Sal’s Preview – Round 3: Strike Three for the Competition

Greetings All,

Life is almost back to normal after a wonderful celebration of The Heir’s wedding – an incredibly happy and joyous day!

The reality hit the AFL on Tuesday night with Andrew Wilkie exposing their systematic workaround of the Illicit Drug Protocols.  While everyone appreciates the need for doctor-patient confidentiality, there are clearly players taking advantage of the system with apparently little consequence for building up their frequent flyer points.  The consequences are that you might miss a game and nobody is the wiser, the bigger sin is to get in a photograph where an official suspension is coming.  In its current form the IDP doing the fans and the game a disservice.  Personally, I am more of the Flying High solution, “they bought the ticket, I say let ‘em crash”.

Stop the mollycoddling, the players have their own choices to make. While they have the means to purchase illicit substances it doesn’t mean they have to.  It is their choice, and they should accept the associated consequences from the competition, the club or the law should they be exposed.  If the problem is truly endemic as reported it is better if we all know rather than hiding the dirty secret.

The integrity of the game is at stake here.  The procurement of illicit substances ultimately winds back to the more nefarious characters of our society.  Those characters lack any moral code and will use whatever means fair or foul to earn a buck. All of a sudden players are compromised and John the Bookie is thriving on the AFL.

As we ask the next big question – which of the grand finalists will be winless after this weekend?


Doedee Done (82%) vs A Bit Rusty (18%)

Terrible luck for Tom Doedee injuring his knee again – it might only be a partial tear but doesn’t take much to complete it.  He would have been a handy inclusion as another intercepting defender.  There is a Coleman-sized hole in the Brisbane defence without his creative flair and superb delivery.  The Pies though have their own issues coming out defence as they are being squeezed by the opposition and not executing anywhere near the standard set recently.  Or are we seduced by the premiership?  They are 6-6 over their last 12 games so maybe this has been on the horizon.  Steele Sidebottom pays the price this week with many writing his epitaph.  Reckon plenty have written it before along with Pendlebury. I prefer to wait till we get into the season when the game slows into its regular rhythm.  Can the Pies flick the switch?  Not sure about that but we do know how formidable they can be on the road with their backs to the wall although they have lost the last four of these encounters.  The switch the Lions need to flick is to be able to stop an opposition’s run of goals that the Blues and Dockers inflicted in their two losses, or just stop the Pies from having one.  Reckon theirs is the easier task at home and see Collingwood 0-4 into Gather Round.


The Gift That They May Grow (3%) vs Heartstoppers (97%)

The Roos are making good on their Good Friday gift from the League playing the Blues all but ensuring a sell-out crowd for a home game. They will fill this and could probably get another 20,000 at the MCG but lose any home ground advantage.  They have shown good signs in patches, but such a young list will struggle to run out games.  By the same token the Blues could give them a chance, their last six wins all by a goal or less.  Reckon they might stretch that margin a little this week.


Action Jackson (72%) vs Pedlaring Up Hill (28%)

The forgotten Good Friday game (at least in Melbourne).  It is six years since the Crows have played Fremantle in Perth although they have dined out on the Eagles a couple of times in the interim.  The Dockers are flying and none more so than Luke Jackson – he is presenting a nice problem to have when Sean Darcy is fit to resume.  Letting Stewart run riot probably made Adelaide look worse than reality, tough job given to Luke Pedlar whose role is usually as a forward tagging one of the best in the competition not quite his game.  Expect a better performance – but Freo at home should prevail.


Rough Edges (32%) vs With The Wind (68%)

OK I have used it here but have had enough of the Essendon Edge yet?  It was to the fore against Sydney, they lost by 5 goals with a 10 shot differential.  It’s great the Bombers want to be hard to play against and this week is the time to prove it.  The Saints waltzed through the Pies and Essendon have not defended chains of possession well.  Suspect they will be better at it in the confines of the Loungeroom but then it’s a fast track and the Saints have some slick movers.  Marcus Windhager might not be as slick as some, but his inside work has become outstanding.  Both clubs lose their spearheads through suspension but think Membrey can fill the gap well enough for the Saints to have a target and take the points here.


All Rozee (76%) vs May Day (24%)

So much attention to the winless match up but this game has as much appeal and plenty of consequences.  Port have knocked over a couple of teams they would expect to relatively easily while the Demons have disposed of their last two opponents with some efficiency.  Their big challenge this week will be the loss of Steven May, they have the personnel to cover him, but will they be good enough on Dixon.  Suspect McDonald gets the job he has the size if not the flair.  However it is the contest in the middle that gets the juices flowing here.  Rozee, Butters, Wines up against Petracca, Viney, Oliver should be a ripping contest.  How Soldo fares against Gawn will be important.  However most important will be how the Demons deliver the to the forward line.  There were few issues against the Dogs and Hawks but did not handle Sydney pressure or weather very well – expect Port to exert similar pressure and their defence looks sturdier this year.  The Dees have the talent to win this, however without May to rule the defensive end think Port might hold sway.


Drinks (99%) vs Oh My, Darling (1%)

After all the analysis and suggestions, Beveridge didn’t change too much and was sipping in the victory last week.  This week it’s the opposition’s key forward copping the heat with Jack Darling not providing much of a contest for the Eagles up forward.  Reckon they might have a few more issues and not much in the locker room to take his place.  Bevo will be sipping again on Sunday afternoon – might even be able to start early!


Ooozing (11%) vs Gulden Boy (89%)

The Tigers are winless after three games for the first time since 2010 while Sydney remain undefeated.  They were challenged by the Bombers last week and can expect it again from the Tiges, however do the Tigers have the appetite for the contest.  Importantly do they have the depth of players to deliver as well?  Their top end Martin, Lynch. Nankervis, Vlastuin, Grimes are terrific but aging and are the replacements quite ready?  They have shown patches against Carton and Port, that won’t be enough against Sydney.


Which way Forward? (14%) vs Jack’s Boy (86%)

It is befitting that Tom Hawkins gets to play his 350th game against one of his great foes in Hawthorn and on Easter Monday.  What a player he has been ever since that 2011 Grand Final.  He had shown glimpses till then but served notice on the day and has been a magnificent team player for the Cats ever since.  He put his stamp on early in the 2022 Grand Final rag-dolling Tom Hickey twice and effectively it was game over.  Hawthorn lost their way early last week and made it impossible to recover, suspect they will take a more aggressive and attractive style into this one, but could be costly if the Cats get hold of them.  Suspect they might.


Track Time

 The All Star Mile has shifted the Australian Cup ‘til later in the season as we head back to Flemington where we see a terrific renewal of the race while it is also up against the Tancred in Sydney which sees a good field engaged but without the star quality.



 We got Lempicka (R1, #2) home at the Heath a couple of weeks ago, looks like the handicapper has got her and is 0 from 3 at HQ.  Not much value but Rich Fortune (R1, #4) does look well suited after contesting some hot races.  Same applies in the second with Midtown Boss (R2, #3) poor value in such a big field.  Better option might be Ivan’s Hero (R2, #9) each way ran well down the straight last start.  Not that keen on either race.  Keener on El Soleado (R3, #9) was not disgraced in group company last start, well weighted here with some handy foes.  Ameena (R4, #4) will be short but looked very good at Caulfield, needs to handle the straight.  Interesting the price for Blue Allure (R4, #9) who was second in that race and might be a better bet for the place.  Another race down the straight sees track specialist Najem Suhail (R5, #4) return from Group One company, plenty of respect for the undefeated favourite What You Need (R5, #7).  Another shorty in the sixth with Sea What I See (R6, #12) I just don’t see too much to beat her.

We kick off the Quaddie with another straight scamper and the impressive Estriella (R6, #13) appears well placed provided the outside is not disadvantaged.  A couple of other handy ones will go in the Quaddie.

Race 8 – The Australian Cup (G1, 2000m, WFA)

 What a great renewal of the race with great depth and intrigue.  The shape of the race is certain. Pride of Jenni (7) will try and run them ragged.  She has been successful doing that over 1600m, can she last the extra 400m.  Her only other attempt was on a heavy track in Sydney.  She will need to hold out Mr Brightside (1) who just let her get too far away in the ASM but has the same query over 2000m although 2nd in a Cox Plate is pretty handy.  There are no doubts about Cascadian (2) or Atishu (8) over the distance range both with wins over this journey.  They have clear winning chances and probably represent better value.  Legarto (9) crosses the ditch for this a winner at Flemington over 1600m against her own age, this is a step up but not without hope.  If they all go too hard Young Werther (5) and Vow and Declare (3) will be finishing hard.  Just hope I get the order right.

Selections – 8-7-1-2

 The Roy Higgins is the first of six qualifying races for the Melbourne and as such has attracted a handy bunch of stayers.  Plenty of chances here as a result but going with Paddy and the Began on Dunkel (R9, #3) didn’t see out the Pakenham Cup but get 1.5kg relief and meets Glentaneous (5) 2nd in that race on 4.5kg better terms.  Will be a few more in the Quaddie.  We close out with a tough one and going with Gringotts (R10, #6) but there are several chances despite have to skinny up in the quaddie.


 Leg 1 – 2, 3, 8, 13

Leg 2 – 1, 2, 8, 9

Leg 3 – 3, 4, 5, 7, 13

Leg 4 – 4, 6, 9

240 Combinations for $30 returns 12.5% of the dividend.



 Race 7 – Vinery Stud Stakes (G1, 2000m, Fillies SW)

Is the NZ form good enough to warrant the short quote on Orchestral (1)?  An easy winner of the NZ Derby and NZ form is often very good for the Sydney juvenile races, the money has arrived and she looks the one to beat.  Who could?  Autumn Angel (4) won the Ethereal over this distance in the Spring, while the VRC Oaks winner Zardozi (2) must also be considered.  They are both last start winners.  Maybe Mare of Mt Buller (7) to fill the hole coming off three straight wins, Kimochi (3) consistent and not without hope.

Selections – 1-4-2-7

Race 8 – Tancred Stakes (G1, 2400m, WFA)

The W Haggis invasion of Sydney turned up last week with Post Impressionist (5) romping away, jumps up to WFA but looks a good chance.  Best chance at weights to beat him is Tom Kitten (11) has just been getting into horrible places in races and might just do again, explosive with the right run.  4th in a Melbourne Cup is great form for this then throw in a win in the Pakenham Cup gives Ashrun (3) some chance and Gear Up (6) is also in good form although also nominated for Flemington.  Swap for More Felons (4) if the owners choose Melbourne.

Selections – 11-5-3-6





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