The Weekly A-Z


Utter those two words and all golf fans, indeed most sports lovers, immediately get a little giddy. The fascination with the US Masters at the famed lay-out is extend throughout the world, especially Down Under where Adam Scott entered the history books in 2013 as the first Australian to clinch victory and don the green jacket. Scott will again be in Georgia next week seeking more glory, but the best-placed Aussie looms as Cameron Smith, who boasts a runner-up finish there and has never missed the cut in five appearances.


If you needed proof live sport is the best reality television you will experience, let’s hope you were watching last Friday night’s Sydney v Geelong showdown at the SCG. The build-up to Lance Franklin’s pursuit of the four goals required to give him 1000 in a glittering career was absorbing. And the 35 minutes after he achieved the milestone, taking in the frenzied ground invasion and then the eventual clearing of the playing surface, was something to behold. 


Dubai is a long way from Bunbury. Nobody needs to tell Damian Lane that. The South-West product was at his brilliant best last Saturday night at the World Cup meeting in Dubai, one of the grandest stages imaginable in the thoroughbred landscape, guiding Japanese colt Crown Pride to victory in the Group 2 UAE Derby (1900m). Lane and success with Japanese horses is well known thanks to his stints in the Land of the Rising Sun prior to COVID and news that Crown Pride will be aimed at the Kentucky Derby is undeniably exciting. 


You can’t be half pregnant, they say. Well the AFL’s decision to have overlapping matches as part of a Friday night double-header suggests you can. We know the league was keen to give the AFLW “clear air” in regards to its grand final before COVID left officials with little option but to push the decider back. Tonight’s issue shouldn’t have materialised. If you wanted to give the Showdown a Friday night stage, surely the Crows and Port could have been allowed free rein as opposed to sharing eyeballs with Melbourne and Essendon. The fixturing doesn’t do anything to diminish the widespread belief that the AFL remains overtly Victorian centric.


It generates enormous interest year and year and there is no reason to suggest next week’s auction at the Riverside complex in south-west Sydney won’t be a resounding success. The April 5-6 sale features a catalogue that leaves you shaking your head in amazement. There are relations to 152 stakes winners, including 40 Group 1 victors, and progeny of 178 stakes-winning mares, with 37 of those mares being Group 1 winners themselves. Expect global interest and  many yearlings to fetch seven figures.


Eduardo is fast. Seriously quick. That is just as well because he will again have the likes of Nature Strip, Masked Crusader and the new kid on the block, Shelby Sixtysix, breathing down his neck inside the final 200m of the $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick tomorrow. Eduardo, part-owned by WA interests, is a Group 1 winner over 1200m and loves a wet track and we saw him most recently take out the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) after an aggressive Nash Rawiller steer.


It’s not all that often WA has representation in the Doncaster Mile, one of the great races on the Australian calendar. This year we are spoilt. We have not only one runner, but two, with Inspirational Girl and Kissonallforcheeks set to do their best to negotiate a waterlogged Randwick track. Their task has been made easier with luxury weights — Group 1 winner Inspirational Girl carries just 51.5kg for William Pike and Kissonallforcheeks, a placegetter in both the Railway Stakes and Kingston Town Classic, will go around for Alysha Collett under 51kg.


Travis Head enjoyed a wonderful Ashes series, cementing his place in the middle order of the Australian Test side with unrelenting and expansive batting. His 152 at the Gabba was breathtaking and he rounded out the 4-0 rout of the Poms with a savage 108 in Hobart. Head was unable to replicate his heroics in the Test series against Pakistan, which ended late last week, but illustrated how dangerous he can be when he blazed 101 off only 72 deliveries to give Australia a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. Not satisfied, Head followed up with an equally breezy 89 from 70 balls last night in game two.


Has an AFL side’s final team ever been scrutinised as much as West Coast’s was last weekend? It is highly doubtful. Then again, it could be surpassed this round. The AFL’s decision to allow both the Eagles and Fremantle to delay naming their line-ups for this weekend’s western derby guarantees considerable debate, scuttlebutt and questions before we get an idea of who runs out on to Optus Stadium on Sunday afternoon. 


Gold Coast Titans playmaker AJ Brimson shouldn’t expect a Christmas card from besieged Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire this year. Brimson pounced on a loose ball inside the final 90 seconds of last night’s NRL encounter, scoring the hosts’ only try in the match that set up an 8-6 victory. In a week where Maguire’s future was fiercely discussed, it was a brutal result.  


One of the more exciting days all year at Ascot is nearly upon us. The Group 2 Amelia Park Karrakatta Plate (1200m) at summer headquarters tomorrow is an event many trainers circled on their calendar from the moment they purchased a yearling or were handed the ID card by a local breeder. It is a race where the winner seriously enhances their chances of being named WA’s Champion 2YO. Off what we have seen thus far, the horse they all have to beat is the Simon Miller-prepared Amelia’s Jewel, whose two wins from as many starts have come in the Listed Supremacy Stakes (1000m) and Group 3 Gimcrack Stakes (1100m).


Onwards to the Group 2 WATC Derby (2400m). That was the chant this week from trainer Brock Lewthwaite after his filly broke her maiden status in spectacular fashion in last Saturday’s Group 3 WA Oaks. Lady Chant entered the feature in solid enough form, albeit had not been running around in the traditional lead-up races, notably the Listed 1000 Guineas (1800m) and Listed Natasha Stakes (2200m). But it mattered little as a patient Jason Whiting ride allowed her to upstage her more fancied rivals and claim an important Group victory. 


Pat Cummins didn’t want Justin Langer to remain at the helm of the Australian cricket side. He didn’t make it known publicly, but had his say behind closed doors. As Australian captain, you are entrusted with considerable responsibility and wide-reaching power. If you agitate for change, you have to make sure your own backyard is in order. Translated … Cummins needed to avoid a series defeat in Pakistan. He went one better. He oversaw a 1-0 victory, courtesy of a dramatic final day in Lahore, to let everybody know that this current Aussie Test side is very much his.


Another tennis tournament, another Nick Kyrgios meltdown. We shouldn’t be surprised. Every event Kyrgios contests has its share of tantrums as the Canberran time and time again struggles to handle the added focus and expectation. That was the case this week when he lost his you know what in a straight-sets loss to Janek Sinner. It was Kyrgios at his worst and proved yet again that he doesn’t possess the mental strength to capitalise on his rare skillset and win a grand slam.


We love our sports stars showing everything they are made of. They don’t have to win all the time, just as long as they prove to us that they care and they’re doing everything they can to achieve success. In Tim Tszyu, we have got a beauty. His ability to overcome a pre-fight virus and first-round knockdown in last Sunday morning’s bout with Terrell Gashua was admirable. As was his desire to impose himself on the American in the fourth and fifth rounds to establish a level footing and then prove stronger over the concluding stages to eke out a unanimous victory. With an unwavering commitment to the sport, Tszyu is destined for bigger and better things.


It is a catch-cry that everyone in Australian racing knows only too well. So it was at Newcastle yesterday when the Wizard booted home three winners, including Thalassophile for Chris Waller in the final event on the card. And given how he has handled the transition to NSW racing (like a duck to the water is apt considering the weather over there), who’s to say he can’t do it again in race 10 at Randwick tomorrow? He links up with the Team Hawkes-trained Snitzel filly Smirnova, who has her share of talent, in the Group 3 PJ Bell Stakes (1200m). That mount comes after a busy day for Pike, who has sits in all four of the Group 1s on day one of The Championships.


Get in it if you have backed Australia to win the women’s World Cup and just so happen to be strolling past a TABtouch agency. Australia will play England in the 50-over final on Sunday after thrashing the West Indies in their semi-final. It was the Aussies’ eighth win in New Zealand and ensured they would start heavy favourites against the Poms, who advanced with their own emphatic victory yesterday opposed to South Africa.


Aretha Franklin, the late Queen of Soul, made the song “Respect” famous in 1967. While it’s doubtful she ever sat down and watched a game of Australian Rules football, had she done so, she may have nodded her head in approval for what the West Coast Eagles were able to achieve against North Melbourne in the face of incredible difficulty. The Eagles refused to have a “woe-is-me-attitude”, instead embracing the herculean task they were confronted with. The result? Respect. 


Mitch Barnett knew he was in trouble. Heck, Blind Freddie could have forecast he was going to be up to his neck in manure after his crude elbow on Penrith’s Chris Smith last weekend. Barnett was marched and as he sat alone in the Newcastle Knights’ changeroom, you could see him trying to process his moment of madness. Barnett pleaded guilty at the judiciary earlier this week and was hit with a six-match suspension. He can consider himself very fortunate.  


Is what Graham Arnold and his Socceroos are walking after their spluttering World Cup qualifying campaign was left on life support this week. The 1-0 defeat to Saudi Arabia means Australia now have to take down the UAE in Doha in early June in a one-off match where the winner will front up to Peru for the right to advance to the finals. Football Australia reaffirmed this week that Arnold would remain at the helm until the end of the Socceroos’ World Cup campaign, but he can look for alternative employment in 2023.


Edward Cummings has probably felt like a Hollywood A-Lister this week. From the moment his glamour mare Duais absolutely brained her rivals to claim the Group 1 Tancred Stakes (2400m) at Newcastle, his every step and every word have been closely monitored. Where is he going with the four-year-old? Will he start her in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) where she has only 51kg and Kerrin McEvoy has been booked for the ride? Or will he bring her back to the 2000m of the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) to enable regular rider Josh Parr to stick? An answer appears imminent.


He is not there yet, but yesterday’s dominant day-one display by WA against Victoria in the Sheffield Shield final has Adam Voges on the cusp of a rare hat-trick of victories. Having orchestrated the Perth Scorchers’ BBL triumph over the Sydney Sixers, the former WA and Australian middle-order batsman helped guide WA to the domestic one-day title. It left him with only the Sheffield Shield to snare to complete the three-peat and end a first-class drought for the State that dates back to 1998-99. At 3-290 at stumps last night, WA were in a commanding position.


To everyone involved in making the Shane Warne memorial service such a moving event on Wednesday night, thank you and congratulations. A sporting legend with a personality and profile that crossed over to the  entertainment industry around the world, Warne crammed so much into his 52 years. It was a night where every emotion possible flowed through your being. Fittingly honoured with the Shane Warne Stand at his beloved MCG, Warne’s greatest accomplishment could well be his role of a loving father to his three kids Jackson, Brooke and Summer. 


That is the best way to describe the words being uttered by frustrated Fremantle supporters during and after their narrow loss to St Kilda at Optus Stadium last weekend. The Dockers looked light years away from the level we had seen during the pre-season and also in round one (for the most part) opposed to Adelaide. And to make matters worse, the Dockers now head into Sunday’s western derby without coach Justin Longmuir because of the league health and safety protocols. 


F1 is expanding in the USA. And where else would you expect F1 to have a footprint than Las Vegas? Having staged many successful races in Austin, this year will see the first Miami Grand Prix held in early May before teh travelling sideshow descends on the Glitter Strip in November next year. The circuit will see cars scorch past the Bellagio fountain, Caesars Palace and Mandalay Bay. If there was one venue outside Monaco that was in the sweet spot for F1, it was Las Vegas. Not long now. 


Is not a great win-loss record to have after the opening fortnight of the season. Remarkably, there were six sides — the Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide, GWS, Essendon, West Coast and Adelaide — who found themselves in that predicament after unsavoury starts to their 2022 campaigns. The Bulldogs, Power, Giants and Bombers all played finals last year, resulting in those clubs coming under intense scrutiny. Fortunately for Luke Beveridge, his men got the job done against Sydney last night, giving them some much-needed breathing space, if only for one week.