Tag Archives: countdown

Paul Cox hoping for FA Cup honeymoon against Liverpool after training-ground wedding

Now this really is the magic of the FA Cup! Mansfield boss to get married at TRAINING GROUND ahead of giantkilling bid against Liverpool

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

11:07 GMT, 3 January 2013

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UPDATED:

18:14 GMT, 3 January 2013

Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox will begin the biggest weekend of his life on Friday by marrying his girlfriend at the club’s training ground.

Cox’s team from the Blue Square Premier host giants Liverpool at the One Call Stadium on Sunday in one of the ties of the FA Cup third round.

But Cox will begin the weekend by marrying his girlfriend Natasha Bertin on the training ground next to the stadium after honouring a promise he made to her ahead of the club’s replay with Lincoln in the previous round.

Happy couple: Paul Cox with his bride-to-be Natasha Bertin

Happy couple: Paul Cox with his bride-to-be Natasha Bertin

Countdown: Paul Cox poses at Mansfield's training ground - in front of the marquee in which he will marry

Countdown: Paul Cox poses at Mansfield's training ground – in front of the marquee in which he will marry

Countdown: Paul Cox poses at Mansfield's training ground - in front of the marquee in which he will marry

Having drawn 3-3 at Sincil Bank in the first game, Cox told his partner he would marry her if Mansfield went through and, after a 2-1 win clinched a meeting with Brendan Rodgers’ team, he will keep his word tomorrow when the couple tie the knot in a specially erected marquee.

A Mansfield source said: 'It’s going to be a big three days for Paul.

'He gets married on Friday and then it’s Liverpool on the day of his 41st birthday on Sunday.'

Busy week: Cox is facing a 48 hours at Mansfield

Busy week: Cox is facing a 48 hours at Mansfield

Hope the weather improves... the view at Mansfield's training ground

Hope the weather improves… the view at Mansfield's training ground

Mansfield are currently ninth in the Blue Square after losing out in the promotion play-offs last season.

The club applied for permission to use their full capacity to 10,000 for Sunday’s game but their request was rejected on safety grounds. There will be only 7,500 fans in the stadium, meaning that club will lose in the region of 50,000 in possible takings.

Amir Khan v Carlos Molina live weigh-in

LIVE: Amir Khan v Carlos Molina – watch the weigh-in as it happens in Los Angeles

PUBLISHED:

16:50 GMT, 14 December 2012

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UPDATED:

16:50 GMT, 14 December 2012

Amir Khan will hit the scales in Los Angeles tonight as the countdown to his make-or-break comeback fight against Carlos Molina draws closer.

And you can watch both fighters go head-to-head for the final time before their blockbuster bout on Sunday morning, as MailOnline brings you the weigh-in LIVE.

So join us HERE from 9.45pm to watch it unfold as it happens from across the pond…

Amir Khan vs. Carlos Molina will be live on Sky Sports 1 from 2am this Sunday morning.

David Luiz in midfield is masterstroke by Rafa Benitez – Martin Samuel

Benitez moves up in the world! Blues reach final after Rafa pulls off Luiz masterstroke

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 13 December 2012

FINAL COUNTDOWN

Chelsea will now play Brazilian team Corinthians in Sunday's final. You can follow all the build up and action with Mail Online.

Chelsea
stand one game from being crowned world champions but if further proof
were needed that FIFA's Club World Cup remains a dysfunctional
tournament, here it was.

A
semi-final mismatch, played in front of a half-empty stadium with an
atmosphere so quiet it was possible to hear Petr Cech's instructions to
his defenders, is no recommendation for a competition that remains sadly
unloved, despite its best intentions.

Scroll down for video

Japaneasy: Chelsea cruised to a Club World Cup victory over Mexican side Monterrey in Yokohama

Japaneasy: Chelsea cruised to a Club World Cup victory over Mexican side Monterrey in Yokohama

Japaneasy: Chelsea cruised to a Club World Cup victory over Mexican side Monterrey in Yokohama

Japaneasy: Chelsea cruised to a Club World Cup victory over Mexican side Monterrey in Yokohama

MATCH FACTS

MONTERREY: OrOrozco, Perez (Osorio 58), Mier, Basanta, Chavez, Meza (Solis 83), Ayovi, Cardozo, Corona, Delgado (Carreno 83), De Nigris.

Goals: De Nigris 90+2.

CHELSEA: Cech, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Cole, Mikel, Luiz (Lampard 63), Mata (Ferreira 74), Oscar, Hazard, Torres (Moses 79).

Goals: Mata 17, Torres 46, Chavez OG 48.

Attendance: 36,648

Referee: Carlos Vera (Ecuador)

Apart from one shock in 2010 when an
African team, Mazembe, made the final at the expense of Internacional of
Brazil, this is basically the old Intercontinental Cup with a new
ballgown.

We know the only tie that really
aspires to excellence is the meeting of the champions of Europe and
South America, but the competition goes through the tortuous process of
eliminating the rest of the world first, and then makes the also-rans
play off for the dubious privilege of finishing third to eighth.
Thrilling.

Even so, from the perspective of
Chelsea and their manager Rafael Benitez, this is FIFA's problem to
resolve. They can only beat what is in front of them and on Thursday
that was Monterrey, champions of CONCACAF but currently 10th in Mexico's
first division.

Number Juan: Chelsea took the lead on 17 minutes through Juan Mata's low drive

Number Juan: Chelsea took the lead on 17 minutes through Juan Mata's low drive

Number Juan: Chelsea took the lead on 17 minutes through Juan Mata's low drive

Thinking of you: Mata paid tribute to countryman Oriol Romeu, who was ruled out for the season recently

Thinking of you: Mata paid tribute to countryman Oriol Romeu, who was ruled out for the season recently

'YOU'RE NOT WELCOME HERE'

Despite
them being fewer than 1,000 in number at the Yokohama International
Stadium, Chelsea fans could still be heard taunting interim boss Rafael
Benitez with cries for former boss Roberto Di Matteo.

Predictably, Chelsea were a
different class. Faster, stronger, more astute, the scoreline does not
reflect the reality of the contest because they had eased into training
mode long before the final whistle and Monterrey's goal came in
second-half added time.

The stickler in Benitez still
disapproved but he will have been happy with the ease of Chelsea's
progression, having fretted over jet-lag and a lack of preparation
earlier in the week. It transpired only cursory regard for the Mexicans
was required.

Rough and tumble: Chelsea were made to work harder than expected by their Mexican counterparts

Rough and tumble: Chelsea were made to work harder than expected by their Mexican counterparts

Rough and tumble: Chelsea were made to work harder than expected by their Mexican counterparts

Rough and tumble: Chelsea were made to work harder than expected by their Mexican counterparts

Benitez made one change to accommodate Monterrey's strength at playing between the lines and it won the game.

David Luiz, in a midfield role, was a
revelation. The knot of travelling Chelsea fans still expressed their
contempt for their interim manager but neutrals are increasingly
impressed.

Without doubt, Chelsea's defence is
tighter, undeniably, Fernando Torres is scoring again and Benitez's
deployment of Luiz was a masterstroke.

Considering the amount of argument,
tactical and technical, that swirls around elite football clubs, to come
up with an original plan that, once seen, looks so obvious, is no mean
feat.

Plenty have said Luiz could be a
defensive midfielder, but Benitez took that simple strategy a stage
further. He made him a defensive midfield player who attacks.

Luiz, as a central defender, is
unreliable, everyone knows that. He wants to get forward. So move him
forward, and play him in front of the back four. Yes, but it's not as
easy as that.

Deserting the defensive midfield
position is as fatal in modern football as going for a wander at centre
half. Benitez stopped playing Steven Gerrard centrally for precisely
this reason.

If Luiz was holding and went
walkabout, opponents would be straight into Chelsea's defensive line.
What to do Benitez resolved that issue with a tactical nuance. He left
John Mikel Obi as the prime holding player and gave Luiz limited freedom
to roam and create when Chelsea were in possession.

Star man: Luiz was a revelation at the heart of Chelsea's midfield

Star man: Luiz was a revelation at the heart of Chelsea's midfield

Defending, he bolstered his side's
presence and his quickness, of foot and thought, was a tremendous
positive. Yet when Monterrey's moves broke down, Luiz came into his
own, supporting the attack and playing the best passes of the game, two
of which should have ended in goals.

He may have to rein in a little
against superior opponents – like Corinthians – but this performance
felt like a lightbulb sparking over those impressive curls. This was
Luiz's perfect role. It was no coincidence that when he left the field after 63 minutes he was replaced by Frank Lampard.

Bought to their knees: Fernando Torres' bright start to the second half finished off Monterrey's challenge

Bought to their knees: Fernando Torres' bright start to the second half finished off Monterrey's challenge

Bought to their knees: Fernando Torres' bright start to the second half finished off Monterrey's challenge

Benitez may have found a radical and realistic solution to the Lampard succession conundrum. It was an option, he admitted.

'I know David from Benfica, where he
was playing centre back, left back, right back, midfield, in many
positions,' Benitez said.

'I knew they were quick and intricate
in that area between the lines, with players coming in from the left,
so I wanted to put someone in there who could stop them.

'David is quick, can regain the ball a
lot and, at the same time, play passes to our players. We needed energy
in there, and David is a good passer with good energy. He did well.'

Darvin Chavez

Job done: Chelsea wrapped up victory when Darvin Chavez diverted the ball into his own goal

Job done: Chelsea wrapped up victory when Darvin Chavez diverted the ball into his own goal

It took Luiz four minutes to turn up
on the edge of Monterrey's area and have a shot, and two more to play
arguably the finest pass of the game to give Eden Hazard a chance one on
one, which he squandered.

Luiz also hit a great ball to Torres
shortly before half-time but by then Chelsea were a goal up and in
charge, and his failure to make the most of it was not greeted with the
usual anguish.

The English side's opener came from a
quite exquisite move, involving a backheel by Hazard that put in Ashley
Cole, who squared for Juan Mata to finish.

Time to smile: Rafael Benitez was relaxed on the touchline as his team earned their place in the final

Time to smile: Rafael Benitez was relaxed on the touchline as his team earned their place in the final

From there, Monterrey were as good as done. The three minutes after half-time ended the game as a contest.

Just 17 seconds after the restart,
Chelsea went further ahead. Hazard broke down the left flank and found
Torres, whose shot was deflected past goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco.

Little more than two minutes later a
superb Torres cross picked out Mata, who cut the ball back only for
central defender Darvin Chavez to bundle it into his own net.

Chavez said before the game that he
hoped Premier League scouts would be watching; after that debacle he
must have been thankful the game went live only on the BBC HD channel.

... and most of the local support got behind him, though those from London cheered for Di Matteo

… and most of the local support got behind him, though those from London cheered for Di Matteo

... and most of the local support got behind him, though those from London cheered for Di Matteo

Monterrey coach Victor Vucetich, who
had predicted, rightly, that Chelsea would score, knew the size of his
task. Monterrey played in Blackpool's colours, but there the resemblance
ended. Blackpool would have given Chelsea more of a game.

'We had to play a perfect match to win today,' Vucetich said. 'We knew Chelsea were much stronger.'

Even so, Monterrey scored, in injury
time after Cole appeared to knock off for a late supper and Aldo de
Nigris travelled down the right unchallenged before finishing smartly
across Cech.

Those that know Benitez say as much
time will be spent revisiting that little lapse as glorying in the
performance that preceded it. He knows from bitter experience that one
chance, against the run of play, can decide this tournament – as it did
for Sao Paulo against Liverpool in 2005 – and if he wants to parlay his
interim appointment into a permanent one, the first stage is to
demonstrate he is a manager who wins the big matches.

'When I talk about a winning mentality, always it is the little details that make the difference,' he said.

'It's not easy with a new manager,
six days and two games, but now the team knows what we want to do. They
have more confidence and are enjoying their football.

'They have to think about winning in style and they have to keep their concentration for 90 minutes.'

If it was as easy as that, of course,
Chelsea would not be on their fourth manager in two and a half seasons.
Then again, if they could play Monterrey every week, Claudio Ranieri
would still be in the job.

VIDEO: Watch Graham Chadwick's latest video blog of the Blues in Yokohama…

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VIDEO: Rafa is pleased with the team's performance…

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Monterrey 1 Chelsea 3 – match report

Monterrey 1 Chelsea 3: Blues stroll into Club World Cup final… but even the few fans who turned up abuse Benitez

|

UPDATED:

14:47 GMT, 13 December 2012

FINAL COUNTDOWN

Chelsea will now play Brazilian team Corinthians in Sunday's final. You can follow all the build up and action with Mail Online.

It will be England against Brazil in the Club World Cup final on Sunday after Chelsea brushed aside the somewhat flimsy challenge of Monterrey.

At least there will be some sort of atmosphere inside the 72,000-seater Yokohama Stadium to see Corinthians. The Brazilians have brought an estimated 20,000 fans from South America and will generate some noise and passion.

Chelsea’s semi-final against their Mexican opponents unfolded in a cold, still and often silent arena. Officially, there were 36,648 there, and they were removed from the pitch by the running track covered by green carpets.

Japaneasy: Chelsea cruised to a Club World Cup victory over Mexican side Monterrey in Yokohama

Japaneasy: Chelsea cruised to a Club World Cup victory over Mexican side Monterrey in Yokohama

Japaneasy: Chelsea cruised to a Club World Cup victory over Mexican side Monterrey in Yokohama

Japaneasy: Chelsea cruised to a Club World Cup victory over Mexican side Monterrey in Yokohama

MATCH FACTS

MONTERREY: OrOrozco, Perez (Osorio 58), Mier, Basanta, Chavez, Meza (Solis 83), Ayovi, Cardozo, Corona, Delgado (Carreno 83), De Nigris.

Goals: De Nigris 90+2.

CHELSEA: Cech, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Cole, Mikel, Luiz (Lampard 63), Mata (Ferreira 74), Oscar, Hazard, Torres (Moses 79).

Goals: Mata 17, Torres 46, Chavez OG 48.

Attendance: 36,648

Referee: Carlos Vera (Ecuador)

Still, the European champions dealt well with the surreal surroundings in their tournament debut, starting at a healthy tempo, stealing an early lead through Juan Mata and crushing any thought of an unlikely comeback with two more three minutes after the interval.

Fernando Torres claimed the second, scoring for the third successive game, played a vital part in the third, an own goal, and there were other areas of encouragement for interim manager Rafa Benitez.

David Luiz looked comfortable in an unfamiliar midfield role, albeit it against tame opposition and Frank Lampard continued his recovery from injury with a substitute appearance shortly after an hour.

Number Juan: Chelsea took the lead on 17 minutes through Juan Mata's low drive

Number Juan: Chelsea took the lead on 17 minutes through Juan Mata's low drive

Number Juan: Chelsea took the lead on 17 minutes through Juan Mata's low drive

Thinking of you: Mata paid tribute to countryman Oriol Romeu, who was ruled out for the season recently

Thinking of you: Mata paid tribute to countryman Oriol Romeu, who was ruled out for the season recently

'YOU'RE NOT WELCOME HERE'

Despite them being fewer than 1,000 in number at the Yokohama International Stadium, Chelsea fans could still be heard taunting interim boss Rafael Benitez with cries for former boss Roberto Di Matteo.

There was also a little
discouragement for Benitez. About 900 Chelsea fans made the long trip
from London and they still jeered the manager, sang, 'we don’t want you
here' and climbed to their feet in the 16th minute for a burst of the
now-familiar Roberto di Matteo song.

Japanese fans looked on somewhat bewildered, especially as, no sooner had they all finished singing, than their team went ahead.

Mata scored the goal, the chance
created and served up on a plate by Ashley Cole, who was becoming used
to this role. He lost at ten-pin bowling in Yokohama on Tuesday and his
forfeit was to wait on his team-mates during dinner at the hotel.

Rough and tumble: Chelsea were made to work harder than expected by their Mexican counterparts

Rough and tumble: Chelsea were made to work harder than expected by their Mexican counterparts

Rough and tumble: Chelsea were made to work harder than expected by their Mexican counterparts

Rough and tumble: Chelsea were made to work harder than expected by their Mexican counterparts

Cole’s service did not impress in the
dining room but he produced the perfect assist for Mata’s 11th goal in
25 games this season. The Spain international has scored in his last
four games.

This put Chelsea in control and they could have scored more before the break had they not started to coast.

Monterrey were disappointing as a
creative force. They failed the threaten Petr Cech’s goal until a
glancing header from Aldo de Nigris flashed over in the 28th minute and
did not force a save from the goalkeeper until the 70th minute.

The Mexicans – champions of North and
Central America – were lacklustre at the back and easily sliced open.
Luiz, relishing the freedom of a midfield role, managed to do it twice
in the opening six minutes.

Bought to their knees: Fernando Torres' bright start to the second half finished off Monterrey's challenge

Bought to their knees: Fernando Torres' bright start to the second half finished off Monterrey's challenge

Bought to their knees: Fernando Torres' bright start to the second half finished off Monterrey's challenge

First, he burst down the middle of
the pitch, traded passes with Oscar and curled a shot which dropped
narrowly over from 25 yards. Then, he split the back-four with a
wonderful pass to Eden Hazard, who was under absolutely no pressure but
managed to miss the target.

His team drifted through to the break
but Benitez was able to retrain focus at half-time and Chelsea emerged
to kill the tie within three minutes of the restart. Torres struck
inside 17 seconds. It came with the help of a huge deflection but it was
his fifth in three games and went down well with the Japanese.

Darvin Chavez

Job done: Chelsea wrapped up victory when Darvin Chavez diverted the ball into his own goal

Job done: Chelsea wrapped up victory when Darvin Chavez diverted the ball into his own goal

There was no doubting the technique
involved in the third goal as Torres swerved a pass from left to right
with the outside of his right boot to the feet of Mata. Oddly, Mata
opted against shooting but as he searched for the return to Torres, the
ball was diverted into the net by hapless left-back Darvin Chavez.

Lampard came on for Luiz and went
close with virtually his first touch, clipping a right-footer wide from
the edge of the penalty box.

There were no contentious calls for
the goalline technology and the GoalRef ball which some of the Chelsea
player thought felt hard and heavy in training did not cause the
Londoners too many problems.

De Nigris pulled one back in stoppage
time but it will be England against Brazil in the Club World Cup final,
a decade after the nations met in Shizuoka in the quarter-finals of the
World Cup.

Time to smile: Rafael Benitez was relaxed on the touchline as his team earned their place in the final

Time to smile: Rafael Benitez was relaxed on the touchline as his team earned their place in the final

... and most of the local support got behind him, though those from London cheered for Di Matteo

… and most of the local support got behind him, though those from London cheered for Di Matteo

... and most of the local support got behind him, though those from London cheered for Di Matteo

Manchester derby: How United and City are shaping up ahead of Sunday"s showdown

Manchester revealed: How the big two are shaping up ahead of Sunday's derby

PUBLISHED:

23:10 GMT, 6 December 2012

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UPDATED:

01:18 GMT, 7 December 2012

The countdown to Sunday's Manchester derby continues with a look at how City and United are shaping up in the Premier League title battle.

manchester revealed

Andrew Flintoff visited by Mike Tyson ahead of boxing debut

Ex-world champion Tyson inspires Flintoff ahead of boxing debut in Manchester

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UPDATED:

00:01 GMT, 9 November 2012

Andrew Flintoff has revealed a pep talk from former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has spurred him on as the countdown continues to his boxing debut.

Former England cricketer Flintoff will take to the ring at the Manchester Arena on November 30 after embarking on a strenuous training regime under the tutelage of Irish legend Barry McGuigan and his son Shane.

And a visit from Tyson has inspired the 34-year-old to push himself to the limits between now and fight night.

One on one: Mike Tyson offers advice to Andrew Flintoff as he prepares for his boxing debut

One on one: Mike Tyson offers advice to Andrew Flintoff as he prepares for his boxing debut

‘It was amazing to meet Tyson because as a kid he was one of my heroes,’ Flintoff said. ‘So to have him come down to the gym – not only that, but to talk to me about it all was amazing.

‘He spoke a lot about the emotion of boxing and it was all relevant to how I was feeling. So to hear it from Mike Tyson made me realise it was okay for me to feel like that too.

‘He talked a lot about what he went through pre-fight and in the run up to a fight; the emotional states he was in and the nerves he experienced before he fought.

‘He is obviously one of the best boxers ever, so hearing what he had to say gave me a lot of inspiration. I went on the pads in the front of him which was a pretty surreal experience.

Watching brief: Tyson with Flintoff's trainer Barry McGuigan

Watching brief: Tyson with Flintoff's trainer Barry McGuigan

‘I have really taken his comments on board and I’ve just got my head down and am working hard to make small improvements each and every day.’
Flintoff has shed more than three stone in preparation for his fight against an as yet unnamed opponent.

But he has come in for severe criticism from promoter Frank Maloney, how believes Flintoff is giving boxing a bad name.

'Giving Flintoff a professional licence with no experience of boxing is a joke. It gives our sport a bad name.’

Dream team: Tyson and Flintoff pose after the former world champion paid a visit

Dream team: Tyson and Flintoff pose after the former world champion paid a visit

‘Olympic rower James Cracknell did something similar, went into a pro heavyweight fight and was knocked out in seconds. They haven’t named an opponent for Flintoff yet but even if they find some guy who’s lost his first four pro fights, he will still be in against someone with amateur experience.

'It will be a terrible shock when he gets hit on the chin by a heavyweight.’

Maloney was also deeply critical of the British Boxing Board of Control, saying: ‘It is a disgrace they have given Flintoff a licence. I told the chairman, Charles Giles, that he should be sacked for approving this scandal.’

Breeders" Cup 2012: Slim Shadey runs for Simon Callaghan

Slim hopes for Callaghan as Breeders' countdown raises stakes

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UPDATED:

14:03 GMT, 30 October 2012

They say America is the land of opportunity and Simon Callaghan has taken that ethos to heart.

In the 29-year-old's third year since switching his operation from Newmarket to the west coast, Callaghan will be represented at the Breeders' Cup for the second year running when Slim Shadey runs in Saturday's Turf over a mile and a half.

The four-year-old, who finished fourth to Frankel in the 2011 2,000 Guineas when starting as a 200-1 shot for his then trainer Stan Moore, may have a lot on his plate to cope with Aidan O’Brien's defending champion St Nicholas Abbey, French Yorkshire Oaks and Prix Vermeille winner Shareta plus top US hope Point of Entry but the improvement wrought in him by Callaghan has been eye catching.

Shadey character: The four-year-old will race at the Breeders' Cup on Saturday

Shadey character: The four-year-old will race at the Breeders' Cup on Saturday

Before crossing Atlantic, Slim Shadey, who will be ridden by Garrett Gomez, had won only one of his 13 starts, a novice stakes as a two-year-old.

With Callaghan, he has won twice and finished second three times in seven starts.

Those victories both came at Santa Anita – the Grade Two San Marcos Stakes and John Henry Turf Championship Stakes.

Callaghan said: 'It is certainly better opposition than he has faced. I guess St Nicholas Abbey and the filly Shareta are coming off a slightly below par efforts in the Arc but if they bounce back they will be really tough to beat and Point of Entry from the East coast is an improving horse having won his last five.

'So it is going to be his toughest competition but has been improving and training really well so we are hopeful of a good run.

Final countdown: The showpiece event continues this weekend

Final countdown: The showpiece event continues this weekend

'He has definitely transformed since he
has come here and unleashed the potential that he had. He loves the
track which is his home territory so that is in his favour and if he
runs in the first three it will be a good result.'

Callaghan, whose father Neville
trained in Newmarket for 25 years, was doing well numerically in his two
UK season’s after he took over his family’s old stable with 33 and 34
winner in 2008 and 2009.

But from his California base, he has
managed three grade one wins, two with Dubawi Height, who he trained in
Britain, and, most recently, one with Belle Royale in the Gamely Stakes
at Hollywood Park in March.

A win which reads even better when you factor in that the filly once won a seller when trained in Britain by Mark Brisbourne and never won outside handicap company before being exported.

He added: 'It vindicates the decision coming here from England and the good thing is that we have quite a few horses competing at the top end whereas back home it is very hard to get those horses.

Grandstand finish: The event is being held at Santa Anita Park in California

Grandstand finish: The event is being held at Santa Anita Park in California

'I've been here three years now and certainly have no intention of coming back (to Britain). I'm pleased the way it is going. We are growing and getting some good clients. I feel settled and happy.'

Those clients already include Slim Shadey’s owner Phil Cunningham, whose Cockney Rebel landed the 2007 2,000 Guineas, the Coolmore Stud team, and new clients Qatar Racing and Sheik Fahad Al Thani.

He is responsible for Callaghan’s latest recruit, three-time group two winner Strong Suit, who knocked on the door in group one when trained by Richard Hannon.

Callaghan, who will also take over Tom Dascombe's Qatar Racing-owned Cheveley Park Stakes fourth Upward Spiral after it runs on the Santa Anita undercard on Saturday.

Callaghan said: 'Strong Suit arrives in a couple of days – we’ll be competing with him in group one races. You’d think he has the perfect form to do well here and being by (sire) Rahy, loving fast ground and the way he travels in his races. He looks taylor-made for the racing out here.'

Countdown to Rugby League World Cup starts

Countdown to Rugby League World Cup starts as trophy goes on show in place where it all began

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UPDATED:

15:45 GMT, 9 October 2012

The countdown to the 2013 World Cup began in earnest on Tuesday when the trophy began a tour that organisers hope will be witnessed by four million people.

Former Great Britain winger Martin Offiah helped launch the tour at Huddersfield's historic George Hotel, where local schoolchildren re-enacted the famous meeting of 1895 where northern clubs took the decision to break away from the Rugby Football Union to form rugby league.

The 61cm silver-plated trophy, which originally cost eight million French francs and is currently valued at 500,000, will be on view nationwide for the next 13 months, with Downing Street and the Welsh national assembly among its stopping-off points.

Trophy on tour: The silverware for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup is to travel round the country over the next year

Trophy on tour: The silverware for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup is to travel round the country over the next year

Dignitaries outside the George Hotel in Huddersfield at the launch of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup

Place of history: (left to right) Former Great Britain player Martin Offiah, Mayor of Huddersfield David Ridgway, former Great Britain player Dave Rose and RLWC 2013 Tournament Director Nigel Wood unveil a new plaque outside the George Hotel in Huddersfield, the birthplace of rugby league

Birth of the game: The new plaque commemorates the day in 1895 when the 21 northern clubs voted to break away from the RFU and play rugby league

Birth of the game: The new plaque commemorates the day in 1895 when the 21 northern clubs voted to break away from the RFU and play rugby league

'This has given the trophy a terrific send-off,' said tournament director Nigel Wood. 'It's been an absolutely terrific event and an uplifting experience for all concerned.

'I'm sure wherever it goes, it will be a big draw. With the itinerary that has been drawn up, it will seen and touched by four million people.

'It will go to all four countries playing host to group matches, including France and Ireland, each one of the 25 towns and cities who are acting as either hosts or venues will have the benefit of a minimum of three visits.'

The prize: The Rugby League World Cup trophy

The prize: The Rugby League World Cup trophy

The 14-team tournament, which is being jointly hosted by England and Wales, will get under way in Cardiff on October 26 next year and culminate in the final at Old Trafford on November 30.

Organisers have yet to announce a sponsor but Wood believes the tournament, which was last held in this country in 2000, is geared up to be a major success.

'We've put a lot of effort into this,' he said. 'I don't remember previous international rugby league tournaments having the same degree of pre-planning.

'Ticket go on sale on October 26th and we're in as good a shape as we could be in terms of staging a world-class event.

'It's a terrific opportunity for rugby league to put on its glad rags and to represent itself as one of the best sports in the country.'

Offiah, who played in the 1992 and 1995 World Cups during his career with Widnes and Wigan and will perform an ambassadorial role in 2013, believes rugby league is well placed to capitalise on the feel-good factor generated by the Olympics and Paralympics.

'We all know what has happened this summer and I think the Rugby League are definitely trying feed off that enthusiasm and fervour,' he said.

History comes to life: Local children from Scholes Junior and Infant School perform a scene from a Nick Martini play in the room where rugby league was founded

History comes to life: Local children from Scholes Junior and Infant School perform a scene from a Nick Martini play in the room where rugby league was founded

History comes to life: Local children from Scholes Junior and Infant School perform a scene from a Nick Martini play in the room where rugby league was founded

History comes to life: Local children from Scholes Junior and Infant School perform a scene from a Nick Martini play in the room where rugby league was founded

'There are some big venues and, as long as we fill all these stadiums and (England coach) Steve McNamara and the boys put on a good performance, it will be a good time for rugby league.'

England begin their preparations for 2013 on Wednesday when they set off for South Africa for the first of two high-altitude training camps and will meet France and Wales in their autumn internationals when they return.

London 2012 Paralympics: Great Britain can top 103 medal target – Craig Hunter

GB can break the 100-medal barrier at London Paralympics, insists team chief

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UPDATED:

11:06 GMT, 26 August 2012

ParalympicsGB chef de mission Craig Hunter is optimistic the team can achieve their targets as the countdown to London continues apace.

UK Sport have set ParalympicsGB the minimum target of winning 103 medals from at least 12 different sports, with the overall goal of once again finishing second in the medal table.

Britain won 102 medals, including 42 golds, in Beijing four years ago to claim second place for a third consecutive Paralympic Games.

Ceremony: Rosie Smith (second left) lights a Paralympic cauldron in Edinburgh on Sunday

Ceremony: Rosie Smith (second left) lights a Paralympic cauldron in Edinburgh on Sunday

ParalympicsGB's campaign has been backed to the tune of more than 49million of funding over the last four years, with money being distributed to 18 different sports.

Hunter acknowledges how the funding underpins the continued competitiveness of the British team.

However, with funding comes not only expectation but also targets which will in turn help define future support.

Hunter told BBC Five Live: 'We would certainly not be able to be competing at the level we are without that support and we are extremely grateful that with that support and with other organisations that have come in to help us in all sorts of ways the team is absolutely best prepared.

'One of the things we pushed for is parity of funding of Olympics and Paralympic sport so absolutely the model needed to be consistent.

Burining bright: The cauldron is lit on the Mound in Edinburgh as part of the Paralympic Torch Relay

Burining bright: The cauldron is lit on the Mound in Edinburgh as part of the Paralympic Torch Relay

'We are hopeful that all our sports will come through and will beat their medal targets and performance targets and the funding will come their way.

'But let's not focus on funding at the moment the important thing for us absolutely is the opening ceremony on Wednesday and then 11 days of outstanding competition and everybody getting behind our team and making sure we win plenty of medals.'

He added: 'We have got our biggest ever team: 300 athletes competing on behalf of Great Britain which is an amazing achievement by those athletes.

Great Scot: Scouts holding the Paralympic Flame at the lighting ceremony at Edinburgh Castle

Great Scot: Scouts holding the Paralympic Flame at the lighting ceremony at Edinburgh Castle

'All of them are absolutely capable of winning medals, the traditional sports of cycling, rowing, swimming, athletics – they are going to be bags full of medals.

'But also ones to watch are things like basketball, rugby – amazingly exciting and powerful sports – and sitting volleyball on the team for the first time. Who knows what they might do They are certainly inspired to get in there in the medal hunt, we are going to be looking for medals across more sports.

'They are out there to prove some points about how wonderful Paralympic sport really is.'

Why Robin van Persie was a 64m farewell present to Sir Alex Ferguson

Why Van Persie was a 64m farewell present to Fergie

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UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 18 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson will step down as Manchester United manager in two years after building his final great team at Old Trafford around the talents of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.

Ferguson went to unprecedented lengths to push through the deal for Van Persie, believing it was the only way for him to leave a fitting legacy when he retires aged 72 in the summer of 2014.

Many inside United, including chief executive David Gill, questioned whether a 64million investment in Van Persie – a 24m transfer fee plus 200,000-a-week wages for four years – was prudent.

On his way Alex Ferguson (left) is believed to be ready to leave Manchester United after the next two seasons

On his way Alex Ferguson (left) is believed to be ready to leave Manchester United after the next two seasons

There will be no resale value
on the 29-year-old Holland
striker to help ease the club's
debts, which run into hundreds
of millions of pounds.

But having given the Glazer family
his public support over the years,
against the wishes of many United
fans, the owners gave Ferguson payback
by bankrolling the deal.

Ferguson even rang his counterpart
Arsene Wenger directly to make sure
it happened, and the owners accepted
a higher fee than United ideally wanted. The truth, however, is that if the Glazers had not backed Ferguson on this one, his much-needed backing for them might have wavered.

Friends of the United manager, who remarkably begins his 28th season in charge of the club with a Premier League opener against Everton tomorrow night, are aware that he is now beginning the countdown to his retirement in earnest.

He certainly did not want to spend the next 24 months as an irrelevant sideshow to what was happening across town at Manchester City.

A source said: 'Alex will only be
manager for a couple more years so it
was time the owners gave him what
he wanted. And that was Van Persie.
'What is a few million It could be
the difference that helps Alex win the
Champions League again.'

Having missed out on Lucas Moura
to the new European moneybags of
Paris St-Germain this summer, Ferguson
knew his club's status would be
tarnished if United lost Van Persie for
financial reasons when the striker
was desperate to join them.

Got his man: Ferguson signed Robin van Persie from Arsenal for 24million

Got his man: Ferguson signed Robin van Persie from Arsenal for 24million

Ferguson revealed: 'The boy wanted to come to us. That was important. That made it possible. If he hadn't come out forcibly to Arsenal and told them he wanted to come to Manchester United, negotiations would have been over. 'I spoke to David Gill and he spoke to the Glazer family and they got the ball rolling. But that was some months ago, it was a long haul.'

That haul only ended when
Ferguson – not Gill, who normally
conducts transfer policy – spoke to
Wenger directly.
'It wasn't an easy one because,
understandably, Arsene Wenger
didn't want to sell to Manchester
United,' said Ferguson.

Even so, he was only successful
because the Glazers agreed to
increase their original 15m
bid for Van Persie to 24million
– not a decision taken
lightly given the gloomy
forecasts for a recent United
share issue in New York.

Van Persie is, in effect, an
expensive leaving present
for Ferguson, one that he will
be expected to utilise by making
United the best team in Europe before he
hands over to Jose
Mourinho or Pep
Guardiola.

What is beyond doubt
is that the short-term
impact of the Van Persie
signing has been incredible.
Despite being pipped
to the title by Manchester
City in the final minute of
last season, United go into
their opening game at
Goodison Park buoyant.

Got his man: Ferguson signed Robin van Persie from Arsenal for 24million

Got his man: Ferguson signed Robin van Persie from Arsenal for 24million

City, in contrast, are
decidedly downbeat for
champions.
They start their defence
against Southampton with
their manager Roberto Mancini
demanding ready-made signings
like the one Ferguson has just
made, rather than youngsters with
potential like Jack Rodwell, City's
only summer purchase.

Two seasons ago, Wayne Rooney
handed in a transfer request at
Old Trafford claiming he felt the
club lacked ambition – exactly
the same charge levelled by Van
Persie against Arsenal this week.
Following Van Persie's arrival and with United boasting plenty of attacking
options, including Javier Hernandez,
Shinji Kagawa and Danny
Welbeck, Rooney could not be
happier on the 10th anniversary of his
first league game for Everton.

'It's a great time for us,' he said. 'To
sign a player of Van Persie's quality
and ability keeps us all on our toes.
The two of us are quite intelligent
players and we'll train together to get
it right.

'But it's really about the four or five players chipping in with goals when
we can. Everyone was excited to meet
Robin, now everyone is excited for
the first game.

'This provides great competition for
forwards, we all need to try to do everything
right so the manager picks
us.'

Ferguson has long championed the
signings of young, hungry players at
United. But with his own managerial
clock running down, he had no
hesitation in signing the finished
article.
He is pacing himself now as he
moves towards replacing Sir Bobby
Robson as the oldest ever Premier
League manager, a record he will take
in July.

Ferguson has even skipped a couple
of pre-season friendlies abroad to
save himself for the season.
In his time, the streetfighter from
Govan has seen off countless bitter
managerial rivals, including Kevin
Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, twice, Jose
Mourinho and Wenger.
He doesn't want to be beaten on his
final couple of laps by Mancini.

Which is why the Glazers had to
answer the 64m question that was
Robin van Persie in the affirmative.