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Cheltenham Festival 2013: Day one inspection at 10.30am due winter weather

Concern on day one at Cheltenham with early morning inspection set after parts of the course are left frozen by winter weather

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

07:04 GMT, 12 March 2013

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UPDATED:

08:15 GMT, 12 March 2013

Cheltenham will hold an inspection at 10.30am today ahead of what is predicted to be the coldest-ever start to the Festival.

Although the covers were put down at the track over the weekend, officials report the track to be frozen in a few places this morning after a wind chill of -12C overnight.

Over 55,000 spectators are expected to
attend the first day of the meeting when nine horses, including three
previous winners – Binocular, Hurricane Fly and reigning champion Rock
On Ruby – will line up in the Champion Hurdle.

Bleak: Cheltenham will host an inspection after temperatures plummeted to -12C overnight

Bleak: Cheltenham will host an inspection after temperatures plummeted to -12C overnight

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Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said: 'We are frozen in places but it seems to be small areas. We can't really tell the extent of the frozen areas until we start to take the covers up.

'If the weather does what we expect it to and the temperature gets up to 3C by 12 noon, we should be kicking off as planned at 1.30pm.

'The wind chill dropped to -12C overnight and it was still -9C at 5am today.

'The is sun is out now and if we get an hour or two of sunshine on it, it should start to move.

'If we get some cloud cover, the rate at which that will happen will obviously slow.'

Frozen: As many as 55,000 spectators are expected to arrive for the opening day of the Festival

Frozen: As many as 55,000 spectators are expected to arrive for the opening day of the Festival

Claisse says he remains 'optimistic' about the meeting going ahead as planned.

He told Channel 4's The Morning Line: '90 per cent of the course is fine but obviously we can't clear it as fit to race until it's 100 per cent OK.

'(The problem areas) tend to be on some of the take-offs and landings and some of the wider ground. We have got fresh ground seven or eight yards on the inside, but you just have to be a bit careful of a horse that's going wide.

'It's on those areas that were worn a little bit in October, November and December, that's where the frost has got in under the covers.

'We will look at everything we can possibly do to ensure the meeting goes ahead. If we have to, we will go round any fences or hurdles.

Covered up: Cheltenham remain confident that racing will go ahead on the first day of the Festival

Covered up: Cheltenham remain confident that racing will go ahead on the first day of the Festival

'We are not running on the cross
country course until 4pm this afternoon and the afternoon temperature is
4C or 5C, so it may take a little bit longer to get fit when the sun
comes out, but should be OK by 4.

'I remain optimistic but you just
never quite know what is happening with this weather. Our experiences
last night were beyond anything we've seen before.'

The process of lifting the covers is
expected to be completed by 1.15pm with the traditional curtain raiser,
the William Hill Supreme Novices Hurdle, due off 15 minutes later.

Demba Ba latest: Alan Pardew says Newcastle coped with losing Andy Carroll and can do same again

Wages row wrecks Ba's transfer to Chelsea as Newcastle bid to keep him

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UPDATED:

15:23 GMT, 31 December 2012

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was defiant in the face of the ongoing transfer saga surrounding striker Demba Ba.

He said that the club had coped with the departure of Andy Carroll to Liverpool and would be able to do the same again if Ba leaves.

The Senegal international has been offered a new deal by the Magpies but was involved in talks with Chelsea last night because they activated his 7m release fee clause.

Sticky spot: Alan Pardew feels sorry for Demba Ba (centre)

Sticky spot: Alan Pardew feels sorry for Demba Ba (centre)

But the deal broke down because of the
hitman's wage demands.

Pardew said: 'I've been in a situation where we lost Andy Carroll, and to a great extent, maybe we were weaker then than we are now.

'So we've coped with it before and we'll cope with it again if we have to. But ideally we want him to stay, and hopefully he will play on Wednesday and play well. Then we go to Brighton on Saturday.'

He continued: 'I feel bit sorry for
Demba because people out there fuelling it are not involved. The contract
is what it is and as manager I want it to be resolved.

'There is a contract for him to sign
and it is getting close to the point where we say no more but the offer
is still there. I want him to stay.

'It has been a saga since the summer
and the way the contract was drawn up at the time means we can't get out
of it, but I understand why it was that way at the time.

'I still think in this window he will stay because of the situtation we are in, but that will be up to him.

'The contract terms have been bandied
around which has not helped and people are getting involved who have no
right to be involved.

'It is difficult for our fans because
they love him and they want him to play in a black and white shirt – we
look potent again.'

The Magpies signed the striker from West Ham after the east London side were relegated in 2011.

Ba scored 16 goals in 34 Barclays
Premier League appearances last season but his relationship with
Pardew soured in September.

Hopeful: The Toon boss would love to keep Ba on Tyneside

Hopeful: The Toon boss would love to keep Ba on Tyneside

He felt he was being played out of position while Papiss Cisse took the central striker's spot in Newcastle's team.

However, despite his frustrations and
the uncertainty over his future, he has still managed an excellent 13
top flight goals this term.

Pardew continued: 'One thing I don't have to worry about is Demba's mental state. He is one of the strongest footballers I have ever come across.

'He had disappointments in his early career with bad injuries and the way some clubs treated him but he can have no complaints about how we have treated him.

'We have been brilliant for him. I hope he rewards us by staying for another couple of years.'

Peter Crouch loses three teeth in collision with Fabricio Coloccini Stoke 2 Newcastle 1

'He wanted to carry on': Brave Crouch loses three teeth in collision with Coloccini

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UPDATED:

23:37 GMT, 28 November 2012

Peter Crouch is facing dental surgery after losing two teeth with another embedded in his jaw following a collision with Fabricio Coloccini in Stoke's 2-1 win over Newcastle.

The Argentina defender's stray arm caught the 31-year-old striker in the jaw at the Brittania Stadium, but Potters boss Tony Pulis saw no malice in the challenge.

Pain game: Peter Crouch winces after the collision with Fabricio Coloccini

Pain game: Peter Crouch winces after the collision with Fabricio Coloccini

Pain game: Peter Crouch winces following the collision with Fabricio Coloccini

'Peter wanted to carry on. But then he saw his teeth in the doctor’s hands. He almost fainted, I think.

'He has lost two and the third was stuck in his upper jaw. He’s going to need some work on it. But I don’t think there was any malice in it.

Harsh reality: The extent of Crouch's injury becomes apparent to the striker

Harsh reality: The extent of Crouch's injury becomes apparent to the striker

Crouch was tended to by club doctor Andrew Dent, with Kenwyne Jones replacing Crouch in the 40th minute.

Pulis saw his side come from behind after Papiss Cisse hit the opener for the visitors just after the break.

But Jon Walters and Cameron Jerome were both on target as Pulis saw his side claim their third win in four matches.

Kevin Pietersen"s England rebirth set for test – Jonathan Trott

Ahmedabad is the real Test of Pietersen's England rebirth, insists Trott

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 12 November 2012

Jonathan Trott has warned that the true extent of Kevin Pietersen's reintegration into the England side will not be known until the Test series against India starts on Thursday.

Pietersen will be playing his first international match since the texting furore that followed the Headingley Test against South Africa in early August, and Trott said: ‘Test cricket’s got to start again, and that’s when you need people to perform — when the pressure’s on and the chips are down. That’s when, if cracks are tested, they widen and team dynamics become more obvious.

‘We’ve got to make sure we have all our ducks in a row. But I think we’re on the right track.’

Team player Kevin Pietersen (right) shares a joke with Matt Prior last week

Team player Kevin Pietersen (right) shares a joke with Matt Prior last week

Trott was one of a handful of senior players to meet Pietersen in Oxford ahead of the trip as the management sought to ease him back into the team.

‘It was a brief conversation and it was all fine,’ Trott said. ‘I think a few players got sucked in but I play the game for cricket, not for any other agenda. I’m a firm believer in harmony in the dressing room and people pulling their weight. The main thing is we don’t have these sorts of mishaps in the future.’

We're ready: Batsman Jonathan Trott says England are on the right track

We're ready: Batsman Jonathan Trott says England are on the right track

Pietersen, who has 88 Test caps — more than anyone out here — has embraced the role of senior statesman with gusto, making good use of the contacts established during his IPL stints and sponsorship deals.

England’s assistant coach Richard Halsall said: ‘It’s something Graham Gooch has asked him to do, to get him more involved. If blokes want to get an ounce taken off their bat, or they don’t have the right shoes, he knows someone who can organise it for us.’

Graeme Swann rejoined the squad on Monday morning after flying home to be with his unwell baby daughter.

Manchester City"s Micah Richards to discover extent of knee injury

Richards to discover extent of knee injury with Man City staff fearing four-week lay-off

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 28 October 2012

Knee agony: Joe Hart and Michu look over a stricken Micah Richards

Knee agony: Joe Hart and Michu look over a stricken Micah Richards

Micah Richards will discover the extent of the damage to his right knee, which he injured during Saturday’s win over Swansea.

The Manchester City defender had a scan at a Manchester hospital on Sunday amid fears that he had sustained ligament damage and was facing a long lay-off.

The results are not due to until Monday lunchtime, so Richards faces an anxious wait to see if his season is over.

But City’s medical staff are optimistic that the England international has suffered only cartilage damage and will probably be out for only four to six weeks.

It was Richards’s fourth consecutive game since returning from the foot injury that ruined the first two months of his season.

Sunderland midfielder David Meyler drafted into Republic of Ireland squad

Sunderland midfielder Meyler drafted into Republic squad after Doyle injured

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UPDATED:

22:27 GMT, 5 October 2012

Sunderland midfielder David Meyler has
been called into the Republic of Ireland squad for the World Cup
qualifiers against Germany and the Faroe Islands.

The 23-year-old was drafted in as
manager Giovanni Trapattoni awaited news of a scan on the thigh muscle
Wolves striker Kevin Doyle suffered in training on Friday morning.

Call up: Sunderland's David Meyler (right)

Call up: Sunderland's David Meyler (right)

A spokesman for the Football Association of Ireland said: 'David Meyler has been called up to Giovanni Trapattoni's squad to face Germany in Aviva Stadium on October 12 and the Faroe Islands in Torsvrllur Stadium, Torshavn on October 16.

'David will join up with the squad in Dublin in time for training on Monday morning.

'In other news, Kevin Doyle picked up a thigh injury during training with Wolves this morning.

'The extent of the injury remains to be seen. Kevin is having a scan later this evening with results expected tomorrow.'

Trapattoni's players are due to meet up at their Portmarnock base in time to start their preparations for the Germany game on Monday having opened their Group C campaign with a hard-fought 2-1 win in Kazakhstan last month.

Mahamadou Diarra could miss rest of season

Jol fears influential midfielder Diarra could miss most of season with knee injury

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UPDATED:

16:54 GMT, 20 September 2012

Crocked: Diarra

Crocked: Diarra

Fulham fear Mahamadou Diarra could be ruled out for the majority of the season, manager Martin Jol admitted on Thursday.

Jol revealed the potential extent of the injury Diarra suffered making his return from international exile with Mali this month.

The 31-year-old, who had not played for his country for more than a year, damaged his left knee and was forced to miss Fulham's 3-0 Barclays Premier League win over West Brom last weekend.

Jol confirmed on Thursday afternoon that Diarra required some form of surgery and would miss at least another three weeks.

But if it transpires he has damaged his cruciate ligament, he could be out for up to five months.

Jol, who was expecting to learn the true extent of the damage next week, said: 'There's a little piece of cartilage floating in his knee, so we have to operate that in any case, and that can be three or four weeks.

'But if there is damage to his cruciate ligament, for example, it will take a lot longer.

'It will take him three, four, five months at least.'

That would be a huge blow to Fulham,
whose lack of cover in midfield was demonstrated by the signing of
Greece veteran Giorgos Karagounis after the transfer window closed.

That followed the summer departures of the likes of Clint Dempsey, Mousa Dembele, Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu.

Jol was forced to play defender Chris
Baird alongside Steve Sidwell in midfield against West Brom and will do
so again in Saturday's game at Wigan.

Waiting game: Jol does not know how long the midfielder will be out for

Waiting game: Jol does not know how long the midfielder will be out for

The Dutchman added: 'Hopefully, we will
stay fit. The advantage is that we don't have to play in Europe. But if
Bairdy or Sidwell would get an injury then we could end up with a slight
problem.'

Baird's secondment has also left Jol with a defensive headache after he revealed Philippe Senderos was still not ready to step up his comeback from a broken foot by playing for the reserves.

'He needs maybe two weeks to come back and be match fit,' Jol said.

'Baird, of course, plays in midfield now, so I need Philippe as soon as possible.'

Jol will still be without Kieron Richardson (hip), Kerim Frei (pelvis) and Ashkan Dejagah (match fitness) this weekend, although he expected the former to resume training next week.

There was better news on the injury front for Bryan Ruiz and Mladen Petric, both of whom were declared fit to return at the DW Stadium.

And Jol also revealed Ruiz and former Wigan star Hugo Rodallega were vying for a place in his starting line-up alongside new hero Dimitar Berbatov.

'I don't tell anyone the line-up before matches but that is the big decision we have to make,' he said ahead of an away game which could reveal a lot about Fulham's prospects this season.

Headache: Any more injuries will leave Martin Jol in a tight spot

Headache: Any more injuries will leave Martin Jol in a tight spot

Having won both their home matches and lost all three of their away games so far – including a Carling Cup shock at Sheffield Wednesday – the Cottagers are in danger of slipping back into their old habit of being a soft touch on their travels.

Jol cited injuries as being largely to blame and insisted his squad were capable of improving on their four away wins from last season.

He said: 'We managed just four wins last year and a couple of draws. That was not good but it wasn't bad either. If we manage to get five or six away wins, I think we will do well.'

Carles Puyol ruled out for six weeks with knee injury

Veteran Barcelona captain Puyol ruled out for six weeks with knee injury

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UPDATED:

12:22 GMT, 16 September 2012

Crocked: Puyol could be out for six weeks

Crocked: Puyol could be out for six weeks

Barcelona have been dealt a blow with the news that their captain Carles Puyol has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a knee injury.

The veteran defender missed Spain's Euro 2012 triumph with a similar problem and he has been ruled out again after coming off injured in the 4-1 win over Getafe on Saturday.

Puyol, 34, has strained the posterior cruciate ligament in his left leg and will undergo further test in Sunday to determine the extent of the damage.

Barca boss Tito Vilanova said: 'It’s always a problem when you lose players like him. We know how important Puyol is to the team.

'He played well throughout the match, he brings a lot to the team. Hopefully we can get him back soon.'

Puyol is certain to miss Barca's Champions League opener against Spartak Moscow on Wednesday night, while he could also be ruled out of next month's league clash against rivals Real Madrid.

Ramon Nunez not leaving Leeds after suffering knee injury

Nunez Leeds exit blocked after Honduran midfielder suffers knee injury

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UPDATED:

12:09 GMT, 4 September 2012

Leeds attempts to off-load Ramon Nunez have been thwarted after the Honduras international suffered a serious injury.

Nunez was transfer-listed by the Elland Road club last season, but could not find a new club before the deadline closed at the end of August.

And he was taken off on a stretcher during the Leeds' development squad's 3-1 win over their Wigan after being crocked with a cruciate ligament injury.

Down but not out: Nunez's injury means he will not leave Leeds any time soon

Down but not out: Nunez's injury means he will not leave Leeds any time soon

Under 21s coach Neil Redfearn told Leeds' official website: 'It didn't look good and when a player goes down like that your initial reaction is that it could be long-term.

'If that's the case, it's a shame for him but he will be assessed as to what the extent is before we find out.'

Gavin Henson will have tests after cheekbone injury

Henson set for hospital tests after cheekbone injury against Scarlets

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UPDATED:

14:08 GMT, 26 August 2012

Gavin Henson will undergo further tests on Sunday to confirm if he fractured a cheekbone in London Welsh's friendly defeat against Llanelli Scarlets.

Henson was taken to hospital and given X-rays and tests after he was tackled by Deacon Manu in the first minute in the 23-17 loss, and although he played on until the 33rd, he had to be replaced and could now miss the start of the season with Welsh facing Leicester on September 2.

A club spokesman said: 'Gavin underwent X-rays yesterday and will have further tests today and there has been no confirmation if his cheekbone has been fractured.

Treated: Gavin Henson is given medical attention

Treated: Gavin Henson is given medical attention

'Until we know the extent of the damage we will not know if he will miss the game against Leicester and there is not much more we can say at this point.'

London head coach Lyn Jones is trying to remain positive about the prognosis of the former Wales three-quarter.

'We're hoping for the best, but if it's the worst he's not the first player to get injured and we'll just have to be patient and deal with it,” Jones said, in quotes carried on the club website.

'These are things you've got to deal with in rugby. You've got to deal with thunderbolts all the time.

'No player wants to get injured in a pre-season friendly because it's hugely frustrating because of all the hard work that's been done leading up to the start of the season.'