Sports wrap: The fast black horse, the great white hopes
The biggest donkey-licking of the weekend wasn’t in New South Wales politics. It was at Melbourne’s Moonee Valley racecourse, where unbeaten mare Black Caviar went so fast it would have outpaced Mark Webber’s Red Bull. Actually, Melbourne trams go faster than Webber’s Red Bull. Anyway, you get the point.
Horse racing doesn’t get much of a run in the sports pages outside of Melbourne’s spring carnival, but with 11 wins from 11 starts, Black Caviar is already fit to graze in Phar Lap and Makybe Diva’s paddock, and has probably even earned the right to eat the nice green grass in the shady corner. Check her performance a few weeks back in the time-honoured Newmarket Handicap. Wow. She never got out of second gear.
Ratings experts, who produce a formula which no one seriously pretends to understand, upgraded Black Caviar to 135 after that win, which is a statistical way of saying she deserves a speeding ticket. Rival trainers know this, and are now avoiding her. That’s why racing authorities offered prize money of $10,000 down to eighth place on Friday night, in a desperate attempt to attract a decent-sized field.
Even then, only seven showed up. Which presumably means you could have run around at Moonee Valley yourself, or walked, albeit with a jockey on your back and the occasional utterance of “neigh”, and collected $10,000. And to think, I wasted the weekend at home being a father and husband.
There is no natural link between horse racing and winter sports, so you’ll excuse this incredibly clunky segue to our next hero of the weekend. Put your hands together one and all for Australia’s Olympic Winter Institute. Didn’t know we had one, did ya?
We do indeed have an OWI, and they’re a smart bunch of cookies. While the 30 odd sports bodies governing summer Olympic sports clamour endlessly like seagulls for a federal sports funding chip or two, the OWI has said no worries, we’ll do it smart. We’ll target six medal sports and six only, and watch us clean up.
We all know about our five winter Olympic gold medallists – Alisa Camplin (2002), Steven Bradbury (2002), Dale Begg-Smith (2006), Lydia Lassila (2010) and Torah Bright (2010). All bar Bradbury competed in sports the OWI devotes its resources to.
And in the northern hemisphere winter season which concluded this weekend, OWI athletes reaped three World Championships wins plus three World Cup (season long) titles. The athletes are all snowboarders - Holly Crawford in halfpipe, Nathan Jonhstone in halfpipe, and some dude called Alex “Chumpy” Pullin in snowboard cross. We asked, but no one will tell us why he’s called Chumpy.
The success of our snowboarders is Aussie surf culture writ large on a frozen landscape. Our snowboarders have developed an aggressive style all their own, possibly born in the cut-throat lift queues of Perisher and Mount Buller, and it’s great to see these Gen Y and Gen Z’ers transforming us from a winter sports minnow to a winter sports mullet, and who knows, possibly even a whale one day.
Speaking of mullets, let’s talk about Collingwood. OK, admittedly that was another shonky segue, but Collingwood have had some of history’s great mullets. Not anymore. Today, they’ve all got that deliberately messy post-Beckham thing happening, right Dale Thomas?
Anyway, in the AFL’s first round, the talking point was all the close games, a tone set on Thursday evening by the “ding dong” struggle between Carlton and Richmond. So who else still misses Lou Richards’ commentary years after he left the box?
But really, the main story was Collingwood, who spanked Port Adelaide. Clearly, the Pies have no love for a team which befouls the Pies’ own black and white strip with the decidedly namby-pamby colours of silver and “teal”. There’s also the salient point that Collingwood are a ridiculously talented footy team who now look certainties to go back-to-back.
After all, vanquished grand finalists St Kilda were pipped by the Cats, and the Cats are supposed to be on the wane. And Hawthorn, regarded by many as the most serious challenger to Collingwood, couldn’t even beat Adelaide. Though admittedly, Adelaide would have lifted on the occasion of their 20th birthday.
In NRL news, pretty much everyone got broken, which just goes to show what happens when you let children play such a nice safe sport without a sumo suit and a crash helmet. Oh, and Darren Lockyer just announced his retirement. This is hardly surprising given he has played since the 18th century and is said to greatly enjoy lawn bowls.
*By the way, we are going to be featuring a Monday sports wrap each week, so feel free to treat it as a sporting open thread and cut loose on any sporting highlights which caught your eye over the weekend…
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