The Australian Open and horse racing, the bonds that bind

Here are a few crossovers connecting tennis and horse racing that you may not have been aware of.


jameka

Little bit of trivia for you that you may/may not have heard of – the weapon Maher and Eustace trained mare is named after Serena Williams, with Jameka the middle name of the 23-time Grand Slam winner in singles.

Jameka had enough scope and class to live up to the name when she won the 2016 Caulfield Cup at a gallop.

Sorry mate

A horse named for a bad ball throw, the chestnut gelding Sorry Mate was destined never to hit the court — and he lived up to that fate.

Owned by a group including Lleyton Hewitt, Pat Rafter, Wayne Arthurs, Sam Groth, John Fitzgerald and Darren Cahill, Sorry Mate didn’t make it past the pilot phase of his career.

Sidenote: Hewitt has an uncle who trains, Karoonda trainer Darryl Hewitt.

Swiss Ace

The now stallion is out of the mare Rapid Serve, and he has indeed served a G1 winner – Julius in the NZ Railway.

A G1 winner himself, he won the Oakleigh Plate in 2009 under jockey Ken Pope, who drove him in all bar two of his 20 career starts.

Other Swiss Ace offspring winning group races include Miss Federer, Passing Shot, First Serve… you get the idea.

Swiss Ace was born the moment Roger Federer rose to fame – he was a four-time major winner at the time, having won three in 2004 alone.

The tennis player

‘The Tennis Player’ was the nickname given to Anthony Gardiner, a gambler who became embroiled in the gambling saga that eventually led to James McDonald’s 18-month disqualification.

One of the more arbitrary links between the two sports, but noteworthy nonetheless.

New Generation

John Millman counts himself an active racehorse owner, the Gollan-trained Youngblood among his crew.

Millman has risen as high as number 33 in the men’s rankings and once knocked Roger Federer out of the US Open.

The Sacred Falls gelding hasn’t quite matched those heights with four wins from 24 starts, but has been consistent with 13 minor placings.

Bajorn Borger

In terms of arbitrariness, this has nothing to do with ‘the tennis player’.

Who could ever forget the time when race caller Col Hodges called Bjorn Baker “Bajorn Borg” first, then “Bajorn Borger” before getting it right on the third attempt.



Agassi

The American great is not the only one to have a horse named Down Under in his honor (Nishikori, by Deep Impact, another that comes to mind, but there are heaps of them).

The Las Vegas showman is married to German great Steffi Graf, of course, and they are pictured above attending the 2012 Kentucky Derby.

That’s not the only time ‘Agassi’ and ‘Graff’ (yes, yes different spelling) have lined the track on the same day – the two horses will both run on Magic Millions day in 2021.

The Kentucky Derby, the race itself, almost had a taste for tennis in 2020, but an injury put an early end to the career of undefeated colt Nadal.

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