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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.

Amir Khan suffers fractured hands in Carlos Molina win

Khan's plan for world domination could be derailed by fractured hands

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UPDATED:

10:56 GMT, 17 December 2012

Amir Khan faces an anxious wait to discover when he can return to action after fracturing both hands during his comprehensive stoppage of Carlos Molina on Saturday.

The 26-year-old Brit took the first step towards rebuilding his career following successive world title defeats to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia.

Molina was pulled out by his corner at the end of the 10th round having suffered a nasty cut during a lop-sided contest.

Demolition: Amir Khan eased to a comprehensive victory over Carlos Molina

Demolition: Amir Khan eased to a comprehensive victory over Carlos Molina

Khan had his hands checked by a doctor last night and will visit hospital today for a further update.

A common injury among boxers, the rehabilitation period can be up to five months depending on whether surgery is required.

That could rule Khan out until next summer, upsetting his plans to fight Josesito Lopez in the spring before rematches with Garcia and Peterson later in the year.

Costly: Khan fractured both hands during his victory in Los Angeles on Saturday

Costly: Khan fractured both hands during his victory in Los Angeles on Saturday

A picture of the light-welterweight's damaged hands was posted on Twitter yesterday, which followed a revelation from his former trainer Freddie Roach who said last week that Khan was wary of throwing his right hand after hurting his wrist.

Khan is now working with Virgil Hunter, who also trains super-middleweight world champion Andre Ward, and was delighted with his return to the ring.

'I thought I stuck to my gameplan and
was keeping faith in my jab,' he said. 'Carlos took some really good
shots but was still coming forward, so I thought to myself I'd better
stick to this gameplan.

Back on track: Khan hopes to fight for a world title next year after his victory

Back on track: Khan hopes to fight for a world title next year after his victory

'Virgil
Hunter, my new coach, is a great trainer and I'm getting better at
boxing, being a complete fighter. He's teaching me things, like speed,
patience, picking the right shots and when to throw them.

'Sometimes I'm too brave for my own good but now I know it is better to stick to a gameplan.'

Amir Khan v Carlos Molina LIVE

LIVE: Amir Khan v Carlos Molina – round-by-round coverage of the big fight

Amir Khan goes head-to-head with Carlos Molina in what is a make or break fight for the Bolton boxer. After successive defeats to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia, Khan sacked trainer Freddie Roach and teamed up with Virgil Hunter. He will be expected to kick off the new era with victory in Los Angeles.

Email your thoughts to [email protected] or via Twitter @martin_domin

Back on track: Amir Khan celebrates

Back on track: Amir Khan celebrates

6.15am: That's all from me. Stay with us for all the fall-out from LA and in the New Year when we will continue to bring you the best boxing coverage at home and abroad.

6am: I wouldn't want anyone to get carried away with this result, just as people shouldn't have gotten carried away with the Garcia defeat. Molina was a hand-picked opponent who only stood standing because he is pretty tough. Khan's hands were fast, as they always are, he looked sharp and he put his punches together well. But he was helped by the cut around Molina's eye and the gulf in class.

Read the full report here.

5.50am: That was a sensible stoppage from the corner there and it could have come a couple of rounds earlier.

In his post-fight interview, Khan says he wants a rematch with Danny Garcia who was ringside tonight.

ALL OVER ! AMIR KHAN BEATS CARLOS MOLINA

Round 10: Molina does come out with more fight in the 10th as he tries to land shots of his own but Khan can almost move in slow motion and still avoid them. The referee is over to the corner again at the bell and this time Molina is pulled out.

Round 9: Blood is pouring from Molina's eye and surely he won't be allowed back out after this session He can't get close to Khan despite charging forward and Khan picks him off with ease. The referee talks to the corner and makes it clear the home favourite must show something else he will call it off 10-9

Round 8: Molina may not be stopped but the gulf in class is apparent in every round. Khan dances around the ring, landing at will with his sharp one-two-three punch combinations. The Mexican-American's eye is examined at the break but he's OK to continue 10-9

Round 7: I didn't think we'd get to the second half to be honest, but here we are. There is very little coming back from Molina now. He tries to land with the odd left but all the good work is coming from Khan. He connects with strong right hand in the final minute of the round but otherwise, he is content to keep Molina at bay with the jab 10-9

Round 6: Another quieter round as Khan fights in bursts. Coming in off the jab, he lets his hands go and then gets out. Nice work once again. The ridiculous thing is that whenever he is hit, the crowd seem to think he's going down. A huge over-reaction after Garcia 10-9

Easy pickings: Khan landed with increasing regularity against an outclassed Molina

Easy pickings: Khan landed with increasing regularity against an outclassed Molina

Round 5: Credit to Molina, he keeps coming forward, taking his punishment and then marching on again. He does manage to land a left flush on Khan but the response is another flurry of fast punches which will be catching the eye much more than the home favourite's solitary jabs. The pace slowed in that round but another one to the Brit 10-9

Round 4: Big session for Khan as he switches from head to body before peppering Molina with a barrage of shots. His speed is incredible at times. Molina stands up well though and is nothing if not tough. He fights back a little towards the end of the round but the stoppage is surely coming 10-9

Round 3: A quiet start to the round but Molina catches Khan again with a swinging right only for the Brit to land several flurries of his own. He then gets the better of an exchange on the ropes, finding the target with the uppercut. Molina's eye is getting worse and won't help him see Khan's fast hands coming at him. 10-9

Round 2: Molina comes out swinging with the left, and misses. He has a reach disadvantage and is repeatedly out of range as Khan lands his combinations with relative ease. The Brit also moves downstairs with the right hand though but is caught flush on the face by Molina. Just as well he's not a bigger puncher or that might have been serious 10-9

Round 1: Khan doesn't waste time in getting to work, rushing at Molina from the first bell. Khan takes a right but there is already bad markings around his opponent's left eye. Khan controls the centre of the ring and uses his speed well, doubling up on the jab as Molina struggles to throw anything back. His eye is already a mess. My score (Khan first): 10-9.

Flush: Khan was on top from the first bell as Molina found himself overwhelmed

Flush: Khan was on top from the first bell as Molina found himself overwhelmed

5.05am: Khan is in the ring. This is his first non-world title fight for well over three years when he fought Marco Antonio Barrera .

5am: Here we go, it's ring walk time…

4.45am: It's all over! Wilder keeps up his remarkable record as a huge overhand right sends Price to the canvas and he does not recover. Now it's time for Khan.

4.40am: So far, so uninspiring from these two. Neither seem too willing to open up just yet. Boos from the crowd already.

4.35am: Both boxers in this next fight are unbeaten. Wilder has won all 25 of his bouts inside four rounds which is some record. Price meanwhile has won six of his 13 inside the scheduled distance.

This contest should tell certainly tell us more about Wilder. Is he really the next big heavyweight hope for the US

4.25am: Angulo has won the decision over Silva but Khan won't be next. Heavyweights Deontay Wilder and Kelvin Price are due in the ring first.

Hard fought: Alfredo Angulo (left) on his way to victory over Jorge Silva

Hard fought: Alfredo Angulo (left) on his way to victory over Jorge Silva

4.20am: Ward has had the following to say about Khan: 'I've seen an improvement. He's listening and willing to learn and that has been his first step. I think he's going to pull through in a big way. He only knows one way to fight, he's very eager and very zealous but [under Hunter] a little more patient and you're going to see a better Amir Khan.'

4,15am: We should have Khan in the ring within the next 20 minutes. Alfredo Angulo's bout with Jorge Silva are in the eighth of 10 rounds and the Brit is next.

4.10am: Meanwhile, in Texas, Nonito Donaire has beaten Jorge Arce inside three rounds to retain his WBO super-bantamweight title. The 'Filipino Flash' would be a daunting prospect for either of Britain's rising stars in the division, Carl Frampton or Scott Quigg.

4.05am: As I also said, assuming Khan wins this, and wins it well, I don't think we can read too much into it, unless there is a marked difference in the way he fights.

Yes, Andre Ward is among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world but how much of that is down to Virgil Hunter and if the answer is a lot, how much of that coaching is transferable to Khan

Khan's problem has been ignoring instructions, choosing to go for the spectacular win and impress the crowd.

Well, there isn't much of a crowd to impress in LA… but regardless, he needs to start using his brain.

4am: Two things I'd like to point out. One, I think Khan lost to Peterson although the failed drugs test changes that a lot. And two, I don't believe he has a particularly suspect chin. The first punch from Garcia would have scrambled anybody's brain and lets not forget that Khan stood up to the best Marcos Maidana had to offer.

We don't seem to be calling Manny Pacquiao's chin weak just because he was KO'd last weekend.

Bludgeoning: Nonito Donaire (left) stopped Jorge Arce in the third round

Bludgeoning: Nonito Donaire (left) stopped Jorge Arce in the third round

3.50am: I am aware, of course, that Molina is unbeaten but he hasn't fought anyone with the calibre of Khan or his opponents. Khan doesn't need to have improved markedly to win this fight and I expect him to do so inside six rounds.

3.45am: Back to Khan, who we expect to make his ring walk at around 4.25am, and there is no doubt Molina has been put in front of him to get his confidence back and go into 2013 on a high.

A light puncher who is moving up a division… if Khan doesn't look good winning this then there is something wrong.

P.S. Andre Ward has just told Sky Sports that he wants a rematch with Carl Froch next year.

3.35am: In other news Stateside, Adrien Broner, considered by many as the heir to Floyd Mayweather Jnr's throne, has said he wants to face Scotland's Ricky Burns in a unification fight.

Broner is expected to be back in action on February 16 and Burns could be in the opposite corner in Atlantic City.

'I'm ready for Ricky Burns,' Broner said. 'He's a world-class fighter and I respect him for what he's done.

'I wanted to fight him for the WBO title, but he moved up. I hope he doesn't try and avoid me again.'

Down and out: Khan was sent crashing to the canvas by Danny Garcia earlier this year

Down and out: Khan was sent crashing to the canvas by Danny Garcia earlier this year

3.25am: Before I focus solely on Khan, there were some cracking fights in London last night as George Groves defended his Commonwealth super-middleweight title against teak tough Glen Johnson. Also in action was Billy Joe Saunders who beat Nick Blackwell for the British and Commonwealth middleweight titles.

You can read my reports from the Excel Arena here.

3.15am: As a result of suffering the defeat to Garcia, Khan split with trainer Freddie Roach and hooked up with Virgil Hunter who has guided the career of super middleweight world champion Andre Ward. We will see if the relationship has had time to develop over the last couple of months.

3.05am: It's fair to say it hasn't been the best of years for Bolton's Khan. After losing to Lamont Peterson last December, the American failed a drugs test in the build-up to the rematch. When that fight was shelved, Khan faced Danny Garcia but a huge left hand left the Brit in all sorts of trouble from which he couldn't recover.

3am: Good morning and welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of Amir Khan's make-or-break fight with Carlos Molina in Los Angeles.

Face off: Amir Khan (left) takes on Carlos Molina as he bids to get his career back on track

Face off: Amir Khan (left) takes on Carlos Molina as he bids to get his career back on track

Amir Khan v Carlos Molina: Fans invited to exchange toys for tickets

Amir's toy story! Fans asked to exchange gifts in return for tickets to Khan fight in LA

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UPDATED:

13:22 GMT, 11 December 2012

Fight fans have been offered free tickets to watch Amir Khan's return the ring in Los Angeles this Saturday… in exchange for an unwrapped toy.

Ticket sales have reportedly been slow for the former world light-welterweight champion's comeback clash against Carlos Molina.

But Khan's American Golden Boy promoters want to make a full house at the 17,000 LA Memorial Sports Arena this weekend and have engineered a scheme that will see fans handed tickets – worth as much as 100 – to the the fight in exchange for a unopened toy priced as little as 15.

Golden Boy chief Oscar De La Hoya has come up with the giveaway idea to give to deprived families in time for Christmas.

Amir Khan makes his return to the ring in Los Angeles this weekend

You've got a friend in me: Fight fans are being encouraged to trade toys – like the ones from the film Toy Story (below) – for tickets to Khan's fight against Molina

You've got a friend in me: Fight fans are being encouraged to trade toys - like the ones from the film Toy Story - for tickets to Amir Khan's fight against Carlos Molina

'I am looking forward to distributing the toys to those families who need them most,' said De La Hoya, speaking to The Sun.

Khan, meanwhile, has vowed to reinvent himself as 'a totally different fighter' when he aims to bounce back from two successive defeats.

A year ago the Bolton fighter controversially lost his WBA title to Lamont Peterson, only to be subsequently reinstated when it emerged the American had been using synthetic testosterone.

However, he lost his next fight too when Danny Garcia knocked him silly in a fourth-round stoppage win in Las Vegas in July.

The Garcia defeat brought about much soul-searching before the Englishman made the tough decision to leave renowned trainer Freddie Roach and join forces with another Californian, Virgil Hunter.

Khan's questionable punch resistance and over-zealous attacking instincts point towards the need for a change in approach and the fighter himself admits there has been plenty to work on under Hunter, who boasts a stellar reputation having guided Andre Ward to pound-for-pound recognition.

'Training with Virgil's been going really well,' the 26-year-old said ahead of his scrap with undefeated Californian Molina.

Return: Khan is looking to bounce back following his defeat by Danny Garcia in July

Return: Khan is looking to bounce back following his defeat by Danny Garcia in July

'The gym is quiet, it's chilled, you can think about what you're doing.

'For example when I'm sitting in the gym, or warming up, I can think things through about what I want to do in the session or the sparring. I can think things through, whereas previous gyms I've trained at have been very busy with lots of people there.

'Sometimes it's a distraction because you can't really focus on what you need to focus on.

'Virgil is a great trainer. He breaks everything down and every day he reminds me what I need to do, what I need to work on and what mistakes I make which need improving on.'

Khan was in control against Garcia before leaving himself exposed and being taken apart by the Philadelphian's power shots. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist insists he will use that experience, combined with Hunter's input, to right those wrongs.

Change of plans: Khan (R) has prepared for his upcoming fight against Molina with new trainer, Virgil Hunter

Change of plans: Khan (R) has prepared for his upcoming fight against Molina with new trainer, Virgil Hunter

'We've sat down and watched the Garcia fight together and we've been working on some new stuff from that, including being more patient and waiting for the right shots at the right time and not over-committing myself,' he said.

'When I watch the Garcia fight, I can see that I'm like a totally different fighter. Virgil said to me when we watched it again “now you tell me what you're doing wrong in the fight and what you'd do differently now” and so I told him.

'It shows that the sparring I've been doing and the training I'm getting is helping me. I'm a better fighter by far because I would not fight Garcia the way I did. I've changed my fighting style a lot and proves I'm doing something right.

'We're ready for this guy.'

Amir Khan: Lose Carlos Molina fight and Floyd Mayweather dream is over

Lose against Molina and dream of Pacquiao or Mayweather fight is over, admits Khan

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UPDATED:

17:47 GMT, 31 October 2012

Amir Khan believes he must score a convincing win in his comeback against unbeaten Carlos Molina next month or kiss goodbye to any chance of super-fights against the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.

Khan's career has lurched dangerously off course in the past 11 months, with his deeply controversial points defeat to Lamont Peterson last December followed by a crushing fourth round knockout loss against Danny Garcia in July.

Those twin setbacks have left Khan with no margin for error as he prepares to face Molina in the American’s backyard at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on December 15.

Comeback: Amir Khan (second left) fights Carlos Molina (second right) on December 15

Comeback: Amir Khan (second left) fights Carlos Molina (second right) on December 15

Fighting talk: Khan speaks during a media conference for his upcoming fight

Fighting talk: Khan speaks in Los Angeles on Wednesday during a media conference for his upcoming fight

'There’s always pressure when I fight but I definitely have to win this because if I lose, I’m done,' Khan said. 'This is a fight I need to win, 100 per cent. If I don’t win it I’m done. It’s that simple. The big super-fights I’ve always dreamed about won’t be there if I lose this. Pacquiao, Mayweather — forget it'

In an attempt to revitalize his fortunes, Khan took the bold step of ditching revered trainer Freddie Roach in favour of the quietly-spoken San Francisco-based Virgil Hunter.

The 25-year-old Bolton light welterweight has been in camp at Hunter’s gym in Oakland and is reveling in the austere surroundings, where Hunter’s house rules a ban on swearing.

'It’s a very tight community in that gym. You need to have people there you trust. Virgil keeps it very limited and that’s what I like about it,' Khan said. 'You’re not bothered about who’s watching, you’re not training for a crowd, or fans.'

A whole lot of glove: Molina signs autographs at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Wednesday

A whole lot of glove: Local boy Molina signs autographs at the Los Angeles Sports Arena

Khan was forced into an impromptu sparring session in early October when a gang of thugs attempted to steal a Ranger Rover he had been driving with his brother in Birmingham.

The confrontation ended abruptly with one of the would-be thieves being knocked out cold by Khan.

'I walked out of this caf and I opened the car door and these guys jumped in the car ahead of me and said “This ain’t your car mate,”' Khan said.

'It was a courtesy car I’d be given so at first I did a double take and thought, “Maybe it’s not my car”. Then I saw something in the back seat that I’d put there and I knew it was my car. Then the guys started saying – “We’re not getting out the car. You’re going to have to buy it off us”. I had the car keys so I wasn’t too worried. I thought it was a joke. But then it got a bit serious and one guy came out aggressively and said “What are going to do” And he jabbed me in the face. It wasn’t hard. He barely scratched me really. He tried to swing again and I knocked him out.

Golden Boy: Fight promoter Oscar De La Hoya builds up the light welterweight fight

Golden Boy: Fight promoter Oscar De La Hoya builds up the light welterweight fight

'I hated it to be honest with you. I never fight outside the ring. We’re born fighters, we’re taught how to fight.

'So when someone tries to fight you they’re making a big mistake. That’s when it got messy because they came out with baseball bats and sticks and smashed the rear window. They must have been drunk or high or something.'

Meanwhile Khan, who is engaged to New York student Faryal Makhdoom, has shrugged off revelations about his private life after allegations in The Sun he had been partying hard with other women in Marbella in August.

Khan insisted his fiance trusted him.

The wrong man to mess with: Khan revealed how he was forced to fight off a gang who tried to steal his car

The wrong man to mess with: Khan revealed how he was forced to fight off a gang who tried to steal his car

'She’s cool, she knows the truth because I didn’t do anything honestly,' Khan said. 'She doesn’t believe anything that the papers say because I’m honest to her. I don’t lie and she knows there’s always going to be stuff written about me.

'It’s a distraction when you’re preparing for a fight. But my fiance and my family haven’t really spoken to me about it.'

Willie Carson: Me and Clare Balding – plus why BBC sport head should be jailed

Willie Carson: Me, schoolmistress Clare – and why the head of BBC sport should be jailed!

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UPDATED:

07:26 GMT, 18 October 2012

Two racing heavyweights bow out at Ascot on Saturday. When Frankel gallops past the post in the 1.3million Qipco Champion Stakes, his future will be as a pampered, millions-earning stallion.

Willie Carson will pick up his box — the one that ensures he can look BBC racing anchor Clare Balding in the eye — and walk away from the small screen as the credits roll on the BBC’s final Flat racing broadcast.

The winner of 3,828 races, 17 British Classics and five jockey championships, who became one of TV’s faces of racing, will still have his highly successful stud in Gloucestershire, own his racehorses and support the efforts of his Newmarket trainer son Tony and grandson jockey William.

But it will be the end of an era.

Smiles better: Willie Carson has a laugh with Clare Balding

Smiles better: Willie Carson has a laugh with Clare Balding

For many, Carson, 70 next month, represents a link to a golden age of jockeyship — of Lester Piggott, Pat Eddery, Joe Mercer and Steve Cauthen.

A Question of Sport captain with England rugby union captain Bill Beaumont in the early 1980s, Carson crossed over into the wider world.

As BBC’s Flat-racing team prepare for their final run, Carson can’t hide his disappointment that racing chose a 15m, four-year deal with Channel 4 which will see the sport disappear completely from the national broadcaster after it screens the Welsh National on December 27.

‘The head of BBC sport and the racing fraternity should both get their hands rapped over this. The two of them should have been put in jail,’ he joked this week as he showed his yearlings to potential clients at the Newmarket sales — wearing the same hat as when he tackled those bushtucker trials on I’m a Celebrity.

‘I don’t think the BBC will ever come back. Racing should have thought of that and not just gone for the extra quid.

‘They
should have thought of the long-term future of horseracing. I don’t
think they took that on board. Channel 4 is a very good racing
programme, but it is for a minority. BBC went to a bigger audience and
would get more people involved in racing than Channel 4 ever will.

Boxing clever: Carson perches on his 'extra seven inches'

Boxing clever: Carson perches on his 'extra seven inches'

‘Those annoying bookmaker adverts every 10 minutes put people off. The rhythm of the programme gets absolutely crucified. They kill the whole programme.’

Not everyone has warmed to Carson,
but his rapport with Balding, the post-Olympics darling of British
sports broadcasting, created a memorable double act. Especially when the
impish, occasionally wayward former jockey is brought back into line
with a raised Balding eyebrow or a metaphorical slap around the head.

‘It
seems to be a little team that works,’ said Carson. ‘There is quite a
bit of entertainment going on. It is not just enlightening the people
about horses — there is a little bit of tongue in cheek. Things are not
done on purpose but we don’t mind a little bit of laughter.

‘Clare is unbelievable. Many years ago, I said she should be running the BBC and I still think she might even get there yet.

‘She
is a very intelligent girl. She is good at her job and has learned her
trade. She is basically running the show. Years ago, we used to take the
mick out of her — it was, “Do this, do that” in the meetings. Now we
just shut up and get on with it. There was no point putting in much
input because her input was always better than ours.’

But you can’t ignore Carson’s input when it comes to horses and his view on Frankel.

The man who won the Derby four times, including on the outstanding Nashwan in 1989, and was carried faster than most jockeys can dream of on jet-propelled sprinter Dayjur, is emphatic where Frankel stands in racing history.

‘Nashwan would need a tow rope (to keep up) and, make no mistake, Nashwan was a very good horse,’ he said. ‘We’ve always had horses which create impressions like Nijinsky and Brigadier Gerard.

‘They are all great horses in their time but I just get the feeling this is the best there has ever been.

‘He walks well and he’s strong, powerful and athletic. But there is nothing to look at and say, “That is why he’s good.” We’ll have to wait until he dies to find out what makes him such a great horse.

‘He must have fantastic lungs and a big heart. He canters when other horses are flat out. I don’t expect to see one as good again.’

In his pomp: Carson, on Dunfermline, just beats Freeze the Secret at Epsom to win the Oaks in 1977

In his pomp: Carson, on Dunfermline, just beats Freeze the Secret at Epsom to win the Oaks in 1977

However, the prospect of copious rain to turn the Ascot going heavy does concern Carson, with a potent opponent in French-trained 2011 Champion Stakes winner Cirrus Des Aigles.

‘The round course at Ascot does get tremendously slow. Sometimes it becomes a test of attrition, not so much the best horse.

‘Frankel is a very heavy horse and I would not have thought — and I am making excuses before the race — that he would love heavy ground. Normally, those sort of horses have to work so much harder to lift that weight over the ground but we are talking about a phenomenon.’ A bit like Carson.

The new generation of broadcasters may be slicker than him but also blander.

And what of his famous box

‘Clare is the schoolmistress. She is telling me what to do and keeps saying to get it on eBay. I’ll try to make some money for charity.

‘It is made out of metal with a nice grille on the top so that I don’t slip. The inscription underneath it is “Here is the extra seven inches you asked for”.’

He may only be five feet tall, racing weight 7st 10lb, but Carson will always be a giant of the racing world.

Willie Carson: Me, schoolmistress Clare – and why the head of BBC sport should be jailed!

Willie Carson: Me, schoolmistress Clare – and why the head of BBC sport should be jailed!

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UPDATED:

19:55 GMT, 17 October 2012

Two racing heavyweights bow out at Ascot on Saturday. When Frankel gallops past the post in the 1.3million Qipco Champion Stakes, his future will be as a pampered, millions-earning stallion.

Willie Carson will pick up his box — the one that ensures he can look BBC racing anchor Clare Balding in the eye — and walk away from the small screen as the credits roll on the BBC’s final Flat racing broadcast.

The winner of 3,828 races, 17 British Classics and five jockey championships, who became one of TV’s faces of racing, will still have his highly successful stud in Gloucestershire, own his racehorses and support the efforts of his Newmarket trainer son Tony and grandson jockey William.

But it will be the end of an era.

Smiles better: Willie Carson has a laugh with Clare Balding

Smiles better: Willie Carson has a laugh with Clare Balding

For many, Carson, 70 next month, represents a link to a golden age of jockeyship — of Lester Piggott, Pat Eddery, Joe Mercer and Steve Cauthen.

A Question of Sport captain with England rugby union captain Bill Beaumont in the early 1980s, Carson crossed over into the wider world.

As BBC’s Flat-racing team prepare for their final run, Carson can’t hide his disappointment that racing chose a 15m, four-year deal with Channel 4 which will see the sport disappear completely from the national broadcaster after it screens the Welsh National on December 27.

‘The head of BBC sport and the racing fraternity should both get their hands rapped over this. The two of them should have been put in jail,’ he joked this week as he showed his yearlings to potential clients at the Newmarket sales — wearing the same hat as when he tackled those bushtucker trials on I’m a Celebrity.

‘I don’t think the BBC will ever come back. Racing should have thought of that and not just gone for the extra quid.

‘They
should have thought of the long-term future of horseracing. I don’t
think they took that on board. Channel 4 is a very good racing
programme, but it is for a minority. BBC went to a bigger audience and
would get more people involved in racing than Channel 4 ever will.

Boxing clever: Carson perches on his 'extra seven inches'

Boxing clever: Carson perches on his 'extra seven inches'

‘Those annoying bookmaker adverts every 10 minutes put people off. The rhythm of the programme gets absolutely crucified. They kill the whole programme.’

Not everyone has warmed to Carson,
but his rapport with Balding, the post-Olympics darling of British
sports broadcasting, created a memorable double act. Especially when the
impish, occasionally wayward former jockey is brought back into line
with a raised Balding eyebrow or a metaphorical slap around the head.

‘It
seems to be a little team that works,’ said Carson. ‘There is quite a
bit of entertainment going on. It is not just enlightening the people
about horses — there is a little bit of tongue in cheek. Things are not
done on purpose but we don’t mind a little bit of laughter.

‘Clare is unbelievable. Many years ago, I said she should be running the BBC and I still think she might even get there yet.

‘She
is a very intelligent girl. She is good at her job and has learned her
trade. She is basically running the show. Years ago, we used to take the
mick out of her — it was, “Do this, do that” in the meetings. Now we
just shut up and get on with it. There was no point putting in much
input because her input was always better than ours.’

But you can’t ignore Carson’s input when it comes to horses and his view on Frankel.

The man who won the Derby four times, including on the outstanding Nashwan in 1989, and was carried faster than most jockeys can dream of on jet-propelled sprinter Dayjur, is emphatic where Frankel stands in racing history.

‘Nashwan would need a tow rope (to keep up) and, make no mistake, Nashwan was a very good horse,’ he said. ‘We’ve always had horses which create impressions like Nijinsky and Brigadier Gerard.

‘They are all great horses in their time but I just get the feeling this is the best there has ever been.

‘He walks well and he’s strong, powerful and athletic. But there is nothing to look at and say, “That is why he’s good.” We’ll have to wait until he dies to find out what makes him such a great horse.

‘He must have fantastic lungs and a big heart. He canters when other horses are flat out. I don’t expect to see one as good again.’

In his pomp: Carson, on Dunfermline, just beats Freeze the Secret at Epsom to win the Oaks in 1977

In his pomp: Carson, on Dunfermline, just beats Freeze the Secret at Epsom to win the Oaks in 1977

However, the prospect of copious rain to turn the Ascot going heavy does concern Carson, with a potent opponent in French-trained 2011 Champion Stakes winner Cirrus Des Aigles.

‘The round course at Ascot does get tremendously slow. Sometimes it becomes a test of attrition, not so much the best horse.

‘Frankel is a very heavy horse and I would not have thought — and I am making excuses before the race — that he would love heavy ground. Normally, those sort of horses have to work so much harder to lift that weight over the ground but we are talking about a phenomenon.’ A bit like Carson.

The new generation of broadcasters may be slicker than him but also blander.

And what of his famous box

‘Clare is the schoolmistress. She is telling me what to do and keeps saying to get it on eBay. I’ll try to make some money for charity.

‘It is made out of metal with a nice grille on the top so that I don’t slip. The inscription underneath it is “Here is the extra seven inches you asked for”.’

He may only be five feet tall, racing weight 7st 10lb, but Carson will always be a giant of the racing world.

Alex McLeish discusses a difficult few years at Birmingham and Aston Villa

Alex McLeish breaks his silence after being forced out at Villa: The end was brutal, a real mental drain… I needed to get out

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 27 September 2012

It was the morning after the night before at Aston Villa’s training ground. Chief executive Paul Faulkner, bruised by a 2-0 defeat at Norwich on the final day of last season, was waiting in an office.

Alex McLeish walked in.

‘I’ll prepare a dossier on what we need to do this summer as quickly as I can,’ said the club’s manager.

But McLeish sensed immediately that a dossier wouldn’t be needed.

At ease: Alex McLeish is able to relax after a difficult few years in management

At ease: Alex McLeish is able to relax after a difficult few years in management

‘It’s not going to happen, is it’ McLeish said, taking a look at his boss’s face. ‘You don’t have to say it.’

The two shared a brief conversation. The Scot left the room and spent the next hour shaking the hand of every member of staff at the training ground, thanking them for their support. Minutes later, he drove away from Aston Villa for the last time.

And so the most controversial managerial switch for decades between Birmingham’s two clubs came to an end.

Sitting where he is now, it is difficult to imagine that here is a man capable of sparking riotous scenes. McLeish is relaxed, refreshed and has shed a few pounds, helped by regular sessions with a personal trainer.

It seems a lifetime since hundreds of Villa fans besieged their famous stadium, demanding that owner Randy Lerner reverse his decision to take Birmingham City’s manager and install him at Villa Park. In fact, it is 15 months.

Making their feelings clear: Aston Villa fans show off a banner wanting McLeish out

Making their feelings clear: Aston Villa fans show off a banner wanting McLeish out

The new manager was unwanted, while at St Andrew’s, the hurt was palpable. Despite the joy of a Carling Cup victory, the club’s season had imploded, ending in relegation from the Premier League.

That McLeish walked out was one thing. Joining Villa was seen as rubbing salt in the wound. Not since Ron Saunders made the trip in the opposite direction 31 years earlier had so much tension broke out.

McLeish led Birmingham to their first major trophy in 48 years, but when he left, a royal blue flag was manufactured. It bore his face, and, beneath the image, the words

‘Judas ginger rat’.

‘I really wanted to build a dynasty at Birmingham,’ insists McLeish. ‘I could have been at that club for 10 years if I’d been allowed more control. I heard David Moyes talking about his time at Everton and the fact that he is able to make so many of the footballing decisions. That sounds like utopia to me.

‘There are some top people at Birmingham. The gang behind the scenes. It was a crying shame we couldn’t build that club up because most of the ingredients were there.

Finding it tough: McLeish watches on as Villa struggle

Finding it tough: McLeish watches on as Villa struggle

‘In the season prior to the Carling Cup victory we finished ninth. I had a list of targets and had we signed them I’m sure I wouldn’t be sitting here with you now. Bobby Zamora was one, Mousa Dembele another. The Dembele one was gut- wrenching. Fulham moved quicker than we did. The wages were no better, the commission was.

‘Winning the Carling Cup against Arsenal goes down as my best achievement, either as a player or manager. Then we were relegated. Talk about high to low. It hit me hard.

‘I know you get what you deserve in football but I genuinely felt it was unfair. Injuries had conspired against us. Other things transpired. Sadly, I have to keep them to myself but I’d have left anyway.

‘I had to leave, regardless. My job at Birmingham had become untenable.I got letters from some fans after I moved. Some were angry, others were heartfelt, asking, ‘‘How could you do this to us You’re like a rat leaving a sinking ship’’. I felt dreadful. But my family knew what the job was doing to me. My wife Jill saw it in my eyes every night.’

Target: Bobby Zamora

Target: Mousa Dembele

Targets: McLeish missed out on signing Bobby Zamora and Mousa Dembele while at Birmingham

Then came a call from Villa Park. It was a lifeline. McLeish had lived on the fringes of Birmingham, and in Glasgow had been in the goldfish bowl as manager of Rangers. In terms of size, the two cities are comparable. Was he naive enough to think such a switch would not rouse similar passions

‘I knew there’d be a furore,’ he says. ‘But perhaps not to that level. I don’t think it was until I was in situ at Villa that I started to appreciate the depth of feeling. In a professional sense, I had moved from managing a club I had never supported, to another club I had never supported.

‘I never thought it would be so intense at Villa. But, just as I’d done at Rangers, I thought, ‘‘I can turn these fans round. If I get this side moving, they’ll take to me”. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t change my habits. I knew I had upset people.’

Because of that McLeish tried to avoid any potential confrontation. ‘No-one ever came up to me saying, ‘‘You ginger Judas’’, but I never put myself in that position,’ he says.

Happier days: Alex McLeish celebrates beating Arsenal with Birmingham to lift the League Cup

Happier days: Alex McLeish celebrates beating Arsenal with Birmingham to lift the League Cup

‘Maybe it was because people were on their own. If they’d been in a group, I’d have been savaged. I never frequented the places I had when I was Birmingham manager.

‘I didn’t go into the city. I had great pals at two of the best restaurants in Birmingham, huge Birmingham City supporters. I stopped going there.’

It would be wrong to write that Villa supporters never gave McLeish a chance. But their perception of the quality of player at the Scot’s disposal was misguided. But his position was undermined, at least partially, by the quality of his signings. While Shay Given had a solid campaign, Alan Hutton and Charles N’Zogbia were disappointing.

McLeish adds: ‘Randy Lerner had asked me to work on a project. He said, ‘‘We want you to work with the club, rather than at the club. We must drive wages down while remaining competitive’’. But when you lose the likes of John Carew, Ashley Young, Stewart Downing, Gareth Barry, James Milner … the quality Villa had out on the pitch was diminishing. It was going to be a tough ask. It was a rebuilding job.

Time to reflect: McLeish has been out of football since the summer

Time to reflect: McLeish has been out of football since the summer

‘I understand, given what happened towards the end of last season, that it was difficult for me to stay. But no-one is able to complete a project of that size in 12 months. I was confident I knew what was needed. There were big changes in my mind ahead of this season. We needed players. An influx of quality. It’s no secret, if you bring in a better quality of player, you produce an improvement in results.

‘I’d spent a season building up the internal infrastructure at the club. I signed Brett Holman. He has started the season like a house on fire. I was desperate to sign Gylfi Sigurdsson in the January window but it didn’t come off. As for this suggestion I’m a negative manager, it’s utter tosh.

'The way it all ended, it was difficult for me to go any further. The last day at Norwich was brutal. I knew I needed to be out of the job. It had become a mental drain towards the end.’

Interview over, McLeish retreats from the sunshine into the sanctuary of the restaurant.

An Aston Villa season ticket holder comes over and gives him a hug. It seems he has been forgiven in some quarters. But McLeish won’t be forgotten. Not in Birmingham.

Not for a long time.

Kolo Toure struggles to accept being behind Matija Nastasic in pecking order

Toure struggles to accept being fourth in pecking order behind Nastasic at City

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 26 September 2012

Kolo Toure admits he is struggling to come to terms with being Manchester City’s fourth-choice centre-back behind teenager Matija Nastasic.

The 19-year-old Serbian defender made a surprise debut against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu last week following his summer move from Fiorentina.

Toure is not even in City’s Champions League squad after he failed to agree terms over a move to Turkish clubs Galatasaray and Bursaspor, and now finds himself even further behind the first-choice pairing of Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott.

Struggle: Kolo Toure (right) is unhappy that he is fourth in the pecking order at Manchester City

Struggle: Kolo Toure (right) is unhappy that he is fourth in the pecking order at Manchester City

‘Joleon and Vincent have been fantastic and deserve their place, but it’s much harder when a young player comes and steps in front of you, said Toure, who has struggled to re-establish himself at City since he was handed a six-month drugs ban last year.

‘Since I came back from the problem I had, I’ve been fourth-choice every time and that’s been really difficult. It’s hard to come in and give your best.

‘I feel I can still get into the team. Ask anybody. Every day at training I give everything.

‘It’s hard, but that is the manager’s choice, and what can I do I need to work hard, and that’s alright by me.

‘Sometimes I am not on the bench and that is not easy, but it’s up to me to prove to the manager that I am still one of the best.’

First choice: Joleon Lescott (centre left) and Vincent kompany (centre right) were outstanding for City last season

First choice: Joleon Lescott (centre left) and Vincent kompany (centre right) were outstanding for City last season

Toure blamed his failed test on taking his wife’s diet pills. The 31-year-old Ivory Coast defender insists he has tried a more conventional way to get himself into shape for the new season.

‘I got a personal trainer to train myself during pre-season,’ said Toure. ‘Ten days before we came back I was working hard with my personal trainer because I want to come back to my best.

‘I feel strong, and since my problem I have a hunger in me to show what I can do.

‘There were other clubs in for me in the summer, but I love England. Some good Turkish clubs came in with good offers but I want to stay at the top, play in the Premier League and prove I am still one of the best defenders out there.’

Toure played in a back-three with Lescott and Nastasic in Tuesday’s 4-2 Capital One Cup defeat at home to Aston Villa.

More competition: Matija Nastasic (right) is ahead of Toure in Roberto Mancini's plans

More competition: Matija Nastasic (right) is ahead of Toure in Roberto Mancini's plans

The defeat meant City have conceded 14 goals in seven games in all competitions this season, and Toure warned that the defensive failings are in danger of costing the Premier League champions their title.

‘We need to react as a team because we are Manchester City, the champions from last year,’ he said.

‘If you want to win the Premier League you have to be able to keep clean sheets. When you look at what happened over the last few years, everyone who wins it has that ability and we haven’t been able to do it this season.’

Amir Khan parties with Mario Balotelli in Manchester

Is this your new trainer, Amir Khan parties with City striker Balotelli after splitting from Roach

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UPDATED:

13:30 GMT, 16 September 2012

Just days after splitting from his trainer Amir Khan was out on the town with Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli.

Khan brought an end to his four year spell with Freddie Roach at the end of last week and is expected to announce a new trainer within the coming weeks.

While Khan takes time out of the ring to consider his next move, having lost his last fight to Danny Garcia in July, the Bolton boxer was out enjoying an evening in Manchester with friends – and the City striker.

Good friends: Amir Khan and Mario Balotteli out in Manchester

Good friends: Amir Khan and Mario Balotteli out in Manchester

Khan and Balotelli were spotted at Manchester’s Circle Club after Balotelli had been in action for Premier League champions City during the 1-1 draw away at Stoke.

Khan tweeted: ‘mario balotelli always on 1’

Balotelli is no stranger to boxing after he was involved in a training ground bust-up with team-mate Micah Richards last season.

Arriving in style: Khan Turns up at The Circle Club in Manchester in a friends Ferrari California sportscar

Arriving in style: Khan Turns up at The Circle Club in Manchester in a friends Ferrari California sportscar

Several players, including James
Milner, Yaya Toure and captain Vincent Kompany, had to battle to keep
the two players apart after the Italian reacted to a stray pass in
training by Richards.

On his split from Roach, Khan said in
a statement: ‘After nearly four years together, in which we enjoyed
some great success, I part ways with my trainer Freddie Roach.

‘I would like to thank him for all his hardwork and help during this period and express my gratitude to him for the progress he helped bring about whilst I was under him.

‘I would also like to thank his team. I loved every minute training in LA at the Wildcard Gym, learning and sparring alongside some truly great fighters and meeting some fantastic people.

‘I feel now, however, is the right time in my career to make a fresh change and bring in a new trainer.

Enjoying a night out: Khan poses for pictures with his friends

Enjoying a night out: Khan poses for pictures with his friends

‘I'm looking forward, and am excited, about the prospect of working alongside someone new. I will make an announcement in due course of who this will be.

‘There are some specific aspects of my game I'm looking to work on and hopefully improve. My next training camp begins in early October and I will have everything in place by then.’