The Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged the sporting calendar and turned Australia into a nation of armchair fans. Many miss the buzz of watching live action amid a bustling crowd of fellow supporters, and they hope that plans to allow spectators into Flemington and the MCG this spring are successful. Yet there should be no shortage of exciting action to watch from the comfort of your living room, so put your feet up and enjoy these seven events:
Royal Randwick in Sydney will host The Everest on Saturday, October 17. It is the richest race in Australia and the third richest race in the world. The Everest was only inaugurated in 2017, so it is not yet eligible for Group status, but the immense prize purse attracts many of the finest sprinters from around the world. They will make a 1200m dash for fame and fortune, and you can expect a thrilling denouement to the race.
AFL Grand Final
The AFL season successfully resumed in mid-June and footie fans have been treated to a barrage of exciting action since then. Port Adelaide and Brisbane Lions, who finished first and second in the ladder, both secured resounding qualifying finals victories, and they have taken their place in the preliminary finals. Geelong and Collingwood will battle it out for the right to face Port Adelaide, while the winner of Richmond and St Kilda will lock horns with Brisbane on October 17. The Grand Final is then slated for The Gabba on October 24.
NRL Grand Final
The pandemic also wrought havoc upon the 2020 NRL season, but it eventually concluded with Penrith Panthers at the top of the ladder. The Panthers edged Sydney to reach the preliminary finals in their game on Friday, while Melbourne – who were second in the ladder – eased past Parramatta to reach the other preliminary final clash. The Grand Final is scheduled to take place at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on October 25, the day after the AFL Grand Final, so that will be an extremely exciting weekend for Australian sports fans.
Robert Whittaker vs. Jared Cannonier
Sydney-based UFC star Robert Whittaker will tangle with Jared Cannonier in the co-main event at UFC 254. It takes place on October 25 AEST on Fight Island, Abu Dhabi. Whittaker won the UFC middleweight championship when he secured a unanimous decision victory over Yoel Romero in July 2017. He lost his belt when he suffered a knockout at the hands of Israel Adesanya last October, but he will land a rematch if he manages to get past Cannonier. The American is nicknamed The Killa Gorilla, and he has knocked out Jack Hermansson, Anderson Silva and David Branch in his last three fights, so it will be a difficult challenge for Whittaker.
The race that stops a nation takes place at Flemington Racecourse on November 3. Up to 15,000 spectators may be allowed inside the famous venue if Victoria Racing Club is successful in its bid, but the majority of punters will watch it on TV. You can find comprehensive race information here, but it is the most prestigious race of the year, with a prize purse of $8 million. It attracts the best stayers from Ireland, the UK, Japan, New Zealand and elsewhere. They compete with Australia’s finest stayers over a gruelling 3200m, and whoever salutes will go down in history as a legend. Russian Camelot, Verry Ellegant, Tiger Moth and Surprise Baby are among the favourites this year.
Jason Day, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith are expected to lead the Australian charge when The Masters is held at Augusta from November 12-15. The Masters is usually the first major of the year, but it has been pushed back due to the pandemic. All eyes will be on big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau following his US Open victory last month, while the likes of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka will be among the favourites. Day and Scott are considered outsiders, and Leishman and Smith are serious underdogs, but they all possess the quality to make an impact in the tournament. Scott triumphed at The Masters in 2013.
Australia vs. India
The India cricket team is scheduled to tour Australia for four Tests and three ODIs from December to January. The first Test will take place from December 3-7 at The Gabba, and the second begins four days later at Adelaide Oval. Everyone is looking forward to the third Test, which starts at the MCG on Boxing Day, and it concludes with the final Test in Sydney in early January. There will then be a series of three ODIs for white-ball cricket fans to look forward to. India picked up a 2-1 series win when they toured Australia in 2018-19, so revenge will be on the agenda.