sport Sports newspaper of the year Saturday March 17 2018 José on United warpath Mourinho in extraordinary 12-minute rant pages 2-3 Going Native Johnson’s Gold Cup triumph denies Henderson unique treble Pages 12-13 English teams collide Manchester City face Liverpool in European tie pages 4-5 Grigg: rugby helped Henry Winter interviews top FA Cup scorer pages 6-7 COVER PHOTO BY TIMES PHOTOGRAPHER MARC ASPLAND 2 3G S Saturday March 17 2018 | the times Sport Football Mourinho: City have a stronger heritage Paul Hirstt United have faded compared with rivals Recent finishes in the League 1st 2nd 3rd José Mourinho belittled Manchester United’s heritage and elements of his own squad as he launched an impassioned defence of his Old Trafford reign yesterday and insisted that he had no intention of leaving. In a scene reminiscent of Rafa Benítez’s famous “facts” rant about Sir Alex Ferguson in 2009, Mourinho embarked on a 12-and-a-half-minute rant during a fiery press conference at Carrington. Emboldened by a positive meeting on Thursday with the executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and managing director Richard Arnold, who gave Mourinho their full support, the United manager hit back at his critics in extraordinary fashion 24 hours later. Stung by criticism of his management following Tuesday’s Champions League round-of-16 exit to Seville, Mourinho claimed that: 6 Manchester City have a stronger heritage than United. 6 He inherited a substandard squad that will not be able to challenge City unless Pep Guardiola does not spend a penny this summer. 6 His players need to “grow up” and learn to deal with pressure. 6 His squad is so weak that many Seville players could get into the United team. 6 United’s recent record in domestic and European competition was worthy of mockery. Mourinho began his press conference in defiant tone. “Hello. I’m alive. I’m here,” he said as he sat down. Then followed a largely uninterrupted lengthy monologue in which he defended his reign in the strongest possible terms, describing those who had criticised him as “idiots”. In all, the press conference lasted 23 minutes. The contents shocked some club officials, as did his tone. Mourinho raised his voice to hammer home his point on several occasions, shocking those in the room. He read out a list of United’s recent record in Europe, pointing out that only 4th 5th 6th Mourinho’s first season 7th 8th 2010-11 11-12 12-13 13-14 14-15 15-16 16-17 How Mourinho’s spending compares and the stars he inherited Mourinho suggested he didn't inherit as many strong players as Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. However the following have played regularly yet were signed by previous managers: Marouane Fellaini (Moyes), Juan Mata (Moyes), Marcus Rojo (Van Gaal), Anthony Martial (Van Gaal), Ander Herrera (Van Gaal), Daley Blind (Van Gaal). Marcus Rashford was also given his debut by Van Gaal David Moyes 2013-14 £65m Louis van Gaal 2014-15 2015-16 £145m Jose Mourinho 2016-17 2017-18 £151m £145m £146m once had the club made the Champions League quarter-finals since they last reached the final in 2011. “So, in seven years with four different managers, once not qualified for Europe, twice out in the group phase and the best was a quarter-final,” he said. “This is football heritage.” In a comment that is certain to annoy United fans, Mourinho pointed out that their local rivals City had enjoyed far more success of late because of what he thinks is a history of misplaced investment in new players at Old Trafford. “In the last seven years, the worst position of Manchester City in the Premier League was fourth,” he said. “In the last seven years, Manchester City was champions twice and if you want to say three times because they will be [champions again] in one more week, two, three or four, and they were second twice. That’s heritage. “Do you know what is also heritage? It’s that [Nicolás] Otamendi, Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho, [David] Silva, Appearances under Mourinho All competitions Mourinho signings Rashford 94 Martial 81 Herrera 80 Pogba 78 Mata 76 Fellaini 65 Blind 54 Bailly 52 Rojo 51 [Raheem] Sterling, [Sergio] Agüero — they are investments from the past, not from the last two years. “Do you know how many of United players that left the club last season? See where they play. Where they play, how they play, if they play. That’s football heritage.” Mourinho claimed he had the full backing of the board. The Times understands that the meeting with Woodward and Arnold was productive. Transfer targets were discussed and there was no hint that the club would not back Mourinho in his quest to return the club to their former glories. “We are on the same page,” he said. “I could be in another country with a league in the pocket. The kind of league you win before the league starts. I could be [but] I am not, I am here. I am not going to run away. I am not going to cry because I heard a few boos.” Mourinho feels he has been subjected to unreasonable expectations and believes that he has been left with some inadequate players who are incapable of challenging for the title. “We went out to a side that’s more successful than Manchester United in the last seven years in Europe,” he said. “We went out to a side that has a huge tradition in knockout competitions, a side in the Spanish cup final. We are out to a team that knocked out Atletico Madrid in two legs [of the Copa del Rey]. “We are knocked out to a team that is brilliant in their approach for many years, with their scouting system, the way they invest with every euro. They’re a team with a great deal of experience at the highest level, playing every week against Real Madrid, Valencia, Atletico, Barcelona, the best players. There are many Seville players who would play in my team. “The fans, they read what people write, they listen to what people say. And the people that write, the people that say, are people with a lot of ideas and I used to call them idealists or idiots — they can be both.” Despite spending almost £300 million on eight players since his appointment, Mourinho feels United will only be able to challenge City next season if their local rivals do not recruit more players this summer. “If the clubs [that] are in a better situation than us stop investing and we invest, we are side to side [with them],” Mourinho, whose team are 16 points behind City in the table, added. “If they keep investing the same or more than us, it’s difficult [to challenge]. We try but the reality is that some clubs, they were ready to win. One thing is to go for the jugular and another is to build a different process.” Mourinho also said his squad is not strong enough mentally to make a significant push for major honours. “If you want to make a top team with top mentality, you need to grow up and the best way is to have this kind of feeling [a defeat],” he said. “I want the fans to have high expectations because I want the players to have expectations too. “One day when I leave, the next Manchester United manager will find here [Romelu] Lukaku, [Nemanja] Matic, of course [David] De Gea from many years ago, they will find players with a different mentality, with a different quality, with a different background, with a different status, with a different know-how.” Criticism of European record is unfair on his predecessors Paul Hirst Comment H e entered the room casually, scuffing his flip-flops along the wooden floor as he walked, before taking his seat, but it did not take José Mourinho long to snap into fight mode. The United manager did not pull any punches as he listed the European failures of his predecessors. David Moyes was chastised for failing to qualify for the Champions League, Louis van Gaal got it in the neck for being bounced into the Europa League by Wolfsburg. Even Sir Alex Ferguson did not escape unharmed, with Mourinho pointing out that the two-times winner failed to make the last eight in his final two years in charge. But is United’s recent European record really that bad? United’s failure to qualify from a group that contained CSKA Moscow, PSV Eindhoven and Wolfsburg in 2015 under Van Gaal was embarrassing. The Dutchman was a dead man walking as soon as he replaced World Cup-winner Juan Mata with Nick Powell in the final group-stage match in Germany, which they could not afford to lose. And yes, United’s group-stage exit in 2011, when they played Benfica, Basle and Otelul Galati, from Romania, was not great either. But to criticise Ferguson for losing to Real Madrid in the last 16 the following year is harsh. Mourinho, of all people, should know how strong that Real Madrid team were. He was in charge. Even criticising Moyes’s record was a bit over the top. United’s best performances during his one season in charge came in Europe. They topped a group containing Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad and Shakhtar Donetsk. United overcame a two-goal deficit to beat Olympiacos and went ahead against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals before losing 4-2 on aggregate. United’s recent European record is not as bad as Mourinho makes out. Romelu Lukaku led the line in United’s embarrassing defeat by Seville Manager’s REPORTER I’ve spoken to a few of the supporters this week who said they were a bit disappointed by some of the performance levels against Seville. What would you say to those fans? MOURINHO “I say to the fans that the fans are the fans, and the fans have the right to have their opinions and to have their reactions. “But there is something that I used to call football heritage — I try to translate from my Portuguese, which is almost perfect, to my English that is far from perfect. “But translation, word by word is something like football heritage and what a manager inherits is something like is that the last time Manchester United won the Champions League, which didn’t happen a lot of times, was in 2008. The final was 2011. “Since 2011, 2012 out in the group phase. The group was almost the same group as we had this season: Benfica, Basle and Galati from Romania. Out in the group phase. “In 2013, out at Old Trafford in the last16. I was on the other bench [as Real Madrid manager]. “In 2014, out in the quarter-final. “In 2015, no European football. “In 2016, comes back to European football, out in the group phase, goes to Europa League and on the second knockout out, out of Europa League. “On 2017, play Europa League, win Europa League with me and goes back to Champions League. “In 2018, win the group phase with 15 points in possible 18 and loses at home the last-16. “So, in seven years with four different managers, once not the times | Saturday March 17 2018 3 2G S Sport MATTHEW PETERS/MANCHESTER UNITED/GETTY IMAGES Fifa confirm the first VAR World Cup Martyn Ziegler Chief Sports Reporter 12-minute rant in full (best bits in yellow) qualified for Europe, twice out in the group phase and the best was a quarter-final. This is football heritage. “And, if you want to go to the Premier League, the last victory was [in] ’12-13 and in the four consecutive seasons, United finished fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh — or seventh, fourth, five and six. “So, in the last four years the best was fourth. This is football heritage. “It means that when you start the process, you are here, you are there, or you are there. It is heritage. It’s heritage. “And if the fans, that I will always respect, always respect . . . if the fans . . . and many of them are the ones you [in the media] speak with, many of them are the ones I speak with, or I am very lucky and very unlucky [with the fans you speak to]. “But the ones that speak with you are very disappointed and the ones I speak with knows what is football heritage. “They know what is a process and know when they arrive. “When I arrived in Real Madrid, do you know how many players played quarter-final of Champions League? “Xabi Alonso with Liverpool, Iker Casillas with Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo with Real Madrid. “All the others, not even a quarterfinal. That’s football heritage” REPORTER José, those stats . . . MOURINHO “They are real, they are real. Do you want other real? I’ll give you a couple more real. “In the last seven years, the worst position of Manchester City in the Premier League was fourth. “In the last seven years, Manchester City was champions twice and if you want to say three times because they will be in one more week, two, three or four [weeks] and they were second twice. That’s heritage. “Do you know what is also heritage? “It’s that [Nicolás] Otamendi, Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho, [David] Silva, [Raheem] Sterling, [Sergio] Agüero — they are investments from the past, not from the last two years. From the past. y of United “Do you know how many b last players that left the club y season? See where they ow play. Where they play, how they play, if they play. That’s football heritage. “And one day when I leave, the next Manchester United manager will find here [Romelu] De Gea Lukaku, [Nemanja] Matic, of course [David] De Gea from many years ago, they will find players with a ha different mentality, with different quality, with a different ferent status, background, with a different with a different know-how. “And for some reason you go to the Champions League quarter-final like today and there are four clubs that are always there. Always there. “Barcelona is always there in the past seven, eight years. Real Madrid is always there in the past seven, eight years. “Juventus is always there, Bayern Munich is always there and then, of course, appears now and again another club like my Inter, like some other clubs like Monaco last season. “Some clubs but the ones that are always there is for some reason. Is for some reason. “And the good thing for me and the amazing feeling for me is that I am [on] exactly in the same page as the owners, as [the executive vice-chairman] Mr [Ed] Woodward, as [managing director] Mr [Richard] Arnold. We are exactly in the same page. “We agree in everything. We know that we have a process. We agree in the investments, we agree that we have what we have, the investments we are g g to do are going to be going progressive season progressively after sea season. We need n “We more than the inv investments, we ne also the need ti time. We are e exactly in the ssame page. “S “So, life is good. “I have an am amazing job to do. Yesterday I met a new person that we have in the club work working in a different area, area nothing to do directly with my job but it is as a person that come from another club and I asked, ‘Why did you decide to come?’ “And the person told me, ‘Because I did a fantastic job in another club and I know that this club I have a big, huge job in front of me to do, so I come for the challenge’. “Well done, well done — my decision to come here was the same thing. “I could be in another country with a league in the pocket. The kind of league you win before the league starts. I could be [but] I am not, I am here. “I am here, and I am going to be here, and no way — no way — I am going to change my mentality. “For me, I don’t know if you know the expression, I don’t know if the translation to England makes you understand, but there is quote that I like which is something like, ‘In every wall is a door.’ “You know, every wall is a door? “I am not going to run away, I am not going to disappear, I am not going to cry because I heard a few boos. “I am not going to disappear from the tunnel, running immediately. “The next match I’ll be the first to go out. I respect the fans, I am not afraid of anything. I am not afraid of my responsibilities. “When I was 20 years old, I was nobody in football. I was somebody’s son. “What I was, with a lot of pride, when I was 20 years old was somebody’s son. You know? “And now, with 55, I am what I am, I did what I did because of work, because of my talent and because of my mentality. “So, they can be together. You know, I understand that for many, many, many, many, many, many years, it was really, really hard for the people that doesn’t like me. “‘Here he is again’, ‘here he wins again’, ‘here he is again’, ‘here he wins again’, so for ten months I win nothing. “For ten months, I win nothing. The last title I won was ten months ago, you know? “I beat Liverpool, I beat Chelsea, I lose against Seville and now is their moment to be happy. “OK, I also learnt that in my religious formation be happy with others’ happiness even if the others are your enemies. “So be with it. I am a very lucky guy and I am really happy to be what I am.” The video assistant referee system (VAR) will be introduced at the World Cup in Russia this summer after Fifa chiefs voted unanimously for its introduction. The technology was approved by football’s lawmakers this month and despite some opposition it will have its official unveiling at the World Cup. Gianni Infantino, the Fifa president, told a news conference in Bogota, Colombia: “We are going to have in 2018, for the first time, a World Cup with VAR. We took our decision and no one was against it. “The trials have come up with some facts — without VAR the referee can make one important mistake every three matches, with VAR it is only an important mistake every 19 matches.” Infantino dismissed concerns that the political dispute between England and Russia could disrupt the tournament. Some British MPs have called for pressure to be put on Fifa to move the World Cup to another country. “No, we are not worried at all,” he said. “We are here to organise a football tournament, we are here to organise the most important football and social event in the world. “We believe that football can bring people together and I know that the Russian people are really looking forward to welcoming people from all over the world. Political issues we leave to the politicians.” Fifa’s hopes of a smooth selection process for the 2026 World Cup have been hit by four potential host cities pulling out of the North American bid and accusing the governing body of making unreasonable financial demands. Chicago, Minneapolis, Glendale in Arizona and Vancouver in Canada have pulled out, with officials citing Fifa’s “inflexibility” and “financial burden”. Fifa’s leaders had hoped that a World Cup played mainly in the USA but jointly hosted in Mexico and Canada would be a commercial success but the arrival of Morocco as an unlikely rival bidder has caused disruption. The North American bid is still out in front despite the latest city withdrawals. Pardew: I was ready for firing Tim Nash Alan Pardew has said that he expected to be sacked as the West Bromwich Albion manager during crisis talks with the club’s board this week. West Brom have suffered seven straight defeats in all competitions and have won only once in 16 Premier League games under Pardew. They are sitting bottom of the Premier League table, eight points adrift of safety. Last weekend Pardew said that he wanted to talk to “those upstairs” and on Tuesday he held “clear the air” talks with Mark Jenkins, the chief executive, and Richard Garlick, the director of football operations, expecting the worse. “As a Premier League manager, after whatever defeat it is now, you have to be concerned about where you stand in it all,” he said. “I told them what I think and what needs to happen going forward. It was mainly me being honest about where I think it all is. Then it was ‘OK, here’s what I think and what I’ll do if I stay, just so you know’, and I left it at that. They listened and I’m still in a job.” 4 2G S Saturday March 17 2018 | the times Sport Football All-English draw that both Paul Joyce City and Liverpool’s busy fortnight 5.30pm at Everton Northern Football Correspondent Apr 1 12.30pm at C Palace Apr 2 Apr 3 Champions League Jürgen Klopp was following the Champions League draw on German TV at home when, within seconds of Liverpool being pitted against Manchester City, his mobile phone beeped into life. The first text to arrive was sent by City’s Ilkay Gündogan, who was watching the draw on a big screen in a hotel in Abu Dhabi where Pep Guardiola’s squad are making the most of a free weekend in their otherwise cluttered calendar. The midfielder, a Klopp disciple from their days together at Borussia Dortmund, punched into his own handset the German words “bis bald”. “The message came immediately, to be honest,” the Liverpool manager said. “Bis bald pretty much means, ‘See you soon’ and I used a Scouse phrase, ‘Seeya.’ ” Despite the simplicity of the exchange between two figures who have forged a close bond, the undertone carried an edge. This is Manchester versus Liverpool; a fixture both clubs had been keen to avoid, but must now embrace, and one that will do for friendships for two nights at least. Behind the bravado, the real impact of yesterday’s draw in Nyon, in Switzerland, had been betrayed by the reaction of Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, when Andriy Shevchenko pulled out the balls containing the names of the English duo. He fidgeted with his tie before his chin dropped to his chest as confirmation came. Klopp saw it and Liverpool will take heart from that raw response. “I think it is an absolute dream draw,” Klopp said, before a dramatic pause, “. . . for all Manchester United fans. “I knew it would be difficult and that is difficult. The good news is for Manchester City it will be difficult as well. I saw Txiki Begiristain’s face after the draw and it didn’t look like it was Christmas and Easter on the same day. “They didn’t want us. We all know that. Our record is not too bad against City. We are not the team they love to play constantly, let me say it like this.” The reality is that it should only come as a sliver of consolation to United supporters after their own side’s demise to Seville that one of their rivals will drop out of the competition and the other will stay on course for Kiev by marching into the semi-finals. Who rises, and who falls, is a difficult conundrum to unravel with the memory still fresh of Liverpool’s swashbuckling 4-3 victory at Anfield on Mar 31 Apr 4 Apr 5 7.45pm Liverpool v Man City at Anfield Apr 6 5.30pm v Man United Apr 7 Apr 8 12.30pm at Everton Apr 9 7.45pm v Liverpool at Etihad Stadium Apr 10 Apr 11 Apr 12 Apr 13 7.45pm at Tottenham Apr 14 5.30pm v Bournemouth Rest of the quarter-final draw Barcelona v Roma Seville v Bayern Munich Juventus v Real Madrid First leg April 4 First leg April 3 First leg April 3 January 14, when they inflicted a first Premier League defeat of the campaign upon Guardiola’s side. Begiristain offered a reminder City defeated Liverpool 5-0 in September, although Klopp has argued that the scoreline was skewed that day by Sadio Mané’s first-half red card when the visitors trailed by a single goal. The prospect of two more absorbing, helter-skelter affairs is obvious given both managers’ preference for being on the front foot. “I love these games,” Klopp said. “They are fantastic for me as a manager and you know, if you play City, they do what they do at the highest level. They don’t defend the result, they go again. It’s cool. For sure the first one will be a really exciting game to watch.” But, if the truth be told, he was not in a mood to talk tactics yesterday, more kick-off times. One of the subplots is that the games, on Wednesday, April 4 and Tuesday, April 10, straddle derby commitments for both clubs. Klopp did not hide his annoyance that Liverpool’s game away to Everton has been rescheduled from Sunday at 2.15pm to Saturday at 12.30pm. City’s home game with United is at 5.30pm the same day and could be the fixture in which they clinch the league title. “I know countries where they cancel whole match days so teams can be in the best shape,” he said. “We play Wednesday night and then 12.30, which means the players get up on Thursday, have lunch or breakfast, then we train and next day we are second-day recovery and then you start at 12.30. “Obviously whoever made the schedule didn’t think we’d go to the quarter-finals because it [the derby] was a Sunday game. Oops. It is only Liverpool . . . I cannot see differently. “When we play Everton, [City] play United. Maybe they are not concentrating on that game because then they can be champions a week later and Man United can win a game at Manchester City which would not help us as well [for the top four].” The rest of the draw sees a repeat of last season’s final as the holders Real Madrid confront Juventus, Barcelona take on Roma and Seville meet Bayern Munich. Yet Liverpool-City dominates the landscape and the rivalry between the clubs offered a reminder of the clashes that routinely pitted Liverpool with Chelsea all those years ago. Mourinho and Rafa Benítez’s relationship buckled under the strain to the point where they started trading insults, although Klopp does not see that occurring between him and Guardiola. “I don’t really think Pep and myself have a relationship,” he said. “We cannot lose anything. During a game he is always 100 per cent in, I am 100 per cent in, and so far we have never had an argument. I am not too interested if that will stay, but my respect will not change. I have no idea what he thinks about me. That is not too important.” Winning for the two clubs, their supporters and the managers is everything. Guardiola must forget the Manchester derby Tony Cascarino Comment I was disappointed when I saw that Manchester City and Liverpool had drawn each other because I think both sides can win it. Barcelona may be favourites but I would have backed City and Liverpool against strong sides such as Juventus, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. Both sides have big derby games in between the two legs but this tie must be the priority. I know many will be excited by the Manchester derby as the game when City can win the Premier League but Pep Guardiola should forget that — rest some players, take a draw or even a defeat. They will win the league this season, they can’t prioritise a derby game just to embarrass United — that is not worth passing up the chance to win the Champions League. Liverpool want a top-four finish but there is something wrong with focusing on qualification for next season’s competition when you can still win it this year. We know the attacking qualities of these sides but this tie will be decided by who defends best. Much will be made of Liverpool being one of the few teams to beat City this season but the most interesting aspect of that game was that Jürgen Klopp’s side still conceded three goals at home. With that in mind I think City have the advantage as they are stronger at the back. Substitutions will also play their part. The likes of Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus might not start but they are so talented if you need a late goal. Guardiola has built such a strong squad and it is in these games when they make the difference. City, who are spending a weekend without a game training in Abu Dhabi, have Arsenal fans likely to Martyn Ziegler Arsenal fans may be deterred from travelling to the Europa League quarter-final second leg against CSKA Moscow because of the political standoff between Russia and Britain, according to the head of the club’s supporters’ association. The fixture is due to take place in the Russian capital on April 12, a week after the first leg in London. Calls for sanctions against Russia over the poisoning of the former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury have included appeals for football games and the World Cup to be boycotted. Coincidentally, the Emirates Stadium became part of the investigation into the poisoning of the former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko the last time the teams met, in 2006. The chief suspect, Andrei Lugovoi, went to the Champions League match a few hours after meeting Litvinenko and, some weeks later, minute traces of the radioactive substance polonium-210 — which had been used to murder Litvinenko — were found at the stadium. Lois Langton , the chairwoman of the Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association, said: “It’s a hot potato of a draw in view of the political stand-off between the UK and Russia at present. “The association will work with the club to help ensure the safety of those supporters who do plan to travel to Moscow. It probably isn’t going to be the destination of choice for many supporters and the Foreign Office travel advice will need to be listened to.” CSKA have insisted that there will be no risk to travelling fans, with a spokesman telling Sky Sports News: “We are the times | Saturday March 17 2018 5 3G S Sport clubs dreaded VICTORIA HAYDN/MANCHESTER CITY/GETTY IMAGES Hughes: I will upset people to keep us up Gary Jacob Mark Hughes laid down the law to the Southampton players on his first day as their new manager, leaving them in no doubt that he would push them to the limit to keep them in the Premier League. Hughes said that he had not taken the job at St Mary’s to make friends and told his players to shape up, show greater intensity on the pitch and grasp the reality of the mess that they are in. The Welshman will take charge for the first time against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup quarter-final tomorrow and has eight league games, starting away to West Ham United on March 31, to try to climb from one place above the relegation zone. Hughes was brought in little more than two months after he was dismissed by Stoke City. “We haven’t got a great amount of time to go around the edges and pussy-foot around,” Hughes said. “We have to address things very quickly and if there is something wrong or traits in the team that are going to hamper us we have to stamp them out. “It has probably put them a little bit on their toes that they needed to start performing from the off. When you’ve got the luxury of a bit more time, you build relationships. Sometimes you have to step on people’s toes. We’ve got no time to wait. “If we upset people along the way then people will just have to accept it. It’s about the end game, making sure we are successful. Maybe that message was very quickly taken.” Hughes has a contract until the end of the season but hinted he wanted to stay if his mission went to plan and is not worried about his approach compromising his relationship with the players beyond the summer. Only West Bromwich Albion, who are bottom of the table, have won fewer games than Southampton and the south coast club’s run-in includes matches with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City as well as Swansea City, who are also fighting relegation. Watch the goals Times subscribers can watch highlights from the FA Cup and Premier League this weekend Download the Times app from the iTunes store He interrupted a question about his record of having never been relegated to chime: “That’s a good thing”. However, he overlooked the smaller print. He was dismissed by Queens Park Rangers and Stoke City, each time with the club struggling near the bottom. QPR were relegated that season. Hughes said sympathy did not enter his thoughts. “Human emotions you have [are] taken out of it a little bit in this current stage,” he said. “It is sport, you have to accept the consequences of not performing, not getting the results you want. You’re always in danger and that is the reality of what we do. “Maybe as a consequence of how well I did as a manager in the opening few seasons, then obviously the expectations were a lot higher than when I’d walked through the door.” He recalled his time as a Southampton player in the twilight of his career. In his first season they won the final three games to finish one place above the drop zone. “They still call it the great escape,” he said. “Even now I don’t know how we did it. Maybe that will help me. I’d like to think if we do the job here then maybe there will be discussions about the future.” Oliver Kay, page 9 Conte message Alli: don’t call for axed stars me a cheat James Gheerbrant beaten Liverpool 5-0 at home in the league this season but Guardiola’s side lost January’s reverse fixture at Anfield 4-3 avoid Moscow due to Russia crisis happy to play Arsenal and don’t see any danger for English fans that would like to come to Moscow; we have already played Manchester United this season in Moscow and everything went well.” Uefa, the tournament organiser, said that it was “committed to remain politi- europa league Quarter-final draw RB Leipzig (Germany) v Marseilles (France) Arsenal v CSKA Moscow (Russia) Atletico Madrid (Spain) v Sporting Lisbon (Portugal) Lazio (Italy) v Red Bull Salzburg (Austria) First legs to be played on April 5, second legs on April 12 cally neutral and will not get involved in governmental affairs”. It said in a statement: “As is the case in all our competitions, Uefa has rules regarding safety and security in relation to the organisation of matches and works closely with all clubs and local authorities to ensure all necessary measures are implemented to guarantee safety for all involved.” Arsenal published the latest advice from the Foreign Office on their website after the draw. The advice was updated this week to warn of “possible anti-British sentiment” due to the “heightened political tensions between the UK and Russia” and to recommend that visitors avoid commenting publicly on political developments. The World Cup in Russia has been the main focus of calls for a boycott, with the Labour MP Stephen Kinnock the latest to intervene, saying that Fifa should be approached to move the tournament to 2019 and for it to be played in another country. Fifa has already rejected any such move and the Football Supporters’ Federation will tell England fans not to travel to the World Cup only if the Foreign Office advises travellers not to go to Russia. In that situation, fans’ insurance policies are likely to become invalid. The World Cup starts on June 14 but England’s women’s team are due to play Russia in an away match on June 8. inside today Putin has poisoned the World Cup and plan to postpone it has merit Leading article, main paper, page 27 Antonio Conte has issued a blunt challenge to the Chelsea players who have lost their international places on his watch, telling them to “not complain” and “show they deserve to play”. Álvaro Morata and Pedro were both left out of the Spain squad yesterday, 24 hours after Gary Cahill was omitted from Gareth Southgate’s latest England selection for the friendlies against Holland and Italy this month. “[I] understand [it’s a] hard time [for those players],” Conte, whose side face Leicester away in the FA Cup quarterfinal tomorrow, said. “[But] there is only one way: to work hard and show that you deserve to play. Not complain. I can help them to improve and to work very hard, to show that they deserve to go [to the World Cup].” Conte appeared to suggest that Southgate had spoken to Cahill before leaving him out in favour of Burnley’s James Tarkowski and Swansea City’s Alfie Mawson. “I think there was a chat between the player and the manager — I think, I am not telling you that I am sure,” he said. “But usually before making this decision you want to have a chat with the player to explain the reasons.” Dele Alli has defended himself against accusations that he dives to win penalties and free kicks. The Tottenham Hotspur and England midfielder has been booked for simulation in matches against Huddersfield Town and Liverpool this season and was accused of going down too easily against Crystal Palace last month. “No one wants to be labelled as a cheat,” Alli, 21, said, insisting that Mauricio Pochettino, the Spurs manager, had not spoken to him about the issue. “They are just opinions and everyone’s is different. I get into the box and around the box a lot and I’m an attacking player so I get fouled a lot.” Speaking at the launch of an initiative to reduce crime in Haringey, Alli added: “There are some that look bad. But it’s different when you are in the action. “The one at Crystal Palace, that’s the one I saw a lot of reaction to, I was running through and, at the time, all that was going through my head was that I didn’t want to step on the ’keeper. But when you watch it back and people start saying stuff, it can look a lot different.” 6 1G S Saturday March 17 2018 | the times Sport Football ‘Rugby made me tough. I was fast so I didn’t get tackled’ Will Grigg tells Henry Winter about his journey from public school to beating Pep Guardiola while becoming the darling of terrace songsters W hen Will Grigg scored against Manchester City, the decisive goal meant more than the pride and joy of pushing Wigan Athletic towards this weekend’s quarter-finals of the FA Cup. It meant more than the ensuing amusement at the impact it would have on his neighbours in Cheshire, split between City and United fans. Grigg’s welltaken goal against such illustrious opponents meant that everyone was reminded of why he became the centre of the infernally catchy Will Grigg’s On Fire hit in 2016. Grigg’s good. “The reason the song came about was because I scored 28 goals in the season [for Wigan], and the fans were playing on that,” Grigg recalls. “It came from such a successful period in my career and that got forgotten a little bit in the summer, and when I went to the Euros [where he sat on the Northern Ireland bench]. I’m not going to complain, it’s been brilliant for me, fans singing your name is what you want. It is just important to highlight why it came about, and the amount “ I came out to warm up, glanced up and the screens had the lyrics to the song. A few of the lads were looking at me, and I thought, ‘Wow’ of people watching the City game [on February 19] definitely helped people realise.” Grigg’s good. They certainly realised in Seville two nights later, where the first strains of the original music of Freed from Desire sent 3,000 United fans into a wild tribute to Grigg. “I got sent a few videos and few texts from the Seville game,” Grigg laughs. “I live in Cheshire, so there’s a lot of United and City. I’ve been thanked by a few neighbours, and cursed by a few.” It did go crazy at Euro 2016 when everyone sang it, not just Northern Ireland fans, but even Eric Cantona was at it. “The one that stood out for me was we were playing Germany in the group stages, and I came out to warm up, glanced up and the screens in each corner had the lyrics to the song, and a few of the lads were looking at me, and I thought, ‘Wow.’ ” Grigg takes all the interest in his stride, politely agreeing to a photographer’s request to pose with a tray of pies before training on Tuesday. Grigg’s, Greggs it’s all the same when the FA Cup comes around. Earlier, one of the match-day mascots, Connah Campbell, who worships Grigg, joined the striker and Paul Cook’s players for breakfast in the canteen at Euxton. People warm to the 26-year-old, partly because he has a fascinating story to tell, so much more than a song and an eye for goal. William Donald Grigg attended the rugbyplaying Solihull School, home of such exotic alumni as the car nut Richard Hammond, the drummer from Napalm Death, Miles Ratledge, the former FA chairman Sir Bert Millichip and assorted cricketers, diplomats and generals. “It’s a great school and I was really privileged to go there,” Grigg says. “It wasn’t a case of me having a nice and easy background and you just go to a nice private school. My dad was an electrician, Mum had various jobs, and they worked really hard to give me that opportunity. “I did CCF [Combined Cadet Force] and the Duke of Edinburgh. The school owns a cottage in Snowdonia, so we’d stay there and climb Snowdon. I played rugby. I was one of the quickest ones so I was stuck out on the wing; we did quite well at sevens, and went to a few finals in London. “It was OK for a few years, because I wasn’t getting tackled as I was quicker than everyone. It was nice and easy just spinning through people, but as soon as it got to the stage where I took a few big hits, I thought, ‘Woah, this isn’t for me.’ ” There were two residual benefits for football. “To a certain extent, rugby toughens you up and some of the evasion skills are similar,” he says. He combined playing rugby at school with football at Birmingham City until he was released as a 15-year-old, having broken his leg. He started a BTec in sports science at Solihull College, where the team was run by Micky Moore, manager of Stratford Town. The Midland Alliance side had an FA Cup first qualifying-round tie against Hednesford Town coming up, and Moore drafted in the 16-yearold. “He threw me in at the deep end,” Grigg says laughing. “He didn’t tell me. He took me along, and suddenly I was making my debut, in the FA Cup. I was thrown into a side with men. I knew of the FA Cup but I didn’t know the grand scale of it as I do now. It’s crazy from being back then, coming through the ranks [at Walsall, Brentford, MK Dons and now Wigan], playing in the lower leagues, to where I am now, getting to the quarter-finals. It’s not something I’d have dreamt of. “It’s been a rollercoaster, playing at smaller stadiums, and definitely makes me appreciate playing here every week, a stadium I watched in the Premier League.” There were almost 20,000 at the DW when City visited. “It was a massive day. We had a game plan where we wanted to press them high, and get in their faces, but the first time we tried it they passed around us like we weren’t even there. The lads looked at each other and said we might have to sit off a bit here, which we eventually did. “City’s rotation at the top end of the pitch and midfield we couldn’t really deal with. They draw you in to create space behind you and then move the ball so quickly. City seem on a different level to most teams in the Premier League at the moment let alone teams at our [League One] level.” He missed the half-time shenanigans in the Grigg aims to continue his cup heroics against Southampton tomorrow since relegation in 2013, wigan have beaten premier league teams six times year round team score 2013-14 Fourth round Crystal Palace (h) 2-1 2013-14 Fifth round Cardiff City (h) 2-1 2013-14 Quarter-final Manchester City (a) 2-1 2017-18 Third round Bournemouth (h) 3-0 (replay) 2017-18 Fourth round West Ham (h) 2-0 2017-18 Fifth round Manchester City (h) 1-0 tunnel with Pep Guardiola remonstrating with Cook. Guardiola was still enraged by Fabian Delph’s (deserved)] red card for lunging at Max Power. “I got in quite early so I missed that, which was unfortunate,” he says. “The stakes are so high and the sending-off they weren’t too happy about. At the time it was a straight red and after it was a straight red, especially nowadays.” City’s night got worse in the 79th minute. “As soon as I saw Kyle Walker hesitate for a split second I knew that was my chance, and fortunately I got to the ball first. I was in a foot race with Kyle Walker and John Stones which wasn’t ideal. My first touch was perfect and, as soon as I got myself in that situation, I’d back myself every time.” He placed the ball smoothly past Claudio Bravo. “I don’t think City were best pleased they’d lost. They were coming to our place expecting to win. Things got heated [at half-time] but they were fine afterwards, they were respectful. I tried to get Sergio Agüero’s shirt. They have some security so it was hard to get in with them. I spoke to someone outside [City’s changing room] and he went in.” He never reappeared, so Grigg didn’t get Agüero’s shirt. “They are quite busy,” Grigg says politely. “They were concentrated on getting sorted to leave.” The 1-0 scoreline was a repeat of Wigan’s shock FA Cup final victory over City at Wembley in 2013 (two years before Grigg signed). “The history the club has got with the cup is massive,” he says. “You walk around the training ground and the stadium and there are the times | Saturday March 17 2018 7 1G S Sport MARK ROBINSON FOR THE TIMES cup top scorers 7 Will Grigg, Wigan Athletic 61 mins per goal 6 Ian Henderson, Rochdale 105 mins per goal 5 Jack Marriott, Peterborough United 104 mins per goal 5 Jayden Stockley, Exeter 78 mins per goal 4 Romelu Lukaku, Man Utd 40 mins per goal 4 Harry Kane, Tottenham 46 mins per goal 4 Kelechi Iheanacho, Leicester City 65 mins per goal photos of the cup everywhere, there are memories everywhere, whoever you talk to, people in the kitchen, the kit man, players and fans, winning the cup is something that people will never forget. “At the start of the season our sole aim was promotion and still is but, when you start playing in the cup, you sense the taste for an upset, for success, and as soon as we beat that first Premier League team [Bournemouth in the third round, then West Ham United] you saw the belief in the side. “We love an underdog in this country, and especially the FA Cup gives everyone from the lower leagues a chance. We know we’ve been underdogs in those games and will be [against Southampton tomorrow] and that gives you that extra incentive.” He knows Southampton will be difficult, especially with Mauricio Pellegrino going and Mark Hughes coming in. “We’ve got a group [WhatsApp] chat and the lads went, ‘Oh no, not exactly what we wanted.’ You tend to get a little reaction when a manager goes,” he says. He’s hoping that Steven Davis, his Northern Ireland captain, has recovered from a hamstring problem. “I might drop him a little text to see how he’s feeling. Steven’s one of the best players I’ve played with, an absolutely amazing guy, a natural leader not necessarily screaming and shouting but with his ability and the way he conducts himself.” “As a young lad it’s difficult to get Grigg receives a hug from Ryan Colclough after scoring against Manchester City involved, especially going from League One into a group of players who’ve played 300, 400 Premier League games but Davo connects all the players. He gets everyone involved and gets that camaraderie going.” Grigg spoke to the Northern Ireland manager, Michael O’Neill, and asked to be excused from the Windsor Park friendly against South Korea a week today as Wigan have important fixtures against Bury that day and Walsall this Wednesday. “You want to play for your country but essentially the club has to come first at this moment because of how serious the situation we are in is,” he says. “I didn’t feel I was in a position to miss two massive games and Michael fully understood. “Michael’s got so many qualities. He knows we’re not going to dominate the ball, so he makes us very compact. Our strengths are defending as a team, and counterattacking when we can. It’s not a case of, if you go away for a week, it’s all nice and fun. He works us relentlessly.” Grigg is similarly effusive about Cook, who took over Wigan last summer. “The manager here is brilliant,” he says. “We’d lost our way last season, should never have gone down, we had a good bunch of players. People say footballers sometimes don’t care, but it was a horrible time, we knew the consequences of getting relegated [including staff redundancies]. The lads came in this year to try and put it right but we needed a path.” Cook has shown them the path. “He came in and put his strategy [of intensity] and everyone bought into that. He got a great atmosphere going. He’s very bubbly. And we are creating new memories in the cup. The FA Cup is still massive.” Matt Hughes Football Notebook Wilshere bid by Everton to include £8m sign-on fee the forthcoming warm-up games, and a further £500,000 if the 25-year-old defender plays in a competitive game, the first opportunity for him to do so being if he is named in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad. Tarkowski moved to Burnley for an initial £3 million two years ago, with the fee also including a sell-on clause and several potential bonus payments. E Silva instructs lawyers verton are prepared to pay Jack Wilshere a staggering £8 million signing-on fee to move to Goodison Park this summer. The Arsenal midfield player is available on a free transfer at the end of the season as he has yet to agree a new contract at the Emirates Stadium, and Everton are making an aggressive play for his signature. Wilshere’s preference is to stay at Arsenal despite the prospect of earning far more money elsewhere, but the two parties are not close to an agreement. Arsenal’s opening contract offer to Wilshere involved him accepting a cut in his basic wages to £80,000 a week, although he would have the chance to increase it significantly through bonus and appearance payments. Wolves divide top flight P remier League clubs are divided on the issue of whether the competition should take action against Wolverhampton Wanderers if they are promoted to the top flight. A number of clubs feel that the fact that a subsidiary of Wolves’s owners, Fosun, owns a 20 per cent stake in Jorge Mendes’s company Gestifute is clear evidence of third-party influence and believe that the rules should be tightened up. Others are relaxed about the situation, not least because many rely on the Portuguese agent for players and are reluctant to challenge his influence. Wolves have not breached the rules on third-party ownership, as there is nothing in the existing regulations to prevent a club from taking a share in a player agency, although many within the game believe the rulebook should be altered to outlaw such a practice, as the Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani outlined in a letter to the Premier League, the FA and the EFL this week. The FA and the EFL signed off Wolves’s links to Mendes after Fosun’s takeover in 2016 and the club are confident that they will also comply with the Premier League’s ownership regulations, which are almost identical. One significant difference between the two leagues, however, is that with over £100 million in television revenue to hand out to member clubs each season, the Premier League has a far stronger negotiating position than the EFL, whose interpretation of its ownership rules may also be affected by the fact that it needs to have 72 different owners. The Premier League could theoretically use the television money as a bargaining chip to force Fosun to reduce the size of its subsidiary’s stake in Gestifute, although it would only do so if such action were demanded by 14 clubs and if they had the support of the FA. Brentford’s big bonus B rentford are in line to receive a £1 million bonus payment from Burnley after James Tarkowski’s call-up to the England squad this week. The Championship club will receive £500,000 if Tarkowski makes his England debut, which is likely to come against Holland or Italy in W atford are refusing to pay compensation to Marco Silva despite their former manager threatening legal action against the club. The Times revealed last month that Silva had instructed lawyers after failing to receive a payoff after his sacking by Watford in January, but his former employers are refusing to back down. Watford’s intransigence is understood to be based on their belief that Silva breached his contract before his dismissal by talking to Everton about the manager’s job at Goodison Park without their permission last autumn. West Brom stick to plan W est Bromwich Albion’s struggles under Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew that seem destined to end in relegation have not altered the club’s preferred management model, and the owners want to appoint another British manager to lead their attempt to win promotion from the Championship next season. Graham Potter, the Ostersunds coach, the former Swansea City manager Paul Clement and Leicester City’s assistant coach Michael Appleton are among the leading candidates to replace Pardew, who will be sacked at the end of the season. Not so secret talks C landestine meetings between clubs and potential new players or managers are commonplace, but not all take place amid the secrecy one might expect. A leading Championship club recently sent a delegation to meet an out-of-work manager, who upon arriving at the appointed hotel was surprised to find a group of men all wearing the club’s first-team shirt. 8 2G S Saturday March 17 2018 | the times Sport Football ‘I offered my finalists’ medal but Brighton wanted my white shoes’ As Brighton face Manchester United today, Alyson Rudd talks to Jimmy Melia about the final that secured his place in FA Cup folklore N ostalgia has a habit of twisting the facts but few would disagree that the 1983 FA Cup final was among the most absorbing and bizarre of all time, a match notable for fine football, white shoes, late drama, the romance that only a feisty underdog can bring to a showpiece occasion — and for Jimmy Melia. This evening the two clubs involved 35 years ago meet again when Brighton travel to Old Trafford for their FA Cup quarter-final. Brighton had just been relegated when they stepped out at Wembley in 1983 but Melia, while unable to halt the slide out of the top flight for a team he had inherited at the foot of the table, had overseen a remarkable cup run. It was a run that took him to Anfield, where he had made his name as a player and had registered an early interest in fairytales by scoring on his debut aged 18 in front of the Kop. He scored more than 100 goals in his career but he says this is the only one he remembers vividly. It was 1955 and he has not stood still since. Melia is 80 but is still coaching as part of the Liverpool family in Dallas for the club’s international academy, flying back and forth between Texas and Merseyside. So entrenched is Melia in the city of his birth that, when Brighton defeated Liverpool en route to Wembley, he forgot who he was and why he was there. “After the game, I didn’t realise I ran to the Kop,” he recalls. “I didn’t mean to insult them in any way. The emotions were so high having just beaten Liverpool. “The Kop was a little bit stunned because they lost the game. I just wasn’t thinking, I was so used to being at Anfield and being part of the Kop, particularly as I scored my first goal in my first game in front of the Kop.” Melia, though, was a man who wore his heart on his sleeve, and his sleeves were flamboyant. “I’ve always been a smart dresser,” he says. “There wasn’t any specific reason for wearing white shoes.” His footwear was a memorable feature of the 1983 final. He wore them and his players wore them when they stepped off the helicopter that flew them to London. It was as if relegation had freed them of any inhibitions and they were certainly immune to accusations of hubris. Deep into extra time with the score 2-2, Gordon Smith very nearly sealed victory for Brighton. Ron Atkinson, the United manager, looked on as his defence were torn open and assumed it was all over but Smith summoned a relatively tame shot that was smothered by Gary Bailey, the United goalkeeper. “Everyone wanted us to win the final, which we should have done, but things happen, you know,” Melia says. “I gave more credit to the goalkeeper at that stage. Everywhere Gordon Smith goes they say, ‘You’re the guy who should have scored in the cup final.’” Melia was not too distraught. In fact, his first thought was for Steve Foster, a club stalwart, who had missed the game through suspension and could now feature at Wembley after all in the replay, which they lost 4-0. “I didn’t expect us to lose by so much but two cup finals isn’t so bad,” Melia says. He offered the finalists’ medal he was awarded to the club after he was paraded in Slaves to fashion: the Brighton squad from 1983, from left: Neil Smillie, Jimmy Case, Michael Robinson, Chris Ramsey, Gary Howlett, Graham Pearce, Steve Gatting, Kieran O’Regan, Smith, Melia, Perry Digweed, Terry Connor, Gary Stevens, Steve Foster, Tony Grealish, Graham Moseley, Gerry Ryan where are they now? brighton’s starting xi from the 1983 fa cup final Graham Moseley, 29 years old on match day, May 21, 1983. Signed from Derby in 1977, retired five years after the final. Now aged 64 and a delivery driver for the post office in Chepstow. Steve Gatting 23 Brother of the former England cricket captain Mike Gatting, Steve played 316 games for Brighton before moving to Charlton Athletic. Now the Arsenal under-23 coach. Chris Ramsey 21 The defender finished his career playing in Malta and the US, before becoming a coach. Managed QPR in 2015, was sacked after nine months but returned as technical director. Graham Pearce 23 The left back spent four years at Brighton before spells with numerous clubs, including Gillingham and Brentford. Now a PE teacher in south London. Gary Stevens 21 Moved to Tottenham after the final and won seven England caps. Now a TV pundit in Malaysia after spells coaching in Azerbaijan and Thailand. Gary Howlett 20 Provided the cross for Smith’s goal. Won one cap for Ireland. Now manages Killester United in the Leinster Senior League. front of fans this season at the Amex Stadium but he says the club were more interested in being able to display those white shoes. Melia the manager and Melia the player were moulded by Bill Shankly. “The first memory that springs to mind is seeing Shankly turning up to training for the first time with a bag of balls on his back,” he says. “Everything had been about running and he taught us that everything was about the ball. There was pass and move and shooting drills, he completely changed the club.” When it came to his big moment, Melia heeded the example set by the Liverpool manager. Shankly had nothing to do with the helicopter, which did not bother the United team one jot, but he did inspire Melia to make sure that it was Atkinson’s players who were kept waiting in the Wembley tunnel. “Shankly, he taught me, when you come out Tony Grealish 26 The captain at Wembley. The combative midfielder was capped 45 times for Ireland. Died from cancer in 2013, aged 56. Jimmy Case 29 A triple European Cup winner with Liverpool before joining Brighton. Known for his fierce shots on goal. Briefly managed Brighton 1995-96, and now works for LFC TV. Neil Smillie 24 A journeyman career included two loan spells at the US team, Memphis Rogues. Managed Wycombe Wanderers, once as caretaker. Now a marketing manager for Nike. in that corridor at Wembley, normally you find the teams are waiting for each other so I made sure that Man United went out first so we weren’t waiting in the tunnel because that would have made the boys more nervous. Instead, we were confident and people say that was one of the best cup finals played at Wembley.” Melia left Brighton, a club in rapid decline, five months later. “The amazing thing is I then went to Portugal that October and won the second division with Belenenses and the following season I finished sixth in the top league. I walked on water for nearly two years.” He is not exaggerating too much. Out in a bar one evening Eusebio recognised Melia, walked over and sat down for a chat. When Melia briefly left the table, his girlfriend filled the silence by asking Eusebio if he had ever played football. “She said that — to one of the best Michael Robinson 24 Capped 24 times by Ireland, the forward went on to win the European Cup with Liverpool but was often used as subsitute. Moved to play in Spain for Osasuna. Now a Spanish citizen, working in Spanish TV, and voiced an ugly sister in the dubbed Spanish version of Shrek. Gordon Smith 28 The Scot whose miss led to the famous commentary line, “and Smith must score”. Later became chief executive of the Scottish Football Association and was briefly the director of football at Rangers before the club went into administration. players of all time,” he laughs. It sounds like a joke that Jimmy Tarbuck might tell, which is probably because the comedian has already heard the story many times. It was the Melia family who kick-started Tarbuck’s career. The pair were childhood friends through their parents both having jobs in bookmaking. “When I signed for Liverpool, Jimmy was always with us, watching me play for Liverpool schoolboys because he lived up by Penny Lane. We all went to the Caerphilly holiday camp together. They had a competition on for comedians, so we pushed him in and he won the competition and within a year he’s on at Her Majesty’s. We all appeared on This is Your Life when it was for him. “The funny thing was Jimmy, a big Liverpool fan, was on stage that Sunday, after Brighton won at Anfield, and he said: ‘Jimmy Melia, my mate, I hope the rest of his hair falls out.’ ” the times | Saturday March 17 2018 9 3G S Sport Oliver Kay Chief Football Correspondent Hughes is a builder, not the firefighter Southampton need S outhampton supporters may wish to turn the page quickly. Mark Hughes has some obvious qualities as a manager, no matter how badly it ended for him at Queens Park Rangers and Stoke City, but when it comes to the clichéd firefighting job he has taken on the south coast, he seems an unlikely Red Adair. Hughes has eight games to save a team who lie one point and one place above the Premier League’s relegation zone after Mauricio Pellegrino’s dismissal this week. A reasonable target would be three wins from those eight matches, so how many wins has he registered in his first eight games in his previous five Premier League jobs? One at Blackburn Rovers, three at Manchester City, one at Fulham, one at QPR and two at Stoke. Everything about Hughes’s record, including his time in charge of Wales, reinforces the view of a manager who will improve a team if he is given the time to do so. On arrival at Stoke in the summer of 2013, he promised “steady progress” — and that was what he delivered for three seasons of top-half finishes and appealing football before things began to stagnate halfway through year four. Improvement has not always been as sustained as it was at Blackburn (four seasons) and Stoke (the first three seasons), and the QPR experience was pretty wretched for all concerned, but one recurring theme is that his teams have been an awful lot better once a difficult first few months are out of the way. His first eight games at Blackburn: 0.88 points per game. His next 25 games: 1.32 points per game. His first 18 games at Manchester City: 1 point per game. His next 20 games: 1.6 points per game. His first 11 games at Fulham: 0.91 points per game. His next 27 games: 1.56 points per game. His first eight games at QPR: 0.63 points per game. His next ten games: 1.5 points per game. His first 11 games at Stoke: 0.91 points per game. His next 27 games: 1.48 points per game. You get the picture. Under Hughes there always seems to be a moment when things click into place. Usually that has taken a couple of months. The difference this time is that it needs to happen instantly. Hughes prides himself on being a builder, not a firefighter. Most managers do — and that includes those renowned firefighters Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis, who would cite their work over eight years at Bolton Wanderers and seven years at Stoke respectively, as proof of that. But take a look at the nine managerial appointments over the course of this season (Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace, Claude Puel at Leicester City, Allardyce at Everton, David Moyes at West Ham United, Alan Pardew at West Bromwich Albion, Carlos Carvalhal at Swansea City, Paul Lambert at Stoke City, Javi Gracia at Watford and now Hughes at Southampton) and you will not sense much appetite for building. Moyes, Carvalhal and Hughes are on initial contracts until the end of the season. Allardyce’s deal at Everton runs until the end of next season, as do Hodgson’s and Gracia’s, but Allardyce says that he is “under no illusions” about his prospects if results do not improve. Pre-season managerial appointments tend to reflect a desire to build for the longer term — even if the strength of that desire was summed up by Crystal Palace’s dismissal of Frank de Boer after losing his first four Premier League games in charge. Mid-season appointments tend to reflect a state of desperation, a sense of panic at the growing threat of relegation. Every season in the Premier League is worth at least £100 million in broadcast revenue alone. Even with parachute payments designed to soften their landing in the Sky Bet Championship, broadcast revenue will drop to £24 million in the first season after relegation. It gets much harder after that as the parachute payments drop and the enthusiasm of sponsors, as well as fans, tends to recede. English football’s financial model has created a damaging culture of shorttermism where, for so many clubs, survival in the Premier League has become an end in itself. That is why, when it comes to managerial appointments, there is a tendency to turn to the tried and (relatively) trusted. That is also why, as the financial stakes become ever higher, there is such an aversion to risk, both in playing style and in team selection, where, again, the tried and (relatively) trusted are preferred to raw, unproven talent. Do the managerial changes work? In the majority of cases, they seem to have brought the uplift that was craved. Under their previous managers, West Ham, Everton, West Brom, Swansea and Stoke all averaged less than one point per game. (Palace did not pick up a single point under De Boer.) Those figures have increased notably for Swansea under Carvalhal (1.8 points per game), Everton under Allardyce (1.38), West Ham under Moyes Diving an English disease areth Southgate plans to speak to England’s players about the dangers of diving at the World Cup, warning them that, with VAR in play, they will need to be careful. The concern, though, is that they will be unable to stop themselves. Some will argue that Danny Welbeck was “clever” when he took a tumble to win a penalty for Arsenal against AC Milan on Thursday, but the reality is that the modern English footballer has been conditioned to act this way. See an outstretched leg? Tangle with it. Feel contact? Throw yourself to the floor. The contrast with Lionel Messi, who rode every challenge that came his way against Chelsea on Wednesday, is stark. Diving has always been unedifying, but it’s an English disease these days. G Hughes must make an instant impact to keep his new club in the Premier League but history suggests it will be a tall order Brady apologises to fans after protest Karren Brady has apologised to West Ham United supporters in the wake of the angry demonstrations that marred their home defeat by Burnley last weekend, when fans invaded the pitch and protested at the club’s owners. Brady described it as “one of the most painful days in the history of the club” as supporter unrest at the London Stadium was coupled with a slide into a Premier League relegation battle. In her column in The Sun, the West Ham vice-chairman said: “Nothing is more important than ensuring our fans are able to come and support the team safely. “The board would like to offer our sincere apologies to the vast majority of our supporters who turned up to support their club, lots of them with young children. “We take full responsibility for the changes that need to be made to the stadium. And let me be frank, the board takes full responsibility for our predicament. “Ultimately the table does not lie and, just like the team, we are judged on our position. We know that improving the situation at the club is our responsibility. “We have eight games to play. Getting the points we need has to be the priority. We don’t run from difficult situations. It is our supporters’ club. But it is our problem to fix.” (1.11) and Palace under Hodgson (1.04). Stoke, though, have gone from 0.91 points per game under Hughes to 0.75 under Lambert, while West Brom have gone from 0.86 under Pulis to a dismal 0.5 under Pardew. The bar for improvement was set higher at Leicester City and Watford, but Claude Puel and Gracia have taken 1.48 and 1.8 points per game respectively. The fact that Puel, Gracia and Carvalhal have delivered the biggest upturns, all of them having been appointed amid some scepticism, will do little for the cause of British managers. Neither will the fact that, for Allardyce, Hodgson and Moyes, a notable “bounce” has been followed by a regression. Palace, after a slow start under Hodgson, took 25 points from 16 games (1.56 per game) between mid-October and mid-January but have since gone seven games without a win (0.29 per game). West Ham, similarly, took a few weeks to get going under Moyes but then took 15 points from eight matches (1.88 points per game) before winning just one of their past seven (0.71 points per game) as a malaise has taken hold once more. What was the brief at Everton, Palace and West Ham, though? It was all about survival and stability. Allardyce, Hodgson and Moyes can all claim to have given those clubs a much better chance of that, even if, for Palace and West Ham, the threat of relegation remains stark. Pardew, of course, can claim nothing of the sort. Whatever his shortcomings, he has been good at eliciting a shortterm bounce in the past. At West Brom, there has not even been a dead-cat bounce. A sharp, immediate upturn is what Southampton need under Hughes. They won just one of their last 17 Premier League matches under Pellegrino (0.71 points per game, in case you were wondering) and a continuation of that trend would leave them on 33 points, which is unlikely to be anything like enough. Hughes’s way has always been to build slowly, to work on the fundamentals and to build up speed and intensity, being prepared to take a step back over the first few weeks of a new job in the expectation of taking two or three steps forward once his methods have begun to sink in. He will know, though, that there is no time for that now. Firefighting is what the job has become. Audition for England rivals Paul Joyce Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland will try to seize the initiative in the battle to become England’s World Cup goalkeeper when they meet today. Gareth Southgate, the England manager, has stated that the “No 1 jersey is up for grabs” and Everton’s trip to Stoke City allows the duo to go head to head. The way is clear for Pickford and Butland to make an impression before England’s friendly matches with Holland and Italy next week, with neither Joe Hart nor Nick Pope playing this weekend. Southgate will not be at the match but the England goalkeeping coach Martyn Margetson works with Pickford every day at Everton and Sam Allardyce believes he is outperforming his rivals. “He has been our most consistent player,” the Everton manager said. 10 2G S Sport Football The ultimate weekend guide 2017-18 Premier League 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Man City Man Utd Tottenham Liverpool Chelsea Arsenal Burnley Leicester Everton Watford Brighton Bournemouth Newcastle Swansea Huddersfield West Ham Southampton Crystal Palace Stoke West Brom P W 30 26 30 20 30 18 30 17 30 17 30 14 30 11 30 10 30 10 30 10 30 8 30 8 30 8 30 8 30 8 30 7 30 5 30 6 30 6 30 3 D 3 5 7 9 5 6 10 10 7 6 10 9 8 7 7 9 13 9 9 11 L F A GD Pts 1 85 20 65 81 5 58 23 35 65 5 59 25 34 61 4 68 34 34 60 8 52 27 25 56 10 55 41 14 48 9 27 26 1 43 10 45 43 2 40 13 35 49 -14 37 14 39 50 -11 36 12 28 40 -12 34 13 35 48 -13 33 14 30 40 -10 32 15 25 42 -17 31 15 25 50 -25 31 14 36 57 -21 30 12 29 44 -15 28 15 28 48 -20 27 15 28 56 -28 27 16 23 47 -24 20 Leading goalscorers: 24 H Kane (Tottenham); M Salah (Liverpool). 21 S Agüero (Man City). 15 R Sterling (Man City). 14 R Lukaku (Man Utd). 14 J Vardy (Leicester). TV Highlights, BBC One, 10.20pm Radio talkSPORT 2 Times app Highlights, 5.15pm Make-or-break week is no time to panic The dreaded gameweek has arrived: four Premier League fixtures and only one team in the top eight taking part. Hopefully you have spent the past few weeks preparing for this — seven or eight players, provided three of them play for Liverpool, is fine. Huddersfield’s schedule looks friendly but, as we warned last week, they have been uninspiring this year. Liverpool aside, there aren’t many players who stand out. A fit-again Wilfried Zaha (£6.8m) catches the eye, as does the in-form Junior Stanislas (£5.9m), while Xherdan Shaqiri (£6.4m) has provided a regular goal threat in recent weeks. High-end FPL strikers were dropping like flies in Gameweek 30, which nobody likes to see. Harry Kane suffered ankle ligament damage against Bournemouth; an obvious replacement is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.5m). He is cup-tied for the Europa League so will be fresh for Arsenal’s saunter down the home straight and has three goals in his five league games. And you will save £2.3 million. There was also news that Sergio Agüero will miss two weeks, which includes Manchester City’s win against Stoke City on Monday and not much else. If you’ve got Agüero, don’t panic-sell but wait to see how the injury is before the Gameweek 32 deadline — remember that, because of the international break, their next game is not until March 31 away to Everton. He could easily be back by then. BOURNEMOUTH Injured Mings, Pugh Doubt Fraser (4-2-3-1) Begovic Francis S Cook Aké Smith King Wilson Stanislas 7 West Brom goals in opening 11 minutes of games in 2018 – two more than any other Premier League team Rodriguez Livermore Krychowiak Hegazi Evans Gibbs FINK TANK PREDICTION H 50% D 25% A 25% Burke Nyom Foster Home win 4/5 (4-4-1-1) Referee G Scott (15 games) 28 Last 5 Bou WLDDL 1 Watch every Premier League goal first on The Times phone app with in-game video clips. Plus see highlights of every FA Cup match Sat 3pm highlights available at 5.15pm WB LLLLL Today 3pm Huddersfield v Crystal Palace TV Highlights, BBC One, 10.20pm Times app Highlights, 5.15pm Hadergjonaj Zanka Schindler Malone Hogg Manchester United José Izquierdo has scored two spectacular, long-range goals in his first season at Brighton – both against West Ham United October Goal away v West Ham CRYSTAL PALACE Injured Sakho, Ward, Dann, Puncheon, Wickham Mooy Mounié Zaha Schlupp Benteke Townsend Milivojevic McArthur Van Aanholt Tomkins Kelly Wan-Bissaka 0 Palace points in 12 league games without Zaha in starting XI since mid-Jan 2017; 52 in 36 with him FINK TANK PREDICTION H 34% D 26% A 40% Hennessey Draw 21/10 (4-3-3) Referee M Dean (20 games) 2 72 Hud LWWLD CP DLLLL Today 3pm Stoke v Everton TV Highlights, BBC One, 10.20pm Radio BBC 5 Live Sports Extra Times app Highlights, 5.15pm STOKE Injured Grant, Ireland (4-2-3-1) Butland Zouma Martins Indi Pieters Cameron Shaqiri EVERTON Injured Sigurdsson, Mangala, McCarthy Ndiaye Allen Sobhi 6 Everton away defeats in row; they conceded after 73rd minute each time Crouch Bolasie Tosun Walcott Rooney Gueye Davies Baines Keane FINK TANK PREDICTION H 40% D 26% A 34% Jagielka Coleman Pickford Referee M Atkinson (22 games) Draw 9/4 4 75 Sto LDDDL Eve LWLLW Today 5.30pm Liverpool v Watford TV Live, BT Sport 1, 10.20pm Radio talkSPORT Times app Live updates (4-3-3) LIVERPOOL Not fit Clyne Karius Gomez Matip Van Dijk Robertson OxladeChamberlain Henderson Can Salah Firmino Mané Richarlison Deeney Holebas Antonio Valencia Pritchard Van La Parra Ince Bauer v HUDDERSFIELD Injured Williams, Kongolo, Hefele, Stankovic Lössl (4-3-3) Don’t miss a goal this season José Izquierdo WEST BROM Injured Barry, Sturridge, Chadli Doubt Morrison Rondón Brunt Head to head Brighton Daniels Gosling L Cook (4-2-3-1) Paddy Von Behr, Charlie Scott The Sweeper Today 3pm Bournemouth v West Brom Capoue Britos Mariappa Karnezis Referee A Taylor (21 games) 1 Liverpool unbeaten home league season since 1988 (2008-09) – can do it again by avoiding defeat by Watford, Bournemouth, Stoke, Brighton Doucouré Hughes WATFORD Injured Deulofeu, Cleverley, Kabasele, Chalobah, Kaboul, Wague Femenia Prödl FINK TANK PREDICTION H 74% D 16% A 10% Home win 1/5 (3-4-3) 0 76 Liv DWWWL Wat WLWWL February Goal at home v West Ham Saturday March 17 2018 | the times the times | Saturday March 17 2018 11 2G S Sport In association with By Bill Edgar Name the season Can you work out which season this table is from? P 1 2 3 4 20 21 22 Liverpool Ipswich Town Manchester United Tottenham Leeds United Wolves Middlesbrough 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 ? Answer in The Game on Monday W 26 26 22 20 10 10 8 D 9 5 12 11 12 10 15 L 7 11 8 11 20 22 19 F 80 75 59 67 39 32 34 A 32 53 29 48 61 63 52 Sixth round Swansea v Tottenham Today 12.15pm TV Live, BT Sport 1 Radio BBC 5 Live, talkSPORT Times app Live updates Pts 87 83 78 71 42 40 39 (3-5-2) Bartley Fernández Ki Mawson TOTTENHAM Injured Kane Clucas Naughton Carroll Dyer Olsson Abraham Bill Edgar’s weekend numbers The teams between the middle and just above the bottom are the most tightly bunched in the Premier League. This has tended to be the case over the past two decades SWANSEA Injured Sanches, Rangel, Bony Suspended J Ayew Nordfeldt Son Alli Lamela Eriksen Wanyama Davies Vertonghen Average points gap in final Premier League table in past 20 years Dier Sanchez Trippier 9 Swansea cup ties (including EFL Cup) in past two seasons: won all six against lower-division sides, lost all three against top-flight teams Tony Cascarino’s FA Cup predictions FINK TANK PREDICTION H 13% D 21% A 65% Swansea City v Tottenham Hotspur Wigan Athletic v Southampton Tottenham showed against Bournemouth that losing Harry Kane to injury doesn’t have to be a big deal. They scored four goals after he was substituted and Dele Alli and Son Heung-min, below, certainly have goals in them. Tottenham need a victory to take away the gloom of their Champions League exit at the hands of Juventus and their squad is big enough to achieve that. Swansea City are fighting relegation but I don’t think that they or any of the other Premier League teams in the FA Cup will make many changes as they won’t play in the league again for two weeks because of the international break. Swansea have done unbelievably well in the league in the past couple of months but they may relax a little mentally here. Verdict: Tottenham Southampton lost all their fight when they were beaten 3-0 by Newcastle United last weekend, which is why they replaced Mauricio Pellegrino with Mark Hughes as manager. If Hughes’s teams have anything it is that they always match their opponents physically. He will send out his best characters to get the job done tomorrow. This is a game that could give Southampton momentum in their attempt to avoid the drop. Wigan have shown that they can hurt Premier League teams in this FA Cup campaign but their pursuit of promotion from League One is distracting. They have just played a tough midweek match away to Bradford City and have two more games in the six days following this. Verdict: Southampton Vorm Home win 7/1 (4-2-3-1) 1st to 2nd Referee K Friend (16 games) 0 38 2nd to 3rd 3rd to 4th 4th to 5th TV Live, BT Sport 1 Radio BBC 5 Live, talkSPORT Times app Live updates 5th to 6th (4-3-3) MANCHESTER UNITED Injured Herrera, Rojo, Jones, Blind Romero 6th to 7th Valencia Mata 9th to 10th 10th to 11th Antonio Valencia August 2009 Young Matic Pogba Lukaku Sánchez Izquierdo Pröpper BRIGHTON Injured Sidwell Suspended Knockaert 4 United victory margin over Brighton in 1983 FA Cup final replay (4-0), joint biggest in FA Cup final since 1903 Gross Kayal March FINK TANK PREDICTION H 69% D 21% A 9% 12th to 13th Suttner 13th to 14th Dunk Duffy 14th to 15th Schelotto Ryan 15th to 16th Draw 9/2 (4-4-2) Referee A Marriner (21 games) 2 54 16th to 17th Wigan Athletic v Southampton 17th to 18th Tomorrow 1.30pm 18th to 19th TV Live, BBC One Radio BBC 5 Live, talkSPORT Times app Live updates 19th to 20th (4-2-3-1) 0 Michael Carrick August 2006 Bailly Murray 11th to 12th Earliest debut among present Manchester United players Lindelöf McTominay 8th to 9th Antonio Valencia will become United’s longest-serving player when Michael Carrick retires this summer Today 7.45pm Manchester United v Brighton 7th to 8th 1 2 3 4 5 6 It will be no surprise if Swansea City take the lead against Tottenham Hotspur today; if so, Spurs can be expected to hit back 7 WIGAN ATHLETIC Walton Byrne Dunkley Burn Morsy Elder SOUTHAMPTON Injured Austin, Davies, Yoshida Power Roberts Massey Jacobs 5 Previous times, before Wigan, that a team have been at least two divisions below the other seven quarter-finalists Grigg Tottenham in past 15 away games, all competitions (none were 0-0) Gabbiadini Results: W2, D6, L4 Redmond 12 times Tadic Hojbjerg Hoedt Bertrand Ward-Prowse Lemina Stephens Cédric FINK TANK PREDICTION H 32% D 29% A 39% McCarthy Home win 13/5 (4-2-3-1) Results: W3, D0, L0 Referee M Oliver (25 games) 5 90 3 times Chris Smalling August 2010 Tomorrow 4.30pm Leicester v Chelsea Conceded first goal Scored first goal TV Live, BBC One Radio BBC 5 Live, talkSPORT Times app Live updates (4-2-3-1) LEICESTER Injured Amartey Schmeichel Simpson Morgan Niddi Hazard Maguire Okazaki Mahrez Chilwell CHELSEA Injured Barkley, Luiz Iborra Vardy Morata Palmieri Albrighton 2 Chelsea goals scored, to 12 conceded by them, in away games since early in Carabao Cup match against Arsenal Pedro Zappacosta Fabregas Drinkwater Cahill Christensen Rüdiger Caballero (3-4-2-1) Referee C Pawson (19 games) Spurs and United need clean wins after messy week 4 68 FINK TANK PREDICTION H 25% D 24% A 52% Home win 5/2 Manchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion José Mourinho must surely see that he was too defensive in United’s Champions League defeat against Seville on Tuesday and I have a feeling that his team will be far more positive and aggressive today. They have an abundance of pace that was largely unused against the Spanish side but it will be more evident in this match, which I can see United winning by more than two goals. They have a huge squad so can change things around and still have far more quality than Brighton. Chris Hughton will want his side to give United a good game but I suspect he won’t be too upset if they are knocked out, given that they still need points to secure Premier League safety. Verdict: Man Utd Leicester City v Chelsea Chelsea put in a lot of effort in Barcelona on Wednesday and may struggle to cope with a Leicester side full of energy. Antonio Conte’s men will not relish facing a team with a lot of pace, turning them and running in behind them. Chelsea’s system of three centre backs suits Jamie Vardy perfectly as the striker loves to sprint beyond the back line, often from out on the left. Claude Puel, the Leicester manager, has shown that he is capable of reaching a final, having done so with Southampton in the EFL Cup last season, and his present team’s league position means that he has no other worries. Chelsea’s record of only five wins in 17 games in 2018 is alarming. Verdict: Leicester 12 2G S Saturday March 17 2018 | the times Sport Cheltenham Festival Native River hits winning rhythm to strike gold Mark Souster Racing Writer Fifteen went to post for the 2018 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, but this was in effect a two-horse race from start to finish, with Native River leading virtually all the way to deny the favourite, Might Bite. It was a duel worthy of the name, a brutal examination of equine spirit with the pair never flinching in conditions that favoured the winner and that the runner-up hated, but for which his trainer made no excuses. In defeat, and with the trainer Nicky Henderson’s hopes of a unique Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup treble gone, the esteem in which his Might Bite is held can only have risen. Native River had not quite captured the imagination of the public in the same way, his unflashy attitude never quite getting the credit it deserved. No longer. “It was poetry,” Colin Tizzard, his trainer, said after his maiden victory in the race. A man who once bowled out Ian Botham at Somerset Under-15 level, he could have been forgiven for adding: “Howzat?” It has been a testing season — and Festival — for Tizzard, not least with the likely end to Cue Card’s career. But in an hour of unalloyed joy he won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle with 33-1 outsider Kilbricken Storm before his victory in the highlight of the National Hunt calendar. It was a masterful training performance, the Tizzards, father Colin and son Joe having kept their nerve to ensure their horse was fresh, running only once this season after a campaign in 2016-17 that took the edge off him as he finished third in this race behind Sizing John. It was also a race in which England broke the hegemony of Ireland and a sharp reminder that perhaps all is not lost this side of the Irish Sea. Richard Johnson claimed his second Gold Cup 18 years after the first on Looks Like Trouble, now enjoying a peaceful retirement at the champion jockey’s Herefordshire home. From flag-fall yesterday, Johnson had Native River beating out a rhythm of which Ginger Baker would have been proud. Might Bite was unable to pull ahead at the last in testing, soft conditions Might Bite was the stalking horse, kept just behind his rival before being gathered for his challenge. Two out, he seemed poised to make his move but, when asked by Nico de Boinville for one last effort after the final fence, the tank was empty. The one downside was the beating which Johnson gave to Native River on the run-in. The stewards found that he had used his whip with “excessive frequency”, handing him a seven-day ban and a £6,500 fine, one commensurate with the status of the race under British Horseracing Authority regulations. “He’s a good horse, isn’t he?” Colin Tizzard asked rhetorically. “Might Bite looked as though he was going to take big race result 3.30 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase 1 Native River ........................................... 5-1 2 Might Bite ...................................... 4-1 fav 3 Anibale Fly .......................................... 33-1 4 Road To Respect .................................9-1 us whenever he liked. But two very good jumps at the last two kept him ahead. I can’t believe I have actually watched this.” Colin Tizzard thinks he first came to Cheltenham to watch the Gold Cup in 1973, his hair almost a mane, as befitting the era. “I was here as a boy never dreaming I would have a runner here, let alone a winner of the Gold Cup. For me it is everything in life,” he said. “The Irish had blown us away. I went to the sales last night [at Cheltenham] looking to buy one and couldn’t get near one. You’ve got no chance [against money like that]. I said to our lot this morning: ‘We need to buck up a bit.’ We have now, haven’t we? Just brilliant.” As is his unflashy way, Johnson said that he was merely a passenger. “He is a fantastic horse to ride,” he said. “I thought we had gone quite steady but sometimes when you are on a good horse, it doesn’t feel that quick. I thought I needed to move it on a gear down the back straight and the more I asked from him, the better he jumped. It was very testing conditions. I am not sure we will see them as testing again.” That undoubtedly blunted Might Bite’s speed. “It is a pity it has had to be run on ground like this because it changes everything,” Nicky Henderson said. “But you can’t say he tried to shirk it. He had every reason to turn right halfway up that run-in [as he did last year in the RSA Chase] and say: ‘Sod this for a game of soldiers. I’m off back.’ He never flinched. He is a gorgeous big horse and his life is still in front of him. “It is always difficult to finish second but we made a race of it. We have been lucky over the years and you have to accept it. It has been a great week. It was quite nice to see an England one-two. That is the rarest thing of the week.” Safety to be reviewed after day of four deaths Mark Souster The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will launch a review of equine safety at Cheltenham after six horses suffered fatal injuries at the Festival. “The BHA will be reviewing the circumstances leading to the fatalities,” Jamie Stier, the chief regulatory officer, said. “We will examine the evidence from the past week over the next few days before deciding how we will pursue the review. “We continue to use research, safety measures, regulation and education to reduce fatality rates to as close to zero as possible. This is what has contributed to the overall fatality rate within British racing reducing by a third in the last 20 years, and the fatality rate in jump racing reducing to below 0.4% of runners. “We will also be examining whether the existing penalties for misuse of the whip, and how they apply, constitute an adequate deterrent to jockeys.” Mossback, from the yard of Gordon Elliott, who was the leading trainer for the week with eight winners, and Report To Base, from the Evan Williams stable, died on Tuesday. Yesterday the tally rose by a further four. Willie Mullins’s Sandsend had to be put down after breaking a leg in the County Hurdle but worse was to come in the final race of the meeting, the Grand Annual Chase, with three more fatalities. North Hill Harvey, the favourite from Dan Skelton’s yard, the Henry De Bromhead-trained Someplan and Dresden, from the small Worcestershire stable of James Davies, died after falls. It took the tally to 16 over the past three Festivals. Final day at a glance Yesterday’s results 1.30 JCB Triumph Hurdle 1 Farclas............................. 9-1 2 Mr Adjudicator ......... 8-1 3 Sayo .............................. 33-1 2.10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle 1 Mohaayed................... 33-1 2 Remiluc ...................... 50-1 3 Whiskey Sour ............. 7-1 4 Chesterfield............... 16-1 2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Top trainers 4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle 1 Blow By Blow ............. 11-1 2 Discorama ................. 33-1 3 Early Doors.................. 9-1 4 Sire Du Berlais.......... 10-1 5.30 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase 1 Le Prezien................... 15-2 2 Gino Trail..................... 25-1 3 Top Gamble ................ 8-1 4 Theinval....................... 16-1 6 Full results on page 19 1 Kilbricken Storm.......33-1 2 Ok Corral .................... 16-1 3 Santini................... 11-4 fav 4.10 St James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Hunters’ Chase 1 Pacha Du Polder...... 25-1 2 Top Wood................... 50-1 3 Barel Of Laughs....... 14-1 3 Cousin Pete ............. 66-1 Dead-heat for third 70,684 Attendance Gordon Elliott ..... 8 wins Willie Mullins .................... 7 Nicky Henderson ........... 2 Colin Tizzard ..................... 2 Paul Nicholls...................... 2 Tom George ....................... 1 Nick Williams ..................... 1 Mick Channon .................. 1 Pat Kelly ............................... 1 Henry de Bromhead ..... 1 Warren Greatrex .............. 1 Dan Skelton......................... 1 Top jockeys Davy Russell ....... 4 wins Jack Kennedy .................. 4 Paul Townend .................. 2 Ruby Walsh ....................... 2 Barry Geraghty ............... 2 Noel Fehily ......................... 1 Nico de Boinville ............. 1 Bridget Andrews ............. 1 Harry Cobden ................... 1 Richard Johnson ............. 1 Harriet Tucker .................. 1 Donagh Meyler ................ 1 Brian Hughes..................... 1 Noel McParlan................... 1 Mark Walsh ........................ 1 Katie Walsh ........................ 1 Keith Donoghue............... 1 Lizzie Kelly ......................... 1 Patrick Mullins ................. 1 the times | Saturday March 17 2018 13 2G S Sport ALAN CROWHURST/GETTY IMAGES ‘These jockeys don’t ride well for girls, they simply ride well’ TIMES PHOTOGRAPHER MARC ASPLAND; PA; SPORTSFILE Rick Broadbent 11 Great Britain v Ireland 17 Rob Wright’s Festival awards Best ride The best coincided with the worst. There were just five runners in the Arkle Trophy but Davy Russell and Aidan Coleman had a rush of blood and took each other on at a suicidal pace in the early stages. Many an inexperienced rider would have panicked and tried to keep tabs on them but Ruby Walsh, on Footpad, was having none of it. He picked his exhausted rivals up with ease before the second-last and cruised to victory. Training performance Gordon Elliott had an amazing week but deserves extra praise for producing Tiger Roll Walsh celebrates his win on board Footpad to win at a third Festival, all in different races. Winner of the two-mile Triumph Hurdle in 2014, he added the four-mile National Hunt Chase a year ago before switching to the Cross Country this year. Star equine Summerville Boy performed miracles to win the opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, appearing to lose all chance when m making a jjuddering m mistake two out. He was none too fluent at the last as well, but still ffound enough in rreserve to overhaul K Kalashnikov close to h home. Down but not out They say they never come back but Douvan looked to have returned to his old enthusiastic self before a crashing fall four out in the Champion Chase. A rematch with Altior would be something to savour. Gold prospect? Presenting Percy looked every inch a Gold Cup prospect when storming home in the RSA Chase, his second Festival win. His presence, representing a smaller stable, would be welcome after the domination of the big guns this week. Patrick Kelly has just a handful of horses at his base in County Galway but is building up a formidable Festival record, having saddled three winners and a second from just five runners in the past three years. Harriet Tucker wore a smile that belied the small fact that she had just won the biggest prize of her life with a dislocated shoulder. For anyone still labouring under hackneyed stereotypes about weaker sexes, her muddy grin was the bloody-minded counterattack. Suffice to say that gender can officially come off the agenda. Her win on the defending champion, Pacha Du Polder, in the Foxhunter Chase, was enough to make a misogynist wince. Never mind that she had not ridden in a race until two years ago, or that this was only her second outing under Rules, or even that she was only here because she bought her own horse and trained it in her lunchtimes. It was the way that she talked calmly about raw pain that dumbfounded listeners. Popped shoulders and dropped jaws seemed a fitting end to a Cheltenham in which four women won races. Given that they did not include Bryony Frost, rated by many as the best of the lot, or Nina Carberry, who won a race last year four months after giving birth, this was a decisive stride towards equality. First among equals was Tucker. “I have a bad shoulder and it half-dislocated when I was coming into the finish,” she said in a tone bereft of melodrama. “I carried on riding and just popped it back in. It gets like that sometimes. It’s from a fall and I have physio on it.” Almost instantly someone was tweeting a photograph of Charlie Austin, the footballer, being nursed off the pitch with a suspected dislocated shoulder. He is a bear of a man, but anyone thinking that he is tougher does not know his ursine from his elbow. Paul Nicholls, the trainer, heaped praise on Tucker and a horse becoming synonymous with this race. Two years ago, he led Victoria Pendleton to fifth place in her much-maligned and hugely-successful cross-code salvo. Last year, Frost and Pacha won. Tucker’s day job is riding out horses for Nicholls at Ditcheat, Somerset. She does three lots a day. She has a lot of guts too. Harry Derham, Nicholls’ No 2, said Tucker would have surgery on her right shoulder in the summer. “Bryony and Harriet do not ride well for girls,” he said. “They simply ride well.” This Cheltenham may be the big kiss-off to the embers of sexism in racing. Bridget Andrews also won yesterday, prompting a kiss from her beaten boyfriend Harry Skelton and a place in history as the second professional jockey to win at the Festival, following Lizzie Kelly’s turn on Tuesday. Katie Walsh’s Wednesday win made it a landmark quartet. Nobody need ask Andrews who wears the trousers in her house; they all wear jodhpurs. She won the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle on Mohaayed with Skelton fifth. Skelton was quick to congratulate her, leaning over from Spiritofthegames to give her a kiss. “I didn’t have much say in it,” she said. Skelton had the chance to ride Moyaayed, trained by his brother Dan, but changed horses. Dan was in tears pacha du polder: the foxhunter chase specialist Winner 2018 Harriet Tucker Winner 2017 Bryony Frost afterwards. So was Nick, his dad, the Olympic showjumping champion. “We wrote him off and didn’t think he had a chance because of the ground,” Andrews said. Yet he ran so fluently that she heard a familiar voice urging caution. “Harry gave me a shout going down the hill — ‘Steady, Bridge’. I was waiting for them to swallow me up.” Andrews and Tucker became the 13th and 14th lady jockeys to win at Cheltenham. “I think it’s about time we stopped talking about lady jockeys and just call them jockeys,” Dan Skelton said. Fifth 2016 Victoria Pendleton They all suffer the same. While Andrews was explaining she had apologised to Harry for his poor choice, Walsh was dealing with the dark side. She had fallen in the same race and her mount, Sandsend, was put down, a third death of the week, prompting campaigning group Animal Aid to talk of “barbaric cruelty”. Harry Skelton then fell, in the last, but was up and talking in the weighing room an hour later. His mount, North Hill Harvey, and Dresden, were both put down. Fuel for the dissenters for whom Cheltenham is a stag-do in tweed driven by greed. But then you have Edwulf. A year ago he fell at the Festival and more portentous screens were erected. Back then Anne-Marie O’Brien, mother of the young trainer Joseph, removed her high heels and ran across the turf to help. A team of vets with a collective 150 years’ experience ignored the odds. The horse went blind. Yesterday, Edwulf was eighth in the Gold Cup, one place behind Kelly a year on from her fall on Tea For Two. Talk to Frost about listening to the breathing of her beloved Black Corton and she is literally talking rhythms of the heart. This is Cheltenham for its men and women. Everybody hurts. Skelton, right, hugs Andrews, his girlfriend, after her win 14 Saturday March 17 2018 | the times 3G S Sport Crane injury opens door for Leach STU FORSTER/GETTY IMAGES Cricket scoreboard Will Macpherson Hamilton At long last, Somerset’s Jack Leach has been called up by England. Mason Crane, who made his debut in the fifth Ashes Test, has suffered a partial stress fracture to his lower back, opening the door for the bespectacled Somerset left-arm spinner to amble into the squad for the two-match series against New Zealand. Leach’s Championship stats over the past two summers, when he has taken 116 wickets at an average of 23.6, make him the competition’s best English spinner, and his call-up is overdue. That he had to remodel his action between those two seasons when routine testing at Loughborough revealed a kink in his arm — and robbed him of the chance of a Test call-up in the subcontinent in 2016 — tells of a resilient character capable of learning on the job. He has taken each setback with a smile and is immensely popular with colleagues and fans. It was in the Caribbean on the awful recent Lions tour that the 26-year-old’s case as next cab off the rank became undeniable. As Keaton Jennings’s captaincy was so rigid that he hesitated to bowl Crane’s leg spin, Leach excelled. He picked up 18 wickets at 21, including two fivewicket hauls. His eight for 110 in the series opener against West Indies A in Jamaica were the best match figures yet by a Lions spinner and he was the only player to emerge with credit from the series, which was lost 3-0. If England were not going to select him now, were they ever? When conditions suit — which they surely will in Sri Lanka in November and the Caribbean after Christmas — he threatens both edges and finds plenty of bounce. When they do not, his tidiness and consistency are enviable. In New Zealand he is unlikely to play but has the opportunity to present a case for the summer series against Pakistan and India and beyond. Stress fractures are never good news, and certainly not for 21-year-olds, but Crane is a chipper sort who will take it in his stride, even though he has been ad- New Zealand XI Innings G R Hay b Broad............................................ 23 G D Phillips c Bairstow b Woakes.......... 0 *M J Guptill c Bairstow b Anderson....73 †T A Blundell c Vince b Ali.......................22 T L Seifert run out (Malan).........................2 M S Chapman c Vince b Ali....................... 9 K A Jamieson c Malan b Ali.................... 38 L V van Beek c Bairstow b Broad.........16 N G Smith c Foakes b Overton................ 0 S C Kuggeleijn c Cook b Root................25 A Y Patel c Stoneman b Root..................31 Hay c Cook b Root........................................... 1 Phillips b Anderson...................................... 14 Seifert not out................................................. 18 Chapman not out............................................6 Extras (w 1, lb 8)............................................... 9 Total (13 wkts, 90 overs)....................287 Fall of wickets 1-4, 2-51, 3-114, 4-116, 5-129, 6-130, 7-164, 8-184, 9-184, 10-232, 11-250, 12-256, 13-275. Bowling Anderson 15-3-41-2; Woakes 15-3-63-1; Broad 16-3-36-2; Overton 13-4-37-1; Ali 21-4-67-3; Malan 3-1-12-0; Root 7-1-23-3. Umpires S B Haig and W R Knights. First Test Auckland, March 22-26 (1am GMT) Second Test Christchurch, March 29-April 2 (11pm BST) Both live on Sky Sports Cricket vised that his expected recovery time is ten to 12 weeks. The injury comes the day after Stuart MacGill, Crane’s mentor, arrived on tour to work with England’s spinners. As so often with such injuries, there was no early sense of its severity. Crane pulled up at nets on Tuesday, and had scans on Wednesday and Thursday; Anderson, above, says that Leach, left, has a “great opportunity” Counties to discuss payoffs Elizabeth Ammon County chairmen will hold an emergency meeting this month to discuss the £1 million payoff received by Glamorgan and the proposed compensation payments to the other Test grounds, as revealed by The Times last week. There is increasing concern within the county game about the way Glamorgan were given the payment. The money was initially described by the ECB as compensation for not bidding for Test matches, but the governing body has now said that the payment was made to allow Glamorgan to settle a debt with a creditor. This prompted counties to question why no such payment was offered to any other county. Bob Warren, the Sussex chairman, raised his concerns in a letter, seen by The Times, to Colin Graves, the ECB chairman, that there had been a lack of discussion about proposed payments of £500,000 to every Test ground as compensation for not hosting a Test. Warren also questioned assurances that he had been given by Graves that the compensation policy had been agreed by the board 15 months previously. Warren referred to a telephone conversation he had with Graves soon after The Times revelations and queried guarantees he received in that call. “You mentioned at the start of our conversation that the policy of compensation was discussed and agreed by the ECB board 15 months ago,” Warren wrote. “I asked if you could send me a copy of the minutes which reflect this. You agreed with my request. I have now looked through these minutes and I can’t find any mention of this policy. A board member told me he couldn’t recall a conversation about this, let alone an agreement.” The Times revealed yesterday that legal advice sought by counties seems to indicate payments such as the one received by Glamorgan could be unlawful as they contravene the ECB’s articles of association. County chairmen will meet to decide their next move amid increasing pressure on the ECB and Graves. The ECB declined to comment. he had felt fit enough to bowl four untroubled overs with Chris Silverwood, the bowling coach, at tea, but woke the following morning in severe discomfort and leaves New Zealand glad of an early diagnosis. It is worth wondering why it was felt necessary to send the Hampshire spinner and Ben Foakes — who has also suffered recent back troubles — on the Lions tour after they traipsed round Australia during the Ashes. James Anderson, who suffered a stress fracture early in his career, said: “Mason has got a good head on his shoulders and I’m sure he’ll come back strong. It’s a good opportunity for Jack.” England’s third practice match-day of four brought greater intensity and an improved performance. They slimmed their side down to 12, with Ben Stokes Woakes took it with Anderson yesterday, while Mark Wood had taken it on Wednesday. Anderson, who also picked up two wickets and bowled well, playing as a specialist batsman, but says his long-time opening partner is Chris Woakes and Craig Overton mak- disappointed but energised by his relegation from new-ball duties. ing full returns (they showed good “Obviously he’s disappointed, rhythm, and took a wicket he’s a very proud bloke and we each). In all, they took 13 have opened the bowling New Zealand XI wickets for a number of years,” for 287, with three each Anderson said. “He’s for the spinners, Moeen Wickets Leach took bowled first change in the Ali and Joe Root, and in the County past and I can see what Joe the seamers slipped Championship [Root] wants to do with through the gears. for Somerset last looking to the future but also Stuart Broad, action season having that experience comtweaked and bowling first ing on first change. change, looked particularly “Stuart has done a lot of work on his rhythmical, taking two for 36 from 16 overs. Silverwood was delighted with action and I think the last two games Broad’s “outstanding” performance he’s looked a different bowler. He looks and said a final decision had not been refreshed, confident, his action looks made on who will take the new ball in strong and he’s getting the ball to move the first Test in Auckland, which starts away from the right-handers which he’s struggled a bit with in recent times.” on Thursday. 51 Gritty Leeds end Saints’ unbeaten start St Helens Leeds 20 0 2 28 1 Betfred Super League Christopher Irvine The dogged defending Super League champions last night beat their supposed heirs apparent, ending St Helens’s 100 per cent record after five previous wins. Leeds Rhinos’ injury woes were compounded early on by the loss of Ashton Golding, but their determination prevailed in testing circumstances. Golding failed a head injury assessment, but despite having been dominated territorially, the Rhinos drew level with a converted try by Richie Myler in making it 12-12 at the break, instilling themselves with a steely belief. Myler was sent streaking clear by Joel Moon and Tom Briscoe while Saints were short-handed, with Tommy Makinson receiving treatment for an eye problem. They had conceded the opening try of the game to Anthony Mullally, who twisted across in James Roby’s tackle during a run of five consecutive penalties against the hosts. St Helens’s main focus was putting Ben Barba, their Australian full back, in to space. Barba popped up on the end of a move involving Danny Richardson and Jonny Lomax, the half backs, but was denied a second try in six minutes by Jack Walker, Golding’s replacement. Makinson was inches away from grabbing Mark Percival’s hoisted kick, but the centre’s hands were responsible for Saints’ second try by Adam Swift, who reacted to Richardson’s kick. Leeds were nothing if not persistent and it took a 55th minute penalty by Richardson, after Carl Ablett had failed to play the ball correctly, to nudge St Helens back in front, before Kallum Watkins levelled matters with his third goal. As Saints’ attack stuttered, Leeds struck twice in five minutes through Ash Handley. Regan Grace’s break was brilliantly polished off by Barba and Richardson’s conversion narrowed the gap to two points, but Matt Parcell’s opportunistic burst from dummy half ensured a deserved Rhinos victory. Salford Red Devils won for only a second time this season in beating Hull 24-8 at home. Scorers: St Helens: Tries Barba 2, Swift. Goals Richardson 4. Leeds Rhinos: Tries Mullally, Myler, Handley 2, Parcell. Goals Watkins 3, Myler. St Helens B Barba; A Swift, T Makinson, M Percival, R Grace; J Lomax, D Richardson; K Amor, J Roby, L Thompson, D Peyroux, Z Taia, J Wilkin. Interchange T Fages, L McCarthy-Scarsbrook, L Douglas, M Lees. Leeds Rhinos A Golding; T Briscoe, K Watkins, A Handley, R Hall; J Moon, R Myler; A Mullally, M Parcell, B Singleton, C Ablett, J Jones-Buchanan, B Delaney. Interchange J Walker, C Smith, M Oledzki, J Walters. Referee J Child. St Helens Wigan Wakefield Leeds Castleford Widnes Hull KR Hull Warrington Salford Huddersfield Catalans Dragons P W 6 5 5 4 5 4 5 4 4 3 6 2 6 2 6 2 6 2 6 2 6 2 5 1 D 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 L 1 1 1 1 1 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 F 177 136 98 90 69 117 106 111 76 94 82 60 A 72 72 66 82 84 109 112 120 107 130 146 116 Pts 10 8 8 8 6 4 4 4 4 4 4 2 the times | Saturday March 17 2018 15 3G S Sport HARRY HOW/GETTY IMAGES McIlroy stalls as Stenson sets pace Golf McIlroy manages to get up and down from a bunker on the 9th hole to save par Rory McIlroy’s charge up the leaderboard at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Bay Hill stalled towards the end of his second round yesterday. Starting at the 10th, the Northern Irishman, who began the day at three under par, picked up shots at the 13th and 15th holes, and although he gave them back on the first two after the turn, a run of three birdies from the 4th took him to six under and within sight of the leaders. However, he just missed a 24-foot putt for birdie on the 7th and followed that by hitting his second shot into the water on the 8th from rough to the left of the fairway. He got up and down, holing from more than ten feet, but put his approach to the 9th into a bunker to lose any chance of a birdie. At five under overall, McIlroy — who has missed the cut in two of his past four starts on the PGA Tour — is guaranteed to play over the weekend, but was already six shots adrift of the lead, held by Henrik Stenson, of Sweden, and Bryson DeChambeau, of the United States. “I could have been a couple of shots lower, I think, but overall it has been a solid start to the tournament,” McIlroy said. “I need to make a bit of a move he found himself seven shots adrift of the pace-setters. Stenson added a second-round 69 to his opening 64. He had covered the back nine in 31 on Thursday, but after starting from the 10th yesterday he could manage only nine straight pars to reach the turn in 36. That par streak was extended to 13 holes before Stenson found his range on the greens to birdie the 5th, 6th and 7th to maintain his bid for a first win of the season. “I’ve been hitting a few really close this week and setting up some good opportunities from three or four feet,” Stenson said. “Today wasn’t as good as yesterday but the important part for me was 16, 17, 18. I scrambled for par all those three holes after hitting some not-so-good shots. “I kept patient and made three [birdies] in a row coming home. Three under around this golf course is never bad. “I’d love to get a good result here and some more practice, and carry on with some form in Houston going into Augusta. It is the major I have performed the least over the years and the one I want to perform the best.” DeChambeau eagled the par-five 16th and hit his approach to within three feet on the last for a birdie to grab a share of the early second-round lead. over the weekend to get closer to Henrik but I’m pretty pleased where my game’s at.” On his putting, he added: “That’s been a huge improvement over the first two days. I sort of messed around on the putting green a little bit, trying to go back to some feels I’ve had before and putted really well. Hopefully that continues. “Over the weekend last year I was hitting driver pretty much everywhere, leaving myself wedges in. If I drive it like that again over the weekend I feel like I’ll have a good chance.” Tiger Woods will have to produce some exceptional golf if the former world No 1 is going to secure a record ninth victory at Bay Hill. The American started the day within four shots of the lead but could do no better than a levelpar 72. Woods, in only his fifth PGA Tour event since spinal surgery, dropped a shot on the opening hole after hooking his tee shot into the trees. The 14-time major winner had his short game to thank for saving par on the 2nd and 3rd, and enjoyed a large slice of luck on the 4th where a wild drive hit the out-ofbounds fence and stayed in play. However, Woods had a three-putt bogey on the 9th and though he managed birdies on the 12th and 16th, Williams should not be TheRUGBYPaper Six Nations in depth: punished for pregnancy Tennis Stuart Fraser Tennis Writer S erena Williams began her period of maternity leave from the WTA tour in January last year as the world No 1 after winning a 23rd grand-slam singles title at the Australian Open. So, how was Williams regarded upon returning from her pregnancy to official singles competition at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last week? As an unseeded player. Yes, the greatest tennis player in history, without a world ranking because of her 13-month absence, was not given one of the 32 seeded slots in the draw. This may have been the correct procedure according to the WTA rulebook, but it is drastically unfair. No doubt that it was a treat to watch Williams face her sister, Venus, the No 8 seed, in the third round on Monday night, just five days into her comeback. But to be pitted against a top-ten player so soon in the tournament came across as pregnancy discrimination. For taking a long period out of the sport to give birth, Williams has been stripped of the seeding benefits that she earned through her results. She can use a protected ranking of No 1 to enter up to eight tournaments in a 12-month period, yet this cannot be used for seedings. “This match should not be happening in a third round,” tweeted Darren Cahill, the well-respected coach of the world No 1 Simona Halep. “Serena [and all mothers] should be protected by the WTA and allowed to use their protected ranking for seeding, if applicable. Women should not be penalised for giving birth by starting from zero.” Victoria Azarenka, the two-times Australian Open champion from Belarus, was also at a disadvantage when she returned last year. She was seeded No 5 at her last tournament, the 2016 French Open, before giving birth and returned 13 months later as unseeded. The Slice: online every Friday This article first appeared in Stuart Fraser’s new column, which Times digital subscribers can read online every Friday at 12pm thetimes.co.uk/ sport and the Times app “Starting a family is the greatest gift in the world,” Cahill added. “The WTA should be looking after its players after that happens.” There was once a rule that allowed players coming back from long absences to receive a special seeding in WTA tournaments. In fact, Williams herself benefited from this when she returned from an eight-month injury layoff at the 2004 Miami Open. This has since been scrapped, with some making the understandable point that it penalised other players who have earned a seeding through their performances alone. While I do agree that special seedings should not be applied to players returning from injury, it is time for the WTA to consider reintroducing this for those returning from pregnancy as, under the present system, the tour is falling short of supporting new mothers. “When reviewing these rules the players have traditionally expressed they do not feel that a player coming back from a long-term layoff, for any reason, should be allowed to be seeded,” a WTA spokesman said. “I do expect that this rule will be reviewed further as part of our 2019 rules process. We remain committed to reviewing the evolving needs of our players and are very supportive of those players returning from pregnancy.” It will be intriguing to see what Wimbledon does when the committee considers the seedings for this year’s championships. The guidelines on its website state that “the seeding order follows the WTA ranking list, except where, in the opinion of the committee, a change is necessary to produce a balanced draw”. Rare as it is for there to be a change, it is surely inevitable this summer as Williams is likely to be ranked below No 8 in June. The seven-times All England Club champion deserves a higher seeding than that. Unrivalled coverage of the great Championship Plus: All the rest of the weekend’s Rugby action from the top down to regional level ONLY £1.80 EVERY SUNDAY IN RETAILERS TheRUGBYPap er £1 80 THE BEST COVER AGE FROM ALL THE WEEKEND’S PAGES 6-7 RUGBY >> Jeremy Gusco tt Time for Engla nd Ford-Farrell axi to end the s at 10-12 Inside: >> Cain: Dwy Jones to get iter backs right PAGES 24-25 P The ga g me doesn’t love us right now says Eddie >> Shane: Cap be making of taincy will Faletau PAGE 10 P >> Blindside revelations PAGE 18 P Wales are hunting £2m Italy bonus By PETER ■JACKSO N ■ From CHRIS C IS so we’re allway JONES in Paris a s king to love learn and make look d you don’t get sure we’re the you and EDDIE JONES bounce claimed stronger next time we play W ay. are in the of the ball. We England were W ’re going through We loser’s g a diff ffi- it’s not a happy chair and “two w or three per just cult period and we’ll place but we r cent” out the come mustn’t away from other side of it get their soon matic about too melodradespite falling best I’m sure. where we are. g to a W were slow We “These are second successiv to adapt to painfu f l Nations defeat e Six lessons and we just didn’t the game. learn “That’s the challenge first time in for the I am quickly enough g – wh f r why us so fu his f ll steam ahead. fo not as head coachreign period sure. It is a tough rugby team No and has l ay France triumphe as going to go we were alw a s inv n incibility andan aura of through this teams are d 22- some at outplaying 16 in Paris. stage. us in certain Champions: Ireland celebrate winning the Six Nations crown in Dublin areas. The Jones said: “It’s “ “A a learn- opingny team that is devel- become break down has ing period fo more contestable as we f r us struggling at and we are through these are goes and the contest the moment tough peri incr has d h d PICTURE Match action - starts Page W LES will WA be crock of gold chasing a in Cardiff today that promises to be worth as much Six Nations prizeas £2m in money y. A storming g against Italy thishome run afternoon and France at venue six days the same later put Wa W les in serious will contention to runners-up behind finish W les, pushed Ireland. Wa down to fifth by France’s win against England, seek a maximum-point win today that would catapult them from second bottom to second top, more than doubling g their prize money from £1.5m to £3.5m. Italy come in the hope of completing a sensational double after their landed a thrilling juniors g 18-7 win in n the Si N 8 >> > Follow us @TheRugbyPaper Special offer for readers of The Times Special price 10 issues – £12.50 (usual price £20 inc P&P) print subscription form Just fill out the form below and send your cheque made out to The Rugby Paper Ltd to: The Rugby Paper Subscriptions, Tuition House, St George’s Rd, Wimbledon, SW19 4EU Name: Address: Postcode: Telephone No: Email: Please note rates are for UK subscriptions only – other country rates on application. Or order online at www.therugbypaper.co.uk/special-offer 16 2G S Saturday March 17 2018 | the times Sport Boxing Inside the world of the pie-loving Mormon who wants to dethrone Joshua TIMES NEWSPAPERS LTD Joseph Parker, who fights the Briton later this month, tells Ron Lewis in Las Vegas that he will not trash-talk because his mother has told him not to ‘J oshua is looking trimmer, he looks in good shape,” Joseph Parker comments on the latest Twitter video of his next opponent. “I don’t go looking for his videos online, but every time he posts one, lots of people send it to me and say, ‘AJ’s going to knock you out.’ ” Parker gives a deep laugh at the knowledge that predictions of his downfall are a regular feature of his social media timeline. But is he ever tempted to reply? “Nah, I learnt that a long time ago,” the New Zealander says. “It doesn’t affect me. You just look at it, have a little giggle and move on. “It’s all right, he has his supporters but there will be messages on his page saying, ‘Joe is going to knock you out.’ You can’t help what others think. “We want to fight the best Joshua there is. I am going to be in my best shape. We want to beat the best Joshua that has been seen.” We are in Henderson, Nevada, a Las Vegas suburb, where Parker, the WBO heavyweight champion, is finishing his training camp before flying to Britain. On March 31, at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, he faces Anthony Joshua, the IBF and WBA champion, in a world heavyweight title unification match — the first between unbeaten boxers in 30 years. He is on his way to cryotherapy after a morning training session, a process that involves him effectively standing in an adapted freezer, providing his body recovery and instant relief from the sweltering temperature that is a constant in his gym. For the day, The Times has been invited into Parker’s inner sanctum. Home is a gated community about ten miles from Las Vegas, with the family of his trainer, Kevin Barry. The gym, used only by Parker and his sparring partners, is an adapted retail unit with posters from his previous fights adorning the walls. Las Vegas has been Parker’s home from home since 2013, when he was still coping with the disappointment of missing out on a place at the London Olympics and his newly signed promoters looked to give him an education in the sport that was not available in his homeland. Barry is New Zealand’s most famous boxing Olympian. In 1984, he won a silver medal in Los Angeles when Evander Holyfield was disqualified in their semi-final for hitting him on the break. He never boxed again. He would return to the United States in the Nineties as the trainer of David Tua, a bull of a heavyweight who would go on to challenge Lennox Lewis for Joshua puts his belts on the line against Parker, the WBO heavyweight title-holder, in Cardiff on March 31 with provision for a rematch Parker endures some cryotherapy at his Nevada base before preparing to leave for Britain the world title. Training Parker is a full-time family business. Barry’s wife, Tanya, a former Olympic gymnast — they met on the plane to Los Angeles in 1984 — is in charge of his nutrition while Taylor, one of their twin sons, assists his father with training and accompanies Parker on his roadwork and driving him around. The two can be “like kids” according to Tanya, recalling a time when Parker’s bed was broken and the pair admitted that they had been wrestling. Parker is expected to join in with household chores and is barbecue chef when parties are held around the pool in the garden, which is overlooked by a wall featuring dozens of ornamental butterflies, Barry’s pride and joy. That is where I chat to Barry on a warm spring day. If there is anything that is making them nervous coming to the UK, it is the weather. “We are like his surrogate parents and Taylor is every bit his brother; he probably spends eight months of the year here,” Barry says. “Last time there were three boxers here. Tanya makes all their meals, does all their cleaning and supplements and has to listen to all their bullshit. This time we made the decision that it would be just Joe. “When he first came, he was like a sponge, he wanted to learn so much. He didn’t know what to eat, he didn’t know how to train. “Everyone said he was fast but couldn’t punch, but when I taught him to sit down on his punches and pull the power from his legs, all of a sudden he got excited. I told him to look in the mirror and said, ‘In 18 months you will not even recognise yourself.’ ” Parker knows that he is the outsider, widely discounted by many, but there is a relaxed air of confidence around the camp. He has been watching Joshua for seven years; he knows exactly what to expect. The first time that Parker and Joshua met was backstage at the unlikely location of the Heydar Aliyev Arena in Baku, Azerbaijan, where both were competing in the World Amateur Championships in 2011. It was such a brief encounter, Joshua is unlikely to remember it. “I lost to the Chinese boxer [Zhang Zhilei, the Olympic silver medalwinner]. I walked to the back and saw Joshua warming up,” Parker says. “I said, ‘All the best.’ That was the last time I saw him until the press conference to announce the fight a few weeks ago. “It’s a great time to be a heavyweight. Our team wanted this really badly. Everyone on the team is doing everything to get me in the best shape possible. The only thing we focus on now is that I am able to execute the plan on fight night. “We love the challenge of fighting Joshua, the challenge of fighting in someone else’s country, the challenge of fighting in front of 80,000 people. We are going to embrace everything.” He has three training sessions daily apart from on Sunday when Parker, a Mormon, goes to church. He tackles everything asked of him by Barry without a word of complaint. “There is no attitude, there is no bullshit with Joe,” Barry says. “He will be the same guy every single day, whether he is having his best day or his worst. People say to me, ‘You must have had some ups and downs?’ Not really, I can never remember having a cross word with him.” It’s not surprising. Parker, with his full beard and constant smile, is a very laid-back character. He loves his music “old”, reminiscing of how he taught himself to play Bohemian Rhapsody on the piano, although he admits that his sister is a better pianist — he accompanied her on guitar. A love of boxing goes back in Parker’s family so far that his father, Dempsey, was named after Jack, the 1920s world heavyweight champion. An accident as a baby prevented Dempsey from boxing himself but the sport is ingrained in his two sons, Joseph and John, who is also a professional. “I grew up watching tapes of Mike Tyson and Roy Jones,” Parker says. “At the age of three or four he [Parker’s father] was holding up his hand, telling us to punch it. 75 Parker’s knockout percentage in his 24 wins 6 Joshua’s reach advantage over Parker in inches as well as a 2in height advantage the times | Saturday March 17 2018 17 2G S Sport heavyweight punchers from the land of the long white cloud David Tua Brought to the United States by Kevin Barry, Parker’s trainer, after winning Olympic bronze in 1992, Tua proved a knockout artist at the highest level, stopping 43 of his 59 opponents, including wins over Michael Moorer, Hasim Rahman and Oleg Maskaev. Lost on points to Lennox Lewis in November 2000 in a world heavyweight title challenge. Tom Heeney Known as “The Hard Rock From Down Under”, Heeney challenged Gene “ Tunney for the world heavyweight title at Yankee Stadium in New York in 1928. Jack Dempsey, whom Tunney had beaten for the title, was in Heeney’s corner for the fight, although he was stopped in the eleventh round of what proved to There is a bakery where I live that does lots of pies. That’s where I’m going to be heading when I go home be Tunney’s final fight. Bob Fitzsimmons Born in Cornwall, he was still a child when his family emigrated to New Zealand. It was in the United States that Fitzsimmons had great success as a boxer, though, becoming world champion at middleweight, heavyweight and finally lightheavyweight. A huge puncher, he was the third world heavyweight champion in the gloved era, knocking out James J Corbett in 1897. “In New Zealand it’s very tough. You don’t have very good sparring so you make do with what you have and also you have to fund your own trip most of the time. I remember my parents paid for my first trip to Azerbaijan, for the world youth champs [in 2010], when I got a bronze medal. They did lots of fundraising so I could get to tournaments around the world. It was quite tough to represent your country and try and fund your own way. “New Zealand has a lot of good fighters but they just didn’t get the guidance or the funding. Without their help sending me out here to Kev, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Parker won the WBO title in December 2016 after it was vacated by Tyson Fury. He has successfully defended it twice, against Razvan Cojanu and Hughie Fury, although both were laboured performances. “I don’t think there has been a better time to fight Joshua,” Barry says. “We have been looking at this fight for the last three years and they didn’t want it. But they looked at Joe’s two performances in 2017 and thought now’s the right time. 2017 was not our best year. He had a couple of injuries and we tried putting some weight on him, but that just slowed him down. “The guy who turned up in 2017 can’t beat Anthony Joshua, simple as that. I don’t think the guy who turned up in 2017 will turn up in 2018, that’s why we are confident.” The toughest part of spending so much time in the US for Parker is missing his 16-month-old daughter, Elizabeth, who he has watched growing up via a video call. While the talk on Joshua’s side is of beating Parker, then moving on to Deontay Wilder, the WBC champion, there is a rematch clause on Parker’s side of the contract, meaning that if he pulls off the win, he will then have to do it again. “That’s the year as I’m planning it,” Parker says. “Beat him in Cardiff, win the rematch and then have a nice break.” There will be no love lost when the pair enter the ring, but don’t expect any insults during the build-up, not least because Parker’s mum, Sala, will be watching. “I don’t think trash talking suits either of us,” Parker says. “I tried it once and it made me look like a fool. Promoters have tried to get me to say things, but my mum told me off. Mum said, ‘Son, just be yourself.’ So I said, ‘Sorry, Mum.’ I think there is mutual respect for one another and for what we have achieved.” The brief attempt at lowering the tone was when he labelled Joshua the “King of Steroids”, having been called the “King of Pies” by Graham Norton on his show when Joshua was a guest. Parker backed away from the accusation and, while he will be coming in trimmer for this fight, with an emphasis on speed, he said that Norton’s insult was not too wide of the mark. “The thing is, I do like my pies,” he says. “There is a bakery where I live that does lots of pies. You don’t get pies like that in Las Vegas. That’s where I’m going to be heading when I go home.” England Netball hires advice for legal battle Netball Martyn Ziegler Chief Sports Reporter England Netball has hired a firm of consultants in an attempt to minimise damage to the sport’s reputation over a costly legal case in which it paid a private investigator to look into the affairs of the chairman of a successful club. The sport, which receives more than half of its £11 million annual income from public money and Lottery funds from Sport England, has employed Sheridans, the reputational risk service, to advise the governing body “for all possible outcomes” of the case. The legal action involves Colin Meister, the chairman of the Brentwood club in Essex, who is challenging his suspension by England Netball. The governing body told him that the action was taken on the grounds that he was a potential threat to women. He has strenuously denied that is the case and is taking England Netball to an arbitration panel in June. It is believed that the consultants’ charges could run to several thousands of pounds, but the fallout of losing the case could be extremely damaging to the sport’s leadership. Sport England said that it had been assured that none of its funding would be used for the legal action or the reputational risk consultants, but a former chairman of England Netball’s southern region has questioned the use of the money at all. Bill Alexander, who resigned his life membership last year after a dispute with the governing body, queried whether members “are clear what their money is being spent on”. The hiring of the consultants was disclosed in England Netball’s latest board minutes, which state that the chief executive, Joanna Adams, confirmed to mem- bers that “English Netball are working with Sheridans reputational risk service”. Directors had been warned that “a substantial cost provision would be required to cover the associated legal costs” of the case. Adams was asked by The Times how much it was costing to use Sheridans but she responded: “England Netball does not comment on confidential matters.” Meister has said previously that he believes that the private investigator was hired after a background check revealed that he was conditionally discharged in 2011 for threatening or abusive behaviour towards his former wife. She was approached by the investigator and then she informed Meister. “She was so angered that, after five years of non-communication, she advised me this man was openly seeking any dirt that England Netball could use,” Meister said in December. Meanwhile, after a separate complaint by Alexander, Sport England has recommended that England Netball bring in some changes to its guidelines. He complained that he and his wife, Carol, were forced out of the sport after years of volunteering without any means to appeal. An email from Sport England to Alexander says: “Sport England put forward a number of recommendations to England Netball following your complaint last year. In response England Netball have confirmed that there has been an independent review of their policies and procedures and that a number of new guidelines have been produced. We are satisfied that any concerns have been properly addressed.” England Netball had said that there had been “a significant number of complaints” against the couple. Alexander insisted that there had been no complaints against his wife, and two against him which he has “robustly challenged”. 18 1G S Saturday March 17 2018 | the times Sport Racing Russe Blanc can outstay rivals in Midlands National Rob Wright Racing Editor British trainers will be relieved to see that there are no Irish raiders in the Betfred Midlands Grand National (3.35) at Uttoxeter today and Kerry Lee can lift the prize with Russe Blanc. This race is going to provide an extreme test of stamina over four and a quarter miles on heavy ground and few will relish the test. Russe Blanc has been below form recently but there are reasons to believe that he can stage a revival here. He shaped well when fitted with blinkers on his first two starts this season, but has been disappointing tried in cheekpieces in three starts since. He has certainly dropped to an attractive handicap mark as a result, now 4lb lower than winning another marathon — the Classic Chase at Warwick — two seasons ago, while he has recorded a win and two places in three previous starts at this track. It could just be that he needs blinkers to make him concentrate these days and, if that is the case, he will run far better than the 40-1 offered by Coral suggests. Get On The Yager rates the main threat. He was unsuited by a drop in trip Rob Wright 1.30 Grapevine (nb) 3.50 Champagne Champ 2.05 Copain De Classe 4.25 Royale Django 2.40 Kildisart (nap) 5.00 Sebastapol 3.15 Bun Doran Going: soft, good to soft in places Racing UK 1.30 Matchbook Betting Exchange Novices’ Hurdle (£4,159: 2m) (9 runners) 127 Josh Moore 1 32U412 DISTINGO 30 (V,D,BF,S) G L Moore 5-11-6 0051 THE PREMIER CELTIC 19 (D,G) P Phelan 5-11-6 107 J Best 2 2-P GEORGE GENTLY 20 (BF) D Skelton 5-11-0 123 P Brennan 3 117 J J Burke 4 30-244 GOING GOLD 50 (G) R Hobson 6-11-0 541 GRAPEVINE 12 (D) N Henderson 5-11-0 112 N De Boinville 5 5 LORD DUVEEN 144 P Hobbs 5-11-0 115 R Johnson 6 16/ MERE IRONMONGER 700 (C,D,BF,G) B Powell 6-11-0 -R McLernon 7 F-12 SAO 28 (H,D,BF,S) P Nicholls 4-10-13 H Cobden v134 8 0 STYLISH DANCER 10 D Skelton 4-10-0 84 Bridget Andrews (3) 9 9-4 Sao, 4-1 Grapevine, 5-1 Distingo, 8-1 George Gently, Lord Duveen, Mere Ironmonger, 14-1 Going Gold, The Premier Celtic, 20-1 Stylish Dancer. 2.05 Matchbook VIP Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (£8,447: 2m) (5) ITV4 136 N Fehily 1 241110 DEAUVILLE DANCER 91 (T,D,G,S) D Dennis 7-11-13 134 S Twiston-Davies 2 1P1-31 COPAIN DE CLASSE 20 (D,S) P Nicholls 6-11-8 v137 F23232 KAYF BLANCO 21 (C,D,BF,S) G McPherson 9-11-6 K K Woods 3 134 C Poste 4 212113 VOCALISER 24 (P,D,G,S) R Dickin 6-10-6 136 D England 5 352F30 FREE STONE HILL 23 (T,D,G) D Skelton 8-10-3 7-4 Copain De Classe, 5-2 Kayf Blanco, 4-1 Vocaliser, 5-1 Deauville Dancer, 12-1 Free Stone Hill. Rob Wright’s choice: Copain De Classe had a confidence-boosting win at Fontwell and remains open to improvement Danger: Vocaliser 2.40 Matchbook Silver Plate Handicap ITV4 Hurdle (£21,896: 2m 5f) (11) Mr L Williams (7) v139 1 2-5602 ZUBAYR 12 (C,BF,S) P Nicholls 6-11-12 131 2 111444 ARTHUR'S GIFT 28 (D,S) N Twiston-Davies 7-11-12 T Humphries (7) 131 D Jacob 3 2-2125 KILDISART 28 (BF,S) B Pauling 6-11-12 130 A P Heskin 4 3-0431 AZZERTI 37 (S) A King 6-11-12 130 Paul O'Brien (5) 5 2-126P TREACKLE TART 80 (D,G,S) C Longsdon 6-11-12 130 R Dunne 6 -P6222 SOLOMN GRUNDY 34 (W,S) N Mulholland 8-11-9 132 Josh Moore 7 3104-1 GRAASTEN 33 (D,G,S) G L Moore 6-11-7 129 N Fehily 8 11-233 JUST A STING 56 (BF,S) H Fry 6-11-2 456214 129 DJANGO DJANGO 21 (S) Jonjo O'Neill 5-11-2 Jonjo O'Neill (7) 9 132 10 3/F2P2 MONBEG THEATRE 24 (T,P,D,S) J Snowden 9-11-2 S Twiston-Davies 133 P Brennan 11 41-U52 STICK TO THE PLAN 100 (T,D,G) D Skelton 6-10-13 9-2 Azzerti, 11-2 Zubayr, 13-2 Graasten, Just A Sting, Kildisart, 8-1 Django Django, Solomn Grundy, 9-1 Monbeg Theatre, 10-1 Arthur's Gift, 12-1 Stick To The Plan, 33-1 Treackle Tart. Wright choice: Kildisart travelled well until a mistake two out at Ascot and is well worth another chance Dangers: Solomn Grundy, Stick To The Plan 3.15 1 2 3 Matchbook Silver Bowl Handicap ITV4 Chase (£25,024: 2m 4f 110y) (10) P63-23 BUN DORAN 63 (D,BF,S) T George 7-11-12 0-2362 KILCREA VALE 56 (D,G,S) N Henderson 8-11-10 260322 BENTELIMAR 52 (D,BF,F,S) C Longsdon 9-11-9 P Brennan N De Boinville J J Burke Fontwell Park Rob Wright 1.40 Big Robin 4.00 Itoldyou 2.15 Clondaw Westie 4.35 Magoo 2.50 She’s Gina 5.10 Fizzlestix 3.25 Three Faces West Going: heavy At The Races 1.40 Novices' Hurdle (£4,094: 2m 5f 164y) (10) J McGrath 1 /0F-1 BIG ROBIN 25 N Henderson 6-11-7 N Scholfield 2 1/53 BELLE EMPRESS 26 Miss E Lavelle 7-11-0 Kevin Jones (5) 3 PPP30 BOOLA RIVER 21 J S Mullins 8-11-0 45 CHLOE'S COURT 33 R Walford 5-11-0 Matt Griffiths 4 J Sherwood (3) 5 P-P21 ILLTELLMEMA 62P Miss S Smith 6-11-0 P0 JOLLY JET 20 Mrs L Jewell 6-11-0 T Garner (3) 6 63 OSCARS LITTLE ROSE 46 S Thomas 5-11-0 J Davies 7 8 3-532 POTTERS SAPPHIRE 27 (B) Mrs L Wadham 5-11-0 G Sheehan 9 50U45 STRAWBERRY SPIRIT 29 (P) A Murphy 5-11-0 J Quinlan H Bannister 10 3/P06 WELCOME POLLY 59 (P) C Mann 6-11-0 8-11 Big Robin, 7-2 Potters Sapphire, 8-1 Illtellmema, 10-1 others. 2.15 Handicap Chase (£4,614: 2m 1f 165y) (5) 20225 ROTHMAN 21 (T,P,C) C Gordon 8-11-12 T Cannon 4-11P BREDON HILL LAD 43 (T,P,CD) S Gardner 11-11-12 Lucy Gardner (3) J E Moore 3 3-255 MR MUDDLE 46 (V,D) G L Moore 11-11-11 B Powell 4 50F65 LE CURIEUX 41 (D) B Powell 6-11-10 D Bass 5 -301U CLONDAW WESTIE 9 (T,P) Mrs L Hill 7-11-5 2-1 Clondaw Westie, 3-1 Bredon Hill Lad, 100-30 Rothman, 6-1others 1 2 2.50 1P1541 COBRA DE MAI 22 (T,P,D,F,G,S) D Skelton 6-11-9 139 Bridget Andrews (3) C Deutsch v145 5 33-234 CEPAGE 28 (S) Miss V Williams 6-11-9 138 A P Heskin 6 14-232 BRANDON HILL 36 (S) T George 10-11-8 144 N Fehily 7 22P/1- MINELLA PRESENT 657 (H,T,D,G,S) N Mulholland 9-11-7 141 C Poste 8 014U-P THOMAS CRAPPER 35 (T,P,D,G,S) R Dickin 11-11-5 143 S Twiston-Davies 9 516445 ORBASA 29 (B,D,G,S) P Nicholls 7-11-2 139 H Cobden 10 4-F3P1 FAVORITO BUCK'S 21 (CD,G,S) P Nicholls 6-11-0 4-1 Brandon Hill, 11-2 Cobra De Mai, Kilcrea Vale, 6-1 Bun Doran, Favorito Buck's, 7-1 Bentelimar, 12-1 Cepage, Orbasa, 14-1 Minella Present, Thomas Crapper. 4 Kempton Park Mares' Handicap Hurdle (£6,077: 2m 1f 162y) (6) A Thorne (7) 1 -5546 COILLTE LASS 25 (P) P Nicholls 7-11-12 M Tissier (7) 2 15124 BANJO GIRL 29 Mrs L Wadham 6-11-1 G Sheehan 3 -3116 NARANJA 29 J Snowden 6-10-13 B15 HARMONISE 21 (H) Sheena West 4-10-6 M Goldstein 4 J McGrath 5 0501 SHE'S GINA 46 J S Mullins 5-10-4 J E Moore 6 644P- AT FIRST LIGHT 379 (C) D Weston 9-10-0 9-4 Banjo Girl, 5-2 Naranja, 5-1 Harmonise, 6-1 She's Gina, 8-1 others. 3.25 141 141 143 Wright choice: Bun Doran should appreciate this stiffer test after looking one-paced over two miles Dangers: Favorito Buck’s, Minella Present 3.50 Better Odds With Matchbook Insights Novices’ Hurdle (£4,159: 2m 5f) (8) 31 CHAMPAGNE CHAMP 21 (S) B Millman 6-11-7 129 N Scholfield 1 3-1U3 CHOSEN PATH 36 (G) A King 5-11-7 W Hutchinson v130 2 109 N Fehily 3 33-11P EQUUS AMADEUS 153 (W,G) T Lacey 5-11-7 1-106 CEREAL KILLER 24 (S) P Nicholls 6-11-1 104 S Twiston-Davies 4 -P Brennan 5 -23123 DE NAME EVADES ME 125P (S) F O'Brien 6-11-1 5 GOSHEVEN 81 P Hobbs 5-11-1 -R Johnson 6 104 J Sherwood (3) 7 S51/36 MIGHTY VIC 20 (T,S) Miss S Smith 10-11-1 5-P -QUITE RIGHT 86 P Gundry 7-10-8 J Best 8 11-4 Champagne Champ, Chosen Path, 5-1 Cereal Killer, 11-2 Gosheven, 15-2 Equus Amadeus, 8-1 De Name Evades Me, 20-1 Mighty Vic, 33-1 Quite Right. 4.25 Matchbook Betting Podcast Handicap Chase (£7,408: 3m) (10) ROYALE DJANGO 41 (T,P,D,F,G,S) T Vaughan 9-12-3 J Best v114 112 RUSSBOROUGH 37 (P,G) Miss V Williams 9-12-3 C Deutsch 112 ALLEE BLEUE 28 (S) P Hobbs 8-12-3 R Johnson -SANDS COVE 721 (D,G,S) H J Evans 11-12-2 T Dowling (5) 56 SWINCOMBE SCORCHIO 51 (W,T,D,S) P Gundry 8-12-2 N Scholfield 106 GORSKY ISLAND 41 (S) T George 10-12-2 C Gethings 110 ABRACADABRA SIVOLA 66 (T,P,D,G,S) D Pipe 8-11-12 D Noonan 87 KINGSTON 30 (G,S) A Carroll 9-11-11 L Edwards 111 INVICTA LAKE 19 (P,D,G,S) Miss S Smith 11-11-9 J Sherwood (3) CKALCO DES LOGES 25 (T,BF,G,S) D Skelton 6-11-8 79 Bridget Andrews (3) 4-1 Abracadabra Sivola, Ckalco Des Loges, 9-2 Allee Bleue, 15-2 Gorsky Island, Royale Django, Swincombe Scorchio, 12-1 Invicta Lake, 14-1 Russborough, 18-1 Sands Cove, 22-1 Kingston. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 P533PF P/4-25 -00332 1336P/ 14-PF0 -02P3P 000545 61-06P 0453FU 153PP6 5.00 Matchbook Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race (£3,119: 2m) (12) -CILAOS GLACE G L Moore 5-11-3 Josh Moore 1 -LUCKY ACCORD P Hide 6-11-3 A Glassonbury 2 -MANVERS HOUSE R Walford 5-11-3 H Cobden 3 -OAKLEY P Hobbs 5-11-3 R Johnson 4 2 RHYTHM IS A DANCER 36 (T) P Nicholls 5-11-3 S Twiston-Davies v116 5 00 SAVANNA ROAR 81 B Pauling 5-11-3 97 D Jacob 6 2 SOLDIER OF LOVE 133 F O'Brien 5-11-3 109 P Brennan 7 -EBONY GALE P Hobbs 4-10-10 Conor Smith (5) 8 -GAELIC POET T Vaughan 4-10-10 J Best 9 -MISTER FISHER N Henderson 4-10-10 N De Boinville 10 1 SEBASTOPOL 69P (G) T Lacey 4-10-10 -N Fehily 11 -STARJAC P Webber 4-10-10 R McLernon 12 9-4 Mister Fisher, 11-4 Rhythm Is A Dancer, 7-2 Soldier Of Love, 6-1 Oakley, 10-1 Sebastopol, 16-1 Cilaos Glace, 25-1 Ebony Gale, Gaelic Poet, Savanna Roar, 33-1others. Handicap Hurdle 1-3FF THREE FACES WEST 28 (P) P Hobbs 10-12-2 T Cheesman (5) M Bastyan (5) 2 51260 KRIS SPIN 42 (D) K Lee 10-11-12 H Teal (7) 3 -0146 OH LAND ABLOOM 12 (D) N King 8-11-12 -4312 KING UTHER 35 (V,C,D) C Gordon 8-11-5 T Cannon 4 C Shoemark 5 34230 BOOK OF GOLD 21 (P) O Sherwood 6-11-4 J E Moore 6 P-35P ANTONY 113 (C,BF) G L Moore 8-11-2 11-4 King Uther, 7-2 Three Faces West, 9-2 Antony, Kris Spin, 7-1 others. 1 4.00 Handicap Chase (£3,314: 3m 2f) (5) 25502 ITOLDYOU 30 (V,CD) Mrs L Jewell 12-11-12 T Cannon 133-4 MATROW'S LADY 30 (T,P,C) N Mulholland 11-11-10 Mr J King (5) 3 PP00P FLUGZEUG 117 (P,CD) J S Mullins 10-11-2 Kevin Jones (5) D Crosse 4 PP4P4 WHAT LARKS 12 (P) Dr J Naylor 10-10-11 5 000P0 CANYOUHEARMENOW 12 (T,P) Mrs D Grissell 7-10-8 M Goldstein 13-8 Matrow's Lady, 5-2 Itoldyou, 100-30 Flugzeug, 10-1 others. 1 2 4.35 Handicap Hurdle (£4,094: 2m 3f) (9) 1/ MAGOO (T,,,W) P Nicholls 6-12-3 A Thorne (7) 1 2 6002U DUKE OF KILCORRAL 20 N Mulholland 5-11-12 Mr J King (5) 3 31205 BURST YA BUBBLE 20 J S Mullins 6-11-10 D Sansom (5) 4 14-02 GUARDS CHAPEL 44F (C) G L Moore 10-11-8 W Clarke (7) 5 06555 SAMSON THE MAN 25 (H) N Williams 5-11-6 T Garner (3) 6 52532 MISS ADVENTURE 15 (P) P Middleton 6-11-5 M Bastyan (5) J E Moore 7 -01F3 LE CAPRICIEUX 36 G L Moore 7-11-3 8 UP536 TEA TIME FRED 22 (P,D) S Gardner 9-10-12 Lucy Gardner (3) T Cannon 9 U52U2 BE DARING 33 (BF) C Gordon 7-10-5 100-30 Le Capricieux, 7-2 Magoo, 9-2 Be Daring, Guards Chapel, 8-1 others. 5.10 Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (£3,119: 3m 1f 166y) (4) 1 132-2 FIZZLESTIX 19 C Gordon 6-11-12 2 PP605 SHOOFLY MILLY 33 (T,B) J Scott 9-11-12 3 44345 GOOD NEWS 107 Lydia Richards 6-11-5 4 -UF65 POINT N SHOOT 26 (T,B) N Hawke 7-11-5 5-4 Fizzlestix, 9-4 Point N Shoot, 3-1 Shoofly Milly. H Reed (3) R Hawker (6) Doubtful M Bastyan 3.35 Rob Wright 1.50 Sahara Haze 4.10 I Just Know 2.25 Big River 4.45 Alf ’N’ Dor 3.00 Du Soleil 5.20 Whiskey In The Jar 3.35 Russe Blanc 5.55 Champagnendiamonds Thunderer: 3.00 Fleminport (nap). 3.35 Get On The Yager. Going: heavy 6 Inspection 8am At The Races 1.50 Betfred St Patrick’s Day Mares’ ITV4 Handicap Hurdle (£4,159: 2m 7f 70y) (7) 91 Mr B Jones (7) 1 043401 SAHARA HAZE 22 (S) P Dando 9-11-12 91 J Nixon (7) 2 223140 TARA WELL 7 (T,P,S) R Dickin 8-11-0 92 A Coleman 3 50-532 MOZO 76 (H,T,C,S) A Honeyball 7-10-8 64 B Poste 4 -04050 HOLLOW PARK 107 (T,W) K Price 6-10-6 78 C Hammond (7) 5 4-2P43 SPECIAL PRINCESS 9 (P,S) M Hammond 8-10-5 v93 L Murtagh (5) 6 6-2P2F FROSTY DAWN 20 M Sowersby 10-10-1 66 R Day (3) 7 43-PP5 AGENT LOUISE 10 (P,C,G,S) M Sowersby 10-10-0 15-8 Sahara Haze, 9-4 Mozo, 9-2 Tara Well, 8-1 Frosty Dawn, 10-1 Hollow Park, 12-1 Special Princess, 25-1 Agent Louise. Wright choice: Sahara Haze finally broke his duck when winning by six lengths at Warwick and can follow up in a weak race Danger: Mozo 2.25 Betfred Novices’ Handicap Chase ITV4 (£18,768: 3m) (6) 143 D R Fox 1 1-1P31 BIG RIVER 30 (T,D,G,S) Miss L Russell 8-11-12 142 T Scudamore 2 5-13P1 SOLIGHOSTER 35 (D,S) N Mulholland 6-11-8 144 M Hamill (5) 3 526113 ANOTHER VENTURE 28 (P,D,BF,S) K Bailey 7-11-3 60-211 142 LOOKSNOWTLIKEBRIAN 19 (S) T Vaughan 7-10-8 A Johns 4 141 T Whelan 5 46201P BIG MEADOW 27 (CD,S) N King 7-10-6 N P Madden v146 6 -53423 BEHIND TIME 27 (P,S) H Fry 7-10-3 11-4 Big River, 3-1 Solighoster, 7-2 Another Venture, 9-2 Behind Time, 6-1 Looksnowtlikebrian, 10-1 Big Meadow. Wright choice: Big River beat Cheltenham Festival runner-up Shantou Flyer at Kelso and can defy top weight Danger: Another Venture 3.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 -23244 -1F342 -5216P 21P-02 21411121155 -42154 -55022 10-33P 2-3011 324566 3-1F2P Betfred Treble Odds On Lucky15'S ITV4 Handicap Hurdle (£12,512: 2m 3f 207y) (12) CLYNE 20 (S) E Williams 8-11-12 A Wedge OVERTOWN EXPRESS 21 (S) H Fry 10-11-5 N P Madden SIR MANGAN 28 (D,G,S) D Skelton 10-11-3 J Bowen (3) THELIGNY 77 (D,G,S) T Vaughan 7-11-3 A Johns PEARL SWAN 391 (T,V,D,G,S) P Bowen 10-11-0 S Bowen CAVE TOP 49 (CD,BF,S) O Greenall 6-10-12 B Hughes SAKHEE'S CITY 21 (P,D,S) P Kirby 7-10-11 A Nicol APPLESANDPIERRES 21 (P,C,D,F,G,S) D Skelton 10-10-8 H Skelton HITHERJACQUES LADY 56 (W,D,G,S) O Sherwood 6-10-8 L Aspell FLEMINPORT 26 (D,S) Jonjo O'Neill 5-10-7 A Coleman SOLSTICE STAR 28 (T,D,S) M Keighley 8-10-5 H Stock (5) DU SOLEIL 45 (H,C,S) Miss V Williams 6-10-3 T Scudamore 143 130 142 139 -v147 140 143 146 142 134 141 13-2 Applesandpierres, Overtown Express, Solstice Star, 8-1 Cave Top, Fleminport, Sir Mangan, 9-1 Pearl Swan, 10-1 Clyne, Theligny, 11-1 Hitherjacques Lady, Sakhee's City, 14-1 Du Soleil. Wright choice: Du Soleil raced too enthusiastically at Leicester but should be calmer now fitted with a hood Dangers: Sakhee’s City, Fleminport Rob Wright 5.45 Kreb’s Cycle 7.45 Rose Berry 6.15 Arkadian Empire 8.15 Society Ranger 6.45 Amadeus Rox 8.45 Multiviz 7.15 Breathless Times Going: standard At The Races Draw: 5f-1m, low numbers best 5.45 Russe Blanc can bounce back to form at Uttoxeter now he is fitted with blinkers Uttoxeter Wolverhampton (£6,077: 3m 1f 166y) (6) The best bet of the day is at Kempton Park, where Kildisart has excellent claims in the Matchbook Racing Is Commission Free Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle (2.40). He was still travelling well until blundering two out at Ascot last time and his previous run, when second over this course at Southwell last time and, while he has yet to prove that he stays quite this far, he has been shaping as though a thorough test will suit. Big River looks the one to beat in the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Novices’ Handicap Chase (2.25). The form of his latest defeat of Shantou Flyer received a boost when the latter finished a fine second at Cheltenham this week and Big River can follow up. Handicap (£7,246: 1m 1f 104y) (7) K Shoemark 1 (3) 03-11 ABE LINCOLN 18 (T,P,C) J Noseda 5-9-9 J Osborn (7) 2 (2) 2000/ TENOR 1004 (T) John Ryan 8-9-7 3 (7) 1325/ GREATEST JOURNEY 1050 (C) M Appleby 6-9-7 A Rawlinson L Morris 4 (4) 6/64- C NOTE 100 (T) Mrs H Main 5-9-5 5 (5) 5-460 MYTHICAL MADNESS 7 (P,CD) D O’Meara 7-9-1 P Makin 6 (1) 4411- ROAD TO DUBAI 145 (D) G Scott 4-9-0 Hayley Turner B A Curtis 7 (6) 0-123 KREB’S CYCLE 7 I Williams 4-8-7 5-4 Abe Lincoln, 7-2 Road To Dubai, 6-1 Kreb’s Cycle, 7-1 Mythical Madness, 10-1 C Note, 14-1 Tenor, 16-1 Greatest Journey. Course specialists Fontwell: Trainers K Lee, 4 from 9 runners, 44.4%; P Nicholls, 27 from 66, 40.9%; N Mulholland, 34 from 129, 26.4%. Jockey Mr J King, 3 from 4 rides, 75.0%. Kempton: Trainers N Henderson, 49 from 188, 26.1%; P Nicholls, 31 from 141, 22.0%; N TwistonDavies, 11 from 56, 19.6%. Jockey H Cobden, 8 from 28, 28.6%. Uttoxeter: Trainers K Price, 4 from 10, 40.0%; O Murphy, 3 from 8, 37.5%; Dr R Newland, 16 from 55, 29.1%; D Skelton, 24 from 102, 23.5%. Jockey H Skelton, 26 from 82, 31.7%. Wolverhampton: Trainers J Noseda, 15 from 42, 35.7%; O Murphy, 3 from 11, 27.3%. Jockey L Edmunds, 11 from 47, 23.4%. 6.15 Wright choice: Russe Blanc has a good record at this track, is well treated, and can return to form Dangers: Get On The Yager, Back To The Thatch 4.10 Novices’ Hurdle (£6,506: 2m 7f 70y) (4) 1 5-0412 CADEYRN 21 (BF,S) M Scudamore 6-11-8 2 P1/15 PIRI MASSINI 28 (D,S) O Murphy 7-11-8 122 CONINGSBY 42 (S) T Lacey 5-11-2 3 4 P3-341 I JUST KNOW 65 (D,S) Mrs S Smith 8-11-2 2-1 Piri Massini, 5-2 Coningsby, I Just Know, 9-2 Cadeyrn. 4.45 T Scudamore F Gregory (7) Mr T O'Brien (5) D Cook 122 126 v131 -- Handicap Chase (£6,506: 2m 4f) (7) 1 421-PP COBAJAYISLAND 50 (T,C,D,G,S) M Scudamore 10-11-12 T Scudamore v123 116 D R Fox 2 425/23 PRESENT FLIGHT 19 (T,F,G) Miss L Russell 9-11-12 106 M Hamill (5) 3 1P032P MAGUIRE'S GLEN 58 (D,S) G Harris 10-11-11 -B Hughes 4 F0/630 JAUNE ET BLEUE 27 (S) D Dennis 6-11-6 115 A Johns 5 P0-034 WINGS OF SMOKE 57 (T,D,F,G,S) T Vaughan 13-11-5 118 D Cook 6 P1332F ISKABEG LANE 6 (BF,S) Mrs S Smith 7-11-5 101 J Bowen (3) 7 3U33P3 ALF 'N' DOR 43 (T,P,D,BF,S) P Bowen 7-11-5 7-2 Alf 'N' Dor, 4-1 Cobajayisland, Iskabeg Lane, 6-1 Present Flight, Jaune Et Bleue, 10-1 others. 5.20 Novices’ Hurdle (£4,809: 2m 3f 207y) (7) B Hughes 1 /1-321 JUST DON'T ASK 34 (D,S) C Longsdon 6-11-7 F Gregory (7) 2 1-2P11 WHISKEY IN THE JAR 29 (C,D,S) O Murphy 6-11-7 4- IRON HORSE 364 R Phillips 7-11-1 D Hiskett (5) 3 0P0 LAKE WASHINGTON 25 Miss V Williams 5-11-1 A P Cawley 4 T Phelan 5 12/0-P LOCH GARMAN ARIS 42 (G) G Hanmer 8-11-1 J Bargary (3) 6 3/2-06 COSTANTE VIA 21 N Twiston-Davies 7-10-8 B Poste 7 00-P00 DEFINITE WINNER 9 (T) K Price 7-10-8 Evens Whiskey In The Jar, 5-4 Just Don't Ask, 10-1 Costante Via, 20-1 others. 5.55 119 v130 -87 -103 87 NHunt Flat Race (£2,599: 1m 7f 168y) (4) 10 LECHLADE MAGICIAN 35 (D,S) A Honeyball 5-11-9 A Coleman v121 1 32 CHAMPAGNENDIAMONDS 51 Miss L Russell 5-11-2 115 D R Fox 2 2 CLONDAW FIXER 76P G Bewley 6-11-2 -J Bewley (3) 3 231 SMITHS CROSS 48P (S) M Scudamore 6-11-2 -T Scudamore 4 11-10 Lechlade Magician, 9-4 Smiths Cross, 7-2 Champagnendiamonds, 10-1 Clondaw Fixer. Handicap (£3,752: 1m 4f) (10) Fran Berry (2) 340-5 TIDAL WATCH 24 Jonjo O’Neill 4-9-6 A Kirby (10) 00-06 CAPE BANJO 24 N Mulholland 5-9-5 (4) 63064 WHAT USAIN 9 (H,P,C,D) M Appleby 6-9-5 A Rawlinson (1) 51-13 THEGLASGOWWARRIOR 37 (D) J Goldie 4-9-5 P McDonald 5 (8) 62241 AKKADIAN EMPIRE 19 (C) I Jardine 4-9-5 C Rodriguez (3) L Morris 6 (9) 250-3 YENSIR 14 (P,BF) O Murphy 5-9-4 7 (6) 1312- OVERHAUGH STREET 178 (H) E De Giles 5-9-2 C Shepherd (3) 8 (3) 0-001 BLUE ROCKS 17 (C) Mrs L Williamson 4-8-13 G Malune (5) 9 (5) 04-25 LONDON GLORY 31 (B,D) D Thompson 5-8-12 A Mullen K O’Neill 10 (7) 3-600 THAHAB IFRAJ 7 A Dunn 5-8-11 3-1 Theglasgowwarrior, 7-2 Tidal Watch, 9-2 Yensir, 6-1 Cape Banjo, 8-1 Overhaugh Street, 10-1 Akkadian Empire, 12-1 London Glory, 14-1 others. Handicap (£3,105: 1m 6f) (13) L Morris 1 (11) 06-32 KATIE GALE 11 (V,D) R Brisland 8-9-9 2 (1) 430-1 CAPTAIN GEORGE 22 (P,CD) M Blake 7-9-8 M Godwin (3) B A Curtis 3 (7) 14-46 CAPTAIN SWIFT 31 (P,CD) J Mackie 7-9-7 4 (8) 500-6 MISTER FIZZ 22 (P,C) Miss I Pickard 10-9-7 T Clark (3) A Kirby 5 (6) 630-0 DANCE ROCK 19 N Mulholland 5-9-7 G Wood (3) 6 (4) /553- GOLD CHAIN 170J (P,,,W) C Ellam 8-9-6 S W Kelly 7 (2) 106-4 LEORO 14 (T,P) C Mann 4-9-4 G Malune (5) 8 (9) 20-46 CARACAS 52 K Frost 4-9-4 9 (12) 0-414 VOLTURNUS 30 (D,BF) J Osborne 4-9-2 J Dinsmore (7) 02-05 ROCK’N GOLD 22 A Wintle 5-9-1 Hollie Doyle 10 (3) T Marquand 11(13) 435-0 AMADEUS ROX 29 (P) A King 4-8-13 A Mullen 12(10) 014-5 RAJAPUR 32 (B,D) D Thompson 5-8-11 13 (5) 6-000 MEDIEVAL BISHOP 20J (P,C,D) T Forbes 9-8-7 R Hornby 4-1 Captain George, 6-1 Dance Rock, Katie Gale, 8-1 Amadeus Rox, Volturnus, 10-1 Captain Swift, Gold Chain, Leoro, 12-1 Caracas, 14-1 others. 7.15 Betfred Midlands Grand National ITV4 Handicap Chase (Listed: £70,338: 4m 2f) (18) 138 Bryony Frost (3) 1 01-05U SILSOL 28 (T,B,G,S) P Nicholls 9-11-12 151 Mr Jack Andrews (7) 2 -63U15 MILANSBAR 21 (B,C,S) N King 11-11-10 142 H Skelton 3 -66112 GET ON THE YAGER 40 (G,S) D Skelton 8-11-8 D Cook v152 4 5-P134 HAINAN 21 (S) Mrs S Smith 7-11-7 144 Mr Z Baker (5) 5 4-0410 BENBENS 70 (G,S) N Twiston-Davies 13-11-6 146 J Bowen (3) 6 -3P114 WESTERN CLIMATE 63 (G,S) T Weston 9-11-5 141 S Houlihan (5) 7 -30121 REGAL FLOW 5 (F,G,S) R Buckler 11-11-3 146 R Patrick (5) 8 40-P22 ALFIE SPINNER 70 (T,P,S) K Lee 13-11-1 147 W Kennedy 9 1-3022 WEST OF THE EDGE 21 (P,S) Dr R Newland 10-10-13 130 T Bellamy 10 -13R3F BALLYMALIN 42 (G,S) N Twiston-Davies 8-10-12 141 S Bowen 11 4P-15F BOB FORD 98 (H,G,S) Dr R Newland 11-10-12 148 T O'Brien 12 -F231F BACK TO THE THATCH 21 (S) H Daly 6-10-11 148 13 PP211P THEMANFROM MINELLA 21 (T,B,G,S) B Case 9-10-10 M Kendrick (5) 147 Ross Chapman (3) 14 11-161 PLUS JAMAIS 21 (S) I Jardine 11-10-9 146 L Aspell 15 -21204 KRACKATOA KING 27 (V,C,BF,S) K Lee 10-10-8 121 D R Fox 16 -4U4PP RUSSE BLANC 6 (B,C,S) K Lee 11-10-5 141 A Wedge 17 14-342 BILLY BRONCO 65 (S) E Williams 7-10-4 145 A Tinkler 18 P-3111 THE ARTFUL COBBLER 26 (S) H Daly 7-10-3 6-1 Back To The Thatch, Get On The Yager, West Of The Edge, 8-1 The Artful Cobbler, 10-1 Milansbar, 14-1 Alfie Spinner, Hainan, Silsol, 16-1 Ballymalin, Benbens, Bob Ford, 20-1 others. 1 2 3 4 6.45 and distance, has worked out extremely well. Kildisart is open to plenty of improvement after just four starts over hurdles and rates terrific value at the 7-1 offered by William Hill. The Matchbook Silver Bowl Handicap Chase (3.15) looks a tricky puzzle to solve but Bun Doran should not be far away. Tom George’s charge has plenty of form in better company than this and has shaped as though in good heart over two miles on both starts this season. This longer trip is more suitable and he has the class to defy top weight. Novice Stakes (£3,752: 6f) (4) 1 (4) 2-1 BREATHLESS TIMES 72 (CD) R Charlton 3-9-8 A McNamara (3) S W Kelly 2 (1) 621- JACK TAYLOR R Hughes 3-9-8 A Kirby 3 (3) 62-1 KION 12 (CD) J Osborne 3-9-8 Q TWENTY BOY M Usher 3-9-1 L Jones 4 (2) 5-4 Breathless Times, 7-4 Kion, 3-1 Jack Taylor, 33-1 Q Twenty Boy. 7.45 Fillies’ Handicap (£10,397: 7f) (7) 1 (1) 314-4 BINT ARCANO 47 (CD) J Camacho 5-9-7 C Rodriguez (3) 2 (5) 412-1 IFUBELIEVEINDREAMS 24 (D) I Mohammed 4-9-5 S Levey 3 (6) -1154 TITAN GODDESS 10 (D) M Murphy 6-9-2 Nicola Currie (5) C Bishop 4 (2) 1-164 PATTIE 36 (D) M Channon 4-9-0 L Edmunds (3) 5 (7) 52-02 ROSE BERRY 17 (H) C Dwyer 4-8-13 B A Curtis 6 (3) 001-1 MADE OF HONOUR 35 K Burke 4-8-8 L Morris 7 (4) 06-04 ACADIAN ANGEL 12 (D) J J Quinn 4-8-2 5-2 Ifubelieveindreams, 3-1 Made Of Honour, 5-1 Bint Arcano, 8-1 others. 8.15 Handicap (Div I: £3,105: 1m 142y) (9) P Bradley (5) 1 (1) 26022 SATCHVILLE FLYER 7 P D Evans 7-9-9 2 (7) -4200 SOCIETY RANGER 5 (P,CD) S Duffy (Ire) 5-9-6 R Winston 3 (6) -0020 JOYS DELIGHT 10 (P) D M Loughnane 4-9-3 R Kingscote 4 (3) 3-003 THE KING’S STEED 36 (T,B) S Lycett 5-9-1 K Shoemark L Morris 5 (2) 0-004 OK BY ME 38 (P) I Williams 4-8-13 M Godwin (3) 6 (8) 00-06 GOLDEN EYE 7 S Kirk 4-8-13 7 (5) 50-00 PIPERS PIPING 21 (CD) Miss M Rowland 12-8-12 R Hornby Jane Elliott (5) 8 (9) 0-400 LESANTI 8 E De Giles 4-8-12 9 (4) 60-05 TESS GRAHAM 40 (H,P) S Hollinshead 4-8-12 P Mathers 3-1 Satchville Flyer, 7-2 Society Ranger, The King’s Steed, 8-1 others. 8.45 Handicap (Div II: £3,105: 1m 142y) (9) 1 (8) 63343 LORD MURPHY 17 (T,CD) D M Loughnane 5-9-7 R Kingscote L Morris 2 (6) -2002 LIVING LEADER 24 (C) G Harris 9-9-6 3 (4) 00100 GONE WITH THE WIND 17 (T,P,CD) R Bastiman 7-9-4 P Dennis (3) 4 (3) 0050- SIMMO’S PARTYTRICK 190 G Harker 5-9-1 Sam James R Winston 5 (1) 04530 MULTIVIZ 5 (BF) S Duffy (Ire) 5-9-0 6 (5) 00/63 FINAL ATTACK 17 (D) S Hollinshead 7-8-13 W Cox (5) 7 (2) 50406 SHEER INTENSITY 10 (P) P D Evans 5-8-12 P McDonald P Mathers 8 (9) 0-064 EMIGRATED 2 (T,V) D Shaw 5-8-12 9 (7) 0-060 CAIUS COLLEGE GIRL 9 (H,T) A Wintle 6-8-12 F Marsh (5) 9-4 Lord Murphy, 5-2 Multiviz, 9-2 Living Leader, 6-1 Final Attack, 12-1 others. Blinkered first time: Fontwell 2.15 Mr Muddle. 5.10 Point N Shoot. Kempton 1.30 Distingo. Wolverhampton 8.15 The King’s Steed. the times | Saturday March 17 2018 19 3G S Sport Fixtures Results Today Football Kick-off 3.0 unless stated FA Cup: Quarter-finals: Swansea v Tottenham (12.15); Man Utd v Brighton (7.45). Premier League: Bournemouth v West Brom; Huddersfield v Crystal Palace; Stoke v Everton; Liverpool v Watford (5.30). Championship: Fulham v QPR (12.30); Barnsley v Millwall (1.0); Birmingham v Hull; Brentford v Middlesbrough; Bristol City v Ipswich; Leeds v Sheff Wed; Norwich v Reading; Sheff Utd v Nottm Forest; Sunderland v Preston; Wolves v Burton; Bolton v Aston Villa (5.30). P Wolves................37 Cardiff.................37 Aston Villa..........37 Fulham................37 Derby...................37 Middlesbrough....37 Sheff Utd ............ 37 Bristol City..........37 Preston................37 Millwall...............37 Brentford ............ 37 Ipswich................37 Leeds...................37 Norwich...............37 QPR ..................... 37 Nottm Forest......37 Hull......................37 Sheff Wed...........37 Reading...............37 Bolton..................37 Barnsley..............37 Birmingham........37 Burton.................37 Sunderland..........37 W 24 23 20 19 16 18 18 15 14 14 14 15 14 12 12 13 9 8 8 8 7 8 7 5 D 7 7 9 11 14 7 5 13 15 13 11 7 8 13 10 6 12 14 12 12 12 6 9 13 L 6 7 8 7 7 12 14 9 8 10 12 15 15 12 15 18 16 15 17 17 18 23 21 19 F 66 58 61 64 55 53 51 53 46 44 53 47 49 38 43 43 53 39 42 32 37 25 26 38 A 32 31 36 39 34 35 43 42 37 37 45 47 51 42 53 54 56 51 54 56 54 57 64 66 GD Pts 34 79 27 76 25 69 25 68 21 62 18 61 8 59 11 58 9 57 7 55 8 53 0 52 -2 50 -4 49 -10 46 -11 45 -3 39 -12 38 -12 36 -24 36 -17 33 -32 30 -38 30 -28 28 League One: Blackpool v Southend; Charlton v Fleetwood; Gillingham v Blackburn; MK Dons v Bury; Northampton v Rotherham; Oldham v Portsmouth; Oxford Utd v Peterborough; Plymouth v Bristol Rovers; Rochdale v AFC Wimbledon; Scunthorpe v Shrewsbury. P Blackburn............37 Wigan..................34 Shrewsbury.........35 Rotherham..........36 Scunthorpe..........37 Peterborough......36 Plymouth.............36 Charlton .............. 35 Bristol Rovers.....36 Bradford..............35 Gillingham...........36 Portsmouth.........36 Southend.............36 Blackpool.............36 W 22 21 21 19 15 15 15 14 15 15 12 15 12 11 D 10 8 8 5 13 11 9 9 5 5 13 4 10 12 L 5 5 6 12 9 10 12 12 16 15 11 17 14 13 F 70 63 47 60 54 58 44 44 51 48 42 43 42 43 A 35 23 26 43 44 45 43 46 53 52 40 47 54 47 GD Pts 35 76 40 71 21 71 17 62 10 58 13 56 1 54 -2 51 -2 50 -4 50 2 49 -4 49 -12 46 -4 45 Walsall................37 Doncaster............36 Oxford Utd..........35 AFC Wimbledon..36 Oldham................35 Northampton......36 Fleetwood Town.35 MK Dons..............36 Rochdale..............33 Bury.....................36 11 10 11 11 10 10 10 8 7 7 11 13 9 8 10 9 8 11 12 9 15 13 15 17 15 17 17 17 14 20 47 43 50 36 50 35 46 35 33 30 54 44 53 47 60 57 57 50 41 53 -7 -1 -3 -11 -10 -22 -11 -15 -8 -23 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 35 33 30 League Two: Lincoln v Grimsby (1.0); Notts Co v Mansfield (1.0); Accrington v Forest Green; Barnet v Wycombe; Cambridge Utd v Swindon; Carlisle v Crawley; Cheltenham v Chesterfield; Colchester v Yeovil; Crewe v Coventry; Morecambe v Exeter; Newport v Luton; Port Vale v Stevenage. P Accrington...........36 Luton...................37 Notts County ...... 37 Wycombe............36 Mansfield............36 Exeter..................35 Coventry..............36 Lincoln City.........36 Swindon..............36 Carlisle................37 Newport County . 36 Crawley...............36 Colchester...........36 Cambridge...........37 Cheltenham.........37 Stevenage...........36 Yeovil..................36 Port Vale.............36 Crewe..................36 Forest Green.......36 Grimsby...............37 Morecambe.........35 Barnet.................37 Chesterfield........35 W 22 20 18 18 16 18 17 15 18 15 13 15 13 13 11 11 10 9 11 10 9 8 7 8 D 5 10 11 9 14 6 7 12 3 10 13 7 12 11 11 10 9 10 4 7 10 12 9 6 L 9 7 8 9 6 11 12 9 15 12 10 14 11 13 15 15 17 17 21 19 18 15 21 21 F 61 78 59 68 55 45 41 50 55 53 46 42 46 37 52 48 46 39 43 43 31 35 34 36 A 39 39 38 52 37 38 30 39 54 46 46 44 42 47 53 53 57 51 59 61 54 46 54 64 GD Pts 22 71 39 70 21 65 16 63 18 62 7 60 11 58 11 57 1 57 7 55 0 52 -2 52 4 51 -10 50 -1 44 -5 43 -11 39 -12 37 -16 37 -18 37 -23 37 -11 36 -20 30 -28 30 FA Trophy: Semi-finals, first Leg: Brackley v Wealdstone; Bromley v Gateshead. FA Vase: Semi-finals, first leg: Marske Utd v Stockton Town; Thatcham Town v 1874 Northwich. Vanarama National: AFC Fylde v Hartlepool; Boreham Wood v Tranmere; Bromley v Dagenham & Red; Chester v Aldershot; Dover v Macclesfield; Eastleigh v Leyton Orient; Guiseley v Halifax; Maidenhead v Barrow; Maidstone v Sutton Utd; Solihull Moors v Torquay; Woking v Wrexham. P Macclesfield........36 Sutton Utd..........37 Tranmere ............ 37 Wrexham ............ 37 Aldershot............37 Boreham Wood...37 Dover Athletic .... 37 W 21 20 18 16 17 16 16 D 8 9 10 15 12 14 12 L 7 8 9 6 8 7 9 F 51 57 61 43 58 51 50 A 37 39 37 28 45 34 33 GD Pts 14 71 18 69 24 64 15 63 13 63 17 62 17 60 AFC Fylde............37 Ebbsfleet ............37 Bromley...............35 Dagenham & Red 37 Gateshead 36 Maidenhead ....... 37 Eastleigh.............36 Halifax.................37 Leyton Orient......37 Woking................37 Maidstone...........36 Hartlepool...........36 Barrow ................ 34 Solihull Moors.....36 Torquay...............37 Chester ...............37 Guiseley .............. 36 16 14 15 14 11 12 10 11 11 12 10 9 8 9 7 6 5 10 14 10 9 15 12 15 12 10 7 12 11 12 8 9 12 10 11 9 10 14 10 13 11 14 16 18 14 16 14 19 21 19 21 68 48 58 55 51 51 53 41 43 45 43 39 41 37 33 32 31 46 42 42 51 39 56 58 48 50 58 55 52 48 52 61 61 68 22 6 16 4 12 -5 -5 -7 -7 -13 -12 -13 -7 -15 -28 -29 -37 58 56 55 51 48 48 45 45 43 43 42 38 36 35 30 30 25 Vanarama North: Alfreton Town v Kidderminster; Blyth Spartans v Curzon Ashton; Boston Utd v FC United of Manchester; Bradford P A v AFC Telford; Darlington v North Ferriby Utd; Gainsborough v Stockport County; Leamington v Nuneaton; Salford City v Spennymoor Town; Tamworth v Harrogate Town; York v Southport. South: Bognor Regis Town v East Thurrock; Braintree Town v Whitehawk; Chippenham v Weston-super-Mare; Concord Rangers v St Albans; Dartford v Hemel Hempstead; Gloucester v Hungerford Town; Havant and Waterlooville v Hampton & Richmond; Poole Town v Bath City; Truro City v Chelmsford; Welling v Oxford City. Evo-Stik Premier Division: North: Altrincham v Stalybridge; Barwell v Lancaster City; Hednesford v Marine; Matlock Town v Farsley Celtic; Nantwich Town v Halesowen; Stafford Rangers v Coalville Town; Stourbridge v Ashton Utd; Sutton Coldfield Tn v Mickleover Sports; Warrington Town v Grantham; Whitby v Rushall Olympic; Witton Albion v Shaw Lane; Workington v Buxton. South: Basingstoke v Hereford; Bishop’s Stortford v Slough; Frome Town v Kings Langley; Gosport Borough v Redditch; Hitchin v Dorchester; Kings Lynn Town v Farnborough; Merthyr Town v St Neots Town; Royston Town v Banbury; St Ives Town v Chesham; Stratford Town v Kettering; Tiverton v Biggleswade Town; Weymouth v Dunstable. Bostik Premier: Billericay v Needham Market; Burgess Hill Town v Brightlingsea Regent; Enfield Town v Staines Town; Harrow Borough v Lowestoft Town; Leatherhead v Dorking Wanderers; Leiston v Wingate & Finchley; Merstham v Harlow; Met Police v Margate; Thurrock v Folkestone Invicta; Tonbridge Angels v Kingstonian; Tooting & Mitcham v Hendon P W D L F A GD Pts Celtic...................29 20 7 2 59 20 39 67 Rangers...............30 18 4 8 61 35 26 58 Aberdeen.............29 16 5 8 43 33 10 53 Hibernian ............ 30 14 10 6 43 33 10 52 Kilmarnock..........29 11 10 8 39 38 1 43 Hearts.................30 9 12 9 29 29 0 39 Motherwell ......... 29 10 5 14 34 39 -5 35 *St Johnstone....30 9 7 14 30 43 -13 34 Hamilton Acad....27 8 5 14 38 48 -10 29 Dundee................29 8 4 17 30 47 -17 28 Partick Thistle....29 6 7 16 26 47 -21 25 Ross County........29 5 6 18 31 51 -20 21 Championship: Brechin v Dumbarton; Dundee Utd v Inverness CT: Dunfermline v Morton; Livingston v Falkirk; Queen of South v St Mirren. P St Mirren................27 Livingston..............27 Dundee United.......24 Morton...................28 Dunfermline ..........27 Queen of South......27 Falkirk....................27 Inverness CT..........25 Dumbarton.............26 Brechin City ........... 26 W 19 14 13 11 10 10 8 8 5 0 D 3 8 4 9 8 8 9 6 9 4 L 5 5 7 8 9 9 10 11 12 22 F 49 44 34 38 40 40 31 30 16 18 A 28 28 29 28 30 37 40 31 32 57 GD Pts 21 60 16 50 5 43 10 42 10 38 3 38 -9 33 -1 30 -16 24 -39 4 League One: Albion Rovers v Arbroath; Alloa v Airdrie; Forfar v Ayr; Stranraer v Queens Park. League Two: Annan v Clyde; Berwick v Stenhousemuir; Cowdenbeath v Elgin; Edinburgh v Stirling Albion; Montrose v Peterhead. Rugby league Betfred Super League: Catalans Dragons v Warrington (5.0); Wakefield v Widnes (6.30). Ladbrokes Challenge Cup: Fourth round: Normanton Knights v Rochdale (2.0). Rugby union NatWest Six Nations: England v Ireland (2.45); Italy v Scotland (12.30); Wales v France (5.0). Greene King IPA Championship: Doncaster v Richmond (2.30); Hartpury RFC v Cornish Pirates (1.0); Rotherham Titans v Bristol (2.0). Principality Building Society Welsh Premiership: Bargoed v RGC 1404 (1.30); Carmarthen Quins v Cardiff Rugby (12.30); Llandovery v Ebbw Vale (1.0); Merthyr v Llanelli (12.30). Other sport Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership: Aberdeen v Dundee; Hearts v Partick; Ranger v Kilmarnock; Ross Co v Hamilton. Badminton: Arena Birmingham: Yonex AllEngland Open. Basketball: BBL Championship: Leicester v Cheshire (7.30). Ice hockey: Elite League: Guildford v Manchester (6.0); Belfast v Fife (7.0); Braehead v Milton Keynes (7.0); Coventry v Dundee (7.0); Sheffield v Nottingham (7.0). 1.50 (2m 3f 81yd hdle) 1, Blunder Buss (B Hughes, 7-1); 2, Arthurs Secret (7-2); 3, Traditional Dancer (5-1). 9 ran. 1l, 6l. C Grant. 2.30 (2m 7f ch) 1, Dun Faw Good (Miss C Walton, 5-2); 2, Robins Legend (7-2); 3, Attention Please (9-4 fav). 7 ran. 1Ol, 13l. J Walton. 3.10 (2m 85yd flat) 1, Sporting Press (B Hughes, 2-1 fav); 2, Leostar (11-2); 3, Macardle (7-2). 11 ran. Sh hd, 10l. K Dalgleish. Placepot: £148.10. Quadpot: £40.90. 3.55 (2m 3yd hdle) 1, Potters Midnight (Jack Quinlan, 8-1); 2, All My Love (4-1); 3, Mellow Ben (11-2). 8 ran. 1l, 6l. Mrs L Wadham. 4.35 (3m 38yd ch) 1, Morney Wing (Joshua Moore, 9-1); 2, What Happens Now (6-1); 3, Popelys Gull (16-1). 6 ran. NR: Amiral Collonges. 3Nl, 9l. C J Mann. 5.10 (2m 5f 44yd ch) 1, Heresmynumber (Adam Wedge, 2-1); 2, Wood Pigeon (11-8 fav); 3, Alpha Indi (9-4). 4 ran. 1Nl, 22l. Ali Stronge. Placepot: £114.40. Quadpot: £21.60. Tomorrow Football Ladbrokes Premiership Football St Johnstone (0) 1 FA Cup: Quarter-finals: Wigan v Southampton (1.30); Leicester v Chelsea (4.30). Sky Bet Championship: Derby v Cardiff (12.0). Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership: Motherwell v Celtic (2.15). League One: Raith v East Fife (4.10). Bostik Premier: Dulwich v Worthing (3.0). Women’s FA Cup: Quarter-finals (2.0): Arsenal v Charlton; Durham v Everton; Liverpool v Chelsea; Sunderland v Man City. Super League Two: Watford v Sheffield FC (3.0). Rugby league Betfred Super League: Castleford v Wigan (3.30). Ladbrokes Challenge Cup: Fourth round (3.0): Barrow v Sheffield; Batley v Leigh; Coventry v Pilkington Recs; Halifax v Oldham; Hunslet v Bradford; North Wales Crusaders v Featherstone (2.30); Whitehaven v Dewsbury; Workington v London Broncos; York v Swinton. Rugby union Anglo-Welsh Cup Final: Bath v Exeter (Kingsholm, Gloucester, 3.0). Greene King IPA Champioship (3.0): Nottingham v Bedford; Yorkshire Carnegie v Ealing Trailfinders. NatWest Women’s Six Nations: Italy v Scotland (2.0). Women: Tyrrells Premiers 15s: Richmond v Loughborough (1.30, Richmond Athletic ground). P W 14 14 11 10 10 8 7 3 1 0 Saracens 16 Harlequins 17 Wasps 16 Gloucester-H 17 Loughborough 16 Bristol 16 Richmond 16 Darlington MP 16 Firwood-W 16 Worcester 16 D 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 2 1 L 1 3 5 6 6 8 9 12 13 15 F 590 642 456 536 365 426 237 238 180 80 A 142 260 237 372 322 295 381 365 456 920 B Pts 14 72 15 71 15 59 13 55 11 51 9 41 6 29 7 21 3 11 0 2 Other sport Badminton: Arena Birmingham: Yonex AllEngland Open. Basketball: BBL Championship: Leeds v Leicester (4.0); Glasgow v Sheffield (5.0); Manchester v Worcester (5.0); Ice hockey: Elite League: Dundee v Fife (5.0); Manchester v Nottingham (5.30); Cardiff v Sheffield (6.0); Edinburgh v Braehead (6.0); Guildford v Coventry (6.0). Hibernian (1) 1 Kane 83 Ambrose 2 3,652 Sent off: O Marciano (Hibernian) 14 Badminton Yonex All England Open: Birmingham: Quarterfinals: Men: Shu Yuqi (China) bt Chen Long (China) 21-10, 21-17. Women: Chen Yufei (China) bt M Blichfeldt (Den) 21-17, 21-12; Tai Tzu-ying (Tapei) bt A Ohori (Japan) 21-12, 21-13; P Sindhu (India) bt N Okuhara (Japan) 20-22, 21-18, 21-18. Mixed doubles: Y Watanabe & A Higashino (Japan) bt C Adcock & G Adcock (GB) 21-18, 15-21, 15-21. Cricket World Cup Qualifier: Ireland v Zimbabwe Harare (Ireland won toss): Zimbabwe 211-9 (50 overs: Sikandar Raza 69 not out; T J Murtagh 3 for 36). Ireland 104 (34.2 overs: T S Chisoro 3 for 22). Zimbabwe (2pts) beat Ireland by 107 runs. Twenty20: Colombo: Sri Lanka 159-7 (M D K J Perera 61, N L T C Perera 58). Bangladesh 160-8 (19.5 overs: Tamim Iqbal 50). Bangladesh won by two wickets. Golf US PGA Tour Arnold Palmer Invitational Orlando, Florida: Leaders after two rounds (United States unless stated): 133: H Stenson (Swe) 64, 69; B DeChambeau 67, 66. 135: T Gooch 65, 70. 136: An Byeong-hun (S Kor) 68, 68. 137: C Hoffman 71, 66. 138: R Fowler 67, 71; B Horschel 68, 70; L List 71, 67; P Reed 68, 70; R Moore 71, 67. 139: R McIlroy (N Ire) 69, 70. Others: 140: J Rose (GB) 69, 71; T Woods 68, 72. Rugby league Betfred Super League: St Helens 20 Leeds 28; Salford 24 Hull FC 8. 6 Table on page 14 Rugby union Women’s Six Nations: England 33 Ireland 11; Wales 3 France 38. 6 Table on page 12 in The Scrum Guinness Pro14: Cardiff Blues 31 Benetton 25; Edinburgh 12 Munster 6. Tennis BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells, California: Quarter-finals: Men: R Federer (Switz) bt Hyeon Chung (S Kor) 7-5, 6-1. Women: V Williams (US) bt C Suarez Navarro (Sp) 6-3, 6-2. Yesterday’s racing results Cheltenham Going: soft (heavy in places) 1.30 (2m 179yd hdle) 1, Farclas (J W Kennedy, 9-1); 2, Mr Adjudicator (8-1); 3, Sayo (33-1). 9 ran. 1Ol, 3Kl. G Elliott (Ire). 2.10 (2m 179yd hdle) 1, Mohaayed (Bridget Andrews, 33-1); 2, Remiluc (50-1); 3, Whiskey Sour (7-1); 4, Chesterfield (16-1). 24 ran. NR: Brahms De Clermont, I Shot The Sheriff, Krugermac. 2Ol, Ol. D Skelton. 2.50 (2m 7f 213yd hdle) 1, Kilbricken Storm (Harry Cobden, 33-1); 2, Ok Corral (16-1); 3, Santini (11-4 fav). 20 ran. 3l, 1Kl. C L Tizzard. 3.30 (3m 2f 70yd ch) 1, Native River (R Johnson, 5-1); 2, Might Bite (4-1 fav); 3, Anibale Fly (33-1). 15 ran. NR: Double Shuffle, Minella Rocco, Shantou Flyer. 4Kl, 4l. C L Tizzard. 4.10 (3m 2f 70yd ch) 1, Pacha Du Polder (Miss H C Tucker, 25-1); 2, Top Wood (50-1); 3=, Barel Of Laughs (14-1). 3=, Cousin Pete (66-1). 24 ran. Nk, 3Nl. P F Nicholls. 4.50 (2m 4f 56yd hdle) 1, Blow By Blow (D Meyler, 11-1); 2, Discorama (33-1); 3, Early Doors (9-1). ; 4, Sire Du Berlais (10-1). 23 ran. NR: Amour de Nuit. 5l, 1Nl. G Elliott (Ire). 5.30 (2m 62yd ch) 1, Le Prezien (B J Geraghty, 15-2); 2, Gino Trail (25-1); 3, Top Gamble (8-1); 4, Theinval (16-1). 22 ran. NR: Forest Bihan, The Game Changer. 4Kl, nk. P F Nicholls. Placepot: £32,088.70. Quadpot: £441.20. Musselburgh Going: good to soft (good in places) 11.30 (2m 85yd hdle) 1, Morning With Ivan (J Corbett, 9-2); 2, The Compeller (10-1); 3, Character Onesie (8-1). 9 ran. 7l, 2Nl . S Corbett. 12.05 (2m 3f hdle) 1, Bedrock (R Chapman, 4-9 fav); 2, Jesse Jude (100-1); 3, The Road Home (7-2). 5 ran. NR: The Steward. 8l, 2l. I Jardine. 12.40 (2m 195yd ch) 1, Celtic Flames (D R Fox, 2-1); 2, Middlebrow (8-11 fav); 3, An Laoch (5-1). 4 ran. 1Ol, 6l. Miss Lucinda V Russell. 1.10 (2m 3f 193yd ch) 1, Nefyn Bay (B Hughes, 9-4 fav); 2, John Williams (11-4); 3, Chain Of Beacons (10-1). 6 ran. Ol, 8l. D McCain Jnr. THE HOME OF LIVE FOOTBALL Fakenham Going: soft (heavy in two dips) 2.00 (2m 3yd hdle) 1, Ascendant (Patrick Cowley, 4-11 fav); 2, Saucysioux (5-2); 3, Hurricane Rita (11-1). 5 ran. 6l, 4l. J Farrelly. 2.40 (2m 5f 44yd ch) 1, Enjoy Responsibly (H Beswick, 5-2); 2, Mortens Leam (9-2); 3, After Aspen (7-4 fav). 4 ran. 13l, 2Kl. O Sherwood. 3.20 (2m 3yd hdle) 1, Weebill (James Nixon, 1-4 fav); 2, Telegraph Place (25-1); 3, Schap (8-1). 6 ran. 6l, 1Kl. Olly Murphy. Lingfield Park Going: standard 1.00 (1m) 1, Secret Return (Rhiain Ingram, 4-1); 2, Accomplice (20-1); 3, Sonnet Rose (5-2 fav). 9 ran. NR: Highway One. Kl, nk. Karen George. 1.40 (7f 1y) 1, Bungee Jump (Nicola Currie, 5-1); 2, Fire Diamond (10-1); 3, Al Khan (12-1). 7 ran. NR: Laytown, Rivellino. 2l, 2l. K Ryan. 2.20 (1m 4f) 1, Night Story (James Doyle, 10-11 fav); 2, Yabass (7-4); 3, Rocky Shores (50-1). 4 ran. 1Kl, 2Ol. C Appleby. 3.00 (1m 4f) 1, Koeman (Charles Bishop, 6-1); 2, Island Brave (9-4); 3, Amazing Red (15-2). 9 ran. NR: Miss Minuty. Kl, nk. M Channon. 3.40 (1m 1yd) 1, Fountain Of Time (George Wood, 3-1); 2, Effervescence (16-1); 3, Sketching (16-1). 12 ran. 1Ol, Kl. C Appleby. 4.20 (7f 1yd) 1, Alifax (A Kirby, 2-1); 2, Haverland (10-1); 3, Sweet Symphony (5-1). 8 ran. NR: Jazzy Girl. Kl, 1l. J Osborne. 5.00 (7f 1yd) 1, Freebe Rocks (Oisin Murphy, 11-4 fav); 2, New Orleans (3-1); 3, Cloud Eight (3-1). 9 ran. Hd, 1Kl. M Bell. Placepot: £828.10. Quadpot: £51.30. Wolverhampton Going: standard 5.45 (1m 1f 104yd) 1, Stringybark Creek (S Donohoe, 3-1); 2, Street Poet (13-8 fav); 3, Let Me In (16-1). 13 ran. Ol, 1Nl. J Farrelly. 6.15 (5f 21yd) 1, Carpet Time (B Curtis, 1-3 fav); 2, Rivendicato (10-1); 3, Shanghai Elastic (4-1). 4 ran. NR: Remal Dubai. 1Kl, 2Nl. T Barron. 6.45 (6f 20yd) 1, Dazeekha (J Hart, 5-1); 2, New Rich (8-1); 3, See Vermont (9-1). 11 ran. NR: Ambitious Boy, Chip Or Pellet. Kl, 1Kl. M Herrington. 7.15 (6f 20yd) 1, Clergyman (D Tudhope, 9-4 fav); 2, Wedgewood Estates (9-1); 3, Celerity (100-1). 12 ran. NR: Dreams Of Glory. 2N, Ol. Rebecca Bastiman. 7.45 (6f 20yd) 1, Rock On Baileys (L Edmunds, 9-2); 2, Montague (4-1); 3, Our Man In Havana (16-1). 7 ran. NR: Kodiac Express. 3Ol, 3l. C Dwyer. 8.15 (7f 36yd) 1, Ramblow (Nicola Currie, 25-1); 2, Beatbybeatbybeat (8-1); 3, Thorntoun Lady (7-1). 8 ran. Ol, ns. M Appleby. 8.45 (1m 1f 104yd) 1, Sunshineandbubbles (J Fanning, 13-8 fav); 2=, Champagne Pink (7-4); 2=, Perceived (6-1). 8 ran. Kl, dht. Jennie Candlish. Placepot: £203.20. Quadpot: £88.40. FA CUP CHAMPIONS NSHIP HIP PRE E MIE M R LEAG L EAGUE UE FA A CUP P SWANSEA FULHAM LIVERPOOL MANCHESTER UTD V V V TOTTENHAM V QPR WATFORD BRIGHTON Live coverage today from 11.30am on talkSPORT Exclusive coverage today from midday on talkSPORT 2 Exclusive coverage today from 5pm on talkSPORT Live coverage today from 7.30pm on talkSPORT 1089/1053AM • DAB Radio • App • talkSPORT.com 20 1G S Saturday March 17 2018 | the times Sport Giles Smith Warmth, cheap prizes and struggling players: you couldn’t beat a bit of Bully GRAHAM CHADWICK/EMPICS SPORT J im Bowen died this week, at the age of 80, and the sport of darts duly honoured him as one of its own, which he clearly was, even though he was also a comedian from Wirral who never threw a dart in anger. On Premier League night at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham on Thursday, Dave Clark of Sky Sports led an onstage tribute in which Wayne Mardle spoke of how Bowen and the show he hosted “had done wonders for the world of darts”, and John Part praised him for the “profile outside of the normal boundary” that he helped to create for darts players. And then, when play began, Peter “Snakebite” Wright arrived at the oche, having generously handed over half of his mohawked head to an exquisitely accurate, full-colour rendering (handpainted by Jo, Wright’s wife) of Bully, the cartoon farm animal in a darts smock, who served Bullseye as a kind of subtitling for the hard of thinking, and who was also, incidentally, quite clearly the precursor for the cartoon duck in cricket. Bullseye, lest you need to be told, was an ITV gameshow that unprecedentedly twinned general knowledge questions and darts. Between 1981 and 1995 it did this so well that we now think of it as part of the unbreakable triumvirate of classic gameshow formats based on sports, the other two being Big Break (inspired by snooker) and The Golden Shot (inspired by phone-in crossbow shooting). At its peak, going out into the peculiar flatness of a British Sunday afternoon, Bullseye racked up an audience of 19.8 million and, at one stage, there was a five-year waiting list for tickets to sit in the audience. Never underestimate, in the right economic climate, the nation-galvanising allure of a three-way battle to win a cheap British car or, in the really glamorous weeks, a cheap British speedboat, or even just a cheap British hostess trolley — and not least if they are throwing in a chance to see Bobby George in action at the same time. Alternatively, contestants walked away with a tankard, a set of darts and a “bendy Bully” — a ten-inch rubber facsimile of the aforementioned cartoon animal. Nobody seemed to complain, least of all people involved in darts. Clearly no other show since Sid Waddell’s pub-games compendium The Indoor League had done so much to usher the sport on to the small screen at prime viewing time and promote its stars. Not that it was easy on them. Time and again the greats of the oche would step up to the Bullseye board to generate money for good causes, only to limp back to Bowen’s table, clutching their heads and muttering apologies. Phil “The Power” Taylor, in his first appearance on the show in 1990, scored 180, which sounds typical of him. But this was with nine darts — an almost unthinkably low haul for three visits to the board from the future 16-times world champion. Jocky Wilson, whose place on a Couch potato’s guide to the weekend’s TV who maintained that he “only ever did a reasonable job” on the show and, furthermore, that his work throughout the first series was “rubbish”. It’s true that the filming of the first two episodes went so badly awry (two extremely drunk contestants from Belfast didn’t help) that they could not be broadcast, much to the irritation of the producers, who had seen a prize car dished out in one of them. Still, Bowen was too modest. OK, there were times when he famously appeared to be at least fleetingly on professional autopilot. (Contestant: “I’m a miner, Jim, but I’ve been out of work for nine months.” Bowen: “Smashing.”) And there was a rich vein of schadenfreude in the gleeful exposure of losing competitors to the bounty they had just missed out on (“Let’s have a look at what you would have won”), which did not bespeak an entirely cotton-wool environment. Yet to watch the host comically toss his cue cards over his shoulder in open-mouthed despair at the confusion unfolding before his eyes is to realise that Bowen shared with Sir Bruce Forsyth that rare ability to express exasperation at the incompetence of the contestants and have it communicate nothing but inclusion and warmth. Shows since then have attempted to tap darts for its honest spirit, but without success. One Hundred and Eighty, despite the top-line involvement of Davina McCall, Freddie Flintoff and Russ Bray, the furnace-larynxed PDC referee, lasted just one series on Sky in 2015 and, whatever else you want to say about it, it was no Bullseye. As for the real thing, both Ant and Dec and Vernon Kay have helmed one-off revivals for ITV’s Gameshow Marathon, and the show was brought back by Challenge TV in 2006, with Dave Spikey in the Bowen role. But it did not catch on, to nobody’s particular surprise. It wasn’t that the game had not changed; the world had. As Clark said in Nottingham, in his closing link, echoing the old Bowen battle cry: “You can’t beat a bit of Bully.” He was right. And no one ever will. Bullseye, hosted by Bowen for 14 years, drew audiences of nearly 20 million people in its heyday darting Mount Rushmore would be guaranteed in any era, did not do much better when he managed 205 — although all credit to him for keeping a cigarette on the go at the same time. Raymond van Barneveld, hair freshly shampooed, white socks visible above his black shoes, flung in a relatively respectable 265 on his first, fuzzy-lipped trip to the studio. But even that was hardly setting the board alight, comparatively speaking, and vanishingly rare was the darter who could duplicate anything like his competitive form under the Bullseye lights. In fact, if memory serves, Eric Bristow, in particular, never did. Today 9.30am Motor cycling, MotoGP Qatar: FP3, BT Sport 2. 11.45am FA Cup, Swansea v Tottenham, BT Sport 1. 12pm Championship, Fulham v QPR, Sky Sports Main Event. Six Nations, Italy v Scotland, ITV. 1pm Motor Cycling, MotoGP Qatar: Qualifying, BT Sport 2. 1.30pm Cycling, Milan-San Remo, Eurosport 1. 2.25pm Six Nations, England v Ireland, ITV. 4.30pm Six Nations, Wales v France, BBC One. Golf, PGA Tour, Arnold Palmer Invitational, But then perhaps no show had quite the same automatic levelling effect in general. Even as Bowen was introducing the special guest star George Best, who came on, looking a little underslept, to throw for charity in 1984, some of the elderly audience members behind him were manifestly passing around a packed lunch in a Tupperware tub. Bullseye’s uncomplicated tone both derived from and helped further mould the tone of darts, which, even now in the age of the packed Enormodome and the raging walk-on, remains our time’s most down-to-earth of sports. And central to the creation of that tone was Bowen, Sky Sports Golf. 4.55pm Super League, Catalan Dragons v Warrington Wolves, Sky Sports Action. 5pm Premier League, Liverpool v Watford, BT Sport 1. 5.15pm Championship, Bolton v Aston Villa, Sky Sports Main Event. 7.30pm FA Cup, Manchester United v Brighton, BT Sport 1. 7.40pm La Liga, Real Betis v Espanyol, Sky Sports Football. 10.30pm Boxing, Matt Askin v Stephen Simmons and Joe Joyce v Donnie Palmer, Channel 5. Tomorrow 12.30am Winter Paralympics, day nine, Channel 4. 12.30am NBA, San Antonio Spurs v Minnesota Timberwolves, BT Sport 1. 11.30am Championship, Derby v Cardiff, Sky Sports Main Event. Serie A, Sampdoria v Inter Milan, BT Sport 1. 12pm Ligue 1, Nice v PSG, BT Sport/ESPN. 1.15pm FA Cup, Wigan v Southampton, BBC One. 2pm Serie A, AC Milan v Chievo, BT Sport/ESPN. 2.15pm Scottish Premiership, Motherwell v Celtic, Sky Sports Main Event. 2.30pm Anglo-Welsh Cup final, Bath v Exeter, BT Sport 1. 3.30pm Motor Cycling, MotoGP: Grand Prix of Qatar, BT Sport 2. 4.05pm FA Cup, Leicester v Chelsea, BBC One. 4.30pm Golf, PGA Tour, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Sky Sports Golf. 6pm Tennis, WTA Tour, BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, BT Sport 2. 7.30pm Serie A, Napoli v Genoa, BT Sport 1. 8pm Tennis, ATP Tour, BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Sky Sports Arena. 10.30pm Golf, LPGA, The Founders Cup, Sky Sports Golf. NBA, New Orleans Pelicans v Boston Celtics, BT Sport 1.