Thursday, 18 June 2020
A good jockey doesn't need orders and a bad jockey couldn't carry them out anyway; so it's best not to give them any - Lester Piggott
My horse's jockey was hitting the horse. The horse turns around and says "Why are you hitting me, there is nobody behind us - Henny Youngman
When you are on a great horse, you have the best seat you will ever have - Sir Winston Churchill
Any money I put on a horse is a sort of insurance policy to prevent it from winning - Frank Richardson
That was the first time I saw a horse start from a kneeling position - Henny Youngman
Friday, 1 May 2020
When you have clubs the stature of Real Madrid and Liverpool fighting over you, it must feel pretty good. That’s what former Real Betis and current Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz must be feeling. The 24-year-old has been one of the most impressive midfielders in Europe for the last 18 months, and has continued his tremendous form in Naples this year.
Now, though, it looks like that he could make a move to a new team entirely. Both Real Madrid and Liverpool are looking to try and make a deal happen. For Liverpool, he would offer a creative edge in midfield that has been lacking at times despite a tremendous 2019-20 campaign. For Madrid, he could join the likes of Marco Asensio and create a new-look midfield in Spain.
For the player, though, the news that Napoli have seemingly dropped their asking price down to around the £50m mark will see many clubs vying for his signature. Players of his poise and precision with the ball are rare indeed. His strong output from midfield, too, with numerous goals and assist, makes him a very intriguing young footballer.
The 24-year-old has played 18 months in Italy, and has gone up a new level since his early days at Betis. Now, he looks like he could be the symbol of a new generation of talent either at Anfield or the Santiago Bernabeu. Both clubs are interested in a new creative midfielder, and Ruiz would suit the style of both clubs perfectly.
His versatile nature means that he can play in numerous positions and roles in midfield, making him an absolutely tremendous asset for any club. If he is to move in the summer, then, a move to one of the major clubs in Europe will happen entirely.
Wednesday, 8 April 2020
This is a debate that shows no sign of stopping, either. For every Rio Ferdinand who says leagues should be void, there’s a voice saying the total opposite. It’s hard not to look at this through the eyes of the team(s) we support, too; how can you really say, for example, that you want your biggest rivals to be given a title?
But at the same time, how could anyone realistically say someone like Liverpool isn’t going to win the league here?
It’s a nightmare scenario, but one that has to be dealt with – and soon. There really is no opportunity for teams to hide from this; they need to find a solution and to bring closure to the season. The view of many is that leagues should be called as they are; there will be winners and losers in that situation, of course. But is it really any worse than, say, writing off a full season of football?
How can fans who have spent thousands travelling to and from games find any kind of solace in the idea that the leagues would be voided?
If a league is any more than 60% finished, then it would be fair to say that it could be called. However, while this means that some teams would likely to win leagues they might not have otherwise, and other teams relegated who may have stayed up, these are unique and trying times.
Wednesday, 18 March 2020
The Grand National was first run, as the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase, in 1839 and before World War I was regularly won by amateur riders. However, throughout the twentieth century amateur participation in the Grand National gradually tailed off and the last amateur to win the world famous steeplechase was Marcus Armytage, on Mr. Frisk, in 1990.
In fact, the current race conditions stipulate that, to be eligible to ride in the Grand National, amateur riders must have ridden at least 15 winners, at least 10 of them in steeplechases. Of course, amateur riders do still ride in the Grand National but, in the last decade or so, it’s been left to three modern Corinthians, one male and two female, to fly the flag for ‘gentleman’ or, indeed, ‘lady’, riders at Aintree. As such it's unlikely that you'll see amateur rider success in your Grand National 2020 best bets. Though in future years who knows.
Sam Waley-Cohen first hit the headlines when riding Liberthine, owned by his father, Robert, into fifth place behind Silver Birch on his first ride in the Grand National in 2007. On his next attempt, in 2009, his mount Ollie Magern fell at the second fence, but Waley-Cohen was back again in 2011, riding another horse owned by his father, Oscar Time, into second place, beaten just 2½ lengths, behind Ballabriggs. Oscar Time would prove a good servant for the family, finishing fourth behind Auroras Encore in 2013 and fifteenth, as a 14-year-old, behind Many Clouds two years later. In between times, Waley-Cohen rode erstwhile Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run, who was in second place when falling at Valentine’s Brook on the first circuit. He has since failed to complete the course.
Another Amateur rider, Katie Walsh didn’t make her debut in the Grand National until 2012, but then made an immediate impact, partnering 8/1 joint-favourite Seabass, trained by her father Ted, into third place, beaten a nose and 5 lengths, behind Neptune Collonges and Sunnyhillboy.
Despite having what Walsh Snr. described as ‘glassy’ legs, he returned to Aintree the following year and was sent off outright favourite for the National, only to bitterly disappoint and trail in a well-beaten thirteenth of seventeen finishers. Katie Walsh never improved on her debut effort, but did complete the course on three of her four subsequent attempts in the National and has still achieved the highest placing of any female rider in the history of the race. She has paved the way for others to pick up from where she left off.
Nina Carberry, like Katie Walsh, rode in the Grand National six times, making her debut on Forest Gunner, who finished ninth, and last, in 2006. However, despite completing the course on three of her subsequent five attempts, her best-placed finish was seventh on Character Building in 2010, although the 10-year-old was never a factor, and ultimately beaten 37 lengths in the famous renewal won by Sir Anthony McCoy on Don’t Push It.
Thursday, 5 March 2020
With this being one of the most celebrated fixtures in English football, it’s odd to see so little riding on it. For United, a win against City would help to keep them moving towards a UEFA Champions League spot once again. For City, a win would be ideal to help close the gap to Liverpool once again. However, with both teams likely having their focus across multiple competitions still, it’s hard to see this having the intensity of previous derby games.
Manchester United news
After a 1-1 draw with Everton last weekend, the Red Devils could do with a win to get them back in flowing form. They’ve been strong in the league recently, having overcome a run of results that had put them firmly out of contention for the top four previously in the season.
With Chelsea faltering recently, United could do with putting together a consistent run of results. Their last league games have given them an impressive run of results, though, with United only drawing to Wolves and Everton recently.
In terms of injuries, expect Dan James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka to miss out.
Manchester City news
The Citizens are in a good place themselves, having seen off Sheffield Wednesday with relative ease in a 1-0 win in the FA Cup in midweek. Having got a chance to rest some players and to come at United fully refreshed, it’ll be interesting to see how City get on.
The Blues have been in strong form recently, beginning to look far more like their old selves. Having won at the Santiago Bernabeu, too, Pep Guardiola and co. are likely looking at continuing a very impressive run of recent results.
Score draw. Both teams will go for it, but with focus more on other things for both teams to an extent it’s hard to see it being the usual high intensity we come to expect. It should be a good game, but it won’t have the intensity we usually associate with such a high class derby.