A look at Caulfield and Royal Randwick

On Saturday, it will be one of the biggest days in Australian racing in recent times, with four Group One races headlining the action taking place at Caulfield, while at Royal Randwick we have the inaugural running of The Everest, the richest race in Australia, and the richest turf race in the world.

At Caulfield, Alizee is the short-priced favourite in the Thousand Guineas, but is facing competition from Shoals and Booker. In the Caulfield Stakes, it is looking like being a tighter affair between Hartnell and Bonneval, as well as strong challenges from Jon Snow and Gailo Chop.

In the Caulfield Guineas, it is set to be a fierce battle between Royal Symphony, Kementari, and Catchy, while in the Toorak Handicap, it is set to be a tight contest between Tom Melbourne, who like most of the horses owned by OTI Racing, needs to rise from being the bridesmaid to being the bride in the big races, Egg Tart, Mr Sneaky, and Theanswermyfriend.

While at Royal Randwick, The Everest is the showpiece event, and that is an understatement, with a stack of horses capable of winning the winner’s cheque of $5.8 million.

So, here are my tips for the races at Caulfield (Races 1-10), and Royal Randwick (Races 1-10). (Please note that my tips will be updated in the lead up to the racing action pending changes to the fields)

CAULFIELD TIPS (Fields)

Race 1: 12:20pm 1000m Inglis Debutant Stakes. Set Weights. Listed. Two-Years-Old, No sex restriction. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 12. Qafila (8)

2nd 10. Cavalini (12)

3rd 7. Grand Challenge (9)

4th 13. Speedy Kitty (10)

Race 2: 12:55pm 1200m Thoroughbred Club Stakes. Set Weights plus Penalties. Group 3. Three-Years-Old, Fillies. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 15. Divine Messenger (12)

2nd 9. True Excelsior (4)

3rd 13. Josephine Sea (6)

4th 2. Split Lip (3)

Race 3: 1:30pm 1200m Cape Grim Beef Steaks. Set Weights plus Penalties. Group 3. Four-Years-Old and Upwards, Mares. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 8. Pedrena (3)

2nd 9. Princess of Queens (9)

3rd 1. Legless Veuve (5)

4th 3. Desert Lashes (7)

Race 4: 2:05pm 2400m Ladbrokes Herbert Power Stakes. Quality. Group 2. No age restriction, No sex restriction. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 3. Foundry (5)

2nd 5. Aloft (10)

3rd 1. Wall of Fire (9)

4th 7. Kidmenever (8)

Race 5: 2:40pm 1400m Keno Weekend Hussler Stakes. Handicap. Listed. No age restriction, No sex restriction. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 2. Religify (7)

2nd 5. Duke of Brunswick (12)

3rd 9. Fastnet Tempest (1)

4th 8. Attention (10)

Race 6: 3:15pm 1600m Schweppes Thousand Guineas. Set Weights. Group 1. Three-Years-Old, Fillies. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 3. Booker (8)

2nd 2. Alizee (2)

3rd 6. Leather’n’lace (7)

4th 1. Shoals (4)

Race 7: 3:50pm 2000m Ladbrokes Stakes. Standard Weight for Age. Group 1. Three-Years-Old and Upwards, No sex restriction. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 1. Hartnell (7)

2nd 6. Jon Snow (9)

3rd 11. Bonneval (11)

4th 2. Gailo Chop (5)

Race 8: 4:30pm 1600m Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas. Set Weights. Group 1. Three-Years-Old, No sex restriction. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 16. Catchy (3)

2nd 13. Salsamor (8)

3rd 11. Kementari (10)

4th 6. Royal Symphony (9)

Race 9: 5:10pm 1600m United Petroleum Toorak Handicap. Handicap. Group 1. No age restriction, No sex restriction. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 18.

1st 10. Mr Sneaky (8)

2nd 9. Egg Tart (9)

3rd 4. Tom Melbourne (15)

4th 15. Theanswermyfriend (6)

Race 10: 5:45pm 1100m Keno Kwikpik Schillaci Stakes. Standard Weight for Age. Group 2. Three-Years-Old and Upwards, No sex restriction. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 9. Sheidel (11)

2nd 2. Rock Magic (7)

3rd 6. Hellbent (8)

4th 4. First Among Equals (5)

 

ROYAL RANDWICK TIPS (Fields)

Race 1 – 12:05PM TAB HIGHWAY CONSOLATION (1400 METRES). BenchMark 80, Handicap, Minimum Weight 54kg, Three-Years-Old and Upwards, Weight Raised 1kg, Apprentices cannot claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 14.

1st 12. Don’t Give A Damn (17)

2nd 3. My Tagoson (13)

3rd 10. Cascata Rossa (12)

4th 4. Super Star Bob (15)

Race 2 – 12:40PM NIELSEN SPORTS VICTORY VEIN PLATE (1000 METRES). Set Weights plus Penalties, Two-Years-Old, Apprentices can claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 14.

1st 7. Legend of Condor (7)

2nd 10. The Enzo (10)

3rd 8. Munich (3)

4th 1. Santos (12)

Race 3 – 1:15PM THE DAILY TELEGRAPH REGINALD ALLEN QUALITY (1400 METRES). LISTED, Quality, Minimum Weight 53kg, Three-Years-Old, Fillies, Apprentices cannot claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 14.

1st 1. Regimen (8)

2nd 7. Workdrinks (9)

3rd 2. Memento (1)

4th 3. Aonair (5)

Race 4 – 1:50PM TAB ANNIVERSARY HIGHWAY (1400 METRES). BenchMark 80, Handicap, Minimum Weight 53kg, Three-Years-Old and Upwards, Apprentices cannot claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 14.

1st 11. Suncraze (7)

2nd 6. After All That (3)

3rd 8. Pumpkin Pie (2)

4th 2. Galaxy Warrior (11)

Race 5 – 2:25PM THE STAR MILE (1600 METRES). BenchMark 95, Handicap, Minimum Weight 53kg, Three-Years-Old and Upwards, Apprentices can claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 16.

1st 8. Oklahoma Girl (6)

2nd 11. Invincibella (5)

3rd 10. Jaminzah (9)

4th 12. Hangin’ With Willy (4)

Race 6 – 3:00PM HEINEKEN 3 ST LEGER STAKES (2600 METRES). Set Weights, Three-Years-Old and Upwards, Apprentices cannot claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 16.

1st 6. Auvray (5)

2nd 2. Big Duke (2)

3rd 3. Chocante (4)

4th 4. Who Shot Thebarman (9)

Race 7 – 3:35PM SYDNEY STAKES (1200 METRES). LISTED, Standard Weight for Age, Three-Years-Old and Upwards, Apprentices cannot claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 14.

1st 12. In Her Time (9)

2nd 1. Takedown (12)

3rd 3. Impending (17)

4th 10. Washington Heights (1)

Race 8 – 4:15PM THE TAB EVEREST (1200 METRES). Standard Weight for Age, Apprentices cannot claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 12.

My preview and tips for The Everest.

Race 9 – 4:55PM AQUALAND CRAVEN PLATE (2000 METRES). GROUP 3, Standard Weight for Age, Three-Years-Old and Upwards, Apprentices cannot claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 12.

1st 1. Happy Clapper (1)

2nd 7. MacKintosh (5)

3rd 4. Star Exhibit (6)

4th 5. Classic Uniform (12)

Race 10 – 5:30PM SYDNEY HARBOUR EXCLUSIVE SPRINT (1000 METRES). BenchMark 80, Handicap, Minimum Weight 53kg, Three-Years-Old and Upwards, Apprentices can claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 14.

1st 3. Latin Boy (13)

2nd 12. Rebel Miss (16)

3rd 6. Ozark (6)

4th 7. Realise Potential (9)

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A preview of The Everest

On Saturday afternoon at 4:15pm (AEDT), history will be made at Royal Randwick in Sydney when the inaugural edition of The Everest is run over 1200 metres. And with a prize-money pool of $10 million, with $5.8 million going to the winner, it is not only the richest race in Australia, but also the richest turf race in the world.

It has brought together a number of the best sprinting horses in the world in an unique format where by you have to buy a slot to get into the race, or buy a slot off an existing slot-holder to get into the race.

And while The Everest is not a Group One just yet, the race will be run like a Group One with a cracking field wanting to prove to the world that they are one of the best horses, especially over sprinting distances, on the planet!

So, here is my detailed preview of The Everest. (Please note I will update this post in the lead-up to The Everest on Saturday).

1. CHAUTAUQUA (5)

7yo Grey-Bay Gelding
D.O.B: 20-Sep-2010
by ENCOSTA DE LAGO from LOVELY JUBLY

Record: 30-13-7-4

Record in Last Five races (last six months): 2-0-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights races: 19-7-5-2

Record in Group One races: 15-6-4-3

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One races: 12-5-3-2

Record in sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 29-13-7-3

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 18-7-5-1

Record in Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 14-6-4-2

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 11-5-3-1

My judgement/view

Chautauqua has struggled in its last two races, settling two or three lengths behind the rest of the field, but has a great record in big races, placing in 87 percent of the 15 Group One races that he has competed in, winning six of those races. Needs to settle a bit further forward so that he can be threatening with his usual fast sprint at the end, but regardless of that, you cannot rule him out!

2. VEGA MAGIC (10)

5yo Chestnut Gelding
D.O.B: 26-Sep-2012
by LOPE DE VEGA (IRE) from ADMIRABLE

Record: 17-12:2:1

Record in Last Five races (last six months): 3-3-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights races: 4-2-0-0

Record in Group One races: 3-2-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One races: 2-1-0-0

Record in sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 17-12-2-1

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 4-2-0-0

Record in Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 3-2-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 2-1-0-0

My judgement/view

Vega Magic has been superb in winning its last three races, and while he has a fantastic record in sprinting races, winning 12 out of 17, I am a little bit concerned about his hit-or-miss record in Weight For Age races, winning two out of four. While it will be on, or just off the speed early, the intensity of this field may be too much for Vega Magic in the end, but should be an outside place chance.

3. REDZEL (4)

5yo Bay Gelding
D.O.B: 19-Sep-2012
by SNITZEL from MILLRICH

Record: 19-9:4:1

Record in Last Five races (last six months): 4-4-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights races: 4-1-1-1

Record in Group One races: 3-1-1-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One races: 2-1-0-0

Record in sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 19-9-4-1

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 4-1-1-1

Record in Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 3-1-1-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 2-1-0-0

My judgement/view

Redzel has been in terrific form in winning its last four races, but while they were good races, I sense the top opposition in those races was weaker than the opposition he faces here. Usually settles on the speed and should be outside place chance should he do exactly that.

4. REDKIRK WARRIOR (GB) (3)

7yo Chestnut Gelding
D.O.B: 06-Apr-2011
by NOTNOWCATO (GB) from FLAG (GB)

Record: 13-6:2:0

Record in Last Five races (last six months): 2-1-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights races: 1-0-0-0

Record in Group One races: 3-1-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One races: 1-0-0-0

Record in sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 5-3-1-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 1-0-0-0

Record in Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 2-1-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 1-0-0-0

My judgement/view

Redkirk Warrior is a mixed bag, winning the Bobbie Lewis in September, but struggling in the All Aged in heavy conditions back in April, and has shown that he doesn’t like wet conditions. Needs to settle close to the front, just off the speed preferably if it is to challenge, but has a good record over sprint distances, winning three out of five, and finishing second in another. Doubtful to tip him against this field.

5. CLEARLY INNOCENT (6)

6yo Bay Gelding
D.O.B: 03-Oct-2011
by NOT A SINGLE DOUBT from NO PENALTY (NZ)

Record: 17-9:1:2

Record in Last Five races (last six months): 5-2-0-2

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights races: 4-3-0-1

Record in Group One races: 2-1-0-1

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One races: 1-1-0-0

Record in sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 17-9-1-2

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 4-3-0-1

Record in Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 2-1-0-1

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 1-1-0-0

My judgement/view

Clearly Innocent is clearly one of the contenders for The Everest, and has placed in four of its last five races. It also has a 100 percent place record in Group One and Weight For Age races, so it has been always primed for the big occasion. Typically, he likes to settle a bit further back, but will probably need to settle a touch further forward against this field to give himself a strong chance of winning The Everest. Very strong place chance.

6. DEPLOY (7)

5yo Bay Gelding
D.O.B: 25-Aug-2012
by FASTNET ROCK from CRIMSON REIGN

Record: 16-8:5:1

Record in Last Five races (last six months): 5-3-1-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights races: 2-1-1-0

Record in Group One races: 0-0-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One races: 0-0-0-0

Record in sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 16-8-5-1

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 2-1-1-0

Record in Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 0-0-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 0-0-0-0

My judgement/view

Deploy is one of the strongest chances in The Everest, winning three of his last four races, and has always placed in Weight For Age races. Prefers to settle on the speed, but can still be very competitive even if he settles slightly off the speed. The only real concern is its inexperience in this level of race, but we will find out whether Deploy is the real deal, or not.

7. FELL SWOOP (8)

6yo Bay Gelding
D.O.B: 07-Sep-2011
by NOT A SINGLE DOUBT from TOUCHED IN FLIGHT

Record: 25-9:4:3

Record in Last Five races (last six months): 3-0-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights races: 11-2-2-3

Record in Group One races: 11-0-3-2

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One races: 7-0-2-2

Record in sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 25-9-4-3

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 11-2-2-3

Record in Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 11-0-3-2

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 7-0-2-2

My judgement/view

Fell Swoop has struggled in its last three races against many of the rivals he will be facing in The Everest. However, despite having a strong record at Weight For Age, and in sprinting races, Fell Swoop has not won a Group One race in 11 appearances, placing only five times, and while this is technically not a Group One, it shows that it may struggle under the pressure of a high quality field. May settle midfield usually, but needs to settle on the speed to be a chance. Not confident.

8. BRAVE SMASH (JPN) (9)

5yo Bay Horse
D.O.B: 22-Mar-2013
by TOSEN PHANTOM (JPN) from TOSEN SMASH (JPN)

Record: 16-3:6:1

Record in Last Five races (last six months): 3-1-2-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights races: 5-1-3-1

Record in Group One races: 2-0-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One races: 0-0-0-0

Record in sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 5-1-3-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 0-0-0-0

Record in Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 0-0-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 0-0-0-0

My judgement/view

Brave Smash is in my mind a strong outside chance for a place, and has been strong in its last three races, placing in all three. It also has a very strong record in Weight For Age races, as well as over sprint distances. However, Brave Smash hasn’t placed in two Group One starts, but while this isn’t a Group One, it is tough to see him place against this company on merit, but certainly an outside chance if he can settle close to the speed.

9. ENGLISH (12)

5yo Bay Mare
D.O.B: 21-Sep-2012
by ENCOSTA DE LAGO from COURT

Record: 19-5:3:1

Record in Last Five races (last six months): 4-0-1-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights races: 15-5-3-1

Record in Group One races: 11-1-2-1

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One races: 9-1-2-1

Record in sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 19-5-3-1

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 15-5-3-1

Record in Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 11-1-2-1

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 9-1-2-1

My judgement/view

English is rated by many as a possible contender, but has only placed once in its last four races, although she has placed in nine of its 15 starts at Weight For Age level, but only in four of its 11 starts at Group One level. Will probably want to settle midfield, but I think this field might be too strong for her.

10. SHE WILL REIGN (2)

3yo Bay or Brown Filly
D.O.B: 26-Aug-2014
by MANHATTAN RAIN from COURGETTE

Record: 6-5:1:0

Record in Last Five races (last six months): 1-1-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights races: 5-4-1-0

Record in Group One races: 2-2-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One races: 2-2-0-0

Record in sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 6-5-1-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 5-4-1-0

Record in Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 2-2-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 2-2-0-0

My judgement/view

She Will Reign has had a magnificent start to her career, winning five of her six starts, and finishing second in the other one. Will probably look to settle just off the speed, but can settle in midfield, and still look a deadly threat. The stage is surely set for She Will Reign to emerge into racing royalty by winning The Everest!

11. HOUTZEN (1)

3yo Bay Filly
D.O.B: 25-Sep-2014
by I AM INVINCIBLE from SET TO UNLEASH

Record: 7-5:0:1

Record in Last Five races (last six months): 2-1-0-1

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights races: 4-2-0-1

Record in Group One races: 1-0-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One races: 1-0-0-0

Record in sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 7-5-0-1

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 4-2-0-1

Record in Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 1-0-0-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 1-0-0-0

My judgement/view

Houtzen has been strong in placing in its last two starts, and while she has a strong record at Weight For Age, and over the sprint distances, it did miss out in its only Group One appearance to date, finishing fifth in the Golden Slipper back in March, so I am concerned about its ability to handle this kind of occasion. Will look to settle on speed, but this field should be too strong for her.

12. TULIP (11)

3yo Bay Filly
D.O.B: 15-Oct-2014
by PIERRO from MUSIDORA

Record: 8-2:2:1

Record in Last Five races (last six months): 2-0-1-0

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights races: 5-1-0-1

Record in Group One races: 3-0-0-1

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One races: 3-0-0-1

Record in sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 8-2-2-1

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 5-1-0-1

Record in Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 3-0-0-1

Record in Weight For Age/Set Weights Group One sprinting races (1400 metres or less): 3-0-0-1

My judgement/view

Tulip has shown herself to be strong over sprinting distances, and while it has placed once in its last two races, she has struggled when the level has risen to a higher class. She will look look to settle in midfield, maybe a touch further forward than that, but is facing fierce competition in a race slightly beyond her level.

13 (emergency). IN HER TIME (SCRATCHED)

 

14 (emergency). TRAPEZE ARTIST (SCRATCHED)

15 (emergency). TAKEDOWN (SCRATCHED)

 

16 (emergency). BALL OF MUSCLE (SCRATCHED)

 

 

My tips for the 2017 The Everest

1st 10. SHE WILL REIGN (2)

2nd 6. DEPLOY (7)

3rd 5. CLEARLY INNOCENT (6)

4th 1. CHAUTAUQUA (5)

The destiny of Australian football

Tonight, the destiny of Australian football, and of the Australian national football team goes on the line tonight in the second leg of the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Fourth Round playoff in the qualification process for the 2018 FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup against Syria after a one-all draw in the first leg in Melaka in Malaysia, and there are a number of questions that have to be answered.

Will this be the last match for Ange Postecoglou as coach of the Australian national football team?

Will this be the last time Tim Cahill plays for Australia?

Will this be the last match that Mark Milligan plays for Australia?

Will Mile Jedinak ever play for Australia again? Jedinak is not a part of this squad due to his ongoing struggles getting over a groin injury.

Looking at the situation around Postecoglou, he has publicly admitted that he will quit his post at the end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup cycle, but whether that would change if Australia qualifies for Russia, or does well in Russia next year remains to be seen.

However, there are a few key questions that Postecoglou must answer, and address tonight.

Will he stick with his 3-2-4-1 formation?

Will he continue with his ongoing emphasis on having his team play a possession-based, high intensity style of game?

Will he be tempted to make some “out of the box” positional selections with his team?

As far as the formation is concerned, Postecoglou seems adamant that the 3-2-4-1 formation is the right way to go, given the players that he has, and the skill-sets that they have, particularly in the middle of the park.

However, this is not the formation I would use, especially in a national team set-up, where players have to come in, and perform straight away. You have got to use the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) approach, but also give each player what they need to perform well at the same time.

Postecoglou, in my opinion, has made his tactics far too hard and difficult for his players to understand within a short space of time.

The most common formation used in the game of football today is the 4-3-3, and that is the formation I would use if I was coaching Australia.

However, as far as his team’s philosophy playing a possession-based, high intensity style of game, Ange Postecoglou has always got this spot on! And, in addition to this, he has the types of players in the national team who want to play this way, and love playing this way.

Postecoglou has gifted players, especially in attack, and in midfield who are good, potentially even great, with the ball at their feet, like Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic in particular. The best way, and perhaps the only way, to use these skills to their fullest benefit is to play a possession-based, high intensity style of game.

However, are certain players playing in the right positions to allow the formation (3-2-4-1 or 4-3-3) and game style to work? Will he be tempted to make some “out of the box” positional selections with his team?

Judging by Postecoglou’s attitude throughout his coaching tenure with the Australian national football team, he is very stubborn and not willing to adjust his plans to much, especially in regards to where his players are best-suited, yet is willing to change his formation just because it has worked for someone else, even though it hasn’t been successful for too many teams at international level.

As I said before, I would use a 4-3-3 formation with the Australian national football team, but I think the most critical factor is the positions certain players play within the team.

While many people are talking about the prospect of Tim Cahill starting, the most important player within the team for this match, and going forward is Tom Rogic, and I feel that he has been under-used, and been placed into positions where he can’t use his full array of skills.

While he has been termed as an attacking midfielder, I feel the best position to use Rogic is as a false nine in a front three in a 4-3-3 formation, and barely anyone has realised that this may be the best way to utilise his skills.

Then you can use players who are speedy, such as Mathew Leckie and Robbie Kruse, up front to their best benefit. Then this snowballs into the midfield with Aaron Mooy and Massimo Luongo playing similar roles to what Xavi and Andrés Iniesta played in the glory days for Spain and FC Barcelona, and then through the rest of the team.

Then you have created yourself a team that has every chance of being success just by making a couple of adjustments, lifting the players within the squad to a whole new level.

In terms of answering the questions about the futures of Tim Cahill, Mark Milligan, and Mile Jedinak, if Australia were to not qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, their international careers are probably over, and if this is the case, the new coach who comes into replace Ange Postecoglou has got to make clear his playing and selection philosophy straight away, so that players understand what is required (and beyond) to be able to realistically expect to be playing for Australia.

The new coach must also address the issues within the youth pathways to ensure that Australia produces great young players who have the ability, and inspire to play on the world stage on a consistent basis, both at club and national team level.

However, Australia must first worry about tonight, and getting the result that they need to move through to play the fourth-place CONCACAF (The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) team in the CONCACAF-AFC playoff.

A scoreless draw, or a win would ensure Australia’s spot in that playoff, but a loss or a score draw greater than a one-all draw (e.g. 2-2, 3-3, etc.) would see Syria through to the CONCACAF-AFC playoff. A one-all draw after 90 minutes (regulation) would mean that we would go to 30 minutes of extra-time (15 minutes each way), and then possibly a penalty shootout should scores still be level at the same score that it was after 90 minutes, which means the away goals rules still applies in extra-time, should we get to that point, so if someone scores in extra-time, the result of the tie will be decided by the end of extra-time.

The destiny of Australian football is in their hands tonight!

 

2017 MotoGP Japan GP – Preview

The 15th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, which is about 150 kilometres north-north-east of Tokyo, and is the first of three-straight flyaway weekends (Japan, Australia, and Malaysia) that could well determine who becomes the 2017 MotoGP World Champion, and with four-races to go, the battle looks set to go down to the wire.

Marc Márquez (224 points) on his factory Honda, leads the world championship by 16 points over factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso (208 points) after winning the last two races, including last time out in Aragón in Spain three weeks ago. He has now equalled his win tally from last year to become the first rider since Valentino Rossi to achieve five race victories (or more) in a MotoGP season for five-successive years.

And despite a couple of scrappy qualifying sessions by his own high standards, has the bike, the speed, and the momentum in his quest to win his fourth MotoGP World Championship, and his sixth world championship overall.

Dovizioso, meanwhile had a much more difficult time in Aragón, struggling for pace during the race, coming home in seventh place, and leaving his hopes of winning his first MotoGP World Championship in a difficult position, but is having the best season of his MotoGP career, there is no doubt about that!

Maverick Viñales (196 points) is third in the world championship on his factory Yamaha, 28 points behind Márquez despite having not won a race since the French Grand Prix back in May, and the factory Yamaha team have struggled to find that extra speed and confidence, particularly in hotter conditions to challenge Honda and Ducati in the world championship battle, but you feel Viñales is riding well at the moment, with six-successive top six race finishes.

Fourth in the 2017 MotoGP World Championship is Márquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa (170 points) after a second-place finish in Aragón, and remains in mathematical contention for the title, along with Yamaha teammate of Viñales, Valentino Rossi (168 points), who made a miraculous comeback from a broken leg in Aragón, qualifying on the front row, and then managing to finish fifth in one of the most remarkable performances that we have seen, given the circumstances, in recent years.

Johann Zarco (117 points) is sixth in the world championship, but out of contention to win it in his rookie season in MotoGP, and is ahead of factory Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo (106 points). Lorenzo scored just his second podium of in 2017 at Aragón, and is showing some promising signs that he might be getting back towards race-winning form in his first season on the factory Ducati, although time is running out to secure a race victory, and avoid having a winless season for the first time since joining the premier class in 2008.

Completing the top 10 in the 2017 MotoGP World Championship are Danilo Petrucci (95 points), Cal Crutchlow (92 points), and Jonas Folger (84 points), riders who are all capable of achieving another podium or two before the season comes to an end.

Looking at who can challenge for a race victory at the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, it is pretty hard to go against Marc Márquez, who won the race last year in securing his third MotoGP World Championship, but he has got some heavy competition for the victory at the Honda-owned circuit in 2017.

In the Bridgestone era (2009-2015) at the Japanese Grand Prix, Yamaha had won three times (all for Jorge Lorenzo), Honda had also won three times (all for Dani Pedrosa), and Ducati only won once during that time with Casey Stoner back in a difficult 2010 for the Italian manufacturer, the year which started their downward spiral, which they have recovered from.

You also sense that this circuit should suit both the Yamaha and the Ducati, perhaps even more so than the Honda, and both Viñales and Dovizioso desperately need a victory to keep their championship hopes alive, and to not allow Márquez to get a total stranglehold on proceedings.

While I would tip Márquez given his current form to win for the second year in a row at the Twin Ring Motegi, if I wasn’t going to tip him to win the race, I think Jorge Lorenzo will break his duck and claim his first race victory for Ducati, while I think Maverick Viñales will get his first podium since the British Grand Prix.

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:55am, and 2:05pm local time (11:55am, and 4:05pm AEDT). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 9:55am local time (11:55am AEDT), FP4 on Saturday at 1:30pm local time (3:30pm AEDT), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 2:10pm and 2:35pm local time (4:10pm and 4:35pm AEDT). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 9:40am local time (11:40am AEDT), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 2:00pm local time (4:00pm AEDT).

 

A look at Flemington and Royal Randwick

Five Group races at Flemington, three Group races at Royal Randwick, and a number of superstar thoroughbreds, including arguably the world’s best horse, and you have one Super Saturday of racing action to look forward to!

At Royal Randwick, the headline act is the Group One Moet & Chandon Spring Champion Stakes over 2000 metres with a number of three-year old horses aiming towards the Caulfield Guineas in a week’s time, and then the AAMI Victoria Derby during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

While at Flemington, we see defending Melbourne Cup champion Almandin in action in the Group Three The Bart Cummings over 2500 metres as he looks to become the first horse since Ethereal in 2001 to win the Caulfield Cup-Melbourne Cup double, a challenge made a whole lot easier to rule changes regarding penalties heading from the Caulfield Cup to the Melbourne Cup. If Almandin happens to win the Melbourne Cup, he would join Toryboy (1865), and Catalogue (1938) as the oldest winners (eight years old) in the Cup’s history.

We will also see three Group Two races at Flemington, all with strong fields, but undoubtedly the headline act at Flemington is the great mare Winx as she runs against Humidor, Ventura Storm, Assign, Magicool, Sir Isaac Newton, and Skyfire in the Group One Turnbull Stakes over 2000 metres  in her final run before the W.S. Cox Plate in her attempts to join Kingston Town as the only two horses to win the W.S. Cox Plate three times.

So, here are my tips for the free-to-air televised races at Flemington (Races 3-9), and Royal Randwick (Races 3-9). (Please note that my tips will be updated in the lead up to the racing action pending changes to the fields)

FLEMINGTON TIPS (Fields)

Race 3: 2:05pm 1800m UCI Stakes. Set Weights plus Penalties. Listed. Three-Years-Old, No sex restriction. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 9. Main Stage (15)

2nd 1. Cliff’s Edge (3)

3rd 6. Animalia (1)

4th 4. Sunquest (7)

Race 4: 2:40pm 1200m Gilgai Stakes. Set Weights plus Penalties. Group 2. Three-Years-Old and Upwards, No sex restriction. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 1. The Quarterback (3)

2nd 7. Bons Away (7)

3rd 4. Spieth (8)

4th 6. Silent Sedition (9)

Race 5: 3:15pm 2000m Seppelt Turnbull Stakes. Set Weights plus Penalties. Group 1. Four-Years-Old and Upwards, No sex restriction. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 2. Winx (2)

2nd 1. Humidor (4)

3rd 3. Ventura Storm (5)

4th 6. Sir Isaac Newton (7)

Race 6: 3:50pm 1600m TAB Edward Manifold Stakes. Set Weights. Group 2. Three-Years-Old, Fillies. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 4. Leather’n’lace (13)

2nd 3. Anchor Bid (4)

3rd 13. Remember the Name (10)

4th 15. Snogging (2)

Race 7: 4:30pm 2500m The Bart Cummings. Quality. Group 3. No age restriction, No sex restriction. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 3. Harlem (13)

2nd 1. Almandin (12)

3rd 4. Amelie’s Star (5)

4th 7. Pentathlon (7)

Race 8: 5:10pm 1400m Blazer Stakes. Set Weights plus Penalties. Group 2. Four-Years-Old and Upwards, Mares. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 16. Petition (15)

2nd 11. Merriest (14)

3rd 9. Missrock (5)

4th 1. Prompt Response (4)

Race 9: 5:45pm 1400m Paris Lane Handicap. Handicap. Listed. Four-Years-Old and Upwards, No sex restriction. No class restriction. Apprentices cannot claim. Track: Main. Track type: Turf. Field limit: 16.

1st 12. Wyndspelle (16)

2nd 4. Charmed Harmony (9)

3rd 8. New Tipperary (8)

4th 14. Lovani (11)

 

ROYAL RANDWICK TIPS (Fields)

Race 3 – 1:50PM ADINA APARTMENT HOTELS HANDICAP (1600 METRES). BenchMark 85, Handicap, Minimum Weight 53kg, Three-Years-Old and Upwards, Colts, Geldings and Entires, Apprentices can claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 20.

1st 3. Interlocuter (5)

2nd 6. Mapmaker (9)

3rd 1. Hogmanay (2)

4th 2. Darci’s Affair (7)

Race 4 – 2:25PM TAB HIGHWAY HANDICAP (1600 METRES). Class 3, Handicap, Minimum Weight 53kg, Three-Years-Old and Upwards, Apprentices can claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 20.

1st 4. Cascata Rossa (4)

2nd 7. Bronzed Venom (8)

3rd 3. Schedule (12)

4th 10. Dia De Reyes (9)

Race 5 – 3:00PM BOWERMANS OFFICE FURNITURE HANDICAP (1400 METRES). Handicap, Minimum Weight 53kg, Three-Years-Old and Upwards, Apprentices can claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 16.

1st 9. Sir Plush (2)

2nd 1. Mighty Lucky (1)

3rd 4. Duca Valentinois (9)

4th 10. Souchez (8)

Race 6 – 3:35PM POLYTRACK ROMAN CONSUL STAKES (1200 METRES). GROUP 2,
Set Weights, Three-Years-Old, Apprentices cannot claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 16.

1st 3. Viridine (2)

2nd 5. Beau Geste (5)

3rd 2. Single Bullet (8)

4th 7. Albumin (6)

Race 7 – 4:10PM MOET & CHANDON SPRING CHAMPION STAKES (2000 METRES). GROUP 1, Set Weights, Three-Years-Old, Apprentices cannot claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 14.

1st 4. Sanctioned (10)

2nd 1. Ace High (4)

3rd 3. Tangled (2)

4th 7. Sully (9)

Race 8 – 4:50PM MOSTYN COPPER GROUP ANGST STAKES (1600 METRES). GROUP 3, Set Weights plus Penalties, Four-Years-Old and Upwards, Mares, Apprentices cannot claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 20.

1st 1. Daysee Doom (14)

2nd 10. My True Love (10)

3rd 2. Dixie Blossoms (6)

4th 3. Imposing Lass (7)

Race 9 – 5:30PM METROPOLITAN CIVIL CONTRACTORS HANDICAP (1200 METRES). BenchMark 80, Handicap, Minimum Weight 53kg, Three-Years-Old and Upwards, Apprentices can claim. Track Type: Turf. Field Limit: 16.

1st 10. Piracy (6)

2nd 4. Firsthand (10)

3rd 11. Calabasas (2)

4th 2. King Darci (8)

2017 Japanese Grand Prix – Preview

This weekend, the 16th round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place from the Suzuka International Racing Course, also known as the Suzuka Circuit, in Japan, which is about 70 kilometres south-west of the Japanese city of Nagoya.

And with Lewis Hamilton taking some more points off Sebastian Vettel, this world championship battle is set to heat up at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Hamilton (281 points) leads the world drivers’ championship for Mercedes by 34 points over Vettel (247 points) after finishing second behind Red Bull driver Max Verstappen last weekend at the Malaysia Grand Prix in what was considered to be a disappointing result for Mercedes after struggling to find their normal pace during practice, and while Hamilton did secure his 70th pole position in his Formula One career, he did not have the speed to hold of Verstappen in the race.

However, he did gain six more points over Vettel in the championship after his Ferrari had major technical issues on Saturday relating to the power-unit in his car, meaning that he couldn’t set a time in qualifying, which meant he started from last on the grid, although the major benefit from that disappointment was that he was able to take on extra power-unit components without effectively serving a penalty.

However, despite a storming drive in his Ferrari from 20th on the grid to finish fourth, more pain was to follow for Vettel on the cool-down lap, colliding with Williams driver Lance Stroll, damaging his Ferrari significantly, meaning that he might have to take a grid penalty for a gearbox change should his team find damage to his gearbox, which could mean further pain in his quest to win a fifth world championship.

Third in the championship is Valtteri Bottas (222 points), 59 points behind teammate Hamilton in the standings after finishing a disappointing fifth in Malaysia, and has really been out of sorts since the summer break, generally struggling for speed in comparison to his teammate, and not producing the performances that he expects from himself. Bottas will need to lift his performances in support of Hamilton if he wants Hamilton to win his fourth world championship.

Daniel Ricciardo (177 points) is fourth in the world championship, 104 points behind Hamilton, and the last driver (other than Hamilton, Vettel, and Bottas) in mathematical contention for the drivers’ championship, although Ricciardo has accepted for sometime that he wasn’t going to have the machinery to contend for the championship, after finishing third in Malaysia.

Kimi Räikkönen (138 points) is fifth in the championship for Ferrari after power-unit/battery issues caused him to be wheeled from the grid, and he was unable to start in the Malaysia Grand Prix, which was a huge shame considering that he was starting from the front row of the grid, and certainly he had the pace to win in his Ferrari. Räikkönen could have also helped his teammate remain closer to Hamilton in the championship if he was able to participate, and finish ahead of Hamilton (either first or second), which would have meant Hamilton would have only gained five points over Vettel instead of the six points that he did gain over Vettel.

Sixth in the championship is Verstappen (93 points), who finally had some luck go his way, winning the Malaysia Grand Prix after overtaking Hamilton on Lap Four at Turn One, and then leading 51 of the remaining 53 laps to take a comfortable 12.770 second victory over Hamilton, which was only the second race win of Verstappen’s young career, which happened the day after his 20th Birthday!

In terms of the Constructors’ World Championship, Mercedes (503 points) lead by 118 points over Ferrari (385 points) in the two-way battle for the constructors’ championship with Red Bull (270 points) in third, followed by Force India (133 points) in fourth, then Williams (65 points) in fifth, who have broken away slightly from Toro Rosso (52 points) in the battle for fifth in the championship, followed by Renault (42 points), Haas (37 points), and then McLaren (23 points), and Sauber (five points), who seem destined to finish 10th in the constructors’ championship.

Looking at trying to predict a result for the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix, I think that although it has been a couple of difficult weekends for Mercedes in terms of their speed, I would expect them to be back on top form at Suzuka, and although I think Ferrari and Red Bull will still be good in Japan, I believe Lewis Hamilton on a circuit tailor-made for him and his Mercedes, due to the long, fast corners, and the premium placed on having a strong power-unit, will dominate all of his rivals to claim victory ahead of a five-way battle for second and third between Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen, Daniel Ricciardo, and Max Verstappen.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 10am and 2pm local time (12pm and 4pm AEDT).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 12pm and 3pm local time (2pm and 5pm AEDT).

The 53 lap race is on Sunday from 2pm local time (4pm AEDT).

Melbourne Storm vs. North Queensland Cowboys (TV style) – My call (2017 NRL Grand Final – Highlights)

The best highlights of the 2017 National Rugby League (NRL) Grand Final between the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys.

Enjoy!