The AFL trade period is well underway now with a few big moves, of course none bigger than the now approved move of Buddy Franklin to Sydney. Free agency has been the will of the players and theoretically should get a bit more movement, so far five players have taken advantage of their status and switched clubs. There remains some real issues with the system. Firstly the compensation system for restricted free agents does not put fair value on the player, Hawthorn and Collingwood did not match the offers for Franklin and Thomas just because of the cost. The fact that they are looking to gain an extra high draft selection as compensation would have also been a factor, the salary cap relief should be the only factor that clubs should have to weigh up and make this a true market driven system.
The other major issue is the target clubs of these players – no one is lining up to join clubs in the lower reaches of the ladder. Whilst the system is only in its second year, this trend will need to stop if the competition is fair dinkum about equalisation. Yes there is a redistribution of players from the clubs who sign up the stars, but not many of the redistributed players feature in that clubs best 22. The exception so far only being Shane Mumford.
But we are about to embark on the summer season and it is with horror that we find that Cricket Australia has sold out its soul to commercial operators. Never mind the bastardisation of the game with the BBL, the treatment of the ABC has been a disgrace. They have broadcast the game irrespective of opponents for 80 years and their ball-by-ball commentary of the Sheffield Shield has provided great banter, entertainment and filling during the less busy times of the summer sports schedule. Asking the ABC to pay a fee to broadcast Shield cricket is absurd and provides a free hit to other sports, noting they have already committed to covering all A-League games.
Then to hear that Hot Spot will not be used in the Ashes series. I have no issue if there are genuine problems with the system. Whilst it may not be perfect the alternative is clearly prone to greater failure. The issue with this is that the decision to drop it was not the cricket authorities but the Nine Network who would not stump up the $10K per day cost. The spin today has been about the issues with the system, absolute bollocks. What will the outcry be after a couple of umpiring shockers in Brisbane and no ability to introduce it back into the process?
Three Year Olds Rule
A pretty poor beginning to the carnival with Platelet the only winner at Flemington that got a mention last week, but a bit better at Randwick with Guelph and Boban saluting. But this weekend the three year old colts and geldings take centre stage with the Stallion making Caulfield Guineas and the time honoured Spring Champion Stakes at Royal Randwick. Plus a host of other group racing makes it one of the great days of the turf.
The main event is not till Race 10 at The Heath with the Caulfield Guineas (G1, 1600m, 3YO Set Weights), this presents are risk with the state of the track after 9 events. Not sure it is the right decision, but once again at the whim of the TV coverage hope everyone enjoys the lead in to the Channel 7 news! For the race itself it is impossible for me to go away from Prince Harada who was terrific here two starts ago and put in a huge finish in the Golden Rose. The rest is tough with multiple form lines coming together. Long John gave competition 2kgs in the prelude for coming 3rd by less than a length and Darley’s record in this race is very good. PGM’s second rater, Weinholt, might be good each way value with big finishes in his last two starts and Cluster ran a big race in the Stutt Stakes. Overall though this a very open race with several of these in very good form, would prefer it first leg rather than last in the Quaddie.
Caulfield Race 10 – 7-4-8-11
The Caulfield Stakes (G1, 2000m , WFA) is the first feature of the day but has been decimated as a race with It’s a Dundeel not appearing. Is it a formality for Atlantic Jewel – probably, although these small fields can make for tricky races. Foreteller for Chris Waller and with Froggy Newitt in the saddle can provide the height of trickery and could present a real challenge. As could Super Cool but this race is really an afterthought for him, Green Moon will be looking to finish strongly lining up for 3200m
Caulfield Race 6 – 6-5-2-1
One of the toughest races on the calendar is the Toorak Handicap (G1, 1600m, HCP) and this year’s renewal doesn’t disappoint. Speediness goes without the usual pilot and is drawn wide, but is in outstanding form. Provided they can run on, I am happy to make it my top selection. Plenty of other chances, Bass Strait is much improved and a win will see him into the Caulfield Cup. From France Trevieres makes his Australian debut with a good record over the mile and Solzhenitsyn can’t be ignored.
Caulfield Race 9 – 6-17-2-12
Thoroughbred Club Stakes (G3, 1200m, 3yo Fillies) opens the group events with Missy Longstocking bringing down an impressive record from Queensland, but I am with The Huntress with G Boss aboard for Mick Kent
Caulfield Race 2 – 4-5-2-1
A great grey is honoured with the Schillacci Stakes (G2, 1000m, WFA) where the sprinters will burn the turf. None more so than Snowden’s 3yo Kuroshio, who burnt them off with the lightweight at the Valley and can do the same again. The biggest danger is the super talented and super fast Unpretentious.
Caulfield Race 4 – 9-6-1-3
The Mares contest the Sportingbet Sprint Series Final (G3, 1200m, Mares SWP), another race where it is hard to go past the favourite in Shamal Wind. Plenty of talent against her, but she looks pretty special.
Caulfield Race 5 – 4-11-6-2
The stayers are looking for a free ticket to the Caulfield Cup in the Herbert Power Hcp (G2, 2400m, G2). The Weird One presents Sea Moon again after a huge effort last week to finish first but to lose in the stewards room – guess who was on Sea Moon? Carries a huge weight again, but looks like he has struck the form expected.
Caulfield Race 8 – 1-4-5-2
Finally we head to Royal Randwick for the Spring Champion Stakes (G1, 2000m, 3yo SW) a race which shapes the VRC Derby. The top two selections here are the top two in current markets for the Derby. The first three in the Gloaming are my top three here, Drago has been thereabouts and always with the Derby in mind this is his chance to firmly plant his name at the top of the market. Savvy Nature and Complacent could easily lay their claims and it is impossible to ignore the form of Rock Hero.
Randwick Race 6 – 6-4-5-8
A tough one at Caulfield, but hopefully better than last week’s not so Happy Trails! Again we will skinny up the last leg but plenty of chances in the Guineas.
Leg 1 – 2,4,6,10
Leg 2 – 1,2,4,5
Leg 3 – 2,5,6,10,12,17
Leg 4 – 4,7
This provides 192 chances for success so that $30 investment would return 15.6% of the dividend.
Then Wednesday for the Thousand Guineas which should see Guelph step out and blitz them – be great to see her have a crack at the Cox Plate!
Go the fighting Prince Harada!