The Weekly A-Z


Melbourne Cup heroine Verry Elleegant bid farewell last night, flying out of Australia to Europe where she will join the stables of French trainer Francis-Henri Graffard. The mare will be aimed at some heavy-duty features in the northern hemisphere, potentially the Arc de Triomphe. Verry Elleegant heads overseas as one of the best-credentialed horses from Down Under, boasting 11 Group 1 victories. Her progress away from Chris Waller’s set-up will be intriguing.


It might not have the same headline-grabbing acts that we see on the big Saturdays in Melbourne and Sydney during the spring and autumn, but tomorrow’s 10-race card at Eagle Farm is an absolute ripper. We know that rain led to a line being put through last weekend’s Doomben action, but the end result is a superb card tomorrow, featuring the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2100m), Group 1 Kingsford Smith Cup (1300m) and Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m). There are also a swag of other black-type races on the day, which should be a wonderful spectacle considering a sunny 25C day has been forecast.


Liverpool missed out on the chance to win the English Premier League title over the weekend after Manchester City conjured something very special before their home fans at Etihad Stadium. But a magical campaign for the Reds can finish on the highest of notes this weekend when they meet Real Madrid in the Champions League final. Jurgen Klopp’s men have already pouched the League Cup and FA Cup and would love to become the second-most successful club in European football’s best competition with a victory. Standing between them and that occurring though are Real Madrid, who have won the Champions League a record 13 occasions.


The overall health and growth of the three racing codes here in WA was underpinned this week by a massive funding injection from RWWA. Nearly $19 million will be directed into thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds, with a commitment of considerably more funding assistance on the horizon. The latest announcement comes after funding increased by $7 million across all three codes in February this year. If you have skin in the game already, you are entitled to be very happy. If you haven’t, now is the time to do so.


From the moment the nominations dropped for this weekend’s Group 3 Belmont Sprint (1400m), there has been a sense of anticipation about the next instalment in the weight-for-age winter series. Elite Street is enjoying life in the paddock after his Roma Cup success, but seven others who finished in the top 10 are back, including Red Can Man, who has been terrific in both runs this campaign, while Valour Road looks well placed also out to 1400m second-up. The injection of rising star God Has Chosen to the Belmont Sprint field, along with proven performers Platoon and Tellem We’re Comin, adds to the intrigue.


Where to now for Daniel Ricciardo? A one-time shining light in the ultra-competitive world of F1, the Duncraig product is struggling to remain relevant. It must be remembered that Ricciardo won three F1 races in 2014 when with Red Bull Racing. In just over seven seasons since, he has mustered five victories. His two-year stint with Renault was forgettable and now in his second season with McLaren, is continuing to struggle. Ricciardo currently sits in 12th position on the driver standings, with his teammate Lando Norris above him in seventh.


It will be on display tomorrow night at Cannington with the running of the $57,000 Group 2 WA Oaks (520m). The even nature of the field is underlined by the fact that the TABtouch market has six of the runners at $8 or less. South Australian visitor Sister Roberta shares $3.40 favouritism with the Krystal Shinners-prepared Refined after coming with the prized red rug.


The Gold Coast was not the place to be if you were careful with your money this week. The annual Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale was as bullish as most in the industry expected, perhaps even surpassing some predictions. Yulong Investments parted with in excess of $7 million to acquire Away Game ($4 million) and Tofane ($3.1 million) on Tuesday and while they were the headline acts, the number of seven-figure purchases throughout the week was mindboggling … a remarkable 18 in total.


Racing Victoria made a splash yesterday when it announced it had purchased a farming property north-west of the CBD that will have an integral role in the industry going forward. At roughly 1000 acres, it is three times the size of Flemington and located near the airport. RV will make announcements on its intentions in the future, but the purchase could enable it to build a new racetrack or training facility, equine welfare programs and a quarantine facility.


Justin Thomas started the final round of the US PGA Championship seven shots adrift of leader Mito Pereira. He finished it with his hands on the gigantic Wanamaker Trophy after an excellent final-round 67, coupled with Pereira’s meltdown on 18 that saw him squander the lead so badly he missed out on joining Thomas and Will Zalatoris in the play-off. That Thomas was able to win a second PGA Championship crown was remarkable considering he shanked a shot on the sixth hole in the manner you come to expect from a club golfer having a horrible day.


North Melbourne supporters entered 2022 believing the club was on the right track. Only those inside the four walls at Arden Street would claim that isstill  the case … and it’s fair to say there might be more than a handful there that don’t share that confidence. Three key recruiting staffers handed in their resignations this week, leaving the Kangaroos in a real spot approaching the mid-season draft. There continues to be chatter surrounding the future of Jason Horne-Francis, while coach David Noble’s message doesn’t appear to be getting through to the playing group. Rebuilds only work when everyone is rowing in the same direction. The North Melbourne dinghy at present is leaking water.


That honour from an Australian perspective at the French Open belongs to Daria Saville. The Russian-born veteran has advanced to the third round after wins over Valentini Grammatikopoulou and Petra Kvitova. Saville, who has battled back from the brink caused by a grumbly Achilles, is currently $2.35 with TABtouch in her tussle with Italian Martina Trevisan ($1.61). She will hit the court later today.


One could only imagine what was going through the head of Pep Guardiola during Manchester City’s last-round clash with Aston Villa. Trailing 2-0 after 76 minutes at home, it seemed City were going to squander a golden opportunity to win the league. Such a thought would have been unpalatable considering the events of the Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid. But three goals in the concluding stages enabled City to climb from the canvas and clinch a win that ensured they would be crowned champions, denying Liverpool the chance to secure all four titles — League Cup, FA Cup, English Premier League and Champions League.


The racing action at Kilmore yesterday was quite incredible. Well, we think it was because it was virtually impossible to witness the events due to a heavy fog that sat on the track and didn’t clear up until later in the day. Stewards deemed the conditions safe for racing and jockeys concurred, but that didn’t make the task any easier for racecaller Ric McIntosh, who had to spin his wheels in the commentary box as he waited for the horses to come into view approaching the winning post.


Miami faced a tall order in their Eastern Conference Finals series against Boston, despite having home-court advantage. They were able to establish a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven match-up, but the Celtics won games four and five and will tomorrow morning host the Heat, who appear to be operating on fumes only. No side in the play-offs has been able to get a handle on Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, fresh off a near triple-double in game five. A Celtics-Golden State Finals clash appears imminent.


Payne Haas has caused the Brisbane Broncos a few problems away from the pitch during his meteoric rise in the NRL. But his influence on game-day has been profound and when he signed a long-term deal, it was thought he would be the mainstay of a Broncos revival. Now he wants out because he believes the estimated $800,000 he is due to earn this year the next two seasons is not sufficient. Haas is expected to take to the field against Gold Coast, but his management has informed the Broncos that he is seeking a release immediately. It will be interesting to see how this saga plays out.


It comes from Fremantle Dockers coach Justin Longmuir, who was none too pleased at his players’ inability to handle the hype surrounding their excellent start to the season. Upset by Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium in round nine, the Dockers were again made to look ordinary at home against Collingwood.  “We were riding high and everyone got ahead of themselves,” Longmuir said. “If you get marginally ahead of yourself in footy, it gives you a reality check and we’ve gotten that. If you’re off in any part, you get what you deserve.”


Awesome Rock had his name up in lights during the spring thanks to the deeds of his Group 3 WA Champion Fillies Stakes winner Searchin’ Roc’s. He was then spoken about during the autumn as Rokanori lived up to expectations, highlighted by his win in the Listed JC Roberts Stakes (1800m). Last Saturday afternoon at Belmont, the pair clashed in a high-class ratings race, with Rokanori getting over the top of Searchin’ Roc’s, who was outstanding in her return to the track after a couple of false starts. And we shouldn’t forget that the Sue Olive-trained Kaymay, another daughter of Awesome Rock, was successful earlier in the day.


Nick Riewoldt speaks sense more often than not and that was never more evident than earlier this week when he was quizzed about the plight of former teammate Sam Fisher, who is facing up to more than two decades behind bars over drug trafficking charges. Riewoldt was 100 per cent correct in saying the AFLPA and its senior members need to lead the way over the current drugs policy agreed to by the players and AFL. It is a flawed agreement that is being reviewed, albeit not before time.


We aren’t at the panic station stage yet with the Sydney Swans. However, that could well change after tonight’s game. John Longmire’s side has lost three of its past four matches and now fronts up to a Richmond outfit that has won its last four matches to sit in eighth position with a 6-4 record. The Swans seem to have an identity crisis. They are no longer that contested-ball beast of a team that opposition clubs feared, rather a nice side that can move the ball quickly, but are uncharacteristically shaky in defence. We will learn a lot more about them at the SCG tonight.


The turmoil that has engulfed Sri Lanka has forced a tweak to the upcoming tour of the Australian men’s cricket side. The eight white-ball fixtures (three T20s and five ODIs) set down for June 7 to June 24 will become day matches because of Sri Lanka’s power cuts and a shortage of fuel. Cricket Australia are monitoring the situation and there are concerns from players over whether the tour should proceed given the unrest that exists. At this stage it looks like it will go ahead, with two Tests also set to be played.


If you haven’t listened to Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr address the media about the latest mass shooting at a Texas school, you are doing yourself a disservice. Kerr is a high-class human being with wonderful social awareness and his plea for more to be done to stop the slaughter of kids left nobody in any doubt on where he stood. To be fair, he is not alone. An overwhelming percentage of Americans want action to be taken, but they are being held hostage by a minority of very powerful figures and the NRA. Surely we have reached a point where enough is enough.


The grass-court season is approaching and the focus surrounding Wimbledon is intense. First it was the decision by the All England Lawn Tennis Club to ban Russian and Belarusian players from playing at Wimbledon in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Now as a result of that controversial stance, we see the ATP and WTA opting to ban players from acquiring ranking points at Wimbledon, rendering the most prestigious tournament on tour an exhibition event where the only thing on the table is prizemoney.

X – Xs and Os

We are not yet at the stage where Colin Kaepernick needs to dissect an opposition defence, but we could yet get there. Small steps. The polarising quarterback, a former starter for the San Francisco 49ers, worked out for the Las Vegas Raiders this week in front of coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. Now 34 years of age, Kaepernick has not played an NFL match since January 1, 2017. We are still waiting to hear what the Raiders thought of the performance.


Fremantle received a timely boost ahead of tomorrow’s MCG date with Melbourne, with gifted defender Hayden Young committing to the club long-term. Young, 21, agreed to a fresh four-year deal today that will be added to his existing contract that doesn’t expire until the end of next year. The smooth-moving left-footer will now remain at Cockburn until the completion of the 2027. To say he is an important piece of the puzzle is an understatement.


Remember this name. It is probably fresh in the memory bank now after Will Zalatoris lost to Justin Thomas in a three-hole play-off at this week’s US PGA Championship at Southern Hills. The 25-year-old is a prodigious talent. There is no other way to describe him. Granted, he has not won on the PGA Tour yet, but boasts that runner-up placing at the PGA Championship, along with a second placing in a US Masters and a sixth-placed finish at the 2020 US Open. It is only a matter of time before he breaks through.