Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup delivers third success for Ladies team

Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup delivers third success for Ladies team
(Left to right) Hayley Turner, Mickaelle Michel and Nicola Currie celebrate their Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup success at Ascot. (File/Dubai Duty Free)
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Updated 08 August 2021

Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup delivers third success for Ladies team

Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup delivers third success for Ladies team
  • The event returned to Ascot in front of a big crowd after an enforced break last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic

DUBAI: After a break in 2020 enforced by COVID-19, the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup returned on Saturday when the team of all-female riders scored a third victory in the world’s premier international jockeys’ challenge in front of one of Ascot’s biggest crowds since the pandemic began.

A double on the day for Nicola Currie ensured a clean sweep for the Ladies team with the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup debutante taking both the Silver Saddle and the Dubai Duty Free Ride of the Day, presented this year in memory of the late Joe Mercer.

“We are delighted to once again support the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup, which has maintained its position as Ascot’s best-attended fixture outside of the Royal meeting,” said Dubai Duty Free’s executive vice chairman and CEO, Colm McLoughlin. “The competitive spirit in which the event is played out embodies what British racing’s only team event is all about and we congratulate Hayley Turner, Nicola Currie and Mickaelle Michele on their success.”

Danish-born Kevin Stott put the first points on the leader board for the Rest of the World team when he partnered Tis Marvellous’ victory in the opening Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash.

Stott’s mount held on by a whisker from Great Britain’s James Doyle and Desert Safari, to the delight of winning trainer Clive Cox who said, “We’ve been lucky at this meeting, it’s a fun day, the owners love it, good prize money, what’s not to like?“

In the second of the day’s six races the Ladies declared their intent when Nicola Currie and teammate Mickaelle Michel from France, both former champion apprentices in their respective countries, produced a finish almost identical to that of the opening event. The camera separated Just Hubert and Call My Bluff by a short head.

“There’s a great buzz in the weighing room,” said Currie. “Just Hubert is a bit of a lad but he just pricked his ears the whole way round, enjoying himself as much as I did.”

After two races James Doyle led the challenge for the Alistair Haggas Silver Saddle, awarded to the rider amassing the most individual points on the day, with his consistent placings that helped take Great Britain into the team lead.

After the third race, the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Challenge, the competition began to take a more definite shape. The Ladies confirmed their place at the head of the table, as did Nicola Currie in the individual event. She rode another fantastic race, on HMS President, and though she had to be content with second placing to Graphite, ridden by Team Ireland’s David Egan, she grabbed a lead that was maintained for the remainder of the contest.

“We needed those points,” said Egan who, like Currie and Stott, was riding his first Shergar Cup winner. He too was champion apprentice, and his career has taken off with victory in the world’s richest race, the Saudi Cup and, on the same horse Mishrif, the Group One Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup night.

The Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Mile was fourth up on the glittering card.

Until then, the finishes had been notably close, emphasising how competitive the Shergar Cup competition is, but here Dashing Roger pulled clear of his field for a decisive Great British victory under Cieren Fallon, also making his Shergar Cup debut.

The son of six-time champion jockey Kieren Fallon, Cieren is one of a host of talented young shooting stars. “It’s all about great horses and great crowds,” he said. “And we’ve got both here.”

Thanks to Fallon, Great Britain now led by four points from the Rest of the World. And though Nicola Currie was still at the top of the individual standings, Sean Levey, James Doyle and David Egan were in hot pursuit.

The penultimate Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Classic, over the classic distance of a mile and a half, saw Hayley Turner without a mount, virtually ending her hopes of a third successive Silver Saddle. But she was cheering loudest when team-mate Nicola Curie added to the Ladies’ points total on the aptly named State of Bliss, putting her team in pole position, five points ahead of Great Britain entering the final contest, the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint over six furlongs.

In what was a thrilling finale, Ireland landed a 1-2-4 to score 30 points and jump from fourth to second in the overall standings, three points behind the victorious Ladies team.

A new trophy will be commissioned for next year’s Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup event after Ladies team captain, Hayley Turner, who took her individual points total in 14 appearances to a remarkable 300, was presented with the team trophy to keep in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the event.

 
Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup — final standings:

LADIES 69
IRE 66
GB 64
ROW 53
 

Alistair Haggis “Silver Saddle” Trophy — final standings:

Nicola Currie LADIES 47
David Egan IRE 29
James Doyle GB 27
Cieren Fallon GB 27
Joe Fanning IRE 27
Sean Levey ROW 21
Andrea Atzeni ROW 17
Kevin Stott ROW 15
Mickaelle Michel LADIES 15
Adam Kirby GB 10
Tadhg O’Shea IRE 10
Hayley Turner LADIES 7


Fear and chagrin in Premier League at Newcastle’s rise to power

Fear and chagrin in Premier League at Newcastle’s rise to power
Updated 16 sec ago

Fear and chagrin in Premier League at Newcastle’s rise to power

Fear and chagrin in Premier League at Newcastle’s rise to power
  • Ban on related party transactions unlikely to have a long-term effect on the club’s spending after Saudi-led takeover

The dictionary definition of the word “chagrin” is “annoyance or distress at having failed or been humiliated.” That just about sums up the football clubs that comprise the English Premier League.

“Spite” — “a desire to hurt, annoy or offend someone” — would also apply to the 18 clubs that voted this week to block “related party transactions” in the 20-strong league, meaning that none of them can do lucrative financial deals with organizations that are deemed to be connected with them.

Only two clubs did not vote for the ban, which is set to last for one month but can be extended by another meeting. Manchester City, which is having its own battle with the Premier League over alleged financial misdemeanors, decided to abstain.

And Newcastle United, the only one to vote against. Although the ban is applicable to all 20 clubs, it does not take a genius to work out which one was the intended target.

A couple of weeks ago, Newcastle became, on paper, the richest club in the world, following the £300 million takeover by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The PIF has about $500 billion of assets under its management, and the consortium which it leads — along with minority holders Amanda Staveley and the Reubens Brothers — has pledged an additional £250m will be injected into the club and the local community.

The ban is plainly intended to prevent Saudi Arabian entities putting significant cash into the club, in the form of player signings or big-name sponsorship and investment, such as in-stadium advertising and a badly needed new training facility. 

Although 18 clubs voted for the ban, it was driven by the bigger clubs, led — it appears — by Tottenham Hotspur and egged on by Manchester United and Liverpool. Two other Big Six clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal, also voted for it.

It is not as if these clubs have suddenly become beacons of financial righteousness. Given the identity of their owners — Russian and American entrepreneurs — it would be very surprising if they were suddenly taking a stance against sharp financial practice.

Any suggestion that the ban is motivated by concern over alleged human rights issues is just plain laughable.

The morality of the Big Six can best be judged by the fiasco earlier this year when they tried to organize a breakaway European “super league,” which was quickly and rightly shot down by an alliance of fans, many players, and the UK government. The Big Six are not people who act out of altruism.

What they are really worried about is the threat of a new force in English football that would challenge the cozy set-up whereby the Big Six mostly call the shots on important issues of the business side of the game, such as broadcast TV rights or big sponsorships.

A newly resourced football club in Newcastle would be exactly that — a new powerhouse in the northeast of England, challenging the traditional hubs in London and the northwest. They — and especially Tottenham, whose place in the Big Six is tenuous to say the least — are terrified of losing their grip on the game, on and off the pitch.

People close to the new Newcastle set-up were not particularly worried when news of the ban broke. For one thing, Newcastle was run in such a miserly way under the Mike Ashley regime that there is still significant scope for new investment even under the existing rules, should Saudi Arabia wish to pursue that line. Up to £150 million could probably be spent pretty rapidly under financial fair play rules.

The ban is only for a month anyway, and any attempt to extend it or make it permanent would be sure to provoke prolonged legal action on grounds of anti-competitiveness. The Premier League does not have a good track record in legal actions against Newcastle.

Having said all that, it is a good thing for all clubs to adhere to rules on financial fair play that seek to make a level playing field in the game.

But this is not the way to do it. Singling out Newcastle is vindictive, petty and spiteful, motivated by pure chagrin.


Zhang Boheng wins all-around final at gymnastics worlds

Zhang  Boheng wins all-around final at gymnastics worlds
Updated 22 October 2021

Zhang Boheng wins all-around final at gymnastics worlds

Zhang  Boheng wins all-around final at gymnastics worlds
  • Zhang became the first Chinese men’s all-around world champion since Xiao Ruoteng in 2017

KITAKYUSHU, Japan: Zhang Boheng of China edged out Olympic champion Daiki Hashimoto on Friday to win the gold medal in the men’s all-around at the Gymnastics World Championships.

Zhang, who did not qualify for China’s team for this summer’s Olympics, held a slim lead over local favorite Hashimoto heading into the final apparatus, the horizontal bar — an event Hashimoto won at the Tokyo Games.

Zhang scored 14.800 points while Hashimoto received 15.133 but it wasn’t enough to erase the deficit and the 21-year-old Zhang finished with 87.981 overall points to 87.964 for Hashimoto.

“This is my first time to take part in the world championships and the first time to win the all-around title for my country,” Zhang said. “I was nervous waiting for the scores to appear because it was so close, such a high-level competition.”

Zhang became the first Chinese men’s all-around world champion since Xiao Ruoteng in 2017.

Illia Kovtun of Ukraine was third with 84.899 points, followed by Yul Moldauer of the US with 84.365.

Hashimoto was aiming to become Japan’s fifth men’s world champion and its first since Kohei Uchimura won the last of his six straight titles in 2015.

Hashimoto’s performance on the horizontal bar was solid but he stepped to his left on the landing which likely cost him the gold medal.

“(Zhang) was great tonight,” Hashimoto said. “There is no question he is world No. 1. I knew I had to put in a perfect performance on the horizontal bar and that was difficult to do.”

Zhang had the top score on the floor exercise, the vault and the parallel bars, while finishing second-best on the rings and horizontal bar, the only apparatus where Hashimoto led the field. Both Hashimoto and Zhang suffered falls on the pommel horse.

At 19, Hashimoto became the youngest man ever to win the Olympic all-around title, at the Tokyo Games.

Defending champion Nikita Nagornyy of Russia did not travel to Japan for the worlds.

The world championships wrap up with individual event finals on Saturday and Sunday. There is no team competition in the world championships immediately after an Olympic Games.

Hashimoto will compete in the floor exercise, pommel horse, parallel bars, and horizontal bar this weekend. Zhang will compete in the finals on still rings and parallel bars.


Saint-Etienne match delayed after fans bombard and invade pitch

Saint-Etienne match delayed after fans bombard and invade pitch
Updated 22 October 2021

Saint-Etienne match delayed after fans bombard and invade pitch

Saint-Etienne match delayed after fans bombard and invade pitch
  • The latest in a series of incidents involving fans in and around Ligue 1 games this season started during the player warm up ahead of the scheduled 9pm kick off
  • Fans unfurled banners, let off a barrage of rockets and smoke bombs and invaded the pitch, damaging the goals.

SAINT-ETIENNE, France: The kick off in the Ligue 1 match between Saint Etienne and visiting Angers was delayed for an hour by protests from home fans angry at their team’s dire form.
The latest in a series of incidents involving fans in and around Ligue 1 games this season started during the player warm up ahead of the scheduled 9pm (1900 GMT) kick off.
Fans unfurled banners, let off a barrage of rockets and smoke bombs and invaded the pitch, damaging the goals.
Fans unfurled banners attacking coach Claude Puel, club leadership and the players.
“We’ve had enough talk, you’re making us crack” said one visible through the smoke.
“Puel resign,” “management resign” and “we want a team worthy of its fans” chanted the fans.
The players left the field and kick off was put back as municipal workers repaired the nets at the city-owned Geoffroy-Guichard stadium.
Saint-Etienne are last in Ligue 1, winless after 11 matches.
On Thursday, fans hung a banner on the gates of the training center which said: “Puel, you have 24 hours to resign.”
The latest incidents come just two days after the league disciplinary committee imposed a two-match suspended closure of the stadium’s south stand after incidents during the derby against Lyon on October 3.
A season of angry fans in France opened with a match between Nice and Marseille abandoned on August 22.
That was followed by a string of incidents in September.
The northern derby between Lens and Lille was overshadowed by a pitch invasion that delayed the start of the second half.
The next weekend, supporters invaded the pitch at the game between Angers and Marseille, while stones were thrown at a bus taking Bordeaux fans to their match in Montpellier, with 16 suffering minor injuries.
Nice were deducted a point. Lens were ordered to play home matches behind closed doors.


Qatar opens fifth 2022 World Cup venue

Qatar opens fifth 2022 World Cup venue
Updated 22 October 2021

Qatar opens fifth 2022 World Cup venue

Qatar opens fifth 2022 World Cup venue
  • The launch of Al Thumama stadium comes as the Gulf country seeks to operate arenas at 100 percent capacity during the World Cup
  • Qatar has so far officially inaugurated 5 of the 8 stadiums that will lay the stage for the first World Cup in the Middle East

DOHA: Qatar inaugurated on Friday its fifth stadium for the 2022 World Cup, welcoming thousands of spectators who have either recently recovered from coronavirus or have been vaccinated.
The launch of the Al Thumama stadium, 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) south of the capital Doha, comes as the Gulf country seeks to operate arenas at 100 percent capacity during the World Cup.
The 40,000-seat ground, which will host groups matches during Qatar 2022 up to the quarter-finals, hosted the domestic Emir Cup final between local clubs Al Rayyan and Al Sadd as its inaugural match.
Qatar’s ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and FIFA president Gianni Infantino attended the opening ceremony.
It was designed by Qatari architect Ibrahim M. Jaidah to resemble the ‘gahfiya’ cap, traditionally worn by men in the region.
Energy-rich Qatar has so far officially inaugurated five of the eight stadiums that will lay the stage for the first World Cup in the Middle East.
In addition to Al Thumama, Qatar has so far inaugurated new-build Ahmad Bin Ali, Al-Janoub and Education City stadiums alongside the refurbished Khalifa ground in the heart of Doha’s Aspire Zone.
Ras Abu Aboud, Al Bayt, Lusail, which will host the final match in December 2022, remain to be opened.
Following the World Cup, Al Thumama’s capacity will be reduced to 20,000, with a sports clinic and a boutique hotel set to open on site.
Fans were able to apply for tickets to Friday’s event if they either tested positive for virus antibodies, or have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Qatar, which says it vaccinated more than three quarters of its 2.75 million population, has recorded more than 238,000 infections since the beginning of the pandemic.


Jones takes charge of Newcastle games during new manager search

Jones takes charge of Newcastle games during new manager search
Updated 22 October 2021

Jones takes charge of Newcastle games during new manager search

Jones takes charge of Newcastle games during new manager search
  • Graeme Jones confirmed Friday he has been asked to take charge of the next two Premier League games
  • Jones feels Newcastle supporters have plenty to look forward to under the club’s ambitious new owners

NEWCASTLE: Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi have assured Newcastle United interim manager Graeme Jones he has a long-term future at the football club.

The Magpies have been working their way through a list of managerial candidates, following the “mutual consent” departure of Steve Bruce on Wednesday.

And on Friday, assistant Jones, promoted to the top job for the next two games, spoke of his pride at being handed the reins on a temporary basis at his boyhood club.

Ahead of the trip to Crystal Palace, former England coach Jones revealed his midweek meeting with PCP Capital Partners’ Staveley and Ghodoussi, who collectively own 10 percent of the football club, brought more than the news of his temporary promotion.

Jones said: “I spoke to the owners on Wednesday morning, and obviously they asked me to take the team on an interim basis for the next two games, Crystal Palace (tomorrow) and Chelsea at home (on Saturday, Oct. 30).

“As I’ve said previously, I’m fully focused on preparing the team as best I can, and being competitive in games.”

Jones, whose only managerial experience came during an ill-fated spell at Championship outfit Luton Town in 2019/20, continued: “I’ve had assurances, I have spoken to Mehrdad and I’ve spoken to Amanda — and I’ve been given assurances on my long-term future.

“My short-term thought process is about what I can do, this weekend and next Saturday. I think it is important for everyone going forward, I can give my genuine best in any role I’m given, starting tomorrow at Crystal Palace.”

Jones, at this stage at least, has made it clear he does not want to take the job on a permanent basis. It is unlikely he’d be offered those terms anyway, instead he would be integrated into a new coach’s model.

“I am very happy,” he said of his role at United. “I was very happy working as an assistant here. I am here just to give my best. Everything I have got for this football club, and I mean that.

“Of course, the level of responsibility has gone up.The gaffer (Bruce) has always trusted myself, Aggers and Clem to do things in the week, but now you have to pick the team. That’s what’s changed. I’ve obviously had to give that a little bit of thought.”

Newcastle United sit 19th in the Premier League table heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures.

A win over Patrick Vieira’s Eagles would see United potentially climb out of the top-flight relegation zone.

The Magpies are yet to win any of their opening eight games of the Premier League season.