Round 1 – …and Horse Racing: Sal’s Preview – A busy return to action

Greetings All,


We finally get a chance to get back to the game here in Melbourne, what a tough year we had!  Now we look at a different game – back to full length, reduced interchanged, man on the mark is a statue.  All with the intention to open the game up from the scrums we have had to endure, let’s hope they have it right.  The one thing the league has to get right is the process around concussion.


First of all is the need to reduce the occurrence on the ground, the game is a collision sport and it is not realistic to expect the elimination of head knocks in the game. Umpiring just needs to be vigilant in protecting the scone, at the top level it seems to be fine, but it is at lower levels where umpires must err on the side of caution rather than just letting the play go.  Then there is the treatment once injured. The serious injury substitute rule fits the bill with the substituted player banned from playing in the next round. That really removes the concern about coaches using the substitute tactically – what would a player’s reaction be to being dragged and then not allowed to play the following week, even in the second tier? The potential flaw being where the club has a bye the following week.


We are all hopeful for our teams, which one will make the jump into the top four and who will drop out. Thursday night footy makes predictions tough, but I should be used to it by now.


Dustin Him Off ($1.27) vs Not Worth a Zac ($4.40)


Zac Williams was to be one of the key Blues to improve their efforts over the Tigers, alas a moment of madness or stupidity has him on the sidelines.  The Blues have failed to turn up early in their Round One encounterd in 2019 and 2020, effectively ending the contest by half time. Minor heroics made the losses “respectable” but not being ready for your opening encounter against the best is inexcusable. The Tigers are missing at most two of their best 22, while the Carlton casualty list is already a concern. We know what the Tigers will deliver and if they are in strife, Dusty will inject himself in the game to steady the ship. The Blues want to be more potent but McKay, Silvagni and Casboult will need to be at their very best. At the other end there are real concerns about the Blues inability to defend. The likes of Saad, Plowman, Docherty and Petrevski-Seton need to be much better in the contest than what we saw in the practice match. Would love the Blues to get up, but in fact being in the contest at the first break would be better than in recent times. The Tigers are in better nick and look too good this year.


Fire Sale ($2.20) vs The Ugle Call ($1.82)


The Pies lost plenty and only added their draft picks in for 2021 – not sure how they will be any better.  Meanwhile the Dogs picked up Treloar in the process. While Collingwood weren’t too far away in 2020, this will have an impact on their depth – Sidebottom injured really hurts.  The Bullies not only get Treloar to add to a handy midfield, they pick up the number one draft selection through the loop hole and Stefan Martin to help in the ruck. The Pies love “backs to the wall”, but the Dogs, who have high aspirations, should be too slick.


Browned Off ($1.54) vs Oh the Meek, that’s nice ($2.80)


The Dees got Ben Brown to complement Sam Weideman, but now they are both out, leaving a depleted forward line. Tom McDonald probably needs to be the pea and we may see Gawn spend time forward. Big Max will have an interesting match up with rookie Lloyd Meek who has inherited the role with the injury to Sean Darcy. The Dockers have plenty of their own injury issues and will particularly miss the brilliance of Michael Walters and run of Stephen Hill. A tough game to pick but just think Melbourne can eke out a winning score.


Bottom Down ($4.60) vs Top Up ($1.26)


Adelaide and Geelong are clubs with diametrically opposed strategies. The Crows are building their stocks through the draft while offloading a couple who were probably still in their best team but certainly not in their next finals assault. The Cats were Dustin Martin plus a bit away from the flag and have taken the opposite route, landing Jeremy Cameron, Isaac Smith and Shaun Higgins with the latter two well into the twilight of their careers. This should make the Cats better this year and far too good for Adelaide, but how will it stack up in September?


Keep on Truckin’ ($2.00) vs Starting Again? ($1.90)


Rutten gets the reins without Woosha and will probably unleash a new look game. Their foe in the Hawks have their challenges, losing plenty of experience in the off season and without Gunston, Sicily and Wingard. Essendon’s ballistic style was great with Saad and McKenna in the team – what the game looks like without that pace will be interesting. The Hawks have not quite gone full circle under Clarko but it is pretty close. Lots of talk about him potentially leaving, would have thought he loves a challenge and there is not much bigger than rebuilding a list twice! Would love to see the selections, but have to make a pick and reckon the Hawks just might be a bit healthier.


The Joe Go Zone ($1.25) vs Horsing Around ($4.80)


If Joe Daniher can stay fit the Lions might be able to make that jump to genuine contenders. The loss of Rayner for the season doesn’t help and we don’t really know how much the friendly schedule assisted. They start at home against Sydney where the discussion in every game is whether or not Buddy will be playing; I reckon Horse is starting to look at life without him. Apart from Buddy the Swans are healthy, but suspect the Lions will have too many guns on their dung hill.


A Noble Cause ($5.70) vs Allo Allir ($1.20)


North has stripped right back to build bottom up and can look forward to a tough season, in Bolton speak they are looking for green shoots. The challenge with bottom up is that you need to pick smart, and nobody has picked smarter than Kenny and Port, with some precocious talent in Rozee, Butters and Duursma entering their third season. The recruitment of Allir Allir gives them more flexibility and run. The result being that they should be contending at the pointy end of the season. They will beat North.


Mummy’s Boys ($1.69) vs Fore! ($2.40)


The progression of the Giants has been stymied such that Shane Mumford remains on the rookie list and, with the long term injury to recruit Braydon Preuss, could play in round one. Not a bad match up for him against the Saints, who are without their two ruckmen in Marshall and Ryder. Add the golf ball incident to Max King and a number of other injuries, the Saints feel more like they are in Hell. Suspect at home the Giants just might get up here, the trust is wearing very thin.


Free Willie ($1.22) vs Dew Influence ($5.00)


The halving of Willie Rioli’s suspension could see him back at the pointy end, but will his Eagles be there? They blew their hopes early last year stinking about lockdown and could not quite recover to contend. Kicking off at home gives them no excuses. They take on the Gold Coast who have picked up a few and are on the improve but lack any real A graders. West Coast at home.


Turf Time


It’s the last group one in Melbourne for the season with the William Reid on Friday Night at the Valley, then the attention moves to Sydney and Golden Slipper Day at Rosehill with five group one races on the card.  With the call going out to Noah to start gathering, we are looking for the ducks.


Friday Night – Moonee Valley


Race 7 – William Reid Stakes (G1, 1200m, WFA)


A ripping renewal with plenty of chances here, now that Kementari (2) has won a race I reckon they all have a chance.  Guaranteed speed in the race with Ancestry (5) and Pippie (9) would think the former having the best chance of hanging on but reckon they’ll be caught.  Portland Sky (12) raced handy in the Oakleigh Plate and was too strong in the end, gets M Zahra and has won over the journey.  Plenty of threats Swats That (14) was good in the Newmarket, should be able to get some cover and run home strongly.  Brooklyn Hustle (11) ran home strongly last two start back on her favourite track.  Would have rated Libertini (8) and September Run (13) higher but for the wide barriers.  Still could have missed all the place getters!


Selections – 12-14-11-5


Saturday Rosehill


Race 4 – Ranvet Stakes (G1, 2000m, WFA)


A small but select field, four with heavy track form.  Going the safe way with Verry Elleegant (4) who has fitness on her side, the main threat being Addeybb (1) who might just need the run but can win if he is forward enough.  Master of Wine (2) is undefeated at the track and Nettoyer (5) is a duck!


Selections – 4-1-2-5


Race 5 – Rosehill Guineas (G1, 2000m, 3YO SW)


A few Victorians heading north for the riches, will tend to stay away from them unless they have genuine heavy form.  Three Waller runners and Bowman gets Wheelhouse (4) has placings on heavy, worth the risk.  No doubt Mo’unga (3)and Lion’s Roar (1) will be tough to beat, while the filly Montefilia gets out to a favourable trip.  Of the visitors Lunar Fox (2) has been running in top races in Melbourne, untested on heavy but has a win on soft ground.  Could be in it if he handles the track.


Selections – 4-3-1-11


Race 6 – George Ryder Stakes (G1, 1500m, WFA)


Staying away from Arcadia Queen (10) here, might be the best in the race but want to see her first in the wet.  That is not an issue for Funstar (11) who gets the conditions she likes over a suitable distance.  Interesting that Maher-Eustace have entered Junipal (9) here, came of age in the back half of 2020.  This is a step up but the stable places them well usually.  Avilius (2) beat home Funstar (11) and loomed to win the Chipping Norton, that hit out should have him spot on here.  Dreamforce (3) could be in it for a long way if he can control the tempo.


Selections – 11-9-2-3


Race 7 – Golden Slipper Stakes (G1, 1200m, 2YO SW)


Not many of these have seen a heavy track so there could be some unseen ducks.  There are a couple that have won on the heavy so they do need consideration.  Putting them in for the Quinella as their form also reads well so makes them the least risky.  O’President (10) is 2 from 3 beating a couple of handy types in the Skyline.  Four Moves Ahead (13) was similar in the Sweet Embrace to remain undefeated.  Respect for the Blue Diamond winner Artorius (3) where he was just too tough, exactly what it takes to win this race.  Can’t leave out GSOB who always puts the right ones in the slipper, reckon Anamoe (5) is the better.  Profiteer (2) could be primed and able to hold them all out, a risk I am prepared to take.


Selections – 10-13-3-5


Race 8 – The Galaxy (G1, 1100m, HCP)


The quintessential duck in Jungle Edge (5) takes on a field of handy sprinters.  Is it one campaign too many?  I will be with GSOB and Tailleur (13) gets in on the minimum and never further back than second ever.  Splintex (8) undefeated here and on heavy tracks looks well in on weights.  Eduardo (1) has his work cut out with top weight but he loves the contest as does Bella Vella (9)


Selections – 13-8-1-9


Quaddie Time


We will have a crack at Sydney, will be tough but value will look after itself if we nail it.


Leg 1- 1, 2, 3, 9, 11

Leg 2 – 3, 5, 8, 10, 13

Leg 3 – 1, 4, 8, 9, 13

Leg 4 – 5, 9, 14


375 Combinations, $30 investment returns 8% of the dividend we hope!


Go Blues,


Cheers, Sal


To read more from Sal, click HERE.


To return to the  home page click HERE


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE


  1. Daryl Schramm says

    Thanks for your posts Sal. Will be following you closely this year and have enjoyed your previous work. Sometimes I reread after the event (footy) to see how close you are. May even have the odd dabble on the horses as well. Will offer commission on the winnings if you offer commission on the losings!

Leave a Comment