Tag Archives: nicholson

Godsmejudge wins Scottish Grand National for Alan King

Godsmejudge delivers Scottish Grand National glory for King and Hutchinson

By
Jonathan Powell

PUBLISHED:

15:47 GMT, 20 April 2013

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UPDATED:

19:08 GMT, 20 April 2013

Scots-born trainer Alan King was overcome with emotion after his smart novice Godsmejudge gave him his first triumph in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr.

King, who was brought up near Glasgow, admitted: 'This means as much to me as any of the wins I've had. It is like coming home.'

National glory: Wayne Hutchinson celebrates Scottish Grand National glory with Godsmejudge

National glory: Wayne Hutchinson celebrates Scottish Grand National glory with Godsmejudge

But for another Scotsman, Ryan
Mania, and his mount Auroras Encore, this proved one National too many
after their shock success at Aintree a fortnight ago.

The pair were soon struggling towards the rear as they sought to emulate Red Rum's famous double in 1974.

Though they briefly made progress at
halfway, they were out of the race long before the end. Mania was
clearly thrilled to be riding again so soon after a heavy fall at Hexham
the day after the National that saw him airlifted to hospital by
helicopter.

Home alone: Godsmejudge clears the last

Home alone: Godsmejudge clears the last

Godsmejudge, a 12-1 shot, won with eye-catching ease after jumping to the front early on the final circuit.

Big Occasion threatened briefly
early in the straight, but was never going to catch the leader. Jubilant
jockey Wayne Hutchinson, gaining the biggest win of his career, said:
'For a little horse, Godsmejudge is like a rubber ball, so enthusiastic.
He's relentless with his jumping and galloping and soon got into a
great rhythm.

'Once we led, it seemed awfully quiet behind us.'

King spent many years as a hard-working assistant to legendary trainer David Nicholson.

He briefly took over the licence
from Nicholson before sending out a conveyor belt of winners from his
current base at Barbury Castle, Wiltshire.

This has been a testing season for
King, with several of his best horses out of action, but he is finishing
it with a flourish with the able assistance of the ever-reliable
Hutchinson.

Phil Taylor out for revenge against Robert Thornton at the World Darts Championship

Taylor out for revenge against Thornton at the World Darts Championship

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UPDATED:

01:10 GMT, 22 December 2012

Phil Taylor will look to avenge his
two defeats to Robert Thornton this year when they meet in the last 16
of the World Darts Championship after the pair both won their
second-round matches on Friday.

The Power lost to The Thorn in the
UK Open final and was then dumped out of the World Grand Prix by the
Scot but he will get his chance at revenge on Sunday night in the last
match before the Christmas break at Ally Pally.

On his way: Phil Taylor celebrates

On his way: Phil Taylor celebrates

Taylor came from a set down to cruise past Jerry Hendriks 4-1 after Thornton saw off Paul Nicholson 6-5 in the final set of their thrilling second-round match.

Day eight results

Afternoon session

Andy Hamilton 4-1 Richie Burnett
Dave Chisnall 4-1 Daryl Gurney
Gary Anderson 4-3 John Bowles

Evening session

Terry Jenkins 4-1 John Part
Paul Nicholson 3-4 R Thornton
Phil Taylor 4-1 Jerry Hendriks

The 15-time world champion was far from his vintage best and Hendriks capitalised to take the opening set. The first three legs went with throw with Hendriks ahead 2-1 before the underdog broke throw to take the set 3-1.

But The Power upped his game and was too good for Hendriks as he reeled off the next four sets without losing a leg.

After the match, he told Sky Sports: 'I'm happy with 4-1 but I'm not happy with the performance. I was trying everything and the more he struggled the more I struggled myself.

'I just lost concentration. I tried to gee myself up and get myself going but it was hard work.

Early promise: Jerry Hendriks took the first set

Early promise: Jerry Hendriks took the first set

'I did think Paul (Nicholson) was going to beat him (Thornton) but Robert will feed off that and so will I because both of us know if we play like that in the next round we will be out. You don't win a world championship playing like that.'

Thornton will look to complete a hat-trick of wins over Taylor after The Thorn coming through a classic against Nicholson in a deciding leg.

It was a match that swung one way and then another and, in the end, only a tie-break in the seventh set separated the two players.

Nicholson led 2-1 and should've moved two sets clear but poor scoring in the deciding leg of the fourth set allowed Thornton to level at 2-2.

The UK Open champion then took a 3-2 lead and checked out 136 to break Nicholson's throw in leg three of the sixth set to move 2-1 up and throw for the match.

Delight: Robert Thornton celebrates his win

Delight: Robert Thornton celebrates his win

But Thornton blew four darts at doubles and Nicholson levelled at 2-2 with a 62 checkout before a 78 checkout in the deciding leg took the match into a final set.

And Thornton would get more chances to win the match as he broke the throw with a 124 checkout to lead 3-2 before missing double 15 for the match.

Nicholson then broke throw to lead 4-3 but a brilliant 130 checkout from Thornton levelled the set at 4-4 and The Thorn hit double 16 in the 11th and deciding leg to seal a dramatic win.

Terry Jenkins started the evening session with a comfortable 4-1 over Canadian three-time world champion John Part.

Part won just two legs in the first three sets and despite rallying to take the fourth set it was too little too late for Dart Maple as The Bull won the fifth set 3-1 to move into the last 16.

Ready to rock: Darts fans in fancy dress

Ready to rock: Darts fans in fancy dress

Jenkins will play Andy Hamilton on Sunday night for a place in the quarter-finals after The Hammer started the day with a 4-1 win over Richie Burnett.

It was a solid performance from Hamilton, who averaged 97.27 and had a finishing success of 45%, but four of the five sets went to the deciding leg as Burnett pushed the 2012 world finalist all the way.

Also in the afternoon session, Gary Anderson came through a Christmas cracker as he beat John Bowles 6-4 in the final set despite a lowly 28% double success rate.

The Flying Scotsman hit 19 180s and averaged over 98 but his poor finishing allowed Bowles to stay in the match and the underdog almost pulled off an upset.

There were no finishing problems at the start for Anderson as he won the opening leg with a 142 checkout on his way to taking the opening set.

And Anderson led 2-1 before Bowles won the next two sets on deciding legs to leave the Scot staring at another early exit from the World Darts Championship.

Colourful: Gary Anderson

Colourful: Gary Anderson

The 2011 Premier League winner won the sixth set thanks to an 11-dart finish in the deciding leg to send the match into a final set.

Bowles took a giant stride towards victory as he went 2-0 in the set but he missed one dart at tops which would've sealed the match before Anderson fought back to level at 2-2.

With the players tied at 4-4 in the seventh set, Anderson broke Bowles's throw with a 12-dart leg before closing out the match with double four in the 10th leg.

In Friday's other match, Dave Chisnall saw off a fine performance from Daryl Gurney with a 4-1 victory in a high-quality encounter.

The margin of Chizzy's win was harsh on the Northern Irishman Gurney as he won 11 out of the 25 legs as well as hitting 11 180s compared to Chisnall's 10.

But Chizzy won six legs against the throw compared to Gurney's five as he won four of the five sets which all went to a deciding leg.

Saturday will see six more second-round matches with Adrian Lewis in action in the evening session and Raymond van Barneveld headlining the afternoon session.

Also in the afternoon, Kevin Painter plays Ronnie Baxter and Mark Webster tackles Colin Lloyd before Simon Whitlock and Wes Newton take to the oche in the evening.

Adrian Lewis survives scare against Gino Vos at World Darts Championship

Vos almost hits the Jackpot! World champion Lewis survives a scare on opening night at Ally Pally

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UPDATED:

13:50 GMT, 15 December 2012

Reigning world champion Adrian Lewis was made to sweat on the opening night of the World Darts Championship as he came from behind to beat young Dutchman Gino Vos.

The two-time winner was out of sorts and had to recover from 1-0 down to see off Vos at Alexandra Palace.

Vos looked at home on the big stage right from the beginning as he took the first leg with a double 16 finish.

Not in the script: Lewis had to recover from 1-0 down to beat Vos

Not in the script: Lewis had to recover from 1-0 down to beat Vos

The two-time champion was the big draw for the crowd on the opening night of the tournament

The two-time champion was the big draw for the crowd on the opening night of the tournament

Struggle: The world champion didn't have things all his own way against the talented Dutchman

Struggle: The world champion didn't have things all his own way against the talented Dutchman

The crowd were enjoying themselves on day one at Ally Pally

The crowd were enjoying themselves on day one at Ally Pally

DAY ONE RESULTS:

Robert Thornton 3-0 Magnus Caris

Paul Nicholson 3-0 Co Stompe

Adrian Lewis 3-1 Gino Vos

Kevin Painter 3-0 Leung Chun Nam

The 22-year-old then hit a 180 in the next leg and, as the crowd chanted his name, he broke the reigning champion’s throw to take a shock 2-0 lead in the first set.

Lewis then couldn’t capitalise on the Dutchman missing three doubles in the next leg as Vos took the opening set 3-0 to stun the two-time winner.

Jackpot had to respond in the second set and he did so by moving 2-0 ahead before carelessly busting his checkout to allow Vos to break back. But Lewis took the fourth leg to seal the set and draw level at 1-1.

Lewis held his nerve to win 3-1 and book his place in the second round

Lewis held his nerve to win 3-1 and book his place in the second round

The smurfs were in the crowd to see Lewis's win

The smurfs were in the crowd to see Lewis's win

It looked like the rookie’s resolve would be broken by Lewis’s comeback but his promising form continued as he went 2-0 up in third set.

But he let Lewis let off the hook by missing two darts at double four which would’ve won the set and the world champion quickly levelled at 2-2 with a 108 finish in the fourth leg.

And Lewis showed his class by hitting a 180 at a crucial time in the deciding leg of the set before hitting double five to take a 2-1 lead. Vos continued to fight but Lewis won the fourth set 3-1 to advance to the next round next Saturday night.

A relieved Lewis admitted it was not a great start by him but that the most important thing was getting the victory.

He told Sky Sports: 'At the end of the day it makes no difference (the performance), I won. Forget about that game now, it's gone. That was first to three sets, now it's first to four sets. I'll settle a lot quicker and hopefully I can get the job done.

'The first round is probably the hardest one. That first one there was probably harder than the finals I've played, the simple reason being that you're nervous.'

In the first match of the tournament, UK Open champion Robert Thornton romped to a 3-0 win over Swede Magnus Caris.

Caris, who had lost in the first
round on all three previous appearances at the World Championship, only
won one leg and never threatened the dominant Scot.

The
Thorn checked out 150 in the first leg of the match and followed up by
winning the next two legs to take the opening set. The Swede then won
the first leg of the second set but Thornton reeled off three straight
legs to move 2-0 ahead and just one set away from victory.

UK Open champion Robert Thornton started the night with a comfortable 3-0 win over Magnus Caris

UK Open champion Robert Thornton started the night with a comfortable 3-0 win over Magnus Caris

The Asset: Paul Nicholson also won on the opening night as he beat Dutch veteran Co Stompe 3-0

The Asset: Paul Nicholson also won on the opening night as he beat Dutch veteran Co Stompe 3-0

Nicholson will play Thornton in round two next Friday

Nicholson will play Thornton in round two next Friday

And
the UK Open champion finished the match just how he started it with
back-to-back checkouts of 150 and 130 to cruise into the second round
with an impressive performance.

Thornton’s
opponent in the last 32 will be Paul Nicholson after The Asset brushed
aside Co Stompe 3-0. Nicholson lost just two legs to the Dutch veteran
to set up a mouth-watering tie with Thornton next Friday.

Both Stompe and Nicholson had trouble finishing early on as they shared the first two
legs, but Nicholson checked out 106 in the third leg and 76 in the
fourth leg against the throw to win the opening set.

The second set was a carbon copy of the first as Nicholson won back-to-back legs from 1-1 to go two sets up.

And
The Asset didn’t waste much time in finishing off his opponent as he
pounced on the Dutchman’s poor finishing to break his throw in the
second leg of the third set, before sealing his comfortable 3-0 win.

Kevin Painter rounded off the evening with a comfortable 3-0 win over qualifier Leung Chun Nam.

The
Artist won the first two sets, both by three legs to one, before winning
the third set 3-0 on an entertaining first night.

Day two sees Phil Taylor kick off his quest for a 16th world title with John Part, Dave Chisnall and Terry Jenkins also in action during Saturday's double session at Ally Pally.

The Artist: Kevin Painter eased to a 3-0 win over Leung Chun Nam in the last match of the evening

The Artist: Kevin Painter eased to a 3-0 win over Leung Chun Nam in the last match of the evening

The jester from Leicester: Snooker star Mark Selby was among the big names in attendance

The jester from Leicester: Snooker star Mark Selby was among the big names in attendance

Zara Phillips high hopes for Black Tuxedo at Blenheim

The biggest test yet for Black Tuxedo, Zara's star in the making

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UPDATED:

13:00 GMT, 9 September 2012

Suits you: Zara Phillips on Black Tuxedo

Suits you: Zara Phillips on Black Tuxedo

Two days before she parades as one of Britain's medal-winning Olympians, Zara Phillips was competing at the Blenheim Horse Trials on the horse she hopes will bring her more glory.

Phillips hopes Black Tuxedo, bought from New Zealand at the end of last year, will be a successor to Toytown, her world and European champion, and High Kingdom, on whom she won Olympic team silver last month at London 2012.

However, the combination are lying
37th out of 70 competitors after the dressage and showumping phases
before the final cross-country stage on Sunday.

Andrew Nicholson, on a high after his
superb victory at Land Burghley and the inexperienced Quimbo have a
lead of just four penalties over Piggy French who missed the Olympics
after both her selected rides went lame – and West Side.

William Fox-Pitt, who last month won
silver as part of Britain's Olympic eventing team, is in the lead at the
Fidelity Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials in Oxfordshire.

He leads former double Olympic champion Mark Todd by three penalty points going into the final day.

I have joined a club with tradition of playing wonderful football: AVB kicks off his return with a swipe at Chelsea

I have joined a club with tradition of playing wonderful football: AVB kicks off his return with a swipe at Chelsea

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UPDATED:

19:26 GMT, 14 July 2012

Andre Villas-Boas praised the legacy left by Bill Nicholson at Tottenham as he took a swipe at Chelsea, the club who sacked him after just eight months as manager.

Spurs’ new head coach remains bitter about his departure from Stamford Bridge and, in a thinly veiled attack on the shortcomings of his former club, highlighted the tradition and style — and approach of the chairman, Daniel Levy — at White Hart Lane.

‘There is more of a sense of belonging at this club,’ said Villas-Boas. ‘It has a lot of tradition, which I admire. Chelsea have tradition, too, but it changed dramatically since 2003 when it was bought. That’s why the sense of belonging is bigger here.

Silver lining: Tottenham manager Villas-Boas vows to bring home the trophies

Silver lining: Tottenham manager Villas-Boas vows to bring home the trophies

‘Tottenham are also linked with great football over the years with a wonderful history back to Bill Nicholson. It’s been football played in the right style.

‘I also like the way the chairman goes about his business at this football club. He knows what he’s doing and has given me an assurance that we’re building something here. He is involved on a daily basis at the club and that is the main difference with before.

‘Tottenham have extremely competent people at the club and everyone knows that they must all play their part in achieving success and not look for scapegoats. It will make my job easier.’

Villas-Boas’s pointed remarks underline how angry he remains at Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, whom he has also accused of ‘quitting on him’.

The Portuguese had a brief to implement an attractive style and overhaul the Chelsea squad when he joined last summer and insists he was prematurely dismissed.

Unhappy reign: Villas-Boas endured a tumultuous stint at Chelsea

Unhappy reign: Villas-Boas endured a tumultuous stint at Chelsea

But he knows he needs to deliver trophies for Tottenham, whose last piece of silverware was the Carling Cup in 2008, if he is to avoid another short-lived stint in the Premier League.

Villas-Boas said: ‘2008 is a long time ago for a club of this stature to win a trophy with its ambition and capabilities.

‘We have a new training ground and, in time, we will have a new stadium. We have wonderful work left by Harry [Redknapp] to continue, but the club decided to move on and that is why I am here.

‘Now we have to shorten the gap towards the top. One thing is certain. There are responsibilities with my job. I can’t expect to be in ninth or 10th and be in a comfortable position here.

‘It is demanded that we do better. This is obvious after Harry left the club after finishing fourth. The measure of success here is trophies. It’s a responsibility I have to take. If it fails, it fails.’

Getting down to business: Villas-Boas briefs his Spurs squad during training

Getting down to business: Villas-Boas briefs his Spurs squad during training

In the four-and-a-half months since his dismissal from Chelsea, Villas-Boas spent time reflecting on his experience at Stamford Bridge and travelled the world to enhance his football education.

He now knows what is required of him as a manager of a leading Premier League club.

‘I’ve thought a lot about what happened to me at Chelsea,’ he said. ‘I am very grateful for both the professional and personal experience I had. You can only learn by mistakes and by experience. I know I can do better and I will because I believe I am a better coach and person for it. I have reflected a lot and also watched games in Germany and Italy, Spain and Brazil.

‘It would be easy now to respond to sentiments of ambition and revenge, but it would be wrong if I took it that way. The football club is more important than myself and I must not make it a personal mission.

‘What I have learned about managing in England is that individual players who do things well deserve public reward, whereas I never praised or criticised an individual. Instead, I always talked about the collective.

‘The experience made me more meticulous about taking the next step in football. I am very privileged to be able to take time in choosing my next job. I am grateful to Tottenham to present me with this opportunity. I come here much better prepared now.’

New faces: Gylfi Sigurdsson (left) and Jan Vertonghen are welcomed to their new club

New faces: Gylfi Sigurdsson (left) and Jan Vertonghen are welcomed to their new club

It is imperative that Villas-Boas gets Spurs off to a good start, especially with the fans uncertain whether swapping Redknapp for the man seen to fail at bitter rivals Chelsea will work.

Keeping Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart would help and, although the new boss fears the former will leave, he expects the latter to remain a Spurs player.

Speculation that the Portuguese star Joao Moutinho, who plays for Porto, could be coming to White Hart Lane also appears a little wide of the mark.

‘I’m counting on Van der Vaart,’ he said. ‘It’s a different situation to Luka. He’s been chased by clubs for two seasons, but we have to make sure the club’s interests are met. Moutinho is a great talent but he’s at a club that doesn’t sell cheaply.

‘We have a difficult start at New- castle but then two home games so, hopefully, we can repeat last season when Harry had a tremendous start.

‘There will be some fans reluctant after Harry’s departure, so it is important that we build on his success and move forward, not back.’

London 2012 Olympics: Zara Phillips third at Equi-Trek Braham International Horse Trials

Zara finishes trails on a High with third-place finish to nudge selectors

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UPDATED:

16:04 GMT, 10 June 2012

Zara Phillips kept her Olympic dream alive after delivering an eye-catching display in the final trial for London 2012 on Sunday.

World and British number one William Fox-Pitt dominated the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials, winning both feature three-star classes to continue his brilliant run of form.

My Kingdom is a horse: Zara Phillips and High Kingdom finished third

My Kingdom is a horse: Zara Phillips and High Kingdom finished third

But 2006 world champion Phillips ensured she remained in the thoughts of Great Britain selectors Ian Stark, Mandy Stibbe and Angela Tucker by thriving under pressure on High Kingdom.

With the selectors meeting today and set to announce their eventing team of five for London later this week, her nudge in their direction could not have been better timed as she secured a third-placed CIC finish behind Fox-Pitt and New Zealander Andrew Nicholson.

Phillips, whose 2004 and 2008 Olympic selection hopes were dashed by injuries to her former top horse Toytown, beat fellow London contenders Nicola Wilson, Tina Cook, Laura Collett and Lucy Wiegersma, although they also all performed impressively.

While Fox-Pitt, Wilson, Mary King and Piggy French are widely expected to be picked for London, the fifth spot appears a battle between at least five riders, including 31-year-old Phillips.

Making a splash: Phillips powered through the cross country event

Making a splash: Phillips powered through the cross country event

'Everyone is fighting to get on the team, especially with the Olympics being on home ground,' said Phillips, the Queen's grand-daughter, who must now play a nervous waiting game.

'He (High Kingdom) has improved loads this year, and it has been great to have had the opportunity to really show to everyone what he can do.

'He's is constantly improving and we are fighting for our spot.

'Competition is so strong that it is probably tougher for the selectors than anyone else. Everybody wants to be at the Olympics, and I am no exception.

'He had a double clear inside the time and a personal best dressage. Hopefully, they will see that he has improved and might get even better.

Impressive form: William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning

Impressive form: William Fox-Pitt and Neuf Des Coeurs

Impressive form: William Fox-Pitt partnered Chilli Morning (left) and Neuf Des Coeurs (right) to overall victory

'It was probably good to have a bit of pressure on here and to see if we could come up with the goods.

'He is pretty different from Toytown. Toytown loved the crowds and being at big competitions, and this guy is pretty relaxed and just gets on with it.'

Great Britain team manager Yogi Breisner described himself as 'very pleased' with Phillips' performance, and he anticipated a long selection meeting as final deliberations took place at Bramham House in Yorkshire on prospective London combinations.

'I don't think it will be an easy decision because I think there are quite a few of them that both here and at Houghton International two weeks ago have put up some pretty smart performances,' Breisner said.

'Looking at the horses here now, they are just starting to come into gear, which I rather like.

'Experience from a riders' point of view is very much key, and there are riders that are in form, performing well.

Runner-up: Andrew Nicholson, aboard Tristar II, split the two Brits to claim second

Runner-up: Andrew Nicholson, aboard Tristar II, split the two Brits to claim second

'From a horse's point of view, traditionally in Olympic Games, inexperienced horses have often done well, but they still need to be horses of the right calibre in the right sort of form.

'You can't just select on one result and one competition, you have to look at the overall picture and look at what the horses have done in the past.'

Fox-Pitt wrapped up Bramham's CIC class by going clear inside the time on Neuf des Coeurs, which should put the horse in Olympics selection contention alongside Lionheart and his double four-star winner Parklane Hawk.

And Fox-Pitt's healthy overnight lead was never threatened in the CCI section as he landed his first title with new ride Chilli Morning – and sixth overall at Bramham – following a showjumping clear that left them well ahead of runner-up Pippa Funnell (Mirage D'Elle) with Izzy Taylor (Briarlands Matilda) third.

'Nick has done a superb job on him,' Fox-Pitt said, of Chilli Morning's previous rider Nick Gauntlett.

'All the donkey work has been done, and I am the lucky one who has got him at the age of 12 when he is grown-up and established.

'It is just a question of trying to form a partnership, but it is still very early days. I didn't know what to expect in the cross-country, but he ate up the course.

'Neuf des Coeurs was a totally different horse here (after a fall at Houghton). Sometimes you need a wake-up call to make you think about things a bit more.

'I just hope the three of my horses are in the mix for London.'

London 2012 Olympics: Zara Phillips says Games dream still alive

Phillips insists Olympic dream is still alive after superb performance at Bramham

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UPDATED:

22:18 GMT, 9 June 2012

Zara Phillips’ dream of being picked for the London Olympics with her horse, High Kingdom, was still alive after a battling performance by the Queen’s grand-daughter at the Bramham Horse Trials.

Phillips tamed the fearsome showjumping fences to sail into third place in the last championship before Britain’s eventing team is finalised on Monday.

Phillips, 31, has been written off by almost everyone, even her husband, rugby star Mike Tindall, warning against optimism. But on Saturday her beaming smile sent its own message: Count me out at your peril.

Hope: Zara Phillips believes she can make it to the Games

Hope: Zara Phillips believes she can make it to the Games

HORSE DEATHS

The Bramham Horse Trials were marred by the death of two horses on the cross-country course which Zara Phillips will tackle on Sunday.

Jagganath, ridden by Mike Jackson, had completed the notoriously tricky course without incurring any penalties, but the 10-year-old bay gelding collapsed at the finish and on-course vets were unable to save him. Less than three hourse later Lead The Way, ridden by Clea Phillipps, died.

The 14-year-old bay gelding collapsed as he jumped the first element of the 17th fence and vets were again rendered helpless.
Organisers say both horses suffered suspected heart attacks and there will be no changes to the course.

With William Fox-Pitt, Mary King, Piggy French and Nicola Wilson virtually guaranteed selection, Phillips is battling other leading riders for the one remaining place in Britain’s five-strong team.

And after following up an impressive dressage on Friday with a faultless round of jumping, Phillips, who missed out on the Olympics in Athens and Beijing, is in the thick of the fight. World No 1 Fox-Pitt leads here on Neuf Des Coeurs, with New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson second and Phillips a close third.

‘The Olympics are on home turf so everybody wants to be there and I’m no different,’ she said ahead of today’s cross-country, her final opportunity to impress selectors. ‘Obviously, everyone is fighting to get on the team. It’s probably tougher for the selectors than anyone else because the competition is so strong.’

Ian Stark, one of three British team selectors, admitted that Phillips is in contention for the Games.

‘Zara’s been one we’ve been watching,’
he said. ‘Today hasn’t done her chances any harm, that’s for sure. Her
horse is getting stronger and stronger. We’ll have a meeting tomorrow
night when we’ll decide on the team. I don’t know whether it will be
announced on Monday but it will be decided.’

Competition: Phillips' rivals are strong

Competition: Phillips' rivals are strong

After driving rain threatened to cancel Bramham, the sun made a brief appearance in the West Yorkshire countryside, a rare occurrence in a rain-hit Olympic qualification campaign which saw the cancellation of trials at Badminton and Chatsworth.

Entries to Bramham were twice the usual number, with both British and international riders trying to impress. Phillips had been relying on Badminton to prove the strength of her partnership with High Kingdom, a relatively new pairing.

Tough: Phillips admitted a tumultuous campaign was difficult to handle

Tough: Phillips admitted a tumultuous campaign was difficult to handle

She admits the tumultuous campaign has been ‘very difficult’ to handle. ‘We have had so many cancellations that none of us has had that many runs,’ she said. ‘This is a place where we are all, luckily, able to run even though the rain did threaten to spoil things again.

‘Conditions are definitely not ideal, but it’s a credit to the organisers at Bramham that we have been able to keep going.

‘There’s more pressure now because [selection] hinges on one event. You like to get things done earlier. I spent a lot of my time before Badminton trying to get my horse to full fitness and to peak at the right time so it has been difficult figuring out where you’re going to run and the work you still have to do.’

Earlier, Phillips chatted on her mobile phone as she tentatively guided High Kingdom down a treacherous, muddy slope towards the warm-up arena for, arguably, the most important round of show jumping in her career. Her husband filmed Phillips’s dressage, but chose not to watch her showjumping. He missed a steely and eye-catching round over a very tricky course.

Good work: Phillips is pleased with High Kingdom

Good work: Phillips is pleased with High Kingdom

‘I’m really happy with High Kingdom. He jumped fantastically,’ said Phillips. ‘I was trying not to wrestle him to the ground. I couldn’t have asked for any more from him.

‘The crucial thing is that he is improving all the time. He’s still inexperienced at the top level but every time I take him out he gets better and better.’

Tina Cook and Lucy Wiegersma — both at Bramham — and Francis Whitington, who has never been on a senior team but went well at Houghton last weekend, are Phillips’s main rivals for the final Olympic place.

Phillips is confident of going well in today’s cross country, although she will have to contend not only with her Olympic rivals but with memories of a head-first fall here in 2007. ‘I’m going to walk the course and see what the ground is like,’ she said. Her Olympic place may depend on it.

Players Championship 2012: Ian Poulter leads, Tiger Woods in trouble

Poulter's drive puts him in front as Tiger faces missing second consecutive cut

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UPDATED:

23:46 GMT, 10 May 2012

One of the best rounds of his career has left Ian Poulter a step closer to the car of his dreams.

The not so shy and retiring Englishman shot a brilliant first round 65 at the Players Championship on Thursday and intends to treat himself to a $1million Ferrari Enzo should he claim the $1.7m winner's cheque on Sunday night.

It's over half a century now since Viv Nicholson won the pools and promised to 'Spend, Spend, Spend.'

Water display: Poulter shares the lead with Laird after a brilliant first-round display from the Englishman

Water display: Poulter shares the lead with Laird after a brilliant first-round display from the Englishman

Our Poults might be the modern-day
golfing equivalent with the notable difference it's not luck that has
put him in this enviable position but his own skill and work ethic.

Just as well, mind, given his lavish
tastes. On Sunday night, Poulter finally moves into his new home in
Orlando that has taken, would you believe, almost three years to build.
Such is his love of cars the multi-story garage alongside it is already
full of exotic specimens.

'I'll find room for one more, you can be sure of that,' said the 36 year old, smiling.

Late surge: Martin Laird joined Poulter at the summit of the leaderboard after his seven-under par 65

Late surge: Martin Laird joined Poulter at the summit of the leaderboard after his seven-under par 65

On a tricky day of capricious breezes
and tough pin positions, Poulter's golf was Ferrari-good, and left him
in a tie for the lead with the American-based Scot, Martin Laird.

Thanks to his victory in the Arnold
Palmer Invitational last year, 29 year old Laird already has a victory
in Florida to his name and chipped and putted beautifully for his
bogey-free score.

From the 9th, Poulter had one of
those runs that happen to even the best putters only once or twice a
season, when the hole looks the size of a bucket. He had nine single
putts in a row, taking full advantage of a series of imperious iron
shots.

Out of sorts: Casey was forced to withdraw after taking 42 to the turn

Out of sorts: Casey was forced to withdraw after taking 42 to the turn

'It was back to the good old days as
a junior when I'd hole it from everywhere,' he said. A bit different,
of course, doing it in a $7m event rather than for a Mars bar.

Luke Donald had talked in the
build-up about the importance of a great short game here and that's
exactly what Poulter has when he is on his game. Nothing was better than
the 25 yard bunker shot he played at the par five 11th to just 4ft.

In his last two appearances in
America, Poulter finished third at Bay Hill and seventh at the Masters.
After a slow start to the season he is showing a burst of acceleration
akin to the cars he likes to drive.

Picture perfect: But Woods was in danger of missing a second consecutive cut after his two-over par 74

Picture perfect: But Woods was in danger of missing a second consecutive cut after his two-over par 74

Laird and Poulter finished a shot ahead of a 36-year-old American called Blake Adams, and fair play if you've heard of him.

As is invariably the way on tough
venues these days, while the in-form were blazing away on one side of
the golf course, Tiger Woods was playing the role of the infirm on the
other.

In the last two years in this event he has pulled up lame and is now in danger of another early exit after a dismal opening 74.

Another low beckons, for a poor round
today would see him missing a second successive halfway cut for the
first time in his career.

The UK's big three were all out in
the afternoon and, with the greens drying out, struggled to live up to
their billing as the three best players in the world.

Rory McIlroy, Donald and Lee Westwood
will all hope for kinder conditions this morning to get themselves back
into contention after shooting prosaic scores of 72, 72 and 71
respectively.

McIlroy became yet another victim of
the notorious island green par three 17th, finding the water with his
tee shot to spoil a decent round.

He was playing with Phil Mickelson
and drew comfortably the largest crowd seen all day. Over the front nine
the 23 year old lived up to his pre-tournament promise to curb his
natural instincts and some smart golf saw him reach the turn in a
two-under par 34. The back nine was disappointing by comparison and leaves him with work to do.

'It was certainly disappointing to
give a couple of shots back but nothing that a few birdies on the front
nine in the morning won't cure,' said Rory.

Westwood didn't play the 17th hole
too convincingly either to run up a bogey four. The real damage to his
card, however, was done at the par-four seventh where, after a run of
three birdies in five holes, he had bunker trouble and carded a double
bogey.

'I'm a glass half-full person, so I'll think about the seven birdies I made and take it from there,' said Westwood.

Playing alongside him, Donald endured
a very un-Donald-like round as he mixed birdies with bogeys. At the
14th he even hit Westwood's manager Chubby Chandler with a wayward
drive, the ball ricocheting 40 yards to the right. Donald's caddie John
McLaren raised a laugh when he attempted to give Chandler a golf ball as
compensation. Two birdies in his last three holes, however, got Donald
back to parity and he will look to build on that momentum.

Elsewhere, consistent Londoner Brian
Davis continued the splendid run of form that has seen him post two top
four finishes recently with a 68. Ireland's Padraig Harrington shot 69.

As ever round here, there were a
litany of minor disasters to go alongside the fine play. It was hard not
to feel sympathy for Simon Dyson and the injury-prone Paul Casey who
withdrew with sciatic and shoulder injuries respectively.

Then there was former Masters and US
Open Champion Angel Cabrera, who ran up a nine at the 17th and then
announced he was withdrawing for 'personal reasons.' Perhaps he'd run out of golf balls.

London 2012 Olympics: BOA want answers over failed drugs test by Myroslav Dykun

Wrestling on the ropes! BOA want answers over failed drugs test by 'Plastic Brit'

|

UPDATED:

21:42 GMT, 3 May 2012

British Wrestling's
embattled chief executive
Colin Nicholson
has been summoned to
London to explain why
one of his hired foreign
mercenaries failed a drugs test.

After Sportsmail's revelation that Ukraine-born Myroslav Dykun
had tested positive – for amphetamines
– Nicholson will meet British
Olympic Association officials, probably
next week.

Missing in action: Myroslav Dykun has fled back to his homeland

Missing in action: Myroslav Dykun has fled back to his homeland

The development came as it appeared that Dykun, a medal hope who now faces an Olympic ban, had fled Britain for his homeland. Nicholson confirmed last night that he has not spoken to Dykun since news of the failed test broke but would not comment on his whereabouts.

Nicholson will be asked next week not only about the embarrassment of Dykun's positive result – amphetamines work in the same way as a stimulant, inducing weight loss and accentuating alertness – but the entire management of a sport that is emerging as riven with intrigue and recrimination.

Billy Cooper, of Wildcats Freestyle Wrestling Club in Manchester, has been involved in the sport for 40 years and said: 'I'm not bitter about how wrestling is run from any personal experience. This is the sport I love. Kids are the future, not imports.

'I see British Wrestling destroying a lot of the work I have put in over the years. It saddens me and many others.'

Another coach claimed that foreign wrestlers had been put up free of charge at a house in Manchester bought by performance director Shaun Morley, while British wrestlers had to pay rent to live there.

Nicholson refused to deny the accusation but added: 'Briefing from people who don't agree with the strategy is disappointing. No sport has 100 per cent agreement and critics are using the drug test – a failed A sample, not a B sample – as a reason to undermine the strategy the board believe is right.'

No sparring partner: Dykun came to Britain as a 21-year-old and graduated to the Wrestling team

No sparring partner: Dykun came to Britain as a 21-year-old and graduated to the Wrestling team

The accusations are the latest in a line of controversies to bedevil the sport. The main complaint centres around five athletes, brought in from Ukraine and Bulgaria, marrying British citizens, ostensibly to gain UK citizenship and represent Team GB at this summer's Olympics thanks to 3.5million of public funding. Two female athletes were denied citizenship in March.

Nicholson, who will meet BOA chief executive Andy Hunt – also Team GB's chef de mission – told Sportsmail he had no intention of resigning, but added that 'nobody says never'.

Dykun, 29, who competes in the 66kg category and is a former Commonwealth champion, has been suspended from competition and has had all his funding cut pending the outcome of the B test. He missed Olympic qualifying events in China and Bulgaria and is out of this week's qualifier in Helsinki.

The furore about 'Plastic Brits', such as Dykun, representing Team GB was highlighted by a Great Britain gymnast born in Ukraine. Ruslan Panteleymonov, who came to Britain to study at university 12 years ago – Dykun moved in 2003 – and has therefore never been labelled a 'Plastic Brit', argued the decision to promote Dykun from sparring partner to team member after he gained eligibility made a mockery of international competition.

Panteleymonov said: 'The English guys who were training and competing before, they're doing their preparation, doing everything, trying, and then some foreigners come and they say, “All right, we compete now”. This is not right.'

London 2012 Olympics: Myroslav Dykun fails drugs test amid Plastic Brit row

'Plastic Brit' fails drugs test! Wrestling mercenary named as cheat

|

UPDATED:

08:50 GMT, 3 May 2012

One of the 'Plastic Brits' hired to represent the Great Britain wrestling team at London 2012 has failed a drugs test.

As revealed exclusively by Sportsmail, Myroslav Dykun, brought in from the Ukraine as part of British Wrestling's opportunistic attempt to import success at the expense of home-grown talent, will be named as the offender.

'I can confirm that he has failed his A sample. The drug was amphetamines,' said British Wrestling's chief executive Colin Nicholson.

'Golden boy': Myroslav Dykun (top) was imported by British Wrestling

'Golden boy': Myroslav Dykun (top) was imported by British Wrestling

He will now miss the Games if his B-test returns positive, and has already been banned from competing and had his funding stopped.

'He is immediately suspended from competition and funding,' Nicholson added. Under no circumstances do we condone drug-taking in any form – whether it be recreational or performance-enhancing.

'British Wrestling will not tolerate such behaviour from anyone. This is evidence that we are determined to work in partnership to root out anyone mis-using substances.'

The positive test makes a mockery of the
3.5million spent by UK Sport on the squad since a host of eastern
European mercenaries joined up in recent years.

The revelation comes two months to the day since Sportsmail exclusively
reported that two female Ukraine-born wrestlers, Yana Stadnik and Olga
Butkevych, would be denied UK passports in time for the Olympics.

In all, five Ukrainian wrestlers
have married British wrestlers in the last few years, though British
Wrestling have denied the marriages are sham to bolster the squad.

Out of action: Olga Butkevych (top) was denied a UK passport for the Games

Out of action: Olga Butkevych (top) was denied a UK passport for the Games

Dykun,
described by one insider as the golden boy of British Wrestling's
controversial policy, will miss the Olympics subject to confirmation
from the B sample and a hearing.

one wrestling insider said: 'I am coaching kids and the way British Wrestling have acted is a betrayal of them.'

The British Olympic Association declined to comment.

Dykun missed recent Olympic qualifying events in Bulgaria and China and is now barred from competing at another qualifier in Helsinki this week.

He moved to Great Britain in 2003 as part of British Wrestling's controversial initiative to get eastern European athletes to help home-grown wrestlers develop into medal prospects – Britain's last Olympic medal in the sport came in 1984 when Londoner Noel Loban won bronze.

British Wrestling insisted that the athletes would only be sparring partners, but the organisation performed a U-turn and permitted the wrestlers to compete for Britain.

British Wrestling will decide the make-up of their team for the Olympics on May 10.