (right) is succeeding Jim Furyk (left) as the US captain

Steve Stricker will captain the United States as they try to reclaim the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in 2020.

The 51-year-old was on the winning side as a player in 2008, but also played in the 2010 and 2012 losses to Europe.

He was selected as a vice-captain last year by Jim Furyk, as the US lost 17½-10½ at Le Golf National in France, their seventh defeat since 1999.

Irishman Padraig Harrington, a three-time major winner, has already been chosen as Europe’s captain.

An emotional Stricker, who was close to tears as his appointment was announced at a press conference, said: “Truly a dream come true, an honour to represent the PGA, the competition itself, truly humbled by this opportunity because I’m very passionate about this competition.”

The former world number two added: “Some people don’t think I’m very fiery about playing the game of golf but deep down I’m very competitive, we want to win this more than ever and I’m here to help in any way.”

Stricker lives in Wisconsin, the same state as the venue for 2020, and was second at the US PGA Championship in 1998 – his best finish at a major.

He captained the US team to victory in the 2017 Presidents Cup.

“My biggest thing is I want to make sure all the players that make the team know what to expect from me and what I expect from them,” added Stricker.

“While we were disappointed with the result in Paris, I am confident the setback will fuel our preparations for what will take place at Whistling Straits.”

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Starboard Value has 1 million-share stake in Bristol-Myers Squibb, has met with management

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Starboard Value has 1 million-share stake in Bristol-Myers Squibb, has met with management

Bristol-Myers Squibb confirmed on Wednesday that activist hedge fund Starboard Value owns a 1 million share stake in the company and said separately its $74 billion deal to acquire cancer drugmaker Celgene is “on track” to close during the third quarter.

Starboard’s stake is just a fraction of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s 1.63 billion shares outstanding, but the fund has filed with regulators for the ability to buy more shares. The fund also has held meetings with management, Bristol-Myers Squibb said.

Shares of the drugmaker stock traded flat Wednesday.

Starboard has not publicly stated its stance on Bristol-Myers’ acquisition of Celgene, but activists have in the past taken stakes in companies to scuttle deals. Reuters reported last week the hedge fund is gauging investor support for the Celgene deal.

Bristol-Myers Squibb said Starboard acquired its shares on Jan. 31, the same day its nomination window closed. Starboard has nominated for the Bristol-Myers board Starboard CEO and co-founder, Jeffrey Smith, as well as John Leonard, James Tyree, Steven Shulman and Janet Vergis.

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s annual shareholder meeting is not yet scheduled, but it will occur after its special meeting to vote on the Celgene acquisition on April 12. The planned date for the meeting remains unchanged, keeping the deal on track for its expected closure by the company’s third quarter.

Analysts at BMO earlier this month said they believe the “probability of a third-party buyer for Bristol-Myers Squibb” before the April vote is “very low,” adding that “we do not believe a potential activist can change that.”

The Celgene deal is aimed at giving Bristol-Myers Squibb more cancer drugs at a time when its immuno-oncology portfolio struggles to keep up with rival Merck‘s. Bristol-Myers Squibb on Wednesday underlined the benefits it sees in the deal, citing increased scale and a broader pipeline in the near and long term. It said that Celgene expects six near-term product launches that present “more than $15 billion in revenue potential.”

Starboard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Mike Costello: James DeGale looking forward to proving me wrong against Chris Eubank Jr

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Mike Costello: James DeGale looking forward to proving me wrong against Chris Eubank Jr
Super-middleweight DeGale will fight fellow Briton Chris Eubank Jr at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday

As we get set to mark the 30th anniversary of Frank Bruno’s first world heavyweight title showdown against Mike Tyson, one famous line of the BBC’s Harry Carpenter commentary that night endures as an example of the dilemma faced by commentators and reporters in a sport in which access to the history-makers is almost unparalleled.

Back in February 1989 at the Las Vegas Hilton, Britain’s Bruno answered the bell as a distant second-favourite – and the odds seemed justified when he was floored in the opening seconds of the contest. But in the final minute of the first round, he staggered the American champion with a left hook and Carpenter’s rigid devotion to impartiality deserted him.

“Get in there, Frank,” he yelled as Bruno tried to follow up. The line remains one of the most iconic in the history of media coverage of British boxing.

Years later, Carpenter – who died in 2010 – would tell a BBC documentary that he was “ashamed to this day” of what he described as “unprofessional” behaviour at the mic. But the urge to take sides – and in his mind lower his standards – was forged during years of close contact with Bruno.

“You know what I mean, ‘Arry,” became a catchphrase as their post-fight interviews attracted a following that was akin to double-act idolatry. Carpenter’s quandary was familiar: in charting the lives and careers of the souls whose blood leaves stains on the canvas and whose feats make hero-worshippers of us all, how close is too close?

From world champions to journeyman triers, boxers invite us into their gyms and even their homes, and their accommodating warmth can be interpreted as a burden as well as a privilege. When they produce a lousy performance in the ring or transgress outside, our judgement is bound to be shaped by any bond created beforehand.

Honesty is easy when commenting from a distance – but face to face?

Mike Costello (left, pictured with Anthony Joshua) says commentators have to tread the line between being close to the fighter and being impartial

Just over two years ago, when walking back to the dressing room at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn after James DeGale had fought to a draw in a brutal fight against USA-based Swede Badou Jack, the Briton was complaining that he had been hard done by. He felt he had won and asked me for my verdict.

I’ve known DeGale since the build-up to the 2008 Olympics and was well aware that he wanted – possibly needed – to hear an endorsement of his own view. But I had scored the contest in favour of Jack and though human nature was begging me to lie, I told the truth.

When we reached the dressing room, he gave me the kind of interview that wrenches the gut. One of his front teeth was missing, he was cut on the cheekbone and lumps were vying for space on his face. Family and friends were imploring him to drink and rehydrate as he lisped his way through his reflections of the kind of ordeal that shortens a career.

In buying the commentary rights to big fights, TV and radio networks often get clearance in areas other media personnel are forbidden to enter. It was an interview few other outlets, if any, would get – and it made for powerful radio. In terms of my professional duty, job done. But given DeGale’s state of mind and body, should I have put the microphone away before even pressing the record button?

Later in 2017, DeGale lost his IBF super-middleweight title to American Caleb Truax in a massive upset at the Copper Box in London. My review of the contest was cited by DeGale when we met at the initial news conference in London for Saturday’s fight against fellow Briton Chris Eubank Jr at the O2 Arena in London.

“I listened to your thing [podcast] after my fight and you basically said I was shot,” he said.

“That hurt me a little bit. But listen, you judge me after this fight and we’ll speak then.”

In November, criticism came my way on social media for persisting in an interview with Tony Bellew after he had been knocked out by Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk in Manchester. Bellew’s answers became repetitive and some listeners were concerned he needed medical attention and should have been spared my inquisition.

Bellew is among the most giving of sports stars in embracing media demands and here was another instance of a conflict between professional and personal instincts.

He later spoke for half an hour at the official post-fight news conference and had I not got his reaction earlier at ringside, the BBC Radio 5 live audience could have complained justifiably that an important part of the fight-night story had been overlooked. And Bellew, who has worked alongside me on 5 live’s coverage in the past, is well aware of such imperatives.

Big-fight weeks are comprised of a series of set-piece events – usually a public workout, the final news conference and the weigh-in, in that order.

The tension increases as each passes and the weigh-in often carries an overload of angst. A mask of intensity comes down over the face of most boxers at this stage as they complete the transition into beast mode. I was once told in no uncertain terms to go away by a world champion when I approached him for an interview soon after he had weighed in.

For many boxers, the first battle is raged against the scales and the relief at making weight is matched by the desperation to begin the replenishment process as soon as possible. When the mood is already dark, a microphone can be an unnecessary distraction.

Fight predictions can be influenced by the relationship between boxer and reporter. Getting behind the man who has been generous with his time during the build-up is a temptation; ignoring such tendencies is a necessity, even though picking against certain characters can feel like a betrayal.

This week, DeGale – like many before him – is drawing on the words of naysayers for inspiration.

Speaking last week at his gym in north-west London, he repeated his grievance against me.

“Mike, you’ve been one of my biggest critics. I remember after my last fight against Truax, you said: ‘Nah, we’ve seen the best of him.’

“I promise you, Mike, I’m looking forward to proving you wrong.”

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Amtrak’s plan to boost ridership could hurt long-distance routes, report says

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Amtrak’s plan to boost ridership could hurt long-distance routes, report says

Amtrak is planning to boost its ridership by revamping its national network of passenger trains, which could bring changes to its storied long-distance routes.

the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Mimicking its popular Northeast Corridor route, which runs from Washington, D.C. to Boston, elsewhere in the country could increase ridership by millions and help Amtrak compete with other forms of transportation, like flying and driving.

The idea to target more riders with more frequent service in the South and West comes as most of the rail service’s trains used for long-distance routes, such as the Coast Starlight and California Zephyr, are nearing the end of their lifespans.

Later this year, Congress will have to reauthorize and provide federal funding for Amtrak. Government and Amtrak officials said those funds could go toward railcars better suited for short-distance routes instead of those with sleeping and dining cars, the Journal reported.

To be sure, overhauling the train service is not obstacle-free. The long-distance routes, which serve 15 percent of Amtrak’s passengers, have committed fans who could protest cutbacks, the paper said. Congress has also previously defended the routes. The rail service could also clash with the freight railroads that own most of the train tracks that Amtrak uses for its service outside of the Northeast Corridor.

Amtrak did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

Read more about Amtrak’s plan to expand ridership at the Wall Street Journal.

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The Sydney and Melbourne suburbs defying the property downturn

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The Sydney and Melbourne suburbs defying the property downturn

“They have appeal to a very broad cross-section of the market, and it’s in those areas where houses have been under supplied, and if supply is down and demand is still relatively OK, good prices will still be achieved,” Mr McGlynn said.

A few very big sales in those suburbs, especially those on tightly-held streets overlooking the water, which is the case in Cremorne and Blakehurst, can also skew the numbers, Mr McGlynn added.

Cremorne’s median house price has increased in value by 95.4 per cent in the past five years, growing from $1.38 million to $2.7 million.

Sydney’s unit market showed pockets of strength, particularly in some suburbs where apartments offered better value relative to houses for sale.

There were five suburbs across the city where apartment prices grew by more than 10 per cent: Kirrawee, which experienced 15.5 per cent growth, followed by Crows Nest (12.9 per cent), Elizabeth Bay (12.5 per cent), Rozelle (12.4 per cent) and North Bondi (12.1 per cent).

Gavin Croft, head auctioneer at Bresic Whitney, said the strength in the Rozelle apartment market came as no surprise.

“What we started to see last year was an influx of buyers that moved from Sydney’s eastern suburbs as they saw better value in the apartment market elsewhere. Even though we’ve only had two weeks of auctions, some of the strongest results have been in the inner west,” Mr Croft said.

Meanwhile other suburbs, where there had been an influx of off-the-plan apartments, such as Newtown, Erskineville and Summer Hill had suffered considerably.

The harbourside neighbourhood of Elizabeth Bay, which has a median unit price of $1.1 million, and its Art Deco apartments always generated energy around sales campaigns no matter the strength of the market, Mr Croft said.

“Those quality art deco apartments that you see throughout Elizabeth Bay, they are always well-inspected and that generally translates to good sales. That little enclave has a real rhythm to it, there’s a strong connection to the water, and all those features that people love about the Art Deco era can’t be replicated now,” Mr Croft said.

Affordable suburbs

While many of the more affordable suburbs on Sydney’s fringe have suffered in the current downturn, in Melbourne, cheaper up-and-coming suburbs on the city’s outskirts held their ground or, in some cases, grew substantially in 2018.

House prices in Kurunjang, 40 kilometres west of the Melbourne CBD, grew by 17.4 per cent over the 12 months to December, followed by the town of Gisborne, a 54-kilometre drive from Melbourne towards Bendigo, where prices increased by 16.9 per cent.

Access to affordable housing was clearly a factor in the areas where house prices grew the most, with all suburbs, except for Middle Park, recording a median price below $770,000.

 

The threshold for stamp duty concessions for first-home buyers, which are now available for properties under $750,000, were also likely helping to drive up the prices in those particular areas, said buyer’s agent Julie DeBondt-Barker, of Property Home Base.

“A lot of those suburbs are on the outskirts – either in the north or west – and some of them like Wallan are nearly rural,” Ms DeBondt-Barker said.

“There are a lot of first-home buyers in those areas as well as new Australians who have immigrated here and are hoping to get their toe in the market,” she said.

“The reason [for the demand] would be the low prices and a lot of those places have pretty good infrastructure now … some are newer suburbs like Truganina that have really boomed since infrastructure was put in there,” Ms DeBondt-Barker said.

 

Many of the suburbs where apartment prices grew the most in 2018 were still close to the CBD, but traditionally unappealing neighbourhoods that first-home buyers were beginning to gentrify.

The median apartment price in St Albans grew 17.2 per cent to $422,000 followed by Frankston (14.1 per cent), Pascoe Vale (12.7 per cent), Bentleigh East (12 per cent), Carrum Downs (11 per cent) and Werribee (10.6 per cent).

“St Albans is still very close to the city but missed the growth at the time of the boom,” Ms DeBondt-Barker said. “It had a stigma attached to it, but some some first-home buyers are saying they will move in and make it nicer.

“Frankston also has a lot of stigma still attached and Pascoe Vale is a suburb that seemed to remain invisible during the boom and kept under the radar.”

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Rachael Blackmore: Jump jockey seeking to become first female champion

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Rachael Blackmore: Jump jockey seeking to become first female champion
Rachael Blackmore, with 80 winners before racing on 20 February, was three behind leader Paul Townend in the race to be Irish champion jockey

For decades, unlike almost every other sport, male and female jockeys have competed on level terms, but in Ireland some men find themselves feeling less than equal.

Admittedly, it’s a guy – former champion Paul Townend – who leads the riders’ title race for the 2018-19 jumps season – but very much hard on his heels is Rachael Blackmore following a prolific run.

However, to steal a favourite phrase from the horse racing formbook, it’s a case of ‘pair well clear’ of the pack, a group headed by Davy Russell and Mark Walsh; after an injury-hit time of it, perennial leading contender Ruby Walsh is further behind.

And, as a jockey very much in favour with aviation tycoon Michael O’Leary’s vast, highly-influential Gigginstown House Stud racing operation, managed by his brother Eddie, the odds on Blackmore winning are nothing fancy.

Were the 29-year-old, who held a decisive advantage through the early months of the campaign, to end up in front when the season concludes at the Punchestown Festival in May, she’d be racing’s first female professional jump jockey champion. Such a result would be a landmark for racing.

That door is surely soon to spring open: Blackmore and, in Britain, Lucy Alexander have been top conditional (National Hunt apprentice) riders; Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh, both now retired, have been star Irish amateur riders; Lizzie Kelly and Bryony Frost continue to grab headlines over jumps in the UK; while Hayley Turner, Amy Ryan and Josephine Gordon have all won the apprentices’ title on the British flat scene.

“The champion jockey thing isn’t really a… I’ll pass on that question maybe,” Blackmore said shyly when asked about her championship prospects.

Blackmore, seen here riding at Punchestown, only turned professional four years ago

Happier to reflect upon the season so far, she continued: “I think Eddie [Michael’s brother] approached [trainer] Henry de Bromhead at the start of the summer and maybe said, ‘Would you use Rachael for some of our horses?’ and Henry said yes.

“His horses were flying at the time, and I was the lucky one that got the leg-up on them, and that’s how it started.

“I’m riding a lot for Henry – not just Gigginstown – it’s a case of being in the right yard at the right time, and things are really clicking at the moment.”

And it’s not just the De Bromhead team with which she’s clicking. Associations are close too with a long list of Irish trainers, including the two largest, Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins – indeed, she shares a house with Mullins’ son Patrick, as well as her jockey-boyfriend Brian Hayes and amateur rider Richie Deegan.

It could, however, have been so different.

The middle one of three children of a County Tipperary dairy farmer and his wife, a teacher, Blackmore has an older brother who’s a graphic designer and younger sister who’s a law graduate.

She herself planned to become a vet so studied science, then equine science and did a business course before making the decision to concentrate on life as a jockey from the age of 26.

She said: “People say to me now ‘your dreams are coming true’, but I could never even have dreamt of being a professional jockey – it was so far from what I thought I could have ever achieved.

“Being a vet was what I wanted to be, but I was poor enough in academics – I kept failing maths – so that didn’t happen, but I’m happy enough now.”

Katie Walsh, Bryony Frost and Rachael Blackmore all rode in last year’s Grand National at Aintree

No doubt some of that story will be told on Jump Girls, a two-part documentary being shown on television in Ireland in the run-up to March’s Cheltenham Festival, in which Blackmore and other female National Hunt racing personalities feature.

The weeks before the Festival are an anxious time for any trainer and jockey involved, and although no exact plans are in place, there’s no doubt Blackmore will be in high demand, especially with both Gigginstown and the De Bromhead stable well-represented.

The 28 races over the four days of the Cheltenham Festival of course don’t count towards the Irish National Hunt Championship, but straight afterwards it’ll be back down to business as usual at home.

That it’s Paul Townend who looks her principal rival has its ironic side: they are ‘old foes’ in that as youngsters they competed against each other on the pony racing circuit.

“In my first experience of pony racing, I actually beat Paul, which was a big highlight for me as you can imagine,” said Blackmore.

“It’s quite funny watching the video back because he’s so polished already – he’s 12 or 13, and looks like he’s going to be a champion jockey of the future, and I just look horrendous beside him, but I won anyway so that’s the main thing.

“It’s good rivalry and good fun.”

Now really rather polished herself, perhaps history will soon be repeating itself.

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Five ways to jump-start your tax return

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Five ways to jump-start your tax return

This tax season has been a shock for filers who received smaller-than-expected tax refunds or a bill from the IRS for taxes owed.

Thus far, refund checks are about 8.7 percent smaller than they were last year, as of Feb. 8, according to data from the tax authority.

Employees who had a lot of out-of-pocket expenses that weren’t reimbursed by their employer might really feel the pinch this year, as this itemized deduction is now off the table.

“A trucker, a regional salesperson — they get W-2s and have an employer to report to, but they don’t get reimbursed for all of those out-of-pocket expenses and they were once able to deduct a portion of those costs,” said Phillips.

“This might have been the gateway to be able to itemize on your tax return or substantially increase your itemized deductions,” he said.

Whether you owe the IRS or you received a smaller tax refund for 2018, consider it a lesson learned for 2019.

That might mean you’ll need to adjust your tax withholding so that you’re closer to breaking even with the taxman.

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