Sal’s Semi-Final Preview – and the foray at Flemington

Greetings All,


This is not a forum for politics, but some issue needs to be taken with the promise of development money for Kardinia Park.  There is no issue in further development of the ground, but the major criticism is its capacity and thus the inability to fixture the large Melbourne based teams, this gives the Cats a huge advantage due to these scheduling limitations.  But to spend $70M and only increase the capacity by 2,500 hardly gives much more access to the community at $28K per seat!  Why not get the capacity up to 50,000 and open up the stadium to more potential games.


Don’t get me started on the roads!


A quick review of last week with all games going to script.  This pontificator getting the 50-50 game wrong in going for Essendon.  Thus we are presented with the annual dilemma as to whether to be entranced by the elimination final winners, compared to the fact that the qualifying final losers are better and just win.  Media outlets have caught on and spouted the poor record of the winners over the losers, let me reiterate again 2 out of 28 since this finals system was introduced.  But commentators are still entranced and are talking down the Cats and Dockers.  Let’s have a closer look.


Chris ($1.72) vs Brad ($2.38)

Geelong looked pretty ordinary against Hawthorn and that needs to be considered, as against North they have an imposing record.  Based on that it should be a formality, but there are other factors for consideration.  Primarily the questions over Geelong’s health.  StevieJ was clearly hampered, Motlop was hurt during the game and Hamish McIntosh moved more like Hagar the Horrible.  This week they have a makeshift ruck combination up against one of the league’s finest in Todd Goldstein.  The fact they even considered StevieJ shows the lack of faith they currently have in their much vaunted second string of players.  On the other hand the Kangas have a clean bill of health, they bring back Boomer plus a couple of their lesser lights in Brown and Turner lit up the G last week.  Geelong’s close game record is impressive but their second half fade outs must be a real concern especially after seeing North’s comeback.  Up forward the Cats struggled, but Hawkins will prefer the North defenders and I suspect will lead rather than wrestle this week.  Jimmy Bartel still looks their best option at CHF.  At the other end I doubt Chris will allow Ben Brown the match up he had last week and despite his late heroics Drew Petrie was barely sighted.  So it is to the midfield we look – Joel Selwood was simply outstanding last week and will want a few more along for the ride.  North bat deep in there, but in Daniel Wells they have some real silk.  How the Cats handle what will be the dominance of Goldstein could decide the game.  The teams appear to be on opposite trajectories and based on the challenges the Cats are facing, the odds on the Kangas is very attractive.  In fact I rate this a 50-50 game, but as I rate it there I will trust history and select the Cats to survive another week by 15 points.


Purple Haze ($1.63) vs Tiger Tamers ($2.56)

Freo are in a similar position to Geelong especially with their barometer Hayden Ballantyne out of the side, the difference in their success rate when he plays compared to when he is doesn’t is extraordinary.  They are decimated down back although a mighty effort last week.  Then we watched Port tear the Tigers apart in a performance that could not be more impressive – they faced Freo a couple of weeks ago after a similar performance and lost.  The Dockers aren’t the Tigers!  Can the Freo defence perform as they did last week?  I see no reason why not especially on their home ground, how well they can handle the ‘Hoff will be a factor.  At the other end Ballantyne will be missed even though Smith controlled him last week, however Walters can play that small forward role very well.  Pavlich does not need many touches to have an impact on the scoreboard.  But this game will be won and lost in the middle.  Maybe Get Stuffed Lyon was not happy with their first half but the final quarter work of Sandilands in conjunction with Fyfe last week was incredible.  If Hill can also get off the chain then that will certainly assist the Dockers.  Port certainly have momentum and could pull off an upset and as such I rate this a 55-45 game for Freo, again the elimination final winner looks good value.  However I thought Freo played real finals footy last week and as impressive as Port were, this week’s pressure will be an order magnitude or two greater.  Freo are my selection by 27 points.


Friar Time

Well not anymore for the year after the Under 19s were knocked out by a very talented Old Trinity unit.  They face off against Uni Blues on Sunday in what will be a great contest, both teams were impressive but I suspect the students might be more even across the ground.


Divvy 1 – Therry Penola bounced back to defeat Old Geelong and seal promotion to Premier C.  They take on Williamstown CYMS in the joust for the flag.  TP have been the best team all year, but their opponents at their best are also very good.  The CYs might have exposed their hand in the 2nd Semi and require a couple more tricks and I suspect that TP will cover those and take out the pennant for 2014.


The Return to Headquarters

Flemington hosts its first group one for the season in The Makybe Diva Stakes (formerly the Craiglee) and at Rosehill it is the Golden Rose for the 3 year olds.  The rest of the cards are littered with group races which makes it convenient that our semis are played at night!


The Makybe Diva Stakes (G1, 1600m, WFA) sees a great field assembled with many looking for greater riches later in spring, however this has a pretty good prize.  Boban (3) is at his pet distance and he could blow them away, but I am not certain he is back at his best.  Dissident (9) does look to be at his best whilst seeing Flemington for the first time I don’t seeing it being a problem.  HQ is definitely not a problem for Fawkner (2) who is 5 from 10 here and can fire first up – he presents pretty good value.  Puissance de Lune (6) also has a great record here and should continue to improve.  Spillway (8) looks a good prospect for the uncle-nephew combination of Hayes and Dabernig.  There are certainly other chances in this race and if they can all hold together for the next 10 weeks we will see some great contests.

Selections Flemington – Race 7 – 2-9-6-8


A terrific menagerie of Mares begin the group races in the Let’s Elope Stakes (G2, 1400m, Mares SWP) with Gregers (3) bringing outstanding form into the race.  She will be tough to beat but Commanding Jewel (1) is undefeated 2nd up and can make up the ½ length from last start.  Dear Demi (2) has over $1M more prize money than any other runner and is the proven class in the field, but is this the race she is chasing.  Solicit (6) has never been out of the placings at Flemington plus Bonaria (5) and Gig (7) also possess handy form here.

Selections Flemington – Race 5 – 1-3-6-2


The young lads begin to sort themselves out in the Danehill Stakes (G2, 1200m, 3yo SWP), we have a few of the standout two year olds from last season up against a few fresh on the scene hopefuls.  This does make measuring up the form a challenge.  If his last start is discounted sure Nostradamus (4) must rate a great chance, it was run on an unsuitable heavy 9 but the question will be on how much that run will have taken out him.  Get the Nod (3) is 2 from 2 and was convincing in the Vain, Brazen Beau (2) was terrific for CJW during the Brisbane Winter carnival and looks to bring that form to Melbourne and Go Indy Go (8) comes in fresh after his hit and run victory in the Champagne Stakes during the Sydney Carnival.

Selections Flemington – Race 6 – 4-3-2-8


The famous straight six is the course for the Bobbie Lewis Quality (G3, 1200m, Quality HCP) and an almost capacity field will greet the starter.  Not many better sights than a full field down the straight, but pretty tough to sort out!  El Roca (5) has been a spruik horse in the last couple of campaigns, probably because he wins first up, he is fresh here and must rate highly.  The ‘bool based Akavoroun (8) is 6 from 7 including a couple here and Lonhspresso (9) has won impressively over this trip.  There are plenty of others including Temple of Boom (2), Flamberge (3) and Alma’s Fury (4) in an open race.

Selections Flemington – Race 8 – 5-8-9-3


Before we look the Quaddie the Golden Rose (G1, 1400m, 3yo SW) at Rosehill needs attention.  Would be easy to pick out Nostradamus (6) here as Team Hawkes are still to decide which race he will contest.  I think there is a bit more depth here so prefer his chances in Melbourne.  Bring me the Maid (13) provides some of that depth and must rate a great chance for L Nolen to ride in Sydney for PGM rather than at Flemington.  Godolphin’s Kumaon (4) has been a consistent performer and is well-drawn, on the other hand the undefeated Hallowed Crown (3)  will need to overcome a nasty barrier.  Team Snowden chase glory after their separation from Darley with Shooting to Win (10), Ygritte (14) is very consistent and Scissor Kick (5) is emerging.

Selections Rosehill – Race 6 – 13-4-3-6



A very tough one this week at Flemington with pretty open events, so we will be looking to get a nice couple of winners to get the dividend up if prognostications are correct.  The introduction of the 9 race card where the last leg is a raffle has made it tough to skinny down that last leg, but we do want the best chance to be alive.

Leg 1 – 2-3-4-8-15

Leg 2 – 2-3-6-8-9

Leg 3 – 3-5-8-9

Leg 4 – 3-13-14

This gives 300 combinations so a $30 investment will return 10% of the dividend should we find four winners!


I’ve run out of teams with the footy teams gone and another international weekend in Europe, so have a great weekend no matter who you follow!

Cheers, Sal

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