Friday, June 27, 2008

2010 Asian Qualification Campaign

Updating JB's earlier post, the Socceroos have drawn Japan, Uzbekistan, Bahrain and Qatar. A tough group, but it was always going to be tough, and we can surely take solace in the fact we'll face our whipping boys again. In our previous group we beat Qatar 6-0 home and away combined, and we should also fancy our chances at home and on the road against Bahrain. Uzbekistan and Japan are going to be our main threats, but we only need to beat one of these in the group. Top two qualify, so anything we can get out of our away games against these two will be huge. Finally, Australians have a qualifying campaign which the fans can get excited in following. Phase two begins for the Socceroos (tentatively) on September 10, away to Uzbekistan. The draw is structured so that we have three of our last four matches at home. Go the Socceroos!!!

2010 World Cup Qualification

With many still analysing the 'one-day' Socceroos 1-0 loss in Sydney at the hands of China, the draw for the next and most crucial round of qualifiers will be announced tonight in Kuala Lumpur. Being dealt into the group of death which saw the Asian champions, Iraq, departing early at the hands of some questionable FIFA policies regarding the Brazilian come Qatar player Marcio Passos De Albuquerque aka Emerson who was found to be ineligible to play for Qatar, the Socceroos are praying for some luck going into the next draw.

Basically 10 nations remain in the hunt for the 4 full and 1 half world cup spots available to Asian teams. Namely Australia, South Korea, Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Uzbekistan, North Korea, United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Tonight's draw will divide the 10 teams into 2 pools of 5 teams. The two top nations of each pool will take the 4 full WC spots. The two teams that finish third in each pool will play off against each other for the half spot. The winner out of the two third placed teams will then battle the winner of the Oceania region for a world cup birth.

The draw works by splitting the 10 teams into 4 pots based on rankings. Currently Japan and Saudi Arabia are equally ranked 4th. And as such a preliminary draw will be held to separate the two teams. One team from pots' 1, 2 and 3 and two teams from pot 4 are selected to form each of the two pools. As it stands

Pot 1: Australia, South Korea
Pot 2: Iran, Japan/Saudi Arabia
Pot 3: Japan/Saudi Arabia, Bahrain
Pot 4: Uzbekistan, North Korea, United Arab Emirates, Qatar

Australia will therefore be fortunate enough to escape battling South Korea for qualification but, depending on the luck of the draw, could face Iran, Japan, Uzbekistan and North Korea. Alternatively if the football gods are in much of our favour as Mohamed bin Hammam (AFC president) is suggested to be, then Australia could have a slightly less challenging task in the likes of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Qatar.

Tentative dates for the next round of qualifications are:
Sept 6: Bye
Sept 10: Away
Oct 15: Home
Nov 19: Away
Feb 11: Away
Mar 28: Bye
Apr 1: Home
Jun 6: Away
Jun 10: Home
June 17: Home

It has already been arranged that Australia's' last home game will be against the team that is ranked just below them, either Iran or the winners of the preliminary draw between Japan and Saudi Arabia. Given that there is a good chance that this will either be Iran (the team who knocked us out of the 1998 world cup or the Japanese who ended our limp Asian cup debut and whom Australia racked up their first World Cup finals victory, there should be nothing for early ticket holders to whinge or complain about. And at the end of the day we all want to jump and scream in a stadium full of Australians - wearing our green and gold!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


The U.S.A. have announced their team for the Beijing Games and apparently have decided that enough is enough. No more sending a couple of superstars and a cast of guys who just missed out on All-Star selection. The team is: Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets); Carlos Boozer (Utah Jazz); Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors); Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers); Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic); LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers); Jason Kidd (Dallas Mavericks); Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets); Tayshaun Prince (Detroit Pistons); Michael Redd (Milwaukee Bucks); Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat); and Deron Williams (Utah Jazz). The only negative you could have (and you would be a hard man to please) is that this team is a bit on the small side. If coaching staff can get this group playing anywhere near the same page, the gold medal should be in the bag.

But basketball is a funny game. It's not uncommon for great teams (playing badly) to be humbled by average ones (playing as well as they can). And international basketball tournaments have been very open in recent times, mostly due to the number of foreign players who now play in the NBA. Not many people would be able to tell you that the defending Olympic champions are Argentina and the defending World Champions are Spain. However, the U.S.A. are still ranked number one in the world and one glimpse at the above line-up reminds you why.

The starting five for the U.S. will likely be Paul, Bryant, James, Anthony and Howard. In this bunch you have three of the NBA's top four scorers (James, Bryant and Anthony) and the league leaders in assists (Paul) and rebounds (Howard). That's the complete package right there. If these guys have an off night you've got plenty of options on the most star-studded bench in world sport.

So who can stop Team U.S.A.? Argentina are ranked number two in the world and are renowned for their great team play, which was on display for all to see during Athens 2004. MVP of those games was San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili. Ginobili and his injured ankle are in a race against time to be fit for Beijing. Losing their best player would be a bitter blow for the Argies as they have also had two other key players retire from the international arena. A definite medal chance nonetheless given their ability to play as a team in synch with one another and the game plans of coaching staff.

Spain are represented by the brothers Gasol (Pau and Marc) as well as NBA players Jose Calderon, Juan Carlos Navarro and Jorge Garbajosa (no relation to French Rugby star Xavier). There is talent in the Spanish squad but I'm not sure the depth is there to win the gold. I wouldn't try telling that to a Spaniard though as they are passionate about their country to the point of being totally crazy.

Russia are the defending European Champions. They are very much a mystery as nearly all of their players play in Russia. Only Andrei Kirilenko and Viktor Khryapa ply their trade in the NBA. The heart and soul of their team, a guy that epitomises everything Russia (when I think Russia, I think of vodka and this guy) is:

Comrade J.R. Holden

Others with solid medal hopes are Greece and Lithuania. The Boomers (Oceania Champions!) are roughies for a medal but definitely not out of the reckoning. The player to watch is Patrick Mills, an NBA star of the future and probably the most talented player Australia has produced. Hopefully he is given plenty of court time despite his youth. The Boomers have a very handy squad and certainly won't be outmuscled by anyone with Andrew Bogut, Chris Anstey and David Andersen inside.

Patrick Mills, a star on the rise...

China and Yao Ming will be looking to completely ruin another NBA season for himself and the Houston Rockets by playing at Beijing. There are massive doubts as to whether he will be 100 percent fit and the likely outcome is further damage. To heal properly, stress fractures need time, but it would be a hard man to begrudge the big guy a tilt at an Olympic medal in his home country. Especially when you consider that they will spend most of the tournament at the free throw line while watching numerous key opponents being fouled out of matches. Australia have dodged a couple of bullets by avoiding both China/hometown refereeing and the U.S. in the group stage.

The Boomers, lucky to avoid Yao and China in the group stage...

It would be remisce of me not to mention the World Champion Opals. They will be fighting it out for the gold with the U.S.A. and Russia, who joined the battle by stunning the U.S. in the semi finals at the Worlds. Led by the best female player in the world in Lauren Jackson, and with most of the Opals playing in the WNBA, they should take a heap of beating. It's optimistic to see any other country taking a medal off these three...

Go the Boomers! Go the Opals!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Selectors Say: We understand nothing about Rugby League!!!!

The NSW team has been announced for State of Origin game III. I really don't even want to talk about it. It makes so little sense. I wrote strongly last week about the misconception that was getting tossed around in Rugby League circles last week that the NSW origin team's disastrous game II performance was to be laid squarely at the feet of Wallace and Bird.
    Blues: Brett Stewart, Jarryd Hayne, Joel Monaghan, Matt Cooper, Anthony Quinn, Braith Anasta, Mitchell Pearce, Willie Mason, Danny Buderus (capt), Brett White, Craig Fitzgibbon, Ryan Hoffman, Paul Gallen. Interchange: Kurt Gidley, Anthony Laffranchi, Ben Cross, Anthony Tupou.

I understand that the changes in the halves were enforced. I have no arguments with the halves combination chosen. I like Carney a little more than Pearce at this stage, but I am glad the selectors did not revert to an Orford, Kimmorley or Finch.

Nothing has been done to address the massive weakness that the Blues had in game II - that is the engine room. Here is a list of guys that I would have considered to start the game in the 8/10 shirts for the Blues in game three:

Jason Ryles
Luke Bailey
Josh Perry (Has been shockingly good this year)

Maybe just working one of these three into the side. Preferably TWO. Actual, real PROPS.

Beyond that, Gidley must have played himself out of an origin spot in game II. I have never understood the utility that he brings. Below average cover at 1,6,7,9???? Want some spark out of Dummy half??? Pick Ennis. The damage that Ennis could do against a tiring forward pack would be far superior to Gidley's alleged utility.

The selectors have used the injuries to Wallace and Bird to avoid making real significant changes to address the area that went wrong in game two.

The Aussie Wimbledon Tilt

If you, like many Australians stayed up to watch Lleyton Hewitt win his first round match at Wimbledon against Robin Haase you probably have come to the conclusion that his tilt will be a short lived one.

Hewitt faces Spaniard Albert Montanes in the second round, in a match that Hewitt should win. Of course, with Hewitt nothing is easy, and a five set match is almost a certainty. Montanes is ranked 68th in the world and has no grasscourt form to speak of.

In the third round, Aussie Lleyton has a likely date with Roger Federer and an exit here looks certain.
We keep getting excited about the Hewitt Wimbledon tilt in this country. And that seems a little strange. The last time that Hewitt was a true force on the Men's tour was 2002. We seem to forget that, as he still looks and acts the same as he did then. Problematically, he does not play the same as he did then.

Realists were more optimistic about the tilt of Australian hero the Gooch. However, the Gooch never looked like making it past the first round.

The last time Australia had a player to be excited about at Wimbledon was the marvellous winter of 2001, when June not only made staying up to watch Rafter a must, but the Australian cricket team were destroying England in the Ashes series. An Australian team which actually had some characters in it!

Have a look at this squad. Sure it's not quite as interesting as some of the squads from the 90s but:
[S Waugh, M Waugh, Martyn, Hayden, Slater, Gilchrist, Ponting, Bevan, Katich, Seccombe, Warne, Noffke, Miller, Lee, McGrath, Gillespie, Fleming, Bracken]
So some of the credibility of that team is lost with the Professors most loathed Australian cricketer ever: Michael Bevan. Bevan's reputation as the greatest one day batsman seemed to be built on his ability to guide Australia through tricky situations late in one-day internationals. What most did not see, was that Bevan typically put them there in the first place. Channel 9 misses "lets make a game of it" Bevan.

Michael Bevan, needing 20 runs from 40 balls says "lets make a game of it!"

But there are a lot of interesting characters in that squad, with the Waughs, Warne and Miller. Ponting is even more interesting, as we still had not conveniently forgotten about his pants down indiscretions. He was the slightly messed up batting prodigy, rather than the worst and least questioned captain in recent memory.

Anyway, this post was about Tennis. Australian tennis is dead. Roger Federer will win Wimbledon for the 10,009th time. I will not miss a lot of sleep watching it. Maybe someone will write an article about how Lleyton is the fittest he has ever been, has learnt to volley or something. Maybe I will believe it and lose some sleep to watch him get reamed in straight sets by Federer.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Money Talks

Well usually I outline close to 25 tips for the weekend sport, bundle them up into 3 multi bets, all to win nothing as inevitably one out of the 9 legs comes up short. So taking it on board here at WHAB that the fans want more, we are mixing up our last $50 posts (well except for the Captain who is just mixed up). So, instead of the 25 tips I will give you just one with as much conviction as I can.

If you haven't caught the Euro08 fever, then you must be living in a hole. I have to commend the SBS for at least giving us a highlights package each and every game day but is there anything better than the dulcet tones of Martin Tyler calling a game live - 4:30am or not, I don't think so.

Turkey have just progressed after three heart-wrenching come from behind wins, whereas Portugal have stood aside to let an unconvincing Germany side through to another victory and back into favouritism for the title. The question regarding second string sides and what it does for the team is one that Australia must take on board given Portugal's stalled performance against ze Germans. Although the WCQ route for the Australians is a long and arduous one, the impact of a loss on team dynamics can still play a factor, especially when trying to turn the team energy from taking the foot of the gas to motivating them to step it up a notch.

The last two remaining quarter finals pits an unquestionably strong Dutch side against an equally unquestionably strong Dutch coach. Russia, who looked like a different side when putting aside Sweden 2-0 compared to the one that lost to Spain 4-1, will have to find another gear if they are to be considered a threat against the Dutch. The Netherlands, who beat a lacklustre and quite honestly an uninspiring French team, who were deservedly knocked out in the group stages, clinically destroyed an Italian side who weren't allowed to play the kind of football they are known for and was able to field a second string team with depth of quality in the likes of Van Persie and Robben to undo a Romanian side who were growing from game to game and were hot favourite to qualify along with the Dutch going into the final group game. The Dutch have all the cards to play and deserve to be hot favourites to win this one.

Hiddink will have a well oiled Russian side playing a team that he arguably knows more about than his own. But the talent will be against him and if the goals that the Netherlands have scored are anything to go by, so will the football gods. I'm predicting the Dutch to be tested here in a way they are yet to be so in this tournament but they will ultimately come through (paying $1.65) with the final score - 3:1 (paying $13), first to score will be the Dutch (paying $1.60) in Kuyt (paying $9), half/full time to be a draw/Netherlands (paying $4.35) highest scoring half to be the second (at $2.15).

In the other game, the one that will be the one to watch, southern Europe's best are pitted against each other with Spain to take on Italy. I think the wily Italians are going to be too good for the perennial under achievers, Spain. It's not a result I want but can not argue that the Italians know-how in tournaments will get them through over a team that has deserved a lot more silver than it currently boosts. First team to score - Spain (paying $2), and it would have to be in the form of one D. Villa (paying $6.50), half/full time - Spain/Italy (paying $34).

Well I know I said I would give you just one tip and so it must be. I think at $34 you should take a little of the Spain/Italy half/full time action. If you were a cautious man then hedge a little of your outlay on Spain/Draw paying $15. Don't be a douche, catch a little FIFA fever Euro style.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Experiment #1 In Gambling

Was listening to Jason Alexander talking on the radio the other day and it got me thinking that if if doing the opposite worked for George Costanza then let's give it a go here at WHAB!

Nothing gets the blood pumping like women's tennis. Normally I would get on an Aussie underdog but the opposite of that is to get on an ugly Russian favourite in Nadia Petrova. She copped a few branches to the face when she fell from the ugly tree did this one. Very butchy as well, Petrova and Mauresmo would be a match made in heaven. I pity the poor mofo that fancies his chances of a home invasion there. But just looking at some pictures of her, in Seinfeld parlance, she's a "two-face"! On one hand she doesn't look half bad; on the other hand she looks monstrous:

So $20 on Petrova to beat Samantha Stosur in three sets @ $5.

I've given the Rabbitohs a bit of a hard time on this site. So this weekend I'm joining forces with one the greatest actors of our time, one Russell Crowe! Getting on the Rabbitohs to a). beat the Titans $30 @ $2.75 and b). to thump the Titans! By 13+, $10 @ $6.75.

And I will have my vengeance!

When a horse is involved in a horrible fall the start prior, it makes perfect sense to get on! Street Smart would have no doubt won that race by at least 5 lengths if not for getting a face full of turf. Some desperate tactics/sabotage from other jockeys conspired against her but now she gets her chance for revenge! $10 each way on Street Smart, Race 7 in Brisbane.

With hurdling in the spotlight at the moment and talk of it being banned, I'm getting behind the battlers of the jumps scene. After all, it's the missing link between thoroughbred racing and Equestrian! So having $20 on Pride of Westbury, Melbourne Race 2. Man I love my jumps!

De-Ponsifying Equestrian

The Captains equestrian preview post has given us at WHAB a golden idea for the Olympics.
Equestrian has a few things we like:

1) Horses in sport
2) It will be on TV...

And a few things we don't like

1) No form
2) No gambling
3) It's so poncy!
4) Horses prance, don't sprint
5) It's really, really gay.
6) No natural association with drinking.

Point 6 is the easiest one to deal with. It's just a matter of discipline. Every time you sit down and the equestrian is on, crack a beer open. It might be tough, but do it for Australia. Do it for yourself. Discipline. Think Shao Lin monk discipline.
Given the rules of equestrian, point 4 is a given. So too, points 3 and 5. But here at WHAB, lets help out with an equestrian form guide! And a Market!!

1. Rod Brown and Mr Burns
Form: 12 - 0 - 2 -3
Wet: 2 - 0 - 1 - 1
Price: $6
Ponce factor: Name is cool, however the horse appears to have a braided mane. Either his six year old daughter is involved or there is some serious man horse love afoot. [Research update: They almost all have braided manes]

Info: Was originally named Mr. Smithers. Still a maiden but in the hands of "Cups King" Bartholemew J Sinclair III so always a threat!

2. Matthew Dowsley and Cinderella
Form: First Starter
Price: $4.50
Ponce Factor: Fat guy riding a horse called Cinderella whilst wearing a top hat.
Info: $4 million dollar yearling out of Equestrian Superstar "Sodomy Express." Loves the jumps and bred to prance all day.

3. Andrew Hoy and Master Monarch
Form: 28 - 4 - 5 - 3
Price: $3.80
Ponce Factor: Horse chose Equestrian World Cup after successful Dubbo Maiden. Could have been a star of the real turf. Chose this.
Info: Will love a little sting out of the ground. Best work has been done the English way of prancing. Untested the Chinese way.

4. Andrew Nicholson and Henry Tankerville
Form: 4 - 0 - 0 -1
Price: $14
Ponce Factor: Seems to be named after some handsome stranger in a Jane Austin book. But which one's the horse?!
Info: Still a maiden, but has been crying out for some Olympic distance prancing. One for the multiples.

5. Miss Stephanie Thompson and Jacko's Delight
Form: 4 - 2 - 1 -0
Racing Form: 3 - 1 - 0 - 0
Price: $12
Ponce Factor: Whilst that Jacko from the XXXX ads is a bit of an ass clown, there is little gayness on show here. Of course, a horse called Jacko's Delight might be willing to kill the foo' who tries to braid his mane.
Info: Slashing maiden winner at Dalby in 2006. Always set for better things though - little did he know that it was prancing! Treats the other horses with the disdain of a former champion of the true turf.

6. Herman Ibarien (Esp) and Conquistador

Form: 108 - 1 - 19 -48
Price: $2.50
Ponce Factor: Comes from a country where this is considered a manly pursuit. However, will wear the tightest pants.
Info: The Spanish Champion Conquistador, like many of his countries sporting teams, come in to these events with a sound reputation. Only to be knocked out at the group stage by Senegal or some such.
7. Miss Julia Crowson and Sonic Boom
Form 10 - 1 - 0 - 0
Price: $51
Ponce Factor: Was there anyone gayer in Street Fighter than Guile? Okay, so Ken and Ryu were gayer than Guile. Maybe even Zangief you big bear, you. But still.
Info: Making up the numbers. One win was in the automatic qualifier for the Olympics - the African Cup. The African Cup qualification route is a lot like the Qld Derby - Melbourne Cup route. That is, not good. Not good at all.

Friday night football preview: Penrith v St George

Tonight, the Dragons play the Panthers in a pretty crucial game for both sides. The Dragons are fresh off four wins on the trot, whilst Penrith have been mixing their form of late. 
Anyway, how the two teams will line up tonight is kind of anybodies guess, with the Sydney press predicting Matt Elliot to bring in some serious youth for tonight's contest.  The official teams at this stage look like this:

Penrith: Wesser, Rooney, Jennings, Tighe, Sammut, Blair, Lewis, Bell, Peters, Civoneciva, Pritchard, Waterhouse, Smith [Aiton, Grant, Moors, Rodney]

St George: Morris, Nightingale, Gasnier, Cooper, Morris, Soward, Hornby, Poore, Young, Ryles, Scott, Creagh, Webb [Setu, Hunt, Stanley, Chase]

From the Panthers, word is that there will be a few changes to the current side, Aiton is likely out to be replaced with teenage wunderkind Masada Iosefa. Tony Puletua could return and would likely displace Moors. Finally, another potential superstar from the junior ranks Wade Graham could make his long awaited debut in place of Blair. 

From the Dragons side of things there is not a lot of news. No news being great for them all players are passed to play.

The dragons are winners of their last four starts. And for that reason they have come up pretty short in this contest at $1.33. (N.B. The Dragons have started favourite in every game since 1988. Check it, it's a FACT) If you have a look at those four wins though, it has been a fairly motley group that they have beaten. Melbourne without their 46 origin players. Brisbane without the 32 origin players*, South Sydney without all of their origin players. One solid win came against Manly.  Though the Manly side that week played with 12 men. In one of the greatest pieces of ineptitude ever to come out of a coaching box, Anthony Watmough played 80 straight minutes of this game - 75 of these with a massive concussion. Des Hasler doesn't change his game plan for something as minor as a life threatening medical condition.

Also remember that the Dragons will be without the greatest player of the modern era "DEL" this week. His badly dismembered face has meant that he cannot play football, model, or ingest cocaine in the manner of his choosing. Bad time to be DEL!

The Panthers were terrible last week against the Roosters. To some extent that can be forgiven by the fact that most of that game Penrith carried a one man bench. Otherwise, there have been some serious signs of life in Penrith this year, and the infusion of youth could be critical. 

Anyway, there is an axiom in regards to my punting on football. Never back St George at odds like those on offer here. The St George hype machine is back in full force. Don't buy into it.

Penrith will cause the St George outside backs nightmares down the Jennings/Rooney flank as both of these players have hit some very solid form. As such, I will throw $50 on a Panthers win at $3.40 and $50 on a Rooney try at $2.25.

You can catch this game in NSW live at 7:30 on channel 9. Things to watch out for in the telecast:

1) Gould's man love for Ben Creagh and its ability to make you physically ill.
2) Gould going on FOR HOURS about how unfair it is that Nathan Brown has lost his job for next year and is still coaching. 
3) The Broncos are playing tonight. Lucky you, no Ben Ikin!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Beijing Olympics - Diving

Olympic boxing champ "Snowy" Baker was the first Australian to compete in Olympic diving. Although being able to beat his opponents with his fists, his combatants feared him a lot less when taking to the water. Unlike boxing, Australian diving has come along way and we regularly threaten for medals in most international meets.

But, is it just me, or is diving a sport that you have all the time in the world for with the women's event, but when it comes to the guys you find the remote control pretty quickly. For example, I can watch such talent as Sharleen Stratton for hours (don't worry she's 21):

Whereas the guys, and in this case its 3 metre synchro specialist Scott Robertson, seem to be continually sporting the 'just hopped of a cock' look:

Elements of the dive that are judged are the approach, take off, elevation, execution and entry into the water. Pretty straight forward - but approach?

Scoring: Individual events - Marked out of 10 by seven judges. The highest and lowest scores are eliminated and the remaining 5 scores are multiplied by the degree of difficulty, added, and then multiplied by 0.6 (why 0.6 I don't know, but I think Duckworth had something to do with this formula). Synchronized events - 9 judges score the dives, 4 look at the execution of the individual dives and the other 5 assess the synchronization of the divers.

Men complete in 6 dives, women 5 (fair enough best of 3 sets in tennis but is diving that gruelling that women can't do 6 dives?). After each preliminary event, the field is reduced to 18 who go on to the semi-final. After the semi-final, the preliminary scores and the semi-final scores are added to find the best 12 divers. These 12 then compete in the final. The medals are awarded to the best three combined semi-final and final score (DUCKWORTH!!!).

Australia have some real chances to take home some medals later this year, but don't be surprised if the Chinese clean up in Beijing. The Olympic squad put 5 medals into their kit after the recent FINA competition in Germany.

At any rate, I can honestly say that after a few bevies, one becomes quite the armchair judge, especially with the synchronized events. The diving should get plenty of coverage at this year's games, so do yourself a favour and settle into your lounge with a few cold ones and a clipboard.


Equestrian is the gay distant relative of thoroughbred racing. It is far less exciting and you're not likely to find a bar or bookmaker in sight. The horses prance instead of charging down the home straight and the jockeys wear pompous button-up jackets rather than colourful racing silks. There's very hush-hush commentary similar to that in golf as opposed to the excitable tones of a race caller. Beijing officials, in an attempt to spice up this dreary sport, snuck this guy into the Chinese squad:

Boring things can always be made more fun with martial arts stuntmen. So then, Chan will compete in Individual & Team Dressage, Individual & Team Jumping, and Individual & Team Eventing. Let's just clear one thing up:

dres.sage / drəˈsäzh/: The art of riding and training a horse in a manner that develops obedience, flexibility, and balance.

Okay then...sounds like fun. Australia's Andrew Hoy, looking to compete at a seventh Olympics, has become embroiled in an animal cruelty case. It's alleged that one of his pupils used spiked boots on her horse to make it jump higher. Hoy is denying any responsibility and rightly so. When asked for comment he said "I'm absolutely convinced someone is out to get me".

What did you expect? Drugs, booze, wild sex-romps, illegal bookies and high speed car chases in an equestrian scandal?!

Poll Results

Our poll has sparked worldwide interest in the condition known as Incurable Neckitis. For more information on this subject go to www.incurableneckitis/ Donations can also be made out to:

The Brent Tate Foundation
Locked Bag 50
Turtleneck, QLD 4889.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Time wasting!

The Captain's constant California Games references in his last post got me keen to play a little of this:

Here is a nice link. You can play this and other PHAT games from the past online.


The cycling schedule for the Beijing Games is jammed packed so who better to preview this feast of two-wheel action than someone who hasn't ridden a bike since he was 15...

There will be four disciplines of cycling at Beijing; track, road, mountain bike and the exciting addition of BMX. Good to see the Games' organisers going retro with a bit of California Games. An Atari 2600 classic. Hopefully London introduces footbag or at least flying disc for 2012. Back to the subject at hand, the track cycling events include sprints, pursuits, keirin, madison, and points races. Medals for road cycling will be awarded for the road race and time trial.

The main reason for watching any of the four disciplines is the possibility of:


And the likelihood of:

The "KFC Kid" Ryan Bayley is back and angry as ever after an on-track stoush with his soon to be brother in-law Shane Perkins. Bayley is obviously stoked that Perkins is doing his sister and had this to say after the incident: "The biggest thing was, I actually don't like the guy, so it made me a little bit more angry during the race and after the race. It's an unfortunate incident. Perkins is going really well at the moment, but I don't care because I don't like him". He'll also be up against Theo Bos and his million dollar bike.

Other Aussies to look out for are Mark French, Anna Meares and Katie Mactier. I could crap on for hours about the finer points of keirin and madison but I'd ruin all the fun for you, the viewer. Trying to figure out who wins and how in a cycling event is part of the enjoyment. Let's just hope there's as many stacks as Aussie gold medals in Beijing!

Watching the BMX at the Games, I'm sure I'll be hearing in the back of my head the catchy theme for California Games...doo-doo-doo.....doo-doo...doo-doo-doo...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Assigning blame properly: Also known as the Orford/Kimmorley Paradigm

Listening to some very interesting debate on ABC before the Tigers v Eels game yesterday, with Phil Gould chatting to Warren Ryan about the inept Blues performance in game 2 of the State of Origin series.

The blame for the performance was attributed by these two as follows:

- The referee
- Wallace
- Bird

- The front row

Phil Gould presented an argument that went along the lines of: Wallace and Bird are not playmakers. Thus, when the pack is not going forward, they are unable to make plays. The referee is somehow to blame for the packs inability to go forward. The solution is to somehow change the referee and to replace Bird and Wallace with Anasta and Finch. That is the best that I can do.

Ryan suggested that Gould misplaced the blame to some extent. He agreed that Bird was potentially an inadequate 5/8, but suggested that no halves combination had the power to change the result from that game - rather, the front row's lack of metres was the factor that should be addressed. The main focus of Ryan's selection discussion was to bring in Ryles and Bailey at the expense of White/Simpson. Bird's position seemed to Ryan to be somewhat shaky as well.

When Gould is presented, and presents himself as the premiere mind in league, it angers me. Particularly when I listen to drivel like what I listened to yesterday. There is no axiom more basic in Rugby League than what I have coined the "Orford/Kimmorley Paradigm." The paradigm argues that halves are completely a function of the forward packs that they toil behind. (**Data forthcoming) The reasoning behind choosing Orford and Kimmorley as the fathers of this paradigm, was there unbelievable success behind the feared Melbourne pack. Both parlayed that success into lucrative contracts at other clubs. Buyer beware. Kimmorley, as useful as he has been since, has never had he same impact. Orford likewise.

Gould seems to overrate the responsibility of halves. And to me this speaks of lazy analysis. Regardless of a teams problems - a loss is placed squarely at the feet of the 6/7. If we want to delve deeper, lets add the 1 & 9 to that mix. For someone who gets paid to analyse Rugby League, it seems fair that we could expect more than knowledge of four players from most teams.

If you want to lay the blame for NSW's thumping in the 2nd game somewhere, try the go-forward. For the sake of mobility, NSW completely abandoned a big front row. This reflected badly on the halves. You may argue that Bird is not a skillful number 6 (and I might agree with you) but you need to start with analysing more than four players. NSW need to go BIGGER for Origin three. Until changes are made there, bringing in Anasta and Finch will be putting lipstick on a pig.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dollars and Sense

Captain: The Captain's punting form is so bad that he has drafted in some help. I reckon the missus can turn things around for me so let's see what she's got! She tips horses by jockeys sporting purple or horses that she likes the names of...could be a winning strategy against this riff-raff!

BR2 no. 5, Supreme Agenda $10 e/w
BR4 no. 3, Magic Promenade $20 win
BR5 no. 14, Strawberry Sky $10 e/w
BR6 no.6, Easy Rocker $20 win
BR8 no. 1, Spinney $20 win

Well despite picking winners in the sport I haven't been converting it into dollars thanks mainly to my appetite for getting a little carried away. So in an attempt to restrain myself I give you my weekly insights:

$15 Multi on
Hawthorne / Adelaide @ $2.00
Collingwood / Carlton @ $1.38
Richmond / Melbourne (1-39) @ $2.25
Spain/Sweeden (Half/Full time) @ $2.45
Portugal / Switzerland @ $2.25
Paying $34.23

$15 Multi on
Roosters / Panthers (1-12) @ $3.10
Sharks / Warriors (1-12) @ $3.10
Tigers / Eels (13+) @ $3.95
Spain/Sweden (Half/Full time) @ $2.45
Portugal / Switzerland @ $2.25
Paying $209.25

$20 Multi on
Spain/Sweden (Half/Full time) @ $2.45
Portugal / Switzerland @ $2.25
Paying $5.51

I will be the first to admit good fortune last week in the Straddie, but let's see if it will continue into this weekend's racing:

$15 W Randwick Race 8, No. 9 "Carry on Dude"
$15 W Randwick Race 6, No. 2 "Eagle Rock"
$20 W Randwick Race 4, No. 1 "Star of Crown"


Well, my punting has been abysmal for the last fortnight, time to snap out of it!

Sticking to racing generally speaking this week.

$20 on Australia into Spain into Portugal. Paying $2.15*$2.45*2.25 = 11.85.

$15 on Mr Aristos in BR 6, Likewise, $15 on Cocktail Supreme in BR 6 - can't help throwing money at the Supreme. Last chance.

$35 on Synonym in BR 7.

$15 on old Frosty the Hood in BR 4.

There we go, a couple of my favourites get around in BR 6, showing support for the Socceroos and Synonym could be a star in the making. Love it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Origin II Reflections

* I woke up the morning after Origin II and after a solid breakfast of 8 panadols I thought to myself (not for the first time) "Did Steve Simpson play last night?".

* Tony Archer; the Hometown Hero. A terrible performance dictated by the home crowd. Even parochial QLDer's would have to ask why this dipshit awarded 16 penalties in an Origin match. Watching the Hannant try I correctly predicted it would be Refs Call and that Archer would give it a try. There was nothing surer. And once again the douchebag referees boss Robert Finch refuses to acknowledge the ineptitude of one of his bum-chums.

* Gasnier and Turner in defence... you all watched the match, that's all I really need to say.

* I've watched a lot of Rugby League but I can't remember watching a team that never even remotely looked like scoring as was the case with NSW.

* They were so bad they made Brent Tate look awesome, Incurable Neckitis and all.

* Willie Mason should be bound, gagged, locked in a vault and fed sedatives up until just before kickoff for Origin III lest the stupid bastard be tempted to shoot his mouth off again.

* And's only 1-1. You ain't won shit yet. Especially if the Hometown Hero gets the gig for Origin III.

***The author wishes to inform readers that he was absolutely hammered on Origin night and recollections may be hazy***

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

State of Origin II: Preview Thread

With State of Origin II kicking off tonight, lets have a quick look at how tonights contest shapes up:

1. B. Slater
2. D. Boyd
3. G. Inglis
4. B. Tate
5. I. Folau
7. S. Prince
6. J. Thurston
8. S. Price
9. C. Smith
10. P. Civoniceva
11. M. Crocker
12. S. Thaiday
13. D. Johnson

14. B. Hannant
15. K. Hunt
16. N. Myles
17. A. Harrison

1. B. Stewart
2. S. Turner
3. M. Gasnier
4. M. Cooper
5. A. Quinn
6. G. Bird
7. P. Wallace
8. B. White
9. D. Buderus
10. C. Fitzgibbon
11. W. Mason
12. R. Hoffman
13. P. Gallen

14. A. Laffranchi
15. A. Tupou
16. K. Gidley
17. S. Simpson

NSW won the first game fairly convincingly. However game II looks like a more difficult proposition, based on the team changes made by both teams and on the move to the Fortress formerly known as Lang Park. QLD have brought in Prince for Karmichael Hunt Darren Lockyer PJ Marsh. This is a massive impact on the team, having a superior playmaker partnered with Thurston. The utility of picking Hunt on the bench must be questioned, as his selection in game one was questioned. Surely Marsh, or a specialist interchange player at origin level such as Bowen would give NSW more concerns. More bad news for NSW is the return of Steve Price. Carl Webb, an inexplicable selection in the Australian team but weeks ago makes way.

The great news selection for the Blues is the suspension of Justin Hodges. This shifts Tate in to the centres (hurrah!) and drafts in Darius Boyd. Whilst I will never complain about a Tate selection from the standpoint of a biased NSW fan, it must be wondered what he holds over the QLD selectors (See the poll on the top right of the page!) Lillyman out, Harrison in. 8 minutes of unspectacular football replaced by 8 minutes of unspectacular football. I always wonder about the 17th man selection by Queensland... is there some sort of pride factor in picking a side with only 16 players in it???

For NSW, Hayne, Cross and Hornby make way for Turner, Simpson and Gidley. The Turner and Gidley changes should provide little change from game 1. The Simpson change is a headscratcher. Are there no other props in NSW??? The Captain I know would have gone with Todd Payten. I could have lived with that. The *best* thing that comes out of the Simpson selection is that it gives a new guy to fill the role of Laffranchi in game II. Laffranchi in game one was spectacular when he was on the field, but saw far too few minutes. Hopefully that role (lack of minutes) falls to Simpson in game II. In fact, Laffranchi wins the "Wes Mantooth Award" for his game I performance.

* Note the Wes Mantooth Award is given to Sportsmen who dazzled us with their play. But deserved far bigger roles. Seriously, Anchorman is my favourite movie but how much better would it have been with MORE MANTOOTH! It runs for something like 90 minutes. Make it 92 minutes and lets see Wes present the news or something. At least in a deleted scene. Also, why can't they make Anchorman 2 and save Will Farrell from himself.

I think NSW are a good chance here. The backline of Queensland just looks 209% worse when Tate is in the centres. And the Queensland bench is bereft of impact. If NSW can stay close for the first hour, I think it could come down to the benches. And there NSW is a clear winner. If you are betting, take QLD by 13+ and NSW by 0-12. Either NSW get blown away early or win a close one. I will just take the second option as I don't have the heart to back QLD.

Anyway, that's all I've got on Origin 2. I will be cranking up some Roy and HG, getting some sweet seafood and beering on.

No laughing stock post today, eh JB??? You saw how that went last time.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hall Of Fame Inductee No. 6!!!

It's been a while since we inducted someone into our hall of fame so here's our newest addition:

Russell Tiffin in a familiar pose...

After yet another series of howlers over in the West Indies, "Gunfinger" Tiffin as we like to call him at WHAB, has deservedly been added to the honour roll. Without doubt the worst umpire in international cricket. If I walked out to the middle at a weekend warehouse cricket match and saw this guy up the other end I'd be very nervous...

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Professors Guide to Roughies!

Eagle Farm today sees a lot of good races, anyway, just thought I would share my opinions on the best outside chances running around in all 8 races.

They are somewhat rough, so I may come up with nothing, but if you are like me - this is how you like to invest.

Race 1:
Not too interesting in terms of roughies, I think Lancaster Park ($26) can improve. There seems to be enough of a wrap on it and this is an easy race.

Race 2:
Again, wish I had of started this preview with Race 3, however lets lock in Our Jangles ($21).

Race 3:
Looks to be a race in two - High Rollin' WOman and Black Minx. I will be betting on High Rollin' to turn the tables but a good outside chance is Cloudcatcher at $13.

Race 4:
A horse that lost to El Cambio by 2.5 lengths - whilst carrying equal weights. Comes in on 53 kgs. Paying $51??? Take Frosty each way and call it your roughie of the day.

Race 5:
Three roughies to like here.
1) Alverta ($17) - last first up run was a nose behind Takeover Target. Good enough for me here.
2) Sir Monashee ($13 allegedly will be more like $30)- owner of the hottest 1000 metre times in this field. That was three starts back. Last start looked like he was back - length behind your favourite Sectagonal. Has a good gate and could be too good.
3) Nessuno ($26) Owner of a 56.85 1,000 metre time with 62,5 kgs on his back!! Has 53 here and looks like he is coming back into form as well.

Race 6:
Will probably go with Riva San here, personally. However if you want some juicy odds, you could go worse than Rainbow Styling who has been solidly working through the classes to get here.

Race 7:
All of my favourite roughies here have shocking gates.
- Helideck
- Swiss Ace
- Snipers Bullet (now its dry)
- Absolut Glam
They could all go well though.

Am actually leaning towards Swick in the big one now..

Race 8:
Chevron Island ($26) - Country form around some decent horses. May stack up here.
By this time big Frosty will have made this all academic anyway.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Stradbroke Handicap Short Preview

The Captain's Straddy Guide

The Straddy is a race where either a). the leaders knock up but the backmarkers that sit at the tail are too far back in the big field or b). the leaders kick and the backmarkers are again too far back. Right then, I want something that will sit back but have 7-10 horses behind them. Alternatively you might go with the jockey who's the best in the country at miraculously bringing a horse through along the rail in Glen Colless but I think Black Ink was a better chance a couple of years ago. Personally, with pace from wide gates in Murtajill, Swiss Ace and Omnitrader also pushing forward I really think that the barrier is key here. With that in mind, the race is set up for Casino Prince and Pinnacles provided they settle somewhere in mid-field. Shouldn't be a problem for the Prince so that leaves me to plead with Rick Hore-Lacy and Craig Newitt, please don't ride Pinnacles cold! Not from barrier one, surely. The other two I want are Chinchilla Rose who from gate 15 should be able to settle somewhere in mid-field and I like Swiss Ace to hang on gamely if he can get to the rail from the start. I'll be boxing these four. Track will be dead at worst. I've been to Eagle Farm under similar conditions and have seen it go from slow before Race 1 to good before Race 7 so don't be surprised if it gets back to a dry Stradbroke.

I agree with the Captain, you do want something that gets back - but not too far!
Thought it was going to be a wet track... Oh well. I love El Cambio for this race, barrier the only doubt but he could be too strong given any luck. Comes in fantastically at the weights and has to be a good chance. I also like Swiss Ace, Atapi, Helideck and Diplomatic Force. All have horrible gates but remain nice value. With everything that I like coming from the grandstand, I will have to spread the cash around a little bit - pimp style - and hope for one of them to get a bit of luck. With any luck yours have drawn better than mine.

The Festival of the Wallet


$50 on Geelong, Hawthorne, Sydney, Brisbane, Bulldogs, Collingwood all by more than 15.5 into Portugal/Turkey into Titans and Tigers paying $16.86

$50 Following the Professor with $10 place on Mr Baritone, $10 place on Hellideck, $15 win Casino Prince and $15 win on El Cambio

Captain: Fuck betting on weekly sport. It sucks balls. They call RACING the Sport of Kings...

$35 on Casino Prince
$13 each way on Pinnacles
$11 each way on Chinchilla Rose
$5 win on Swiss Ace
Boxed trifecta with these four at a half, cost $12.

A very open race but think the Captain has well and truly nailed this one. Enjoy!


All my bets are on the Straddie! Yeah.
$20 on Diplomatic Force (When I think of this horse I think of)

$30 on El Cambio!
Swiss Ace: 10/10
Helideck: 5/10
Atapi: 5/10

Spreading the love around. Like JB, he's anyone's after a few cosmos.

Dorothy Mantooth is a SAINT!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

NBA Finals 2008 Preview

For the 11th time, the Boston Celtics will meet the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. The Lakers were composed in their dominance of the Spurs while the Celtics ultimately proved too good for the Pistons. The key to this series is going to be how Boston fares when they travel to L.A. When the Lakers have a good team it’s the toughest playoff road trip there is and I honestly can’t see Boston winning a game there. The interesting thing is that the Celtics have home court advantage after finishing with the best regular season record. They achieved this by repeatedly hammering various downtrodden Eastern Conference teams; meanwhile the Lakers battled in the tough Western Conference. The stage is set, so let’s look at the players to watch out for.

Kobe Bryant: Kobe is so good that has set up the Ultimate Kobe Page which has everything Kobe except information about off-court indiscretions. The man is really that good. At times in his career it has seemed as if he can score at will; nowadays it seems he can score at will and can help his teammates score as well. If this man plays for the U.S.A at the Olympics, the gold medal is a foregone conclusion people. And if the Celtics can’t find a way to shut him down, so is the 2008 Championship.

Kevin Garnett: “KG” is going to have to be Finals MVP for Boston if they are going to win this series. He needs to dominate down low, dominate the boards and dominate Pau Gasol. It’s a simple plan but easier said than done. If Garnett gets into foul trouble through the series, the Celtics will be in serious trouble.

Pau Gasol: Lakers coach Phil Jackson has been critical of Gasol, especially during the playoffs. He has been upset with Gasol’s “softness”; fancy little hook shots rather than taking it strong to the rack. The reason Gasol plays this way is that he is white. If he was black he would take it to the rim but you would have to go back a long way to find a white centre who doesn’t prefer a dinky little hook shot. Nevertheless, Gasol is a seven footer who will score points, grab rebounds at both ends and fill up the middle with his size. And this is his wife:

Paul Pierce: Pierce is no doubt an important part of the Celtics line-up but will play a role that will look to compliment Garnett’s inside game. With Ray Allen struggling in the playoffs from deep, Pierce will need to get his three point shot going. His nickname “The Truth” was accorded to him after Shaq said this to a very obedient Boston reporter:

"My name is Shaquille O'Neal and Paul Pierce is the motherfucking truth. Quote me on that and don't take nothing out. I knew he could play, but I didn't know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is the truth."

It's hard to argue when Shaq puts it so eloquently...Lamar Odom, Vladimir Radmanovic and Derek Fisher are the other likely starters for L.A. with Allen, Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins taking the tip for Boston. The bench of the Lakers runs deep. Just about everyone will get time in this series and each will have a set role. The Celtics are skinnier in terms of depth so will rely heavily on their big three.

PREDICTION: Lakers win. Most likely 4-2. Any sort of foul trouble for Boston's big men will be exploited. The Lakers bench will boast too much depth. The Celtics will go down in all three matches on the road. Kobe Bryant MVP. Series tips off in Boston, 11.a.m Friday AEST on ESPN.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

NRL parity: Why the Salary Cap is a flawed system.

Whenever parity or clubs being under financial pressure is discussed, the NRL talking heads (led by Dennis Fitzgerald) rehash the same arguments. Raise the salary cap. Lower the salary cap. As chief executives or media personalities, this appears to show minimal imagination and economic nous for people in the high profile roles that they enjoy. First I intend to show the flaws in the current structure, and then I aim to outline a counter strategy designed at providing some parity in the game. Unlike most of my posts, there will be an element of seriousness.

Anyway, to the current system. Lets look at the finalists for the past five years. Many of the games talking heads make a lot of the fact that of the 16 teams currently playing in the NRL, only the Gold Coast, in their second year of playing - have made the finals at least once in the past 5 seasons. This does not account for the fact that South Sydney, Cronulla and the Tigers have made just one appearance, compared to the 5 trips made by Melbourne and Brisbane. What is a far more revealing indicator of a lack of parity, look at the average table positions for the 16 teams over the past five years.

Melbourne: 3.6
Brisbane & Canterbury: 5
North QLD, Parramatta, St George, Sydney: 7
Manly: 8
Penrith, Canberra, NZ, Tigers: 9
Cronulla, Newcastle: 10
Souths: 11
Gold Coast: 12.

Taking Gold Coast out of the equation, the differential between the top and the bottom is astounding for a game that preaches parity and assures that the salary cap has created this. Moreover, we can conclude that the notion of many teams making the finals is a flawed manner to grade the current system in terms of parity. It is clear that average/below average teams can make the final 8. Looking at the results from the 1v8 and 2v7 finals in the past five years gives us:

Top seed wins: 9
Bottom seed wins: 1
Average Winning Margin by top seed: 20.3

So, the only upset in this round was by the red-hot Cowboys in 2004. The average winning margin at greater than 20 points makes this clear that the notion of a finals appearance is no measure of parity.

So what to do about parity???

There are a number of complementary regulations that I would advocate in order to achieve parity or competitive balance. Lets start with the removal of the salary cap in favour of a "soft cap."

The Soft Cap:

Spend what you want!! At least in theory. You have a lot of financial resources at your club. Fine. Spend away. However, once you reach some salary figure, you pay a tax on your payroll. Say you have a cap of $2M. Spend $4M and you pay 50% of your excess payroll into a fund that gets distributed amongst poorer clubs. This ensures that clubs with limited resources stay viable. Also means that if you want to spend your way to a premiership, it hurts a lot more. The abolition of the salary cap as a hard cap allows players to be paid a figure closer to their market value. Yes, this figure is distorted by a tax. However, the distortion is less than under a price ceiling.

Free agent compensation:

Lets start with a basic and obvious change. No midseason deals on free-agents-to-be. The club that owns the rights to a player, controls that player until the end of the season. Letting a player sign elsewhere halfway through a season has no parrelels in the sporting world.

Onto the notion of free agent compensation. If you control your player until the end of the year, you should get something for him if he leaves. This is a response to the widely held view that clubs see their own developed prospects leave for other clubs after the club spends a lot of time and money on their development.

At the moment, it can be argued that clubs are actually being offered a disincentive to develop their juniors. This would need to be addressed.

Under the Compensation scenario, if a club loses one of its free agents to another club, that club is compensated by picking up a player from the signing club (outside the signing clubs top 25). Again, this compensates the club for the resources spent on developing a young player. Obviously, tiers of free agents would need to be agreed upon. For example, a club that signs a mediocre free agent would have to only offer a restricted list of juniors/reserve graders to choose from. Otherwise, second tier players would be disadvantaged. However, signing a marquee free agent would expose your best youngsters. This would shift the demand for free agents leftwards - so whilst players would feel that the abolition of the salary cap would pay them market value - the combination of leftward shift (due to the tax) and the further shift (due to the opportunity cost of signing players) could actually depress players wages!!!

The final complementary policy that would need to be worked in would be a draft of junior players. Much of the dominance of Melbourne and Brisbane can be put down to their ability to sign young players. A draft that worked in reverse order of standings (similar to the AFL model) would benefit the parity debate greatly.


Whenever I watch an Origin match that features Steve Simpson I always become confused immediately following the game; "Was Simpson really playing? Came on for the last 10 minutes? Maybe that's why I didn't notice, he started? Really?". I cannot believe this man keeps getting picked for NSW. Especially when the Blues have lost a starting front rower; replacing him with a second rower who disappears for large passages of play is surely a bad move. On the upside for Blues fans, Brent Tate is moving to the centres to cover for the suspended Hodges. That could well spell disaster for the Maroons. With the axing of Lilyman, Tate will be the worst-performed player of 2008 on the field at Suncorp Stadium. QLD do get back Lockyer which is obviously great news but will he get through the match? I have a query on his fitness, and have no doubt the Blues forwards will use him as a speedbump, but after the ludicrous selection of Hunt for the first match this was very much a necessary gamble. I have to ask, why is Hunt still in the side over Prince? Picking a fullback for the utility position is completely retarded. There are two possible explanations. Either Prince has slept with one or more of the selector's wives or Hunt has slept with one or more of the selectors. Gidley comes in as a straight swap for Hornby which was on the cards. Utility for utility. The Blues selectors seem to understand the concept. Obviously Cameron Smith is playing the full 80 minutes at dummy half in this one. In other changes, an underdone Steven Price is always a better Origin option than an overweight Carl Webb and anyone (Ashley Harrison in this case) is better than Lilyman. Joel "Magic Hands" Monaghan is on standby for either Gasnier or Hayne. More on Origin II to follow closer to the match.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Welcome to WHAB's guide to the exciting world of canoeing/kayaking. Flatwater canoeing/kayaking is like swimming in that there are lanes but totally different in that competitors are in canoes or kayaks. So I don't have to keep writing canoe/kayak we'll get canoeing out of the way. Only men canoe. Why? I don't know. Seems a bit sexist really given that canoeing must surely be not much different to kayaking. Anyway, here's a list of the events at Beijing, with their codenames;
C obviously stands for Canoe and K for Kayak Einsteins. It would take the better part of 2008 for me to go through all these events in depth so here's a selection of key points.

Australia's lane to Beijing has been hit by tidal waves with one stupid decision during the selection process. To cut a long and arduous story short, the final make-up of the men's team is still unknown. This has been fantastic preparation for our K4 team who don't yet know if they are actually on the team. Luke Michael and Clint Robinson were unavailable during the selection trials through illness/injury. The selectors used their "discretionary powers" to pick Robinson. Michael has since won his appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. All this equals one big mess. Tensions are sure to be high and team morale low. With the rumour mill rife that Robinson has taken Michael's endless appealing personally, WHAB-bet has Robinson to win by T.K.O inside 8 rounds as the favoured betting option.

Hungary are the surprising powerhouse in the sport for both men and women going by the 2007 World Championships. Germany are also up there. Australia are not. Don't expect any miracles here people. And don't be surprised if China announce their emergence overnight and break many world records in winning nearly all the gold medals. The Beijing University of Chemical Technology has been a busy place this semester...

A bit of history to finish. The only inductee into the flatwater hall of fame is Birgit Fischer. Fischer is both the youngest and oldest Olympic champion at 18 and 42. She has eight Olympic gold medals stashed in her undie draw and would no doubt have had more but for East Germany boycotting the L.A. Olympics. Now retired for a third time she has been preparing for life after flatwater kayaking;

Birgit Fischer auditions for Circus Krone.