Tag Archives: meeting

Battlefront dies on Grand National meeting day one

Grand National meeting suffers first fatality on day one after Battlefront collapses following Fox Hunters' Chase

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

16:05 GMT, 4 April 2013

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UPDATED:

16:28 GMT, 4 April 2013

The Grand National meeting at Aintree suffered its first fatality on day one this afternoon as Battlefront collapsed and died after the 3.40 John Smith's Fox Hunters' Chase.

The horse, ridden by Katie Walsh, was pulled up at the 11th fence of the 2m 5f chase, which was won by 100/1 long shot Tartan Snow.

Unfortunately 11-year-old Battlefront, trained by the jockey's father Ted, then suffered a suspected heart attack on the way back to the stables and died.

Bad news: Battlefront, ridden by Katy Walsh (left), suffered a suspected heart attack after being pulled up

Bad news: Battlefront, ridden by Katy Walsh (left), suffered a suspected heart attack after being pulled up

Aintree has revamped the course fences to make them safer for competing horses after criticism of the meeting's Saturday showpiece branding it dangerous after seeing two fatalities – According to Pete and Synchronised – in last year's National.

Despite the accident not involving a course fall, the news is still a blow for organisers.The chase was the first race to be held over the Grand National fences.

Professor Chris Proudman, veterinary advisor to Aintree Racecourse, confirmed the news, saying: 'We can confirm that Battlefront was pulled up at fence 11 of the John Smith's Fox Hunter's Chase on the Grand National course by his jockey Katie Walsh and sadly afterwards he collapsed and died.

Out of nowhere: Tartan Snow, ridden by Jamie Hamilton, won the Fox Hunters' chase as a 100/1 shot

Out of nowhere: Tartan Snow, ridden by Jamie Hamilton, won the Fox Hunters' Chase as a 100/1 shot

John Baker, Aintree and North West Regional Director of Jockey Club Racecourses, expressed his sympathies but defended the sport.

'I would like to extend our sympathies to the Walsh family for this sad news,' he said.

'British racing is very open that you can never eliminate all risk from horse racing, as with any sport.

However, welfare standards are very high and equine fatalities are rare.

'With 90,000 runners each year, we have a fatality rate of just 0.2 per cent.'

Grand National 2013: Last year"s fatalities put jump racing under the microscope

Grand National faces biggest test with fatalities putting jump racing under the microscope

By
Marcus Townend

PUBLISHED:

21:04 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

21:04 GMT, 3 April 2013

Four Grade One races of rare quality grace today’s opening day of Aintree’s Grand National meeting while tomorrow the clash between steeplechase superstar Sprinter Sacre, Cue Card and Flemenstar is being billed as the race of the season.

But which horses pass the winning line first over the next three days won’t matter a jot if Saturday’s big race turns into another visceral examination of jump racing.

Twelve months ago, when two horses were killed for a second year running, including Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised, the joy was squeezed out of the victory of Neptune Collonges.

Scroll down for Peter Scudamore's inside track on Aintree's new fences

Preparations: Aintree ground staff were tending to the new safer fences ahead of the three-day meeting

Preparations: Aintree ground staff were tending to the new safer fences ahead of the three-day meeting

The deaths of Synchronised and According To Pete raised questions as to whether the race could even survive in its present form.

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant called the deaths ‘totally unacceptable’ while branding the famous Becher’s Brook, where According To Pete was brought down before being hit by another horse, a ‘killer fence’. A nervous calm precedes this year’s race but a major modification to the fences’ construction has been welcomed (see graphic above).

Spokesmen for the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare deny the race is on trial but another body blow would be serious given a sponsor is being sought with John Smiths leaving after Saturday’s race.

Finishing touch: The grass on the Grand National finish line was cut this week before the Aintree showpiece

Finishing touch: The grass on the Grand National finish line was cut this week before the Aintree showpiece

WHW chief executive Roly Owers said: ‘There is still huge support for the race but there also are increasing voices within racing questioning whether the National is doing the sport any good. The warning bells have sounded and Aintree have recognised that.

‘Our biggest issue with the National is the number of fallers. It is five times higher than a normal steeplechase. The fewer fallers, the less chance of injury. The changes to the fence core are a real step forward and we also welcome the improvements in irrigation.

‘We recognise you can’t eliminate risk. The responsibility is to minimise it.’

WHW have repeated a call to reduce the number of starters.Owers said: ‘We believe there should be a trial reduction of three years. We recognise it has to be a great test but you can’t just accept the regular death of horses.’

Scrutiny: Last year's Grand National (above) saw the fatalities of According to Pete and Synchronised

Scrutiny: Last year's Grand National (above) saw the fatalities of According to Pete and Synchronised

RSPCA equine consultant David Muir added: ‘With 40 runners, you have 40 chances of things going wrong. I’d like to see them reduce it to 30 but we don’t run racing.’

Jockeys have been asked to moderate their speed to the first fence and the run-up to it has been shortened by 90 yards by moving the start further away from the unsettling cauldron of noise coming from of the grandstands.

Jamie Stier, BHA director of raceday operations, said: ‘The changes are all designed for horse welfare but at the same time we have maintained the shape, size and character of the fences.

Fences

‘People have to understand the position of the race within the fabric of society. Attendance figures last year were 155,000 at the meeting and more people watch the Grand National on TV than the FA Cup final — more than 11million — with a global audience of 600m in 140 countries.

‘We don’t feel it is on trial. It is down to the BHA and Aintree to find a way forward.’

Still, a lot of people will be holding their breath on Saturday.

Peter Scudamore looks at the major fences at this year's Grand…

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Racing tips for Aintree day one by Peter Scudamore and Sam Turner

Countrywide Flame can light up Aintree… Sportsmail's experts dissect day one

By
Sam Turner and Peter Scudamore

PUBLISHED:

21:04 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

21:04 GMT, 3 April 2013

The decision to switch the John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle to the opening day of the National meeting looks a smart move as the track is rewarded with a tremendous renewal.

Countrywide Flame (Aintree, 3.05), Zarkandar and Grandouet represent the Champion Hurdle form, while star novice The New One, a classy winner of the Neptune Investments Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, adds further glamour.

The celebrated quartet are supplemented by Oscar Whisky and Thousand Stars, first and second in both the last two renewals, to give the contest even further depth.

In form: Countrywide Flame will be suited to the step up in trip Aintree provides

In form: Countrywide Flame will be suited to the step up in trip Aintree provides

This lofty level of competition means selecting a winner is anything but straightforward.

However, Countrywide Flame did enough at Cheltenham to suggest he can mix it at this level and the step up in trip should suit a horse who was narrowly denied in the marathon Flat handicap, The Cesarewitch, last autumn.

I like the fact that John Quinn’s horses are in rude health, their wellbeing advertised by a Lincoln Handicap win for Levitate at Doncaster on Saturday, and the selection has already run with great credit at today’s venue when a game second to Grumeti in the opener 12 months ago.

Warne (Aintree, 3.40) caught the eye at Fairyhouse with a stylish defeat of Tammys Hill under Mikey Fogarty and could prove the answer to the Fox Hunters’ Chase with the drying going over the National course likely to play to his strengths. He looks to have the touch of class required to win.

Tony Martin enjoyed a wonderful Cheltenham with two winners and Pires (Aintree, next best, 4.15) can strike for the shrewd Irish handler in a warm renewal of the Red Rum Chase.

Hot contest: Zakandar (left) and Countrywide Flame (right) will renew battle in the Aintree Hurdle

Hot contest: Zakandar (left) and Countrywide Flame (right) will renew battle in the Aintree Hurdle

A flat two miles on decent ground are the nine-year-old’s optimum conditions and I’m hoping his ability to travel well off a strong pace before displaying a change of gear are two attributes which come into play this afternoon.

Sixty Something (Aintree, nap, 5.25) is a sporting nap in the finale as he stuck to his task well to score at Market Rasen last time and has a seven-length win over course and distance to his name, courtesy of an easy victory in a hood last October.

SCU'S VIEW – Peter Scudamore's verdict on the 2.30 Aintree Betfred Bowl Chase

Favourites have a poor record in the Betfred Bowl Chase with only one winning in the last 10 years but I still think market leader Silviniaco Conti will be tough to beat.

The seven-year-old, trained by Paul Nicholls, seemed to be going best of all when falling three fences out in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

One to watch: The Paul Nicholls-trained Silviniaco Conti will be tough to beat in the Betfred Bowl Chase

One to watch: The Paul Nicholls-trained Silviniaco Conti will be tough to beat in the Betfred Bowl Chase

Some had questioned his ability to handle that undulating track — something he clearly did — but his record on flat left-handed tracks this season is three from three.

The unknown is how much the Gold Cup run took out of him but he should have too much speed for Gold Cup fourth and fifth, The Giant Bolster and Cape Tribulation.

Quito De La Roque commands respect as a novice winner here at the 2011 meeting who is fresh having by-passed the Cheltenham Festival. He may be more of a threat than fellow Irish raider Flight Lieutenant, the Ryanair Chase runner-up.

Paul Lambert still has backing of Aston Villa

Players and fans still back me, insists Lambert despite another Villa loss

-2013.

He said: 'When you are looking for players and trying to find the secret ingredient for your team, it’s not always easy for players to come and fit in as they did in the first half.

'I was a little bit surprised myself if I’m honest. I don’t think we would have won the game without Sissoko. That’s how important I think that signing was.

'Sissoko really grabbed the game by the horns and that’s what we needed.

Consolation: Benteke halved the deficit for Villa

Consolation: Benteke halved the deficit for Villa

'With Demba Ba departing from a team that hasn’t been winning, it was a big blow for us and we really needed him for this game.'

Pardew added: 'We have worked really hard on integrating the new players into things.

'They are not here to save us, they are here to help us. That was my message to the established players.

'We had a nice night in the hotel the night before the game, a nice meeting, and you sensed there was a good feeling amongst them all.

'It was a terrific day for us because we were under a lot of pressure to win at Villa.'

Liverpool apologise to Fulham over Clint Dempsey tapping-up affair

EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool issue grovelling apology to Fulham over Dempsey tapping-up affair

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UPDATED:

00:10 GMT, 12 December 2012

Liverpool have made a grovelling apology to Fulham over the tapping-up of Clint Dempsey in the summer.

A statement from Fulham, expected today, will confirm that in return the club have dropped their complaint to the Premier League over the affair.

The peace deal came only after a personal visit by Liverpool co-owner Tom Werner to Craven Cottage chairman Mohamed Al Fayed was followed up by a letter from Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre admitting that the club’s behaviour ‘was wrong’ and ‘simply never should have occurred’.

Centre of attention: Dempsey was courted by Liverpool in summer

Centre of attention: Dempsey was courted by Liverpool in summer

The letter, sent last Friday, confirms that a meeting took place between Werner and Fayed, during which the former apologised for Liverpool’s actions regarding Dempsey last summer.

Fulham blame Liverpool for unsettling the player and creating the circumstances that led to his move to Tottenham on transfer-deadline day.

Ayre wrote: 'Please also consider this letter from me to be an additional expression of sincere regret and apology from our club to your club for our actions last summer. Our club can do better and we pledge that it will.'

Fulham’s official complaint followed a series of clumsy bulletins from Liverpool and their owners, the Fenway Sports Group. The first was an announcement on the FSG website that Liverpool had signed Dempsey from Fulham.

This was followed by an interview on the
Liverpool website with manager Brendan Rogers, in which he talked of
the USA forward in glowing terms.

Full apology: Ayre has expressed regret on Liverpool's behalf to Al Fayed

Full apology: Ayre has expressed regret on Liverpool's behalf to Al Fayed

Full apology: Ayre has expressed regret on Liverpool's behalf to Al Fayed

Finally, pictures of Liverpool's new strip with Dempsey's name on the back were published.

The 29-year-old had been on a summer break in America when the FSG announcement was made, and Fulham’s complaint to the Premier League intimated that their relationship with the player who was last season’s top scorer had not recovered from that point.

Dempsey did not officially go on strike, but told Fulham he wanted to leave.

The club considered he was becoming a bad influence in the dressing room and he did not play a game for Fulham before signing for Tottenham.

On target: Dempsey scored in the recent defeat to Everton

On target: Dempsey scored in the recent defeat to Everton

Roma fans banned from football for five years after attack on Tottenham supporters

Roma fans arrested after attack on Spurs supporters are banned from football stadiums for five years

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UPDATED:

12:37 GMT, 29 November 2012

Two Roma supporters arrested in connection with a brutal attack on a group of Spurs fans have been banned from all football grounds for five years.

Francesco Ianiari, 26, and Mauro Pinnelli, 25, were arrested within hours of the raid on The Drunken Ship pub which left three Spurs fans seriously injured – including Ashley Mills, 25, who is still in hospital after suffering a potentially fatal knife wound to his groin.

Both Ianiari and Pinnelli are in custody after their arrest last week and they have been charged with aggravated assault – an initial charge of attempted murder has been dropped but police say they do not rule out further arrests in connection with the incident.

Scene of the crime: The Drunken Ship pub in Rome

Scene of the crime: The Drunken Ship pub in Rome

Scene of the crime: The Drunken Ship pub in Rome

The Spurs fans were attacked as they drank in the Rome pub, a popular meeting point for visiting fans, ahead of their Europa League clash with Lazio and which ended in a 0-0 draw.

Around 50 masked men were involved the ambush and they used knives, clubs, belts and sticks to attack the Spurs fans who had been drinking peacefully just minutes earlier.

The attackers barricaded the doors and were also said to have chanted anti-Semitic slogans against the Spurs fans, who traditionally have a large Jewish fanbase, during the lightening raid which was over in less that ten minutes.

Ambush: Ashley Mills was stabbed in the groin

Ambush: Ashley Mills was stabbed in the groin

Ambush: Ashley Mills was stabbed in the groin

However Lazio's president Claudio Lotito
has denied that his side's fans were involved and he has also stressed
they are not racist – earlier this week the side took to the field
wearing shirts with the slogan 'No to Racism'.

He also visited Mr Mills in the San Camillo hospital presenting him with a Lazio shirt which had his name on it. Lawyers defending both men also insist there was no racist element to the attack and it was a purely 'football related'.

Hospital visit: Lazio president Claudio Lotito (centre) leaves the San Camillo Hospital after visiting Mills

Hospital visit: Lazio president Claudio Lotito (centre) leaves the San Camillo Hospital after visiting Mills

The attack was initially blamed on Lazio fans but there was surprise when it turned out the two arrested were Roma fans, although there has been speculation it was a joint effort raid after both sets of supporters put aside their rivalries to attack the Britons.

No court date has yet been set for Ianari and Pinnelli's trial and Essex builder Mr Mills is expected to be released from hospital within the next few days.

Nicky Henderson to run Roberto Goldback in Gold Cup

Roberto back on the Gold trail as Henderson plans double assault at Newbury

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 28 November 2012

Nicky Henderson will be double-handed in Saturday’s Hennessy Gold Cup after allowing Roberto Goldback to take his chance.

Henderson already has ante-post favourite Bobs Worth in the Newbury feature, but will also run his recent Ascot winner.

The Seven Barrows handler had initially indicated the 10-year-old would run at Newbury tomorrow, but those plans have changed.

Chance: Roberto Goldback will run in the Hennessy Gold Cup

Chance: Roberto Goldback will run in the Hennessy Gold Cup

He said: ‘We’ve had a change of heart and Roberto Goldback will run in the Hennessy after all. He’s a stayer and, while it’s not going to be easy as he has a lot of weight, we are happy with him.

'He probably won’t win over three and a quarter, but we will take our chance. At the moment, the plan would be for both Roberto Goldback and Bobs Worth to run.’

Henderson had expressed some concerns about the going for Bobs Worth, but his fears have been allayed after a visit to the Berkshire venue.

Doubling up: Bobs Worth will also take his chance in the Gold Cup

Doubling up: Bobs Worth will also take his chance in the Gold Cup

He added: ‘The ground is in good nick and it’s Newbury’s first meeting of the season which has helped. If they had had a couple of meetings already it would have been much worse.

‘They are saving some fresh ground for Saturday and we have a couple of dry days forecast so it might not be that bad.’

John Smith"s call time on Grand National sponsorship

John Smith's call time on Grand National sponsorship

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UPDATED:

22:02 GMT, 24 November 2012

Aintree is seeking a new sponsor for the Grand National after the shock decision of John Smith's to pull their backing after next year's race in April.

Those in charge at Aintree have had to deal with negative publicity following the deaths of two horses in each of the last two Nationals.

Thrill of the chase: Neptune Collonges (right) jumps The Chair on the way to winning the Grand National

Thrill of the chase: Neptune Collonges (right) jumps The Chair on the way to winning the Grand National

Last summer the course's managing
director, Julian Thick, departed unexpectedly and at least one more
senior figure is set to leave.

Now Aintree has lost the backing of
the brewing giant John Smith's, who have invested heavily in the
three-day National meeting over nine years, with the prize money almost
doubling to just under 1million since 2005.

John Baker, new regional director for
Jockey Club Northern Racecourses, said: 'We are finalising new
sponsorship to ensure the event remains one of the crown jewels in the
sporting calendar.'

One of the leading bookmakers could
step in, since betting during the build-up to the National reaches an
annual peak on the day of the race.

But bookies are unlikely to provide the significant depth of funding delivered by John Smith's and, before them, Martell.

Lord Daresbury rode winners over the famous Aintree fences as an amateur.

Yesterday, as chairman of the
racecourse, he said: 'This news comes at a bad time but I am confident
the race will attract plenty of interest from potential sponsors.'

Young Boys must show courage at Liverpool, says boss

Courage can help us upset Anfield, insists Young Boys boss Rueda ahead of Euro clash

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UPDATED:

20:57 GMT, 21 November 2012

Young Boys coach Martin Rueda has demanded a show of courage from his under pressure side against Liverpool at Anfield on Thursday night.

The Swiss are level on six points with the hosts in Group A but their chances of qualifying for the knockout stage will be ended if they lose and Anzhi beat Udinese earlier in the evening.

No Swiss team has won in four visits to Anfield and Liverpool have not lost in eight games against opposition from the country since losing a first meeting against Servette in 1971.

Boys become men: Young Boys Bern face a tricky test when they play Liverpool at Anfield

Boys become men: Young Boys Bern face a tricky test when they play Liverpool at Anfield

Boys become men: Young Boys Bern face a tricky test when they play Liverpool at Anfield

However, back-to-back wins over Udinese – 3-2 victors on Merseyside in early October – has given Rueda confidence they can make amends for their loss to Brendan Rodgers' side in Bern.

'The two games against Udinese have shown us that we can also beat great opponents,' said Rueda, whose side lost 5-3 to Liverpool in their opening game. 'I expect Liverpool to put out a top team, certainly from the start as they are looking to get into the next stage.

'But it is a game we need something from – there is lots riding on this game. We have to be brave and courageous and produce a good performance.

'It is good that Anzhi are playing earlier but it comes down to our performance and we want to get some points.'

England-born defender Scott Sutter, who played youth team football for Millwall, Aston Villa and Charlton before moving to his father's homeland, is looking forward to sampling the Anfield atmosphere.

Ready for action: Boss Martin Rueda and Scott Sutter have high hopes for the clash

Ready for action: Boss Martin Rueda and Scott Sutter have high hopes for the clash

'It is special to be playing in England against top teams,' said the 26-year-old. 'That poses a great test for yourself and gives you a chance to compare yourself with the top stars in the game.

'Growing up in England you read a lot about Anfield and I was lucky enough four years ago to come and watch a game against Arsenal – it is a special place and to come here and play will be nice.

'Liverpool are still Liverpool. They have top quality throughout the side with the likes of Steven Gerrard.'

Veteran defender Mario Raimondi is suspended for the match but goalkeeper and captain Marco Wolfli will feature having played with a thigh injury at the weekend.

David Beckham: Is it really the end now his time is up in America?

With his time in America drawing to a close, Sportsmail asks: 'Is it the end for Beckham'

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UPDATED:

00:43 GMT, 18 November 2012

David Beckham, set to quit LA Galaxy
next month at the end of the current Major League Soccer season, has
been swamped with offers from clubs around the world hoping to provide
him with the chance to extend his playing career.

The 37-year-old former England
captain will not seek to renew his contract in Los Angeles when his
current deal ends on December 31 but feels he still has plenty to offer
at the highest level.

That's news to me: David Beckham said the rumours were unfounded

That's news to me: David Beckham said the rumours were unfounded

He will decide within the next few weeks whether to take up one of the offers from France, Italy, Russia, the Far East and the Premier League — or bring his illustrious career to an end.

One career move that he has apparently ruled out is a short-term move to play in Australia’s A-League. Football Federation Australia claimed on Friday that the player’s management had approached them about a move Down Under, but Beckham himself said he had no knowledge of the talks until informed by Galaxy coach Bruce Arena.

‘No, definitely not true,’ he told reporters at Galaxy’s Home Depot Center on Friday. ‘Bruce told me that this morning — it’s the first I’d heard about it.’

Head boy: A spokesperson for Beckham has dismissed the story

Head boy: A spokesperson for Beckham has dismissed the story

Beckham is determined to leave a
lasting memory of his five years at Galaxy by helping the team to their
fourth MLS title. Galaxy travel to Seattle Sounders tonight for the
second leg of their Western Conference final with a three-goal advantage
from their first meeting at the Home Depot Centre last weekend, when
Robbie Keane continued his scoring form by notching two goals.

If Galaxy go through, they will face
the winners of the Eastern Conference, where DC United will today try to
overturn a 3-1 deficit at home to Houston Dynamo.

Although it was feared that Beckham’s
decision to quit mainstream football when he left Real Madrid to join
Galaxy in 2007 signalled the end of his career as a dominant figure, he
has remained one of the most famous figures in world football.

While playing with Galaxy, he has also
had two spells on loan with AC Milan. But a permanent multi-million
pound move to the Italian club, which Beckham favoured as a possible
stepping stone to selection for England’s 2010 World Cup squad, was
aborted when the two clubs failed to agree on a transfer fee.

Centre of attention: Beckham was described as a 'fantastic commodity'

Centre of attention: Beckham was described as a 'fantastic commodity'

A career-threatening achilles tendon injury, suffered while playing for
Milan, kept him out for five months, forcing him to miss the tournament
in South Africa as well as most of Galaxy’s next MLS season.

But his recovery was underlined by what was generally rated his best
ever season in the US last year, which ended when he joined a select
group of players to have won league titles in three different countries.

Landon Donovan’s winner against Houston, following a Beckham assist,
guaranteed Galaxy the MSL Cup and meant the former Manchester United
midfielder had collected championship medals in the US, England and
Spain.

He is determined to emulate that success by saying goodbye to Galaxy
with yet another title. The question then will be what will there be
left to achieve before he hangs up his boots.

As well as a return to Serie A, in recent years he has been linked with
moves to Tottenham — the club he supported as a boy growing up in
Leytonstone — and there would be a number of Premier League teams
falling over themselves to try to persuade him to join them.

But, having expressed a reluctance to tarnish the memory of his days at
Old Trafford by playing for any other English club, it is more likely
that he will consider offers from wealthy clubs abroad.