A – ASCOT, HERE WE COME
The wait is almost over … it’s time to return to summer headquarters and enjoy everything Ascot has to offer. This time of year always provides horse lovers with a pep in their step and tomorrow’s 10-race card is no different. WA racing couldn’t survive without Belmont. That we all acknowledge. But Ascot is a different beast entirely and the meeting tomorrow is the opening salvo of what promises to be an outstanding next three months at our premier track.
B – BOMBSHELL
Can you think of a better word to describe the reports this week, originating from the east coast, surrounding Lisa De Vanna? The former Matildas superstar alleged she was the subject of indecent assault, bullying, grooming and sexual harassment during her career with the women’s national team. The claims are deeply disturbing and demand action. Over to you Football Australia.
C – CAUL TO ARMS
The Caulfield Guineas has long been regarded as a stallion-making race. And understandably so. Who can forget Redoute’s Choice’s famous victory over Testa Rossa in 1999, one of many absorbing battles the pair enjoyed during their illustrious careers. Tomorrow at Caulfield we see Godolphin colt Anamoe and the Sam and Anthony Freedman-prepared Artorius square off in what looms as another enthralling edition. Both Anamoe and Artorius already boast Group 1 victories as juveniles and another win at the elite level will only add to their value post-racing career.
D – DOUBLE THE FUN
Much enjoyment is elicited from a Group 1 victory. Neither Zaaki nor Incentivise are quite at the Winx or Black Caviar level, but they are currently the headline acts in Australian racing with a happy knack of trying to outshine the other. Incentivise highlighted his class with a win in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington early last month. A fortnight later, Zaaki stepped up to the plate and cruised to success in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield. Then last week, Incentivise was back at it, winning the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington. Not to be outdone, Zaaki will line up in the Group 1 Might And Power (2000m) at Caulfield tomorrow where anything less than an emphatic triumph would be a shock. How good would it be if these two giants of the turf met in the Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley later this month?
E -EXTRA TIME
Do the crime, do the time. It is a saying that has been around forever. Ben Melham surely knows it better than anyone. Then again, you would have thought he had learnt his lesson after spending months on the sideline for betting offences. Clearly not. This week he received an additional three-month ban for giving false and/or misleading evidence to stewards in omitting the name of Mark Zahra at the Mornington Airbnb gathering in late August that had already seen him slapped with a costly suspension. Melham will now be out of the saddle until March next year. He wouldn’t want to put a foot wrong upon his return.
F – FAST AND FURIOUS
There will be no time to take a breath when the gates open for tomorrow’s $100,000 Crown Perth 3YO Classic (1000m) at Ascot. Featuring a swag of our most talented young horses, the field possesses enormous speed, mostly drawn out, including Sniparoochy, Ruthless Tycoon and Flying Missile. Don’t expect the likes of Spin The Knife, He’s Gold and Heavenly Waters to let their good barriers go to waste though, while the expected hot tempo could work in the favour of well-backed favourite Arcadia Grace. Excellent race.
G – GIDDEY UP
Americans, for the most part, are an excitable bunch. Therefore it was little wonder why basketball fans in the USA were beside themselves after Aussie teen Josh Giddey made his NBA pre-season debut this week for Oklahoma City Thunder. Taken with pick six in the draft earlier this year, Giddey wowed the Thunder fans and laid down a marker for Rookie of the Year honours when he logged 18 points, including two three-pointers, seven rebounds and three assists from 29 minutes on court. Giddey’s ball handling and passing were also elite. He is going to be a lot of fun to watch when the regular season gets underway later this month.
H – HAPPY HOMECOMING
Tom Brady’s return to Foxboro on Tuesday morning was analysed to an inch of its life. It was always going to be. Having delivered the New England Patriots six Super Bowl rings before making his way south to link up with Tampa Bay, Brady’s homecoming was massive news right around the world. Unfortunately for Pats fans, Brady did what Brady has done for most of his career — rallied his side to victory. The GOAT wasn’t at his peerless best, but it must be remembered he was without his favourite receiving target in Rob Gronkowski and still went past Drew Brees to become the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader.
I – IN DEMAND
That is exactly what Regan Bayliss found himself after a breakout day in the saddle last weekend. The youngster, who bravely opted to continue his riding career in Sydney soon after returning from Hong Kong, punched home back-to-back Group 1 winners aboard Never Been Kissed in the Flight Stakes (1600m) and Private Eye (1600m) in the Epsom. As a result, trainer Cliff Brown booked Bayliss for The Inferno in tomorrow week’s $15 million The Everest (1200m), also at Randwick. Unfortunately for Bayliss, he was suspended at Gosford yesterday and will miss the ride on Private Eye in the $7.5 million Golden Eagle on October 30 unless his appeal is successful.
J – JUBILATION ON TYNESIDE
Newcastle United fans couldn’t contain their glee when it was confirmed a Saudi Arabia-led consortium had taken over their club. The Public Investment Fund (PIF) purchased Newcastle in a deal believed to be worth $A560 million. The Magpies have not won a domestic trophy for more than 65 years and are currently languishing in 19th position in the league after a poor start to the new campaign. Now with serious money to spend, expect Newcastle to vault up the table.
K – KING-SIZED ASSIGNMENT
A field of quality performers await King Of Swing in tomorrow night’s Group 1 Victoria Cup (2150m) at Bendigo. So too does a horror barrier draw. King Of Swing has come up with barrier 13 (outside the back row), adding considerable interest to a race which appeared at his mercy had he drawn favourably. If you think his brilliance shines through, he is still an inviting $2.45 with TABtouch.
L – LIVING THE DREAM
Local trainer Brian Allen and in-form jockey Joseph Azzopardi were doing exactly that, as were punters who followed them, when Living The Dream upstaged his more fancied rivals to take out last Saturday’s $150,000 Kalgoorlie Cup (2200m). There were question marks whether the six-year-old entire would run out the trip, but those doubts were dispelled by a positive Azzopardi ride and Allen’s efforts to ensure Living The Dream remained in excellent order after being entrusted to take over his training by Lindsey Smith. Living The Dream is now back with Smith and could be a player in some even bigger races during the spring.
M – MEN IN BLACK
Twelve months after they struggled to reconcile with a heartbreaking loss at the hands of Melbourne Storm, Penrith are the toast of the NRL. The boys from the foot of the Blue Mountains outlasted South Sydney 14-12 in a bruising grand final at Suncorp Stadium. Given the injury list the Panthers were forced to contend with, coupled with a opening-week finals loss to the Rabbitohs which required them to upset the Storm in the preliminary final, it is a victory Ivan Cleary and his players are entitled to be immensely proud of.
N – NO TURNING BACK
The English players needed their backs scratched and family considerations taken into account, but with both boxes ticked, we have an Ashes series. Opinions are divided on whether England were genuinely thinking of hitting the pause button and in the process, leaving Cricket Australia with a $200 million black hole as a result of a summer with no Ashes Tests. Fortunately however, we no longer have to worry about the worst-case scenario, instead prepare to see how Joe Root can lead majestically and cause an upset of gigantic proportions. Now for that fifth Test in Perth to be given the seal of approval.
O – ONE TO WATCH
Bookmakers around the country wasted little time making adjustments to their Golden Slipper markets after Coolangatta produced an arrogant display to take out last weekend’s Group 3 Gimcrack Stakes (1000m) at Randwick. A daughter of Written Tycoon and prepared by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, Coolangatta was afforded no favours in the run from a wide gate for James McDonald, but let down like a serious animal en route to a three-and-a-half length victory. Her time of 56.78 seconds was more than seven lengths faster than what the boys produced just over half an hour later in the Group 3 Breeders’ Plate.
P – PROFONDO’S PURSUIT
Regardless of how Profondo fares in tomorrow’s Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick, he will find a home at stud. As a $1.9 million yearling purchase and a son of fabled Japanese stallion Deep Impact, the striking colt is closely monitored by all and sundry every time he walks out of trainer Richard Litt’s stable. In an indication of Profondo’s ability, he will line up in tomorrow’s feature as the favourite … at just the third start of his career. Should he salute as many expect he will, there are going to be a number of zeros added to his price tag.
Q – QUARTARARO’S QUEST
Paul Stuart will be hoping history repeats when his ultra-consistent chaser Quartararo lines up in tonight’s Group 3 Mandurah Cup (490m). Quartararo boasts six wins from six starts out of box one and will be sporting the red rug again in the $35,000 feature. Stuart will also be represented by the gifted Serong, who has already won 10 races to bank more than $74,000 in prizemoney.
R – RARE AIR
Hugh Bowman admits he battled for motivation following Winx’s retirement from the racetrack. The post-Winx funk though has been well and truly consigned to the scrapheap however, with Bowman last Saturday joining select company by notching his 100th Group 1 victory with success aboard Montefilia in the Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick. Bowman joined George Moore, Damien Oliver and Jim Cassidy as the only hoops with 100 Group 1 triumphs. He will chase Group 1 victory 101 tomorrow when he links up with Benaud in the $1 million Spring Champion Stakes (2000m).
S – SIGN OF INTENT
The A-League needed an injection. It got that and much, much more when Perth Glory sent shockwaves throughout the domestic competition by announcing they had signed Daniel Sturridge to a one-year contract. A Champions League and FA Cup winner with Liverpool, Premier League victor at Chelsea and former England international, Sturridge has the CV and skillset to torment all of his rivals in the A-League. Glory immediately enter the championship conversation with Sturridge on board.
T – THUNDER IN TOORAK
For all you well-heeled individuals in Toorak reading this, don’t stress. You are not about to experience some wild weather. We are talking about the Mick Price and Michael Kent-trained equine star I’m Thunderstruck, who will chase Group 1 success in tomorrow’s Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield. Heavily backed when desperately unlucky in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) three weeks ago, I’m Thunderstruck returns to The Heath for another assignment at the elite level. Unlike the Rupert Clarke, he has come up with a perfect barrier and remains on 52kg. He is most definitely the horse they all have to beat.
U – UH OH URBAN
From the moment you saw the footage of 57-year-old Urban Meyer dancing with a young lady in an Ohio bar, you knew the fallout was going to be profound. And despite the first-year NFL coach’s apologies, it seems he is very much on a short leash, both personally and professionally. A decorated college mentor, Meyer has overseen a 0-4 start at the helm of the Jacksonsville Jaguars and could have done without social media footage of him, appearing to be under the influence of alcohol, being caught in a compromising position.
V – VEGAS BABY
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. We’ve all heard the slogan and the reference to it being “Sin City”. And there will be more eyeballs than normal directed towards the desert on Sunday morning, WA time, when Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder step into the ring at T-Mobile Arena for their heavily-hyped trilogy fight. Their first heavyweight bout, back in 2018, ended in a controversial draw before Fury knocked out Wilder at their rematch in February last year. There is something seriously majestic about a heavyweight contest in the bright lights of Las Vegas.
W – WHERE TO NOW
You would love to be a fly on the wall of the decision makers at the Brooklyn Nets. They have spent hundreds of millions of dollars assembling a roster that is capable of delivering the franchise an NBA title. A key component of that roster is seven-time All-Star Kyrie Irving, who has thus far opted against receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. As a result of his stance, Irving is not permitted to train or play with the Nets when they play or practice in New York. It leaves Irving and the Nets in an awkward situation as the start of the regular season nears.
X – XISCO, OFF YOU GO
Thanks for your service, but don’t let the door hit you on the way out. That was the message from Watford’s ownership to Xisco Munoz after last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Leeds United at Elland Road. Despite guiding Watford from the Championship to the Premier League last season, Munoz was shown the door after managing only two wins and one draw from the opening seven games of the new campaign. He became the first manager to be sacked in the EPL this season, yet almost certainly won’t be the last.
Y – YOU’LL FIND OUT
To those Victorian football commentators who are doubting the wisdom of Carlton acquiring Adam Cerra from Fremantle during the trade period, just take a breath and pump the brakes. The Blues are getting a high-class midfielder who will complement Sam Walsh, Patrick Cripps and George Hewett. Cerra, like so many WA-based players before him, suffered from the out-of-sight, out-of-mind syndrome. Elite kicks in the current game are hard to find. He is one and can find his own footy too. A great get for Carlton. Importantly for Fremantle, they were well compensated.
Z – ZAC’S ATTACK
We are early into a new season of Hong Kong racing, but we seeing the same old dominance of Zac Purton and Joao Moreira. Purton has already chalked up 17 victories in the current campaign, four more than his closest rival in Moreira and is hellbent on claiming a fifth premiership to go with his wins in the seasons of 2013-14, 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-2020. The Australian rider’s cause will be aided considerably should he continue his association with the David Hayes-trained Nervous Witness, who is now two for two over 1000m at Sha Tin and running times that is causing enormous excitement in Hong Kong racing circles.