Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
A – ALL ABOUT AARON
Social media went nuts on Wednesday afternoon when former WA jockey Aaron Mitchell steered the Patrick Payne-trained Michelin to victory in the Dunroe Steeplechase (3450m) at Warrnambool. The angular 24-year-old lost his battle with weight, ending his flat career, but was encouraged by Payne to consider the jumps after he started riding trackwork for him. To see Mitchell prevail in his maiden ride at Warrnambool, let alone over the jumps, was just one special story in a magical three-day carnival with many layers.
B – BREATHE EASY
West Australians will be able to do exactly that from midnight tonight when the requirements to wear masks will be eased. Only those on public transport, venues with more than 1000 people attending and in hospitals and aged-care facilities will be required to wear masks. In a further boost to our sporting sides, crowds will be allowed back at Optus Stadium, RAC Arena and HBF Park, albeit at 75 per cent capacity. The announcement is timely for both the Perth Wildcats and Perth Glory, who are hosting matches over the weekend.
C – CLASS PERSONIFIED
Craig Williams, take a bow. Your recognition of the terminally ill Nigel Latham at Morphettville last weekend smacked of a person with impeccable qualities. The vision of Latham being stationed at the 200m mark in his hospital bed to soak up some trackside action as a dying wish gained traction throughout social media, both in Australia and abroad. Williams, who understands the temperature of the room better than any other jockey in the country, was emotional when informed about Latham’s plight and made a point of throwing his goggles to the Adelaide man after being successful aboard Lady Dunmore.
D – DROPPED THE BALL
The AFL Tribunal and VFL Tribunal need a refresher course in the seriousness of concussion. For Paddy McCartin to only be suspended for five matches by the VFL for his off-the-ball punch that felled Aaron Black last weekend is nothing short of a disgrace. It was a cowardly act, borderline unforgivable. With what we know about head trauma and where we want to get to, the start point should have been eight weeks and nobody would have been upset had he been slapped with 10 weeks. Bayley Fritsch’s raised elbow that collected North Melbourne youngster Tom Powell led to a one-week ban, which was overturned at appeal, was not as menacing as McCartin’s act, but still unnecessary. A player running into tackle an opponent should no longer be expecting a raised forearm or elbow.
E – ENGLISH ENTITLEMENT
Fans of Chelsea and Manchester City were up and about this week after their sides booked spots in the May 29 Champions League final in Istanbul. Up in arms only last month after their clubs were linked to a breakaway league, supporters can now look forward to the prospect of being associated with the best outfit in Europe. Given the depth of some of their opposition in Europe, that is no mean feat and a massive tick for the game in England.
F – FRESH FACE
The Perth Wildcats have been in the championship conversation for the entire NBL season. In fact, as the most successful NBL franchise in history, they have been in that space for more than three decades. Fresh off ending Melbourne United’s 11-game winning streak on Wednesday night, the Wildcats locked away Boomers centre Will Magnay to further boost their prospects of successfully defending their title. Magnay only recently became available after a short stint in the NBA with New Orleans. It is a typically shrewd piece of recruiting by the Wildcats and carried out with the ultimate prize in sight.
G – GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Is often a term of endearment. Ask Collingwood supporters about their list manager Ned Guy and almost every one of them would like him gone and his tenure at the club wiped from their memories. The man who orchestrated the fire sale of 2020 that resulted in Adam Treloar landing at the Western Bulldogs, Jaidyn Stephenson to North Melbourne and Tom Phillips to Hawthorn yesterday announced his resignation. Guy will continue until the completion of the mid-season draft early next month, with his role then taken over an interim basis by current football manager Graham Wright.
H – HISTORICAL HOLLINDALE
Is tomorrow’s edition of the WFA feature on the Gold Coast the last time we see it at Group 2 level? On the strength of the field, it could well be. The race is loaded with Group 1 winners, including glamour Kiwi mare Melody Belle, who will run tomorrow and then in the Group 1 Doomben Cup before she is sold at a national broodmare sale. There have been numerous Group 1 races run this season that wouldn’t hold a candle to this race. An absolute ripping field.
I – INDIGENOUS DELIGHT
Lance Franklin, Graham “Polly” Farmer, Adam Goodes, Andrew McLeod, Gavin Wanganeen, Shaun Burgoyne, Peter Matera, Nicky Winmar, Stephen Michael. The list of great indigenous Australian Rules players goes on and on and on. And we are fortunate to be witnessing the career of perhaps the next outstanding indigenous talent in Kysaiah “Kozzy” Pickett. The nephew of Norm Smith medallist Byron Pickett has carved out seven superb games to open 2021, following on from 14 appearances in his debut season of 2020. Pickett’s ability to impact a match with multiple efforts or an individual piece of brilliance has drawn comparisons to the four-time premiership hero Cyril Rioli.
J – JAIL TIME
Jarryd Hayne was always facing a stint behind bars after he was found guilty of sexual assault on the night of the 2018 NRL grand final. Yesterday, the former pin-up boy of rugby league was sentenced to five years and nine months and will be incarcerated for at least three years and eight months. It has been a dramatic fall from grace for Hayne, a dual Dally M medallist, and a stain on the NRL.
K – KING-SIZED WORRIES
Los Angeles Lakers fans continue to hope and pray that LeBron James will be somewhere near his best for the play-offs. As they should. The Lakers are not winning the title without a healthy James, who missed 20 matches with an ankle injury and was rested for this morning’s match against the LA Clippers with soreness. King James, a four-time NBA MVP, is still a dominant force when right, but there are grave concerns he will be anywhere close to 100 per cent for the remainder of the season.
L – LIQUEURO’S LAST DANCE
Cindy Alderson has always been a trainer of repute. Her effort in getting Liqueuro to the Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) at his maiden preparation underlines her ability. And the son of Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente is not just making up the numbers. He is very much in the market, which is entirely understandable considering he took down race favourite and last-start Australian Derby winner Explosive Jack when they met two starts ago in Bendigo. Win, lose or draw tomorrow, he is likely to be heading to the paddock.
M – MONEY MAN
The Perth Wildcats hit paydirt back in January 2017 when they signed an American guard by the name of Bryce Cotton to breathe life into a stuttering campaign. Just over four years later, Cotton is continually spoken about as perhaps the best player the NBL has seen. If the Wildcats are to win the championship, Cotton has a huge role to play. The same applies to John Mooney, who has enjoyed a standout rookie season. Mooney’s 30 points against Melbourne United on Wednesday night reinforced how reliable he has become for Perth. The 23-year-old forward is averaging 17.8 points and 12 rebounds per game to exceed the Wildcats’ expectations. It seems the biggest issue for the Wildcats going forward is ensuring they pay Mooney enough money to retain his services.
N – NO COMING BACK
Nathan Buckley wants to remain at Collingwood beyond 2021. The club, if football boss Graham Wright is to be believed, is quite keen for that to occur also. Both parties are on record saying they will wait until later in the year before a final decision is reached. You have to wonder though whether Buckley’s position will become untenable should the Magpies go under to the winless North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium tomorrow. There will be a great deal of interest from neutral observers, that is for sure.
O – OVER THE LINE
It was apparent early last night that Melbourne Storm were very much that against South Sydney. It was a clinical display from Craig Bellamy’s men, something we have become accustomed to over the years. That they had the Bunnies on the ropes from early on was thanks to Josh Addo-Carr, who crossed the try line six times. Yes, six times. Addo-Carr terrorised South Sydney down the left side to become the first player in 71 years to score six tries in a first-grade game. The result? A 50-0 spanking.
P – PREMIER GOLF LEAGUE
Only last month, the proposed breakaway Super League featuring some of the biggest clubs in world soccer, including six from the UK, fell flat. Now traditional sports lovers are having to deal with the prospect the Premier Golf League, bankrolled by wealthy Saudi nationals, could lure some of the best golfers on the planet from the PGA Tour and European Tour. The likes of Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Bryson De Chambeau, along with Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott have been targeted previously and are believed to have been courted again recently. The PGL first came to prominence last year before COVID struck, forcing it to be put on the backburner. Watch this space.
Q – QUENCHING THE THIRST
Gifted trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice openly admits he has not watched a replay of the 2020 WA Derby after his charge Major Martini was nabbed in the shadows of the post by Patronus Star. That result denied him his first WA Derby as a trainer (he drove Im Victorious to victory in 2012 for Michael Brennan), but redemption came quickly. Last Friday night, Prentice prepared and drove Mighty Ronaldo to claim the $200,000 classic, finishing powerfully to beat the favourite Jumpinjackmac. A $22,000 yearling purchase, Mighty Ronaldo is now a multiple Group 1 winner and has collected more than $270,000 in earnings.
R – R.I.P
The passing last weekend of former Geelong president Frank Costa at the age of 83 reverberated around the AFL. Costa, a successful businessman, took over at the Cats in late 1998 and remained at the helm until 2010. Without his contribution, there might not have been a Geelong Football Club today. A kind man with wonderful leadership qualities, Costa’s influence will never be forgotten. His life will be celebrated at GMHBA Stadium next Wednesday.
S – SHOULDERING A LOAD
The next time Heath Chapman looks a teammate in the eye and asks for a little bit extra, he will almost certainly get it. Failure to do so would be a sin of the highest order. The teenager seriously damaged a shoulder early in last Sunday’s western derby. He should have been put on ice then and there. Instead, he had the injury assessed, had the shoulder strapped and played out the match despite being in obvious discomfort. It was no surprise this week to learn that Chapman was set for surgery and an extended stint on the sidelines. Young players going above and beyond are worth their weight in gold. The Dockers have got a ripper.
T – TEARS I CRY
Two knees. Two football codes. Two different States. Two players at opposite ends of their careers. Melbourne’s Adam Tomlinson and Sydney Roosters veteran Brett Morris could not hide their anguish last weekend after rupturing their respective anterior cruciate ligaments. They will not play again this year. And for Morris, 34, it is highly unlikely he will play an NRL match again. It was a hard watch.
U – UNTENABLE
IPL organisers were desperate to stage this year’s tournament on home soil after having relocated the 2020 edition to the UAE. It was a bold approach considering the threat presented by coronavirus. Ultimately it was flawed. With the pandemic raging in India, it was a shock that the tournament advanced to the halfway stage before it had a fork put in it this week. Once the bubble had been breached and players, coaches and staff were at risk, there was no other option. It would be a miracle if the World T20 takes place in India later this year as scheduled.
V – VANISHED AND VACANT
Perth Glory’s faint finals aspirations ended during the week when they succumbed 3-1 to Melbourne City before empty stands at HBF Park. Glory have endured a stop-start campaign because of Asian Champions League commitments and COVID, but they would have hoped to be relevant for longer in the A-League under rookie coach Richard Garcia. We can only hope owner Tony Sage’s financial investment in the club doesn’t wane going forward.
W – WONDERFUL WARRNAMBOOL
“How Bloody good is the Bool” is Ric McIntosh’s catch cry. It’s pretty bloody good, we must admit. The crowds were back at Warrnambool for their three-day carnival after being forced to watch from their loungerooms in 2020 due to the coronavirus and they witnessed some outstanding horse racing — both on the flat and over the jumps. The heavyweight stoush in the Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m) yesterday between Gold Medals and Zed Em was the highlight of a fantastic three days.
X – XAVIER’S DILEMMA
Brisbane Broncos young gun Xavier Coates has a decision to make. Multiple media outlets forecast the 20-year-old flyer was heading south to join the all-conquering Melbourne Storm. It caught the Broncos by surprise, with senior club officials doing everything they could to head off his expected departure. Broncos coach Kevin Walters says he is confident Coates will remain at Brisbane. The next 48 hours will be interesting.
Y – YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY
The margins in the AFL are very small. Geelong don’t need to be told that. Had they taken their chances last weekend, they would be entering tonight’s grand final rematch with Richmond at 5-2. Instead they are 4-3 and facing the prospect of sliding to 4-4 ahead of a danger game with St Kilda at the Saints’ home ground, Marvel Stadium. With Patrick Dangerfield still weeks away after ankle surgery, can the Cats make top four with a 50 per cent winning record after eight rounds? I say no.
Z – ZERAFA’S OPPORTUNITY
Michael Zerafa was craving a chance to fight Tim Tszyu. Some would say agitating. Well, now he has got it. And there are no second chances. If the big-punching Zerafa is to scale the heights he maintains he is capable of, he will need to take down the son of a gun, who is 18-0 and seemingly destined for greatness. If yesterday’s press conference confirming the bout is any guide, there will be plenty of spice in the lead-up — and will be authentic.