Aussie jockey Caitlin Jones relishing Dubai opportunity 

Aussie jockey Caitlin Jones relishing Dubai opportunity 
Jokeys compete in the Dubai Sheema Classic horse race at the Dubai World Cup in the Meydan Racecourse on March 31, 2018 in Dubai. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 16 January 2022

Aussie jockey Caitlin Jones relishing Dubai opportunity 

Aussie jockey Caitlin Jones relishing Dubai opportunity 
  • Rider will partner He’s A Balter for trainer Will Clarken at the Dubai World Cup Carnival

A trip to the UAE will be a whole new experience for Australian jockey Caitlin Jones, who is set to partner He’s A Balter at the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

The 32-year-old is based at Morphettville in South Australia and took over from jockey Linda Meech for He’s A Balter’s most recent run, when the Will Clarken-trained gelding finished third in the Listed Christmas Handicap at Morphettville on Dec. 11.

That run set He’s A Balter up perfectly for the trip to Dubai, where he will be aimed at the carnival’s lucrative turf sprint program.

Jones is excited about the opportunity.

“I have never been to Dubai but certainly had it as one place to travel to in the future,” she said. “Meydan is a world-class racecourse.”

She added: “The best jockeys from around the world go to Dubai to race and it will be a privilege to be among them. I’m excited to see the training facilities and the outstanding grandstand in real life, not just looking at pictures. I want to make the most of my days by learning about the culture and the making of such a fascinating city. And, of course, meeting so many new people who all have such a passion and respect for horse racing.”

Jones has an extensive background in horses. “I was in the stables in my pram at just a few days old,” she said.

The leading rider has racked up 274 winners so far, including a pair of Listed successes. Over the past six months she has built a stronger association with the Clarken stable, which will also send seven-year-old gelding Parsifal to Dubai.

“Since becoming a senior rider, I have tried to establish a place in a few stables at Morphettville as it is very competitive,” she said.

“I would say it is only over the last six months that I have got more involved with Will Clarken’s stable and try to ride as much as I possibly can for him. Todd Pannell is stable rider for him and his team, and deservedly so.”

He’s A Balter represents managing owner Anthony Panozzo, who previously traveled to Dubai with another sprinter, Illustrious Lad, which ran fifth in the 2008 Al-Quoz Sprint. That will be the ultimate target for He’s A Balter, assuming the gelding progresses through the carnival.

“There is really only one word for He’s A Balter — gentleman,” Jones said. “He’s a pleasure to ride and to be around in the stables. He enjoys pats and cuddles, but is very genuine in his efforts out on the racetrack.”

There will be plenty of pats and cuddles if He’s A Balter can bring about a famous Aussie success for his enthusiastic connections.

Ali Abdulghani wins javelin gold on successful first day for Saudi Arabia at GCC Games in Kuwait

Ali Abdulghani wins javelin gold on successful first day for Saudi Arabia at GCC Games in Kuwait
Updated 14 sec ago

Ali Abdulghani wins javelin gold on successful first day for Saudi Arabia at GCC Games in Kuwait

Ali Abdulghani wins javelin gold on successful first day for Saudi Arabia at GCC Games in Kuwait
  • Kingdom’s Mohammed Daoud Tolo and Abdullah Abkar both take silver in shot put and 100 meters
  • There were also bronze medals for Muzna Al-Nassar in the women’s 10,000m and Hammoud Al-Awani in the men’s long jump

Ali Abdulghani claimed Saudi Arabia’s first gold medal of the third GCC Games in Kuwait by winning the javelin competition on Monday.

Abdulghani took top spot on the podium with a throw of 71.15 meters.

Abdullah Abkar took the silver medal in the men’s 100 meters with a time of 10.21 seconds, while compatriot Mohammed Daoud came fourth in a time of 10.32 seconds.

Mohammed Daoud Tolo also claimed a silver for the Kingdom in the shot put after a throw of 20.49 meters, while Hammoud Al-Alwani took bronze in the long jump with a distance of 7.15 meters.

There was another silver for Saudi Arabia as Mazen Al-Yassin finished second in the men’s 400 meters with a time of 45.83 seconds.

The first medal for the women’s team came in the 10,000 meters, with Muzna Al-Nassar claiming bronze with a time of 45:32.05 minutes.

In the women’s 100 meters, the Kingdom’s Yasmine Al-Dabbagh finished fifth with a time of 12.90 seconds, while Lojien Al-Hamid came seventh in 13.72 seconds.

Saudi runner Ruaa Al-Sulaimani finished fifth in the women’s 100-meter hurdles with a time of 18.83 seconds.

Saja Jalal, who was taking part in two events, finished sixth in the women’s shot put with a distance of 6.84 meters and fifth in the long jump with leap of 3.98 meters.

In the men’s futsal competition, the Kingdom’s team kicked off with 3-1 win over Bahrain with goals from Mohsen Fakihi, Fahad Al-Rudaini and Moaz Asiri.

But the women’s futsal team did not fare so well, going down 4-1 to Bahrain in their first match.

Hate ‘alive and well’ within football, anti-racism charity says

Hate ‘alive and well’ within football, anti-racism charity says
Updated 16 May 2022

Hate ‘alive and well’ within football, anti-racism charity says

Hate ‘alive and well’ within football, anti-racism charity says
  • Two men arrested for making ‘discriminatory gestures’ at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
  • Brentford players report racial abuse against family members during game at Goodison Park

LONDON: An anti-racism charity has said “hate is alive and well within football,” after incidents were reported during Premier League matches this weekend.

Two supporters were arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated public order offenses following “discriminatory gestures” at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

London’s Metropolitan Police said the two men were ejected from the Burnley section of the ground during the Clarets’ 1-0 defeat.

Meanwhile, two Brentford players reported to police that their family members were racially abused at Goodison Park during their away match with Everton, with the Merseyside club confirming they were working with police.

“There is no place in football — or society — for racism, we are assisting Merseyside Police to ensure the individual is identified and dealt with appropriately,” it said in a statement.

Defender Rico Henry, who scored the winning goal for Brentford in a 3-2 victory, tweeted: “I never usually speak out on things that don’t physically harm me or my family but to see my mom upset after being racially abused by a few Everton fans brought fire to my stomach.”

Ivan Toney also took to Twitter to call out a supporter, whom he alleged was racially abusing his family members, saying: “And for the man that racially abused my family I’ll do everything I can to get you the punishment you deserve!”

Troy Townsend, head of player engagement at charity Kick It Out, praised the swift action of the clubs involved and said he hoped anyone found guilty of using racially aggravated language or gestures would be punished.

“We have been made aware of a spate of new alleged anti-Semitic and racist comments and gestures linked to several clubs over the weekend,” he said.

“While investigations are ongoing, we cannot comment on the specifics of cases, however, the events of the weekend once again highlight the fact that hate is still alive and well within football.

“Everton, Burnley and Tottenham all acted swiftly and we commend their energy in addressing these incidents. We hope appropriate and decisive action is taken against all those involved.”

King’s Cup final against Al-Feiha could derail Al-Hilal’s pursuit of SPL title

King’s Cup final against Al-Feiha could derail Al-Hilal’s pursuit of SPL title
Updated 16 May 2022

King’s Cup final against Al-Feiha could derail Al-Hilal’s pursuit of SPL title

King’s Cup final against Al-Feiha could derail Al-Hilal’s pursuit of SPL title
  • The reigning Saudi champions could be emotionally and physically drained by the time they face leaders Al-Ittihad four days after Thursday’s showpiece final

The latest round of games in the Saudi Professional League was postponed as a mark of respect to UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan who passed away on Friday.

It meant that the Saudi Classico, the big clash between leaders Al-Ittihad and second-placed defending champions Al-Hilal, will have to wait a little longer.

The dates have changed and this could cast a different light on the title race. Now the rivals from Jeddah and Riyadh will meet on May 23. As a reminder, the gap between the two is six points with four games remaining. If Hilal win, then the pressure will be on Al-Ittihad for the first time since they went top of the league and started pulling away. Then the fight would really be on for the final three games of the campaign.

That can still happen, but now with a difference. Before the rescheduled title decider, Al-Hilal will first have to take on Al-Feiha in Thursday’s King’s Cup final.

This adds an extra dimension to the title race. The champions would surely have preferred to face Al-Ittihad first, cut the lead to three points and then let the leaders deal with that. Now however, they have to play a prestigious — as well as emotionally and physically draining — cup final just four days earlier and then go straight into the biggest league game of the season.

And the King’s Cup final is sure to be a big deal. It is the first chance for Al-Feiha to win a major trophy. The club are in sixth place in the league and are not going to finish any higher than that. Relegation is not an issue so they can focus all their energies on the game.

“If you look at how we play then you can see that we are a difficult opponent for the big teams,” said Al-Feiha coach Vuk Rasovic. “We will do our best to make our fans happy. The King’s Cup final is a very special match for us.”

Rasovic’s men are not to be underestimated and showed that by defeating Al-Ittihad in the semi-final. The Tigers, who are aiming to win the league for the first time since 2009, may now be quite happy with that elimination. Al-Hilal are favorites to emerge victorious but it is going to be a battle and extra-time and penalties are certainly not out of the question. There is also the risk of more injuries to a team that already has a number of players in the treatment room as the league campaign reaches a climax.

For Al-Hilal, the situation is now a little similar to Liverpool’s in England. The Reds have been chasing Manchester City at the top of the English Premier League, but on Saturday had to play the FA Cup final against Chelsea. They ended up winning that game but it was a grueling and hard-fought 90 minutes, followed by extra-time and then an emotional penalty shootout triumph. Liverpool are now scheduled to play Southampton on Tuesday in a game that they have to win if they are going to keep their league ambitions alive. They then end the season at home to Wolves on Sunday. This congested fixture list is made more difficult by Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk leaving the Wembley pitch with injuries on Saturday. But while the knocks don’t seem too serious, they were worrying moments for coach Jurgen Klopp and the fans.

All of these issues leave Ramon Diaz with plenty to think about. Had the final come after the Al-Ittihad game, then the Argentine would have a clear vision on his team’s chances for the title. Now, he needs to do all he can to win the King’s Cup and hope that this does not derail Al-Hilal’s slim chances of the league.

In some ways, having so many big games is a reflection of Al-Hilal’s success but Al-Ittihad will be much the fresher of the two teams when they meet in Jeddah next week and that could make a huge difference, especially in the closing stages of the match.

There are pressures at the bottom of the table too. The relegation battle is fierce, with the bottom half of the table all in danger. Al-Taawoun will be happy they played before the postponement came into effect and won their crucial six-pointer against Al-Batin. That dragged Al-Ettifaq into the bottom three but they are expected to defeat Al-Hazem, the only team adrift at the bottom. Al-Faisaly lost on Thursday and will be watching other results anxiously. The extra days have given teams a little more time to rest ahead of a crucial few weeks — all except Al-Hilal, who have big game after big game.

What was already a long season has become a little longer and will now run from August to June. There have been plenty of stops and starts with breaks for the successful World Cup qualification campaign and various Asian Champions League games. It can’t have been easy for the players but there is still plenty of excitement for the fans, starting with the King’s Cup final on Thursday and a potential title decider just four days later.

Futsal teams kick off Saudi Arabia’s participation at third GCC Games

Futsal teams kick off Saudi Arabia’s participation at third GCC Games
Updated 16 May 2022

Futsal teams kick off Saudi Arabia’s participation at third GCC Games

Futsal teams kick off Saudi Arabia’s participation at third GCC Games
  • Both men and women’s teams will take the field, as will Kingdom’s athletics squads at the tournament in Kuwait

Saudi Arabia’s men’s and women’s futsal teams will on Monday kick off the Kingdom’s bid for glory at the third Gulf Games in Kuwait, which will run until May 31.

The Saudi national athletics team for men and women will also be part of the action on the opening day, with runner Abdullah Abkar joining the 100m qualifiers, while Youssef Masrahi, Mazen Al-Yassin and Mohammed Daoud compete in the 400m qualifiers.

In the women’s athletics, runner Ruaa Al-Sulaimani is a finalist in the 400m, Saja Jalal will compete in the long jump and shot put competitions, and her colleague Lojien Al-Hamid will run in the 100m.

Hussain Al-Hizam and Ahmed Al-Yassin will be looking for podium finishes in the pole vault final on Monday evening, and at the same time Mohammed Tolo will be aiming for gold in the final of the shot put competition. Hammoud Al-Alwani and Mohammed Al-Yami, meanwhile, will compete in the long jump.

Eddie Howe looking to finish Newcastle United’s season on a high

Eddie Howe looking to finish Newcastle United’s season on a high
Updated 16 May 2022

Eddie Howe looking to finish Newcastle United’s season on a high

Eddie Howe looking to finish Newcastle United’s season on a high
  • The Magpies welcome Arsenal to St. James’ Park knowing a win would improve their points tally on previous two campaigns

NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe is determined to make sure Newcastle United finish their campaign on a high, despite the Magpies already securing Premier League safety.

Newcastle take on Arsenal at St. James’ Park this evening looking to take their tally to 46 points, which would beat last season’s mark of 45 and 2019-20’s, which was 44.

The Gunners’ visit to Tyneside is followed up by a trip to relegation-threatened Burnley on the final day — and Howe is hopeful his players will not let their season, as well as all of their hard work, go to waste.

“Any target or objective we can pass is a good thing,” Howe said.

“The most important thing for me is we finish the season well and are professional right until the end and we show our best selves in the next two games.

“The previous two games have been difficult as we know, we’ve played two world-class teams. (It has been) Great for us in terms of knowing where we are and where we have to improve. These next two are slightly different, still tough games, but we want to go out well this season.”

That’s definitely a sentiment that seems to be echoed in the dressing room, too, with Kieran Trippier wanting to send the fans away happy for the summer, in what is the final home encounter of the season.

The England international said: “It’s a massive occasion, the last home game of the season. The fans have been unbelievable since I arrived.

“We need to look back, to criticize ourselves, but we look back to January and the steps we’ve taken since then, the results that we’ve had, we’re building,” Trippier said. “We’ve played back-to-back two of the best teams in the world so we’ve got to be proud of our performances before the last two results. We need to forget about Man City (5-0 loss), two big games coming up, two different teams fighting for different reasons so we need to match that.

“Arsenal are fighting to get in the top four, I want to help Tottenham obviously and then Burnley staying up.

“It’s two different types of matches and they’re going to be up for it so we’ve got to make sure we match that.”

Having taken over the club when it was at the foot of the Premier League table and needing to break top-flight records to stay up, things looked bleak for Howe and Newcastle on arrival.

However, things now look rosy at the club with co-owner Mehrdad Ghodoussi taking to social media to publicly thank the head coach for his efforts, after Leeds United’s loss to Chelsea meant the Magpies could no longer drop to the Championship.

On Twitter, Ghodoussi said: “When all odds were against us, when everyone doubted us, we united and forged ahead. Tonight is the result of that hard work.Thank you Eddie, you have been incredible, thank you to the coaching staff, our squad and everyone at the club, and of course our fans.”

Has Howe been thanked privately, too?

“Yes, I’ve had contact with the owners but I have contact with the owners regularly, especially at this time of year as we build and plan for lots of different things — the training ground and transfer windows etc,” he said.

“They’re happy with what has been achieved. The main goal we had when coming in has been done, so everyone connected with the club, the owners included, deserve a huge amount of credit for what’s happened. It’s very much a team success and I’m very keen to point out that everyone has contributed to that.”

Meanwhile, Howe is expecting positive progress in relation to the new deal negotiations between Newcastle and midfielder Sean Longstaff.

“I expect a positive resolution for Sean, yeah,” said the head coach.

“Fingers crossed. It’s very close to being done. I’m actually day-to-day in charge of that but fingers crossed we can get it over the line.”