Grand Finally – It’s East v West

Happy Grand Final Day to All,

 

The season comes to a close this week with a repeat of the only final that had us guessing at ¾ time.  Finals are prone to such, there is no percentage, it is just win or lose – they can become classics, often they are dreary affairs.  The winners doing all they can to shut the game down and stay healthy, the vanquished going through the motions till they reflect on what might have been over a well-deserved refreshment.  The predictions should not be about margins but about the time the rotund woman warbles.  Nor should we lament – finals have been this way forever with no second prize, we don’t always get close ones, we do get drama at least for the opening and the build-up.

 

HQ has a lot more to worry about than bad finals – the most pressing being restoration of competitive balance, the players have created a monster they cannot control with free agency.  Making bad teams pay 92.5% of the salary cap has some very ordinary players very well compensated.  Let them pay as low as 70%, set the other 30% to offset future payments – it would be highly doubtful Lynch would go to Richmond or May to Collingwood if Gold Coast, Carlton, St Kilda or Brisbane could genuinely put up offer they can’t refuse.

 

We are evenly matched for this one!

 

Occidental ($2.32) vs Oriental ($1.74)

 

Both West Coast and Collingwood have got to the big dance through adversity and should be praised for doing so.  The Pies challenges with injuries through the season have been over-documented here in Melbourne, West Coast got to seal their place without two of their very best players.  Sides selected are unchanged despite some questions over Shuey, McGovern and Howe.  The Tigers learned the hard way about going in with players that were not right.  Doubt a fit Martin and Astbury would have influenced the result last week, the warbling may have been delayed.

 

The venue has been a bogey for the Eagles till this year when they have won both encounters.  The win over Collingwood being most significant where they took over in the second half, controlled possession and did not let Collingwood have the footy.  A matter not lost on the Pies who in the first final did everything possible to make it a ground ball game and only coming unstuck in the last quarter when Darling and Kennedy got their mitts on it.  Tactically expect Collingwood to do the same and rely on their ground ball strength to have control.  The Eagles love to control possession, however they were very effective in contested ball last week.  Expecting conditions to be messy and favour the Pies in this area.

 

If it’s not messy and the ball is in the air, Kennedy and Darling come to the fore, the Collingwood defense will struggle to match them in the skies all day.  With good delivery they should be able to grab enough to kick a winning score.  The Pie defense though thrives on poor delivery with the likes of Howe and Langdon picking off errant entries.  The Eagle defense will have their own set of challenges.  Big Cox proved too tall and strong for the most vaunted defense in the competition last week.  The Pies occupied Rance and put that defense under more pressure than it has seen collectively for many a match.  Cover McGovern and play with that intensity the Pies will be able to boot a winning score.

 

As is often the case it will come down to supply.  These midfields are pretty evenly matched, though the Pies probably bat a bit deeper.  The addition of Vardy to the West Coast set up will challenge Grundy’s dominance and provide that extra option forward for the Eagles.  Whether the Eagles can quell Sidebottom will be most important – he is building a Jimmy Bartel like reputation – does all the right things at the right time.  Not a huge fan of the Brownlow, but glad he got due recognition for a super season.  Yeo, Redden, Shuey are formidable they will need the lesser lights to step up.

 

Can envisage a result either way.  If the Eagles can repeat what they did last time at the MCG and deliver effectively into the forward line I would expect them to win.  They buried the Demons last week, there are few playing this week that would like to bury the demons from 2015.  The more likely scenario is the game will be messy, Collingwood will look to play a ground ball dominated game, win with the strategy and become the 2018 Premiers by 15 points with the fat lady singing at about the 10 minute mark of the last quarter.  In a flashback to 2010 – Goldsack to boot the opening goal while Steele Sidebottom wins Normie.

 

Racing Ahead

 

For those like me who would prefer neither of them to win, there are days and nights of Group 1 racing right across the weekend.  We kick off with the opening of the Friday Night season at Moonee Valley with the Moir Stakes.  Saturday sees the Melbourne meeting head to Mornington, while there are three big races at Royal Randwick.  The Underwood Stakes headlines the main Melbourne metro meeting at Caulfield on Sunday.

 

Friday Night – Moonee Valley

 

A great support program with a couple of Group 2 and 3 races along with the main event.  A couple of shorties in I am a Star (R2, #1), Trap for Fools (R3, #3) and Leonardo da Hinchi (R5, #4), they all look hard to beat.

 

Race 7 – Moir Stakes (G1, 1000m, WFA)

 

What a contest this should be with a couple of flyers that like to take it out hard and some great quality chasing to catch them.  Nature Strip (6), Snitty Kitty (8) and Ball of Muscle (4) will ensure great speed in the race with a couple of others that may also contend for the lead.  Of those Nature Strip (6) is the selection after smashing the record over this journey last start.  The question is whether some of the chasers can catch him?  Vidorra (7) will be picking through at the end and Houtzen (8) was not far away when Nature Strip (6) broke the record.  Brave Smash (1) will be steaming home to make it a massive finish.  The overriding question on many runners is how forward they are for this as many of them have another mountain to climb in a couple of weeks.

 

Selections – 6-1-4-7

 

Saturday – Mornington and Royal Randwick

 

Melbourne heads to the beach for the Reg Ansett Classic where High Church (R7, #4) looks pretty good value.  The Sydney meeting is a ripper with a couple of group events support the three main races.  One of those is the Premiere Stakes with a number of runners having their lead in run prior to The Everest anything that can beat Redzel (R5, #1) will do well.

 

Race 6 – Flight Stakes (G1, 1600m, 3yo Fillies SW)

 

Basing this on the form from the Tea Rose where most of these had their last run, how will they handle the extra 200m.  Hard to go past the winner Miss Fabulass (2) who showed a blistering turn of foot to put them away.  From the tail of the field Maid of Heaven (9) ran on as well as any of the others, the second place getter Fiesta (3) could turn the tables.  Futooh (6) ran through the line well and has a win over this journey.  The Queenslander Baccarat Baby (7) brings picket fence form into this and is a wild card – just not sure about who she has been beating so leaving her out.

 

Selections – 2-9-3-6

 

Race 7 – Epsom Handicap (G1, 1600m, HCP)

 

The time honoured Epsom sees a couple of old favourites taking on some handy newer types.  Hartnell (1) might be the toppy but the 57kg is less than he has carried for a while now after all his WFA efforts.  Could win this, just concerned the old boy is close to having had enough.  Unforgotten (7) looks very well weighted and a potential superstar on the rise I have it between her and the stablemate D’Argento (3) for top pick.  There are several other chances putting in Pierata (2) for third.  Keeping an eye on Paret (22) failed last start but a handy record before that and dropping to 50kg.

 

Selections – 7-3-2-1

 

Race 8 – Metropolitan Handicap (G1, 2400m, HCP)

 

Plenty of prize money on offer in an open affair with the chance for some of these to climb into the either the Caulfield or Melbourne Cup fields.  Big Duke (2) having his fourth run in should be ready to fire, big finish in the Kingston Town and great record at the track.  Miss Admiration (9) has to rate a chance after winning last start and dropping to the minimum.  CJW’s old campaigner Libran (3) also enjoys Randwick, needs it bone dry and some rain in the forecast.  Sin to Win (11) was favoured last start and could turn the tables, while Lloyd’s charge Midterm (7) comes off a handy performance last start.  Wall of Fire (4) is of real intrigue – going in first up over 2400m as he did last year in the Herbert Power with a slashing performance.  Tough race and selections with a definite southern bias.

 

Selections – 2-9-4-7

 

Sunday – Caulfield

 

The Guineas Preludes highlight the support card for this meeting with some other interesting affairs.  Keen to see how Cool Passion (R4, #1) returns carrying a big weight even with the apprentice claim, Kemono (R5, #1) has had two runs and should be ready to show what he has got.  In the preludes, the boys is pretty open Native Soldier (R6, #3) will have a battle from the wide draw while in the girls Smart Melody (R7, #3) will be very hard to beat.  Furrian (R8, #10) looks a highly promising stayer.

 

Race 8 – Underwood Stakes (G1, 1800m, WFA)

 

We have to wait all weekend to get the best!  Left Jungle Cat out last week, not letting Charlie Appleby get me again.  Blair House (7) has G1 winning form in Dubai, stable has a deadly strike when they come here.  Homesman (8) came back well to just miss out in the Dato, beat Almandin at this track in February and must rate a huge chance.  Humidor (2) at his best wins just about anything provided Winx is not in it.  Then putting in Tosen Basil (4), last start was not impressive but has an excellent second up record.  There are several more chances, Grunt (9) is probably in the same class as Humidor (2) just real questions about his form at this track.  Another great race to look forward to.

 

Selections – 7-8-2-4

 

Quaddie Time

 

Waiting till Sunday for this and reckon we can attack this with dual load around Smart Melody.  We need to be pretty wide in the first leg and the third, which will mean skinny up in the last and hope we are alive!

 

Quaddie 1 – Smart Melody and a couple of others.

 

Leg 1 – 1, 3, 4, 10, 11, 14

Leg 2 – 1, 3, 6

Leg 3 – 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9

Leg 4 – 10

 

108 combinations, $20 investment, 18.5% of the dividend

 

Quaddie 2 – Go Smart Melody

 

Leg 1 – 1, 3, 4, 10, 11, 14

Leg 2 – 3

Leg 3 – 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9

Leg 4 – 10

 

36 combinations, $10 investment, 27.8% of the dividend

 

The wheels fell off!

 

Go Smart Melody

 

Cheers, Sal

 

Comments

  1. Sal, after the Pies kicked two goals quickly to start the last quarter, your estimate of the rotund lady’s time to burst forth was looking good.

    But such was the nature of the game that, by my reckoning, she would have felt confident only with about 15 seconds to go.

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