Tag Archives: #Sport

A Year of Firsts In 2016

I managed to achieve a few personal “firsts” in 2016 which I feel should be acknowledged, and it all began in January at the Burns Night Supper, where I recited two poems in public for the first time ever. I felt a nice sense of accomplishment after that. You can hear my efforts from both 2016 and 2017 Suppers here:



On a regular basis I attend exhibitions but I NEVER thought I would witness the technology that effectively began the space race. Seeing the “Cosmonauts Birth of a Space Age” in the Science Museum London was incredible. Viewing Sputnik, hearing the signal she sent and seeing all that pioneering technology and reading about the history was amazing. That was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. I also managed to see the 175 Faces of Chemistry exhibition at the Royal Society of Chemistry. Here I had the surreal experience of knowing about six of the faces through Rob’s work as a chemistry lecturer. But my “first” was considering one of them a good friend who is still only in the “first phase” of her career. Dr Suze Kundu has achieved so much for her tender years and I’m sure will continue to fly high. I felt quietly proud of knowing this clever young woman who I first met as a bubbly PhD student at the Aberdeen Science Festival 2012.

During the spring I saw The Three Degrees perform at the Crewe Lyceum Theatre for the first and probably only time. Although I’ve attended many concerts and theatre shows, I never cease to marvel at seeing acts I’ve known about since childhood. I still pinch myself at the wonder of it. The Three Degrees were as beautifully attired as I remembered, with vocals as wonderful as ever, and a real class act. At the same theatre in the autumn I witnessed a Q&A with Dame Joan Collins a style of show I hadn’t seen before, although I had seen Joan do pantomime a few years ago.

Toward the end of the football season 2015/16 I decided to get into “pre-season” training immediately. I had thought of doing it before but dismissed the idea fairly quickly. But doing football commentary from the top end of the main stand at Gresty Road needs stamina, and a three month layoff is no good for the body at the start of a new campaign. So I began a proper exercise routine the day after Crewe Alexandra’s last home match. With the aid of a few home exercise DVDs’ I devised my own workout sequence and kept at it, even when I discovered muscles I didn’t know existed and found general movement (especially sitting down/getting up) difficult. Gradually the shock left my system and come August I bounded up the main stand stairs like Rocky in the film. It was with great restraint I didn’t throw my arms aloft and start dancing around. But I did emulate Rocky inside my head which felt good.

The big sensation of the summer was the Pokémon Go craze and Rob jumped on board within a few short weeks. It got him into exercise as well because walks were suddenly on the agenda and I joined the Pokémon bandwagon the third week of August. I had never done any kind of real computer gaming before, and my coordination is such I don’t use the phone much whilst walking, as something is bound to come a cropper. So I learned a new game and by doing so vastly improved my general coordination. And a bonus is the wonderful sunrises, sunsets and morning/evening birdsong I’ve enjoyed witnessing so much. For a while the walks replaced the workout sessions, although I’m trying to mix the two together now, because each has its place. The added bonus to all this activity is I’ve managed to shave a number of inches and pounds off my frame as well.

Captured on Camera Keele Squirrel
                                Captured on Camera Keele Squirrel

I finally got around to visiting the observatory for the first time, to witness the transit of Mercury in May, a few months short of my 25th Keele arrival anniversary. The observatory was always somewhere I was going to visit but never got round to it. Another Keele first was finally getting a really good photo of the areas main resident, the grey squirrel. Armed with a new digital camera with a huge optical zoom, I at last captured decent images of these distinct Keelites. I’m also working on some bird photography too.

Little Robin Redbreast
               Little Robin Redbreast

Last year was particularly good for moon watching and I can hardly believe I’ve got images which make me think of films from the lunar landings. It was the first time I had ever considered turning my camera toward the moon, but I’m so glad I got the idea.

Super Moon
                                                           Super Moon

In November I had the pleasure of being a volunteer at the local Fenton Manor Sports Complex. My first time ever at a table tennis event, and it was an international European qualifier match England v Greece. I know absolutely nothing about the game but learned quickly as I undertook my duties as a “live scorer”. England was victorious after a nail biting tie-break set and as we wrapped up the evening, I discovered that 600 had been in the venue and 2.2 million had watched on Bible Sport!! Next day I Googled the site and came across footage of the match (with me in it from a distance), and managed to glean some screen shots for the photo album, another first from the experience.

I’ve always felt privileged to have seen Torvill & Dean perform their Olympic winning routine Bolero after they turned professional and went on tour. I didn’t think I would see another Olympic performance again. But at the London International Horse Show at Olympia I witnessed Charlotte Dujardin & Valegro perform their Gold medal routine from London 2012. I didn’t see it at the time nor afterwards. What an honour to see this pair perform together for one last time to say goodbye. My first ever equine Olympic experience was simply sublime to witness and a glorious way to end my year of “firsts”.

Valegro's Last Performance
                                 Valegro’s Last Performance
Goodbye Charlotte Dujardin & Valegro
                        Goodbye Charlotte Dujardin & Valegro


Four years ago I fulfilled my London 2012 Olympic volunteering duties at Old Trafford. The next day I was doing my regular shift for hospital radio, gathering requests and airing my “Angie’s Allsorts” music show. This is my very own dedicated tribute to the Olympic Games ideal, with Olympic year hits, Olympic sports trivia and musical references to every decade of the modern day games since the 1900s.


ELBOW with FIRST STEPS (2012 BBC theme tune- 2010s)

Request (outside usual time slot): BUDDY HOLLY with IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYMORE (1950s)

ELVIS PRESLEY with IT’S NOW OR NEVER (best seller of 1960-Rome games- 1960s)

Linking Lyrics Artist of the Week: ENYA

ENYA with ANYWHERE IS (2000s)

ENYA with ON MY WAY HOME (2000s)

Rarity Record of the Week:

OLYMPIA BORONAT with LES HEUGENOT from Meerbeer (recorded 1908-London’s 1st games)

CELINE DION with MY HEART WILL GO ON (reference to 1912 and Titanic sinking-1990s)

AL JOLESON with I’M SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD (1920s- big star in 1910s as well)

BANGLES with ETERNAL FLAME (for the Olympic torch/flame-1980s)





THE NEW SEEKERS with I’D LIKE TO TEACH THE WORLD TO SING (best seller 1972-Munich)

GARY BARLOW/COMMONWEALTH SINGERS with SING (2012-London’s 3rd games)

Duration: 1 hr 18m 27s

If you would like to listen to my show you can stream it from here:


My Historical Euro All-Star X1

Twenty-four teams will contest the European Football Championships in France this year. Surprisingly only nine teams have won the tournament with twelve finalists in total, since the contest began in 1960.

I have come up with an all-star team selection of players spanning the lifetime of the championships. My inspiration was a select UEFA 50 list used for a competition, and members of the list had to fulfil at least two of the following criteria:

Featured in at least a semi-final

Featured in a team of the tournament (ref: ToT)

Featured as the Euro top scorer (ref: TS)

Featured in an iconic moment (ref: IM)

From 1960-1976 only four nations competed for the title of European Champions. This increased to eight from 1980-1992 and then sixteen from 1996-2012. As a result some names I expected to see as a UEFA option were not offered, for example Cruyff and Kahn.

Anyway, I’ve decided to comprise my team of players who can represent every winning country and two other finalists. My players represent every decade the tournament has been played. So here is my All-Star XI team using a 4-3-3 formation:

PETER SCHMEICHEL: Goal Keeper: 1992 winner Denmark (ToT)

I thought about having Yashin the Soviet Union keeper for 60 & 64 instead of Schmeichel but wanted the big Dane between the posts. Interestingly from the keeper options; (Buffon, Casillas, Yashin, Schmeichel and Zoff); Yashin has been the ONLY keeper EVER named European Player of the Year, which is a travesty.

GIACINTO FACCHETTI: Defender left-back: 1968 winner Italy (ToT)

FRANZ BECKENBAUER: Defender centre-back/sweeper: 1972 winner Germany (ToT). Germany has also won in 1980 & 1996.

ANTON ONDRUS: Defender centre back/sweeper: 1976 winner Czechoslovakia (ToT).  He also won the bronze medal in 1980.

SERGIO RAMOS: Defender right back: 2008 & 2012 winner Spain (2012 ToT). Spain’s previous win was in 1964.

MICHEL PLATINI: Midfielder: 1984 winner France-(ToT), player of tournament & TS (9). France won again in 2000. I had grave reservations in naming Platini due to his recent fall from grace in the game, but I wanted another player from the 80s. My more natural French choice is, and always will be, Zinedine Zidane the French captain in 2000.

THEODOROS ZAGORAKIS: Midfielder: 2004 winner Greece-(ToT), player of the tournament.

DRAGAN DZAJIC: Midfielder (left winger): 1968 finalist Yugoslavia-(ToT in 68 & 76). Yugoslavia was also a finalist in 1960.

MARCO VAN BASTEN: Striker: 1988 winner Netherlands-(ToT), best player of the tournament, TS (5), IM (volley against Soviet Union in final)

VALENTIN IVANOV: Striker: 1960 winner Soviet Union-joint TS (2). Also a finalist in 1964.

CRISTIANO RONALDO: Striker: 2004 finalist Portugal-(ToT 2004 & 2012). He has scored six goals in the Euro Championships so far.

I liked the idea of having strikers from the infancy of the European Championships through to its more mature years. Van Basten was the obvious choice to me for the “middle years” and so I avoided Denmark’s Brian Laudrup from 1992 and picked Schmeichel instead. This meant Ivanov for the Soviet Union could represent the early years in my strike force.

The only Euro finalist without a representative is Belgium from 1980 beaten 2-1 by Germany. There wasn’t any player from that country mentioned in the list of fifty.

My substitute’s bench would include at least one player to cover each position.

Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy finalist 2012, (ToT 2008 & 2012).

Midfielder: Pavel Nedved (Czech Republic finalist 1996, (ToT 2004))

Defender: Paolo Maldini (Italy finalist 2000, (ToT 1988, 1996 & 2000)

Striker: Alan Shearer (England semi-finalist 1996-(ToT, TS (5) and second most prolific scorer in the Euro championships with a total of seven goals. Only Platini has scored more goals (9) but Cristiano Ronaldo may over take both men if he has a good 2016 tournament!

Muhammad Ali a Sporting Icon of Our Time

The great boxing icon Muhammad Ali passed away on June 3rd 2016 aged 74, the news heralding worldwide tributes to his legacy. I would like to add my own thoughts on the subject, having seen and heard only a little of the “official” news tributes.

At a very young age I began taking an interest in the noble art of boxing, and Muhammad Ali was probably the first “big name” I can remember hearing about and watching. Ali graced the ring with a swagger and an elegance that belied his heavyweight fighting category. Some of his battles would enter into boxing folklore legend, “Rumble in the Jungle” (Foreman v Ali: Zaire: 30th October 1974) and “Thrilla in Manila” (Ali v Frazier: Philippines: 1st October 1975). These took place well before my sixth birthday and helped foster in me a love of boxing as a sport. To me, no one could match Muhammad Ali’s greatness in the heavyweight ring.

I have always enjoyed good interview programs and Michael Parkinson’s encounters with Ali were particularly memorable. Muhammad Ali always came across as a supremely confident man (some would say arrogant), who was like a breath of fresh air, as he spoke his mind in a most articulate and mesmerising way. On discovering Ali threw his 1960 Olympic gold medal into a river after being disrespected in his native US, I felt he was a man of principal. That same principal saw him change his “slave name” Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali on his conversion to Islam. Ali also refused to fight in the Vietnam War in the late 60s, and consequently the boxing authorities shamefully banned him from the sport for 3.5 years, and stripped away his boxing titles. All these actions highlighted Ali as a man of principal in an era when the United States of America was still in the grip of deep racial inequality. Muhammad Ali was a man of his time and of his people, who managed to transcend the shackles of his country’s treatment.

Muhammad Ali was a once in a generation athlete. Like Eric Liddell a man who didn’t sacrifice his religious principles during the 1924 Olympics. Yet Eric ran to feel God’s pleasure in a 400m gold winning effort. Like Jesse Owens who by winning four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics, singularly routed Adolf Hitler’s belief in white supremacy. Ali was a man of his people, in a similar way I guess, to Cathy Freeman representing her Aboriginal heritage in the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Ali was a man with an incredible aura who earned hard won respect from the sporting fraternity, rather like Sir Alex Ferguson. The boxer who described himself as “The Greatest” clearly had an ego as big as “The Special One” Jose Mourinho. In these two iconic men of football we see glimpses of the qualities of greatness that made Ali unique and a worldwide sporting phenomenon.

Muhammad Ali spoke his mind and didn’t give a damn who heard, or what they thought. Today’s sport is extremely sanitised and demands a universal conformity that makes athletes appear bland to the point of insignificance. As a result we can truly say there will never be a sports person like Ali again. And the world will be a poorer place for it. RIP Muhammad Ali your legacy will live on.


On another fine day at Cheltenham the course Going was officially Good.

A glorious site the cheltenham grandstand. image credit @Channel4Racing
A glorious site the Cheltenham Grandstand. Image credit @Channel4Racing

1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1): Distance 2m 1f: Fences 8: 15R

The back marker from the start was Footpad about three to four lengths behind the main field at the first fence. Big McIntosh made all the early running gaining a lead of three to four lengths over Let’s Dance by the second hurdle. Following behind came Clan Des Obeaux, Who Dares Wins, Sceau Royal, Apple’s Jade, Frodon, Ivanovich Gorbatov, Gibralfaro, Zubayr, Connetable, Leoncavallo, Consul De Thaix, Tommy Silver and lastly Footpad. As Big McIntosh remained at the head of the field Ivanovich Gorbatov kept a steady 8th/9th position in the pack. With three to go Apple’s Jade had caught the leader Big McIntosh with Gibralfaro in third. Only two from home and Ivanovich Gorbatov still remained further back in the field but was moving quickly to reduce the three length lead advantage that Apple’s Jade had with B J Cooper on board. Also finding space to travel through the field showing a deft touch was Ruby Walsh on Footpad. At the final flight Ivanovich Gorbatov was challenging Apple’s Jade out in front whilst Footpad had gone from last to third between the seventh and final fence! Ivanovich Gorbatov took victory by 1 ¼ lengths as 9-2 race favourite. In second came Apple’s Jade at 12-1 six lengths ahead of Footpad in third at 5-1 2F odds.

2.10 Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3): Distance 2m 1f: Fences 8: 26R

SternRubin was off and running first along with Zamdy Man and an eager Great Field making the front three going into the second flight. MontBazon was a faller here and jockey Wayne Hutchinson received treatment as the race continued. This resulted in the final hurdle being by-passed but thankfully Hutchinson was able to walk off the course unaided. With six to go Superb Story was about half way down the field but travelling well alongside All Yours and Draco, as Great Field held the front position with SternRubin and Zamdy Man on the shoulder. Three out and Wait For Me was making ground and Superb Story was going strong. By this point SternRubin had taken the lead with Fethard Player moving into second and Great Field slipping to third. With only one hurdle remaining Superb Story managed to manoeuvre between SternRubin and Fethard Player to take them on. At the finishing post Superb Story at 8-1 was victorious by 2 ½ lengths over 33-1 Fethard Player. Three and a half lengths behind 33-1 SternRubin was third just a head in front of fourth placed 7-1 JF Wait For Me.

Superb Story has a fairytale finish. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Superb Story has a fairytale finish. Image credit @Channel4Racing

2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (SPA) (Grade 1): Distance 3m: Fences12: 19R NR Solstice Star

Up For Review and Barters Hill met the first flight ahead of the field and formed a four horse wall with Atlantic Gold and Allysson Monterg by the second. With a circuit remaining the front of field read Up For Review, Barters Hill, Champers On Ice, Atlantic Gold, Allysson Monterg, Jonniesofa, Definite Outcome, Aurillac with UNoWhatIMeanHarry and Fagan off the pace. Long Dog ridden by Ruby Walsh took a bad tumble before the eighth from home and Bleu Et Rouge fell with five to go. UNoWhatIMeanHarry and Fagan had made great progress travelling through the field and occupied third and fifth place respectively two from home, as Champers On Ice took on the unbeaten Barters Hill as they charged for the final flight. Jockey Ruby Walsh standing beside the final fence indicated to the riders to move wide as they jumped, possibly due to something on the course he felt had caused his horse to stumble. On landing the last hurdle with the home straight looming it was UNoWhatIMeanHarry that had a small advantage over Barters Hill as Champers On Ice and Fagan followed. At the finishing post 1 ¼ lengths separated 11-1 UNoWhatIMeanHarry and 33-1 Fagan in second place. One and a half lengths behind the front two 20-1 Champers On Ice was third 1 ¾ lengths ahead of fourth placed Barters Hill at 4-1 2F odds.

UNoWhatIMeanHarry being led into the winners enclosure. Image credit @Channel4Racing
UNoWhatIMeanHarry being led into the winners enclosure. Image credit @Channel4Racing

3.30 Timico Cheltenham GOLD CUP Chase (Grade 1): Distance 3m 2 ½ f: Fences 22: 9R NR Road To Riches

At the first flight Smad Place blundered but kept poll position at the head of the field. With 15 to go Smad Place led O’Faolains Boy, Djakadam, Don Cossack, Cue Card, On His Own, Carlingford Lough, Don Poli and Irish Cavalier the back marker. Ten from home Smad Place had a two length advantage over O’Faolains Boy with Don Cossack, Djakadam and Cue Card forming a front five grouping, whilst Don Poli lagged around eight lengths behind amongst the others. But the early fast pace had a telling effect as Smad Place and O’Faolains Boy began to fade. Cue Card was challenging going into the third last fence but fell heavily leaving Don Cossack and Djakadam to fight for victory. As Brian Cooper drove his charge forward he opened up a three to four length advantage over Djakadam between flights 21 and 22. In the finishing home straight 9-2 Djakadam kept fighting but couldn’t reign in the 9-4 race favourite Don Cossack. The winning distance was 4 ½ lengths and ten lengths behind Djakadam in third place came Don Poli at 9-2 odds.

Don Cossack leaps the final flight. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Don Cossack leaps the final flight. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.10 St James’s Palace Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup: Distance 3m 2 ½ f: Fences 22: 24R

Victoria Pendleton the Olympic cycling champion having taken up horse riding was aboard Pacha Du Polder in this race. She was last in the field beside Need To Know going into the first flight. Pendleton had slightly improved Pacha Du Polder’s position to third last followed by Morito and Camden with 13 to go. After the first circuit the main running order was Alskamatic, Major Malarkey, Current Exchange, Paint The Clouds, Impact Area, Cave Hunter, Richmond and Pacha Du Polder was fifth last at this point. Major Malarkey had gained a five length lead over Alskamatic ten from home and On The Fringe was around twelfth going into the back straight. Camden pulled up with about seven fences remaining. Five out and Major Malarkey had increased his advantage to around seven or eight lengths with Current Event in second Alskamatic third and Mendip Express fourth. But two horses not really in any contention so far were fast making up ground On The Fringe and Morito. Although Major Malarkey still had a good lead two from home against Current Event by the final flight On The Fringe and Morito were piling on the pressure and eating up the ground. At the finishing post 13-8 favourite On The Fringe won by a neck over 14-1 Marito. A length behind Paint The Clouds the 9-2 2F was third and Current Event at 14-1 odds came in a further length back. Pacha Du Polder having picked off the competition came in a credible fifth.

On The Fringe & Miss N Carberry. Image credit @Channel4Racing
On The Fringe & Miss N Carberry. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdele: Distance 2m 4f 56y: Fences unknown: 24R

Winner: Ibis Du Rheu 14-1 by 1 ¼ lengths over Second: Flying Angel at 8-1 2F odds. 1 ¼ lengths behind in Third: Sky Khan 50-1 six lengths in front of Fourth: Tully East at 50-1 odds.

5.30 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup (Handicap) (Grade 3): Distance 2m 62y: Fences unknown: 24R

Winner: Solar Impulse 28-1 by 3 ¾ lengths over Second: Dandridge 8-1 J2F just half a length in front of Third: Rock the World 9-2 F by 1 ¾ lengths over Fourth: Savello at 25-1 odds.


Lovely clear blue skies and sunny conditions greeted race goers today with the official ground Going as Good (Good to Soft in places). Will St Patrick bring more luck to the Irish this week?

The Luck of the Irish 6 from 7 wins on day 3. Image credit @Channel4Racing
The Luck of the Irish 6 from 7 wins on day 3. Image credit @Channel4Racing

1.30 JLT Novices Chase (Grade 1): Distance 2m 4f: 16 Fences: 9R NR King’s Odyssey

Drama unfolded when a standing start resulted in Zabana not even beginning the race but unseating its jockey instead. Davy Russell had his back to the starter at a ninety degree angle, and was making a turn when the race got underway. Outlander was severely impeded as well but did manage to get going. The early back markers were Three Musketeers and As De Mee with Bristol De Mai and Black Hercules meeting the first hurdle ahead of the field. With twelve to go Bristol De Mai led Mount Gunnery followed by Black Hercules on the inside, Outlander, Garde La Victoire, L’Ami Serge and the two back markers. Loose horse Zabana ran across the front of the field going into the back straight but didn’t cause too much trouble mercifully. Three fences later Three Musketeers at the back began to show signs of improvement in the race, whilst Black Hercules joined Bristol De Mai at the front. Garde La Victoire and Outlander were fallers four from home. The running order going into the next fence was Bristol De Mai, Black Hercules, L’Ami Serge, Three Musketeers, As De Mee and Mount Gunnery. L’Ami Serge who was travelling wide cut across Black Hercules at the second last hurdle due to a tendency of jumping toward the left. With L’Ami Serge now on the rails Black Hercules had the space to accelerate toward the last flight unhindered by the remainder of the field. At the finish Black Hercules a 4-1 joint favourite took victory by three lengths over the other 4-1 joint favourite Bristol De Mai. A length behind in third place came L’Ami Serge at 8-1 odds. Black Hercules gave jockey Ruby Walsh his fiftieth Cheltenham Festival winner.

Black Hercules & Ruby Walsh. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Black Hercules & Ruby Walsh. Image credit @Channel4Racing

2.10 Pertemps Network Final (Listed Handicap Hurdle): Distance 3m: 12 Fences: 24R

Flintham made most of the early running and had a six length advantage at one point over Rolling Maul. With nine fences to go Western Warrior made a bad mistake and was last but one in the field with only Box Office behind. The front two remained the same with four to go as If In Doubt picked up on the outside and the field began to reduce Flintham’s leading margin. Mall Dini was going better two from home as Flintham looked vulnerable and under pressure. At the finish Mall Dini at 14-1 odds had a ¾ length winning margin over 14-1 Arpege D’Alene, only a head in front of 10-1 If In Doubt. One and a half lengths behind Taglietelle at 14-1 came in fourth.

2.50 Ryanair Chase (Grade 1): Distance 2m 5f: 17 Fences: 15R

At the first fence Vautour held the sixth or seventh spot whilst Captain Conan and Oscar Rock were the back markers. With fourteen jumps to go Dynaste, Oscar Rock and Champagne West were at the rear of the field as Village Vic and Road To Riches strode out in front. Vautour travelling nicely on the inside was third followed by Smashing, Al Ferof, Josses Hill and Gilgamboa. The head of the field remained much the same and by eight from home Valseur Lido was beginning to make headway and was placed around eighth. With four jumps remaining Vibrato Valtat fell and Vautour had a half length advantage over Road To Riches at the front followed by Al Ferof, Village Vic and Valseur Lido. At the final turn two from home Vautour accelerated gaining a three length lead over Road To Riches with Al Ferof and Valseur Lido behind. With every stride Vautour’s pace increased and he was a worthy evens favourite winner by six lengths ahead of Valseur Lido at 11-1 just half a length ahead of Road To Riches the 7-2 2F.

3.30 Ryanair World Hurdle: Distance 3m: Fences 12: 12R NR Un Temps Pour Tout

Thistleback winner of the Ryanair World Hurdle. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Thistleback winner of the Ryanair World Hurdle. Image credit @Channel4Racing

With nine to go the running order was Cole Harden, Kilcooley, Martello Tower, Bobs Worth, Saphir Du Rheu, At Fishers Cross, Whisper, Alpha Des Obeaux, Thistlecrack, Knockara Beau, Aux Ptits Soins and Lieutenant Colonel the back marker. Two fences later and Thistleback had moved into fourth place having powered through the field. Three from home and third placed Kilcooley and Lieutenant Colonel both made mistakes, recovered but fell from any contention. At this point Cole Harden had a ¾ length advantage over Thistleback and at the second last fence both horses jumped together alongside Alpha Des Obeaux. Thistleback then surged toward the final flight and the finishing post unchallenged and secured victory by seven lengths as evens favourite. Alpha Des Obeaux at 8-1 was second and twenty two lengths behind Bobs Worth at 33-1 rolled in third.

Bobs Worth with trainer Nicky Henderson. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Bobs Worth with trainer Nicky Henderson. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.10 Merribelle Stable Plate (Grade 3 Handicap CHS): Distance 2m 4f 166y: Fences: 22R NR Tenor Nivernais and La Vaticane

The standing start in this race went much better than in the first. Sadly NiceOneFrankie suffered a fatal accident during the race.

Winner: Empire Of Dirt 16-1 by four lengths over Second: Tango Du Juilley at 33-1 by 1 ¼ lengths over Third: Kings Palace 11-1. A further 2 ½ lengths behind in Fourth: Full Shift at 7-1.

A giant leap for Empire Of Dirt. Image credit @Channel4Racing
A giant leap for Empire Of Dirt. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.50 Trull House Stud Mares’ Novice Hurdle (Grade 2): Distance 2m 179 y: Fences unknown: 16R NR Tara Flow

Winner: Limini 8-11F by 4 ½ lengths over Second: Dusky Legend 50-1 by 2 ½ lengths over Third: Bloody Mary 7-1 just a half length in front of Robins Reef at 25-1.

5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Amateur Riders): Distance 3m 2f: Fences unknown: 22R NR Your Busy and Waldorf Salad

Winner: Cause Of Causes 9-2 2F by a massive 12 lengths over Second: A Good Skin at 14-1 just half a length ahead of Third: SilverGrove 16-1. Five lengths behind in Fourth: Knock House at 16-1.


The weather looked bright and sunny at Cheltenham today with the course Going described as Good (Good to Soft in places).

Cheltenham In The Sun. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Cheltenham In The Sun. Image credit @Channel4Racing

1.30 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade1): Distance 2m 5f: 10 Fences: 11R

Thomas Hobson took the initiative from the start with Its’AFreeBee alongside and with eight to go AToiPhil, OO Seven and Ghost River were bunched just behind the front two runners. Not a great deal changed in this order as the race progressed although with six jumps remaining Thomas Hobson had pulled a two length advantage over Its’AFreeBee. It was at this point with a circuit to go that Yala Enki pulled up. OO Seven on the inside rail had to fight for room with AToiPhil directly alongside and Ghost River pushing on the outside, but all three horses still had Its’AFreeBee and Thomas Hobson narrowly out in front with four hurdles left. The back marker from the start remained Vigil. With three flights to go and the field tightly bunched Yanworth was forced to travel on the outside as Ghost River and Bello Conti kept him wide. Yanworth looked to be in eighth place with about three jumps left as only two horses were travelling behind. A slight error at the third last obstacle didn’t help Yanworth at a time when Yorkhill tucked on the inside found the space to travel with ease toward the front. At the last flight Yanworth landed about four lengths behind Yorkhill and although the horse battled right to the line the gap couldn’t be closed completely. Yorkhill at    3-1 2F odds took victory by 1 ¾ lengths over 11-10 favourite Yanworth. Seven lengths behind ItsAFreeBee came in third at 33-1.

Yorkhill and Yanworth battle to the line. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Yorkhill and Yanworth battle to the line. Image credit @Channel4Racing

2.10 RSA Chase Grade 1: Distance 3m ½ f: 20 Fences: 8R

SeeYouAtMidnight took the lead going into the first with Le Mercurey in second and Roi Des Francs third. On the first circuit going into the water jump SeeYouAtMidnight still made the running with Roi Des Francs and Le Mercurey having swapped places. Just behind came Blacklion then Vyta Du Roc on the inside, No More Heroes out wide with More Of That tucked behind, and Shaneshill the back marker of the field. With nine to go Shaneshill remained detached from the field with More Than That narrowly ahead. A four horse wall comprising of Vyta Du Roc on the inside, Blacklion, No More Heroes in the middle and Le Mercurey out wide blocked the back two’s progress whilst vying for contention. Four from home all the horses jumped well and No More Heroes was in a good position to make a move. With three flights remaining Shaneshill was making up distance and closing fast, and No More Heroes landed ahead of the field. At the turn going into the home straight Roi Des Francs and No More Heroes were out in front, Vyta Du Roc had fallen off the pace and More Of That, Shaneshill and Blacklion were fighting hard for third, fourth and fifth places. Roi Des Francs pulled up suddenly and No More Heroes pushed in front two from home. But the advantage was lost at the final obstacle when No More Heroes landed awkwardly, head down with legs not seeming quite so steady. This gave Blacklion and Shaneshill the opportunity to go past and fight for victory. Blacklion at 8-1 managed to win by half a length over 16-1 Shaneshill a horse that had eaten up the ground in the latter stages of the race, and could possibly have won had it not occupied the back marker position for so long. Five lengths behind Shaneshill came third placed More Than That the 6-4 race favourite. After the race No More Heroes was given extensive treatment for a serious tendon injury and early reports suggested the horse had been put down, but at the time of writing treatment continues for the horse. More Of That was reported to have suffered a burst blood vessel.

Blacklion with Shaneshill closing. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Blacklion with Shaneshill closing. Image credit @Channel4Racing

2.50 Coral Cup (Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3): Distance 2m 5f: 10 Fences: 26R

The first five horses to reach the first obstacle were Beast Of Burden, One For Harry, Baron Alco, Ubak and Blazer in fifth. Going into the fourth flight Baron Alco was ahead of Ubak followed by Hunters Hoof, Beast Of Burden and Blazer whilst Politologue began to get more involved in the race. Diamond King was running well in the middle of the field as was Long House Hall travelling out wide but fast. Three out Beast Of Burden fell off the pace and at the turn for the home straight Blazer put on a chase closing down Baron Alco and Ubak the front runners. At the last jump Ubak and Long House Hall at the head of the field leapt close together but Diamond King on their inside with a huge effort bypassed the two on landing and thundered toward the finishing post, securing victory by 1 ¼ lengths at 12-1. Long House Hall at 16-1 edged into second place by a neck with 28-1 Ubak in third just half a length in front of fourth placed Blazer an 8-1 2JF.

3.30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1): Distance 2m: 12 Fences: 10 R

Sizing Granite nearly fell at the first hurdle and never quite recovered pulling up with six jumps remaining. Special Tiara and Un De Sceaux took to the front from the start and Sprinter Sacre was running well in third with eleven to go. Special Tiara landed awkwardly at the third fence but kept going to maintain a half length advantage over Un De Sceaux with Sprinter Sacre around two lengths further back. Not far behind the third horse followed Somersby, God’s Own and Dodging Bullets. Special Tiara was forced wide on the corner three from home as Un De Sceaux nudged ahead. But Sprinter Sacre was in a position to move as well and by the second last hurdle had gained a four to five length lead. A massive cheer roared from the huge crowd as ten year old Sprinter Sacre with a heart condition that kept him off the track for two years strode to victory. The horse won by 3 ½ lengths at 5-1 2F odds whilst Un De Sceaux the 4-6 race favourite battled to take second place by a nose over 16-1 Special Tiara.

Nico de Boinville hugs Sprinter Sacre. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Nico de Boinville hugs Sprinter Sacre. Image credit @Channel4Racing

4.10 Glenfarclas Chase (Cross Country): Distance 3m 6f: 32 Fences: 16R

Valadom went into an early lead and stayed there before running out of steam with four jumps to go. Fifteen year old Uncle Junior was the early back marker. With 25 fences remaining Love Rory had moved to second with Any Currency third and Balthazar King sixth. The first six horses were strung out in front with Valadom having a four length advantage over Love Rory after twelve jumps. Balthazar King was a faller with around 17 to go (described by TV commentators as the second fence of the cheese wedge!). With ten obstacles remaining Valadom still led with Any Currency in second but Love Rory running in third suddenly pulled up and was out of the race. Three fences later and Josies Orders had moved into fifth place and Bless The Wings was travelling well. Four from home Valadom began to fade, Any Currency took the lead and Third Intention was looming large. With only one jump to go both Josies Orders and Quantitativeeasing were hitting a good run and Bless The Wings was making an impact too. At the final flight Any Currency and Bless The Wings were together with Josies Orders flying toward them. Victory by a length went to 11-1 Any Currency with Josies Orders the 15-8 favourite taking second place. Just 1 ¼ lengths behind Bless The Wings was third at 33-1 and five lengths back Quantitativeeasing was fourth at 9-1 odds.

Aidan Coleman wins on board 13 year old Any Currency. Image credit @Channel4Racing
Aidan Coleman wins on board 13 year old Any Currency. Image credit @Channel4Racing

 4.50 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3): Distance 2m 87y: Fences unknown: 22 R

Winner: Diego Du Charmil 13-2 2F won by a head over Second: Romain De Senam at 20-1 odds just a half length in front of Third: Coo Star Sivola at 16-1. In Fourth: Missy Tata at 10-1 was 3 ¼ lengths behind the third horse.

5.30 Weatherby’s Champion Bumper (Standard Open National Hunt Flat) (Grade 1): Distance 2m 87y: Fences unknown: 23R NR King Uther.

Winner: BallyAndy 5-1 2F won by a nose over Second: Battleford at 25-1odds two lengths in front of Third: Bacardys at 16-1 odds just a length ahead of Fourth: Castello Sforza 11-1.