The aptly-named Zarak The Brave had to dig deep to fend off Jesse Evans to land the valuable Guinness Galway Hurdle.

A smart juvenile hurdler last season, some thought he may lack the required experience for such a test but he found plenty for pressure to deny last year’s runner-up, meaning Noel Meade’s Jesse Evans has now been placed in the race three times.

Mighty Tom had taken up the running from Cash Back three out and was still in with a chance when joined at the last.

However, Willie Mullins’ Zarak The Brave took it up under Paul Townend and could not have shown more determination in first fending off My Mate Mozzie, then the late thrust of Sean Flanagan’s mount.

Zarak The Brave (9-2) held on to score by a head from Jesse Evans, with My Mate Mozzie three-quarters of a length further back in third.

It was Mullins’ fifth win in the race since 2016 and his third in the last four years.

Christopher Head felt the tactical nature of the Qatar Nassau Stakes meant Goodwood racegoers did not get to see odds-on favourite Blue Rose Cen at her best.

Blue Rose Cen, who had won both the French 1000 Guineas and French Oaks, got little luck in running under Aurelien Lemaitre and she could finish only fourth behind surprise winner Al Husn.

Lemaitre ended up stuck behind Ryan Moore aboard the eventual runner-up Above The Curve and failed to quicken when the belated gap finally arrived.

Head said: “It was a good opportunity to challenge for a Group One, but things didn’t work out for her. I will have to speak to the owners and we will discuss a plan. It could include the Prix de l’Opéra.”

He went on: “It was a very tactical race so of course it was a possibility that kind of thing could happen. She ran a nice race, she did her race, and for sure would have been closer in a different position.

“I still think Blue Rose Cen ran a very nice race and she will get into the rest of the programme at the end of the season.

“It’s different here, so we need to respect and go into the racing with the fact that, even with a strong possibility of winning, there is still a possibility to fail.”

On Lemaitre having not ridden at Goodwood before, the Chantilly-based handler added: “The Yeguada Centurion team and Leopold (Fernandez Pujals, owner) are always interested in working with the young ones for the future, because it’s important for them to build a team that follows them and we are still working together. Of course, Aurelien was part of the team.

“We will have to discuss with Leopoldo and we will come back with a programme.

“I need to talk to see what the team want to do with her. This was a nice opportunity because we need to exist at that type of race. It hasn’t been won by France since the beginning, so it was still a challenge.”

Nashwa found a combination of soft ground and an extra two furlongs from the Falmouth Stakes, in which she was at her brilliant best, costing her dearly as she finished in third place.

Thady Gosden felt the ground blunted the class of Hollie Doyle’s mount.

He said: “She’s run a very good race, obviously. They went a slow pace and it’s very difficult to pick up in this ground.

“She travelled into the race well but you can’t quicken on ground like this and that’s sucked the class out of her.

“She ran on very well, but she’s a filly who won last over a mile and she showed a brilliant turn of foot there in ground that was soft, but obviously not as soft and easier to quicken through, whereas today she’s run a very good race but couldn’t quite show that brilliance we’ve seen before with her.

“It was a testing mile and a quarter but they didn’t go overly fast in front, and obviously the winner is a very good filly. Hollie gave her a great ride.”

Doyle also pointed to the extra two furlongs not playing to her strengths, with the winner franking the form of their previous clash in the Hoppings Stakes on the all-weather at Newcastle.

She said: “There was no pace early on, but she relaxed beautifully. They got racing early enough coming down the hill and I was just trying to sit and hold on to her as long as I could, and I went there with a double handful at the two-pole.

“A furlong and a half out I went to win my race, pushed the button and she quickened. I just think in the final furlong I lacked a bit of stamina. It’s happened a few times now, and even today I rode her the opposite way and it confirmed what we might have thought.

“Take nothing away from the winner, who is very good.”

President Dr. Kishore Shallow says he remains unwavering in his commitment to delivering a new era of governance reform within Cricket West Indies (CWI).

After a series of ongoing consultations with key stakeholders since being elected in March, President Shallow notes that the indispensable role of governance is a key element in reinvigorating CWI.

“We have produced several reports on governance over the years and the regional dialogue on this matter has also been unending. The way forward is for all stakeholders to recognize that the reform effort is fundamental to the transformation and advancement of West Indies Cricket,” Dr Shallow said.

 “I am resolute, that if we are to achieve the desired outcomes and realize sustainable growth in West Indies Cricket, we must act with a measure of insistence and have a sense of priority towards the reform exercise.”

Last week during the 22nd Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture, Prime Minister of Barbados, Honourable Mia Mottley, echoed similar statements.

“You cannot have the benefit of all of these reports, from all different types of society, all different parts of the region, and then we say no, ignore it. The first issue we need to get right is governance,” the Barbadian Prime Minister said then.

 “The longer we take to do it, the worse the results will be.”

The CWI President said full consideration will be given to these reports, including but not limited to the 1992 Governance Report, Patterson Report 2007, Wilkins Report 2012, Barriteau Report 2015, and Wehby Report 2020.

Dr. Shallow led constitutional reforms during his presidency at Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association and Windward Islands Cricket Board, including introducing term limits for presidents.

In the coming weeks, Cricket West Indies will meet with the CARICOM Sub-Committee on Cricket chaired by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. the Hon. Keith Rowley. Governance reform is expected to be an agenda item.

Al Husn upset Blue Rose Cen and Nashwa to lift the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.

Christopher Head’s Blue Rose Cen was the 10-11 favourite to add to her Classic wins on home soil in the French 1000 Guineas and French Oaks, with last year’s Nassau heroine Nashwa rated her main threat.

Above The Curve, trained by Joseph O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore, made much of the running and it was from the cut-away in the home straight that drama began to unfold.

French jockey Aurelien Lemaitre, riding at Goodwood for the first time, went for a gap on the far rail aboard Blue Rose Cen, but it was firmly and swiftly slammed in his face by Moore, leaving the market leader all dressed up with nowhere to go in behind.

Hollie Doyle, meanwhile, kept out of trouble aboard Nashwa and she looked likely to follow up her latest Group One triumph in last month’s Falmouth Stakes after quickening up smartly to move to the heels of the leaders.

But her effort flattened in the final furlong, and she was unable to get by the front-running Above The Curve, with Roger Varian’s Al Husn, who beat Nashwa in a Group Three at Newcastle on her most recent outing, also in there pitching.

Ridden by Jim Crowley, Al Husn knuckled down to beat Above The Curve by half a length, with Nashwa the same distance further back in third and Blue Rose Cen close behind her in fourth.

The victory was the latest in a rollercoaster few days for Crowley, after receiving a 20-day suspension and £10,000 following his winning ride aboard Hukum in the same colours in last weekend’s King George at Ascot.

Desert Hero emerged as a genuine Classic prospect for the King and Queen as he followed up his famous Royal Ascot success by landing the John Pearce Racing Gordon Stakes at Goodwood.

The William Haggas-trained three-year-old raised the roof when carrying the royal silks to victory in the King George V Stakes, providing the King and Queen with their first winner at the showpiece meeting.

He had more to do stepping up to Group Three level, but proved up to the task under a typically well-judged ride from Tom Marquand.

A field of six runners set out to tackle the mile-and-a-half contest, with James Doyle intent on making every yard of the running aboard Chesspiece.

One by one his challengers came and went, but Marquand always looked confident in behind and after negotiating his way out of a pocket, Desert Hero powered home to get up and score by a neck.

The winner was cut to 6-1 from 16-1 by Betfair for the St Leger at Doncaster in September, a race the late Queen won in her Silver Jubilee year of 1977 with Dunfermline.

Vandeek looked an exciting prospect in confirming the promise of his successful racecourse debut with a comprehensive victory in the Markel Richmond Stakes at Goodwood.

Simon and Ed Crisford’s grey justified cramped odds on his introduction at Nottingham a fortnight ago and was the 11-8 favourite taking a swift step up to Group Two level, in a race that had seen the withdrawal of likely market leader Jasour.

Ridden with plenty of confidence by Andrea Atzeni, Vandeek was initially settled in behind the pacesetting Toca Madera before being switched to the far side of the track to throw down his challenge.

A smart change of gear propelled him clear of the chasing pack and he only needed to pushed out hands and heels in the closing stages to score by a comfortable length.

Atzeni said: “He looked pretty special when he won first time out at Nottingham.

“Obviously when you step up to this level, you never know how good you are until you try. He’s got a bit of a pedigree, he’s obviously improved since Nottingham and he showed today how good he is.

“He’s a very smart colt and I think he is a very good horse. He’s won at Group Two level now, he’s going to go up one way to Group One level and I can’t see why he wouldn’t be good enough.”

Vandeek looks set for an immediate tilt at Group One company in France later in the month.

“Nothing really took him into the race for as long as we would like today, he was in front too soon and he sorted of idled when he hit the front,” said Simon Crisford.

“I think there’s tons of improvement to come and I think we’ll head for the Prix Morny on August 19. Obviously that is dependent on Sheikh Khalid’s wishes, but he likes to be bold and brave and I’m sure he will want to go for the Group One.

“We don’t know how this form is going to stack up, the Prix Morny is going to be an altogether different kind of a race.

“Stamina-wise, he’s of out an Exceed And Excel mare, there’s tons of speed in his pedigree but he strikes us at home like he will go further. He’s big, scopey, he stands over a lot of daylight – he will stay.”

Ballymount Boy outran odds of 25-1 with an excellent effort to fill the runner-up spot, with Toca Madera five lengths further back in third.

Ballymount Boy’s trainer, Adrian Keatley, said: “He didn’t help himself early on – he was a bit slow away and slow to get into his stride, but he’s a fair horse and we were expecting that kind of run from him.

“We’ll see where we go with him next, but we might contemplate going seven furlongs.

“He’s a proper horse now, he’s a Group horse for sure, so onwards and upwards.”

The redoubtable Paddington has bounced out of his Qatar Sussex Stakes win in his usual remarkable shape.

Aidan O’Brien has been able to give European racing’s new breakout star a clean bill of health following a fourth successive Group One win.

From taking a handicap on his seasonal reappearance in April, his progress has been nothing short of staggering, adding a Listed race before his Irish 2,000 Guineas success.

Victories in the St James’s Palace Stakes and the Eclipse were subsequently secured before he dropped back down to a mile on Wednesday and proved very testing ground at Goodwood could not stop him.

He is likely to go back up in distance for the Juddmonte International at York next, but as ever, no final decision will be made until closer to the time.

“Everything seems fine with him after the race, absolutely fine,” said O’Brien.

“We’re going to decide over the next week to 10 days where next, but York has to be a possibility.

“He just seems to be thriving for his racing.”

If Paddington heads to York, he would again be bidding to emulate O’Brien’s former inmate Giant’s Causeway, who won the St James’s Palace, Eclipse, Sussex and Juddmonte International in 2000 prior to the Irish Champion Stakes.

Nostrum again bids to emulate the brilliant Baaeed in the Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood.

Sir Michael Stoute’s charge was considered a Classic contender at the start of the year after finishing third in last season’s Dewhurst, but a spring setback ruled him out of the 2000 Guineas, the Irish Guineas and Royal Ascot.

However, the Kingman colt blew his rivals away on his belated reappearance in the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes at Newmarket, a Listed contest won two years ago by Baaeed before he successfully stepped up to Group Three level in the Thoroughbred Stakes.

Like the William Haggas-trained superstar, who retired last term having won 10 of his 11 starts including six Group Ones, Nostrum had the option of stepping up to the highest level in Wednesday’s Sussex Stakes as a three-year-old – but his connections have also elected to take a smaller step.

“We’re all looking forward to it, he’s in good shape and Sir Michael is happy with him,” said Barry Mahon, European racing manager to owners Juddmonte.

“Of course we gave it (Sussex Stakes) consideration, but Michael rightly pointed out and the owners agreed, why go from second gear to fifth? Let’s go through the gears, we’re looking at longevity and we don’t want to kill the horse off with one run.

“We’ll bring him along gradually and there’s plenty of Group Ones later in the season.

“We’re all thinking about stallions and commerciality, but it didn’t do him (Baaeed) any harm. He got to where he needed to get and if we can get there, we’ll be happy.”

Nostrum will be a warm order in the hands of Ryan Moore, but Mahon is taking nothing for granted.

He added: “It’s a good, solid Group Three, hopefully it’s another stepping-stone and it will be nice to see him back on the track.

“Ground-wise I don’t think we’re too concerned – a bit of cut in the ground will be fine for him.”

Chief among Nostrum’s rivals is Docklands, who completed his hat-trick in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot and is now given his Pattern-race debut by trainer Harry Eustace.

The three-year-old carries the colours of Australian-based syndicate OTI Racing and will be making a trip to the southern hemisphere before the year is out.

“He won the biggest handicap for the owners this year and this will teach us a lot about him from their point of view and his targets down in Australia, whenever they may be,” said the Newmarket handler.

“He won on soft ground at Ascot in May and good to firm at the Royal meeting. It’s a big positive that, I don’t have to worry about it frankly.”

John and Thady Gosden bring the high-class Epictetus back in trip, while Jessica Harrington sends Bold Discovery across the Irish Sea following a recent Listed triumph at the Curragh.

Simon and Ed Crisford saddle an interesting contender in Knight, who has been gelded since being withdrawn by the starter prior to the French 2000 Guineas.

He had previously disappointed when well fancied for the Greenham Stakes at Newbury in April off the back of an unbeaten juvenile campaign.

Ed Crisford said: “He is gelded now after France. He has had some time off and has been doing really well since then.

“We have done a lot of stalls work with him and we hope that on Friday he can take everything in his stride and run a decent race.

“It is a bit of a comeback mission. We need to see him run before making a proper judgement on what we do next with him. It is going to be a case of seeing how he reacts.

“We have done a lot of work with him at home. Hopefully that will pay off and hopefully he can run a decent race. There are plenty of targets throughout the summer and into the autumn.”

Galeron (Charlie Hills) and Montesilvano (Joseph O’Brien) complete the field.

The other Group Three on Friday’s card is the L’Ormarins King’s Plate Glorious Stakes, in which Haggas saddles both the hot favourite Hamish and Candleford.

Having sidestepped a red-hot renewal of the King George at Ascot on Saturday on account of unsuitable ground, Hamish bids for a sixth win at Group Three level, while stablemate Candleford finished third in Goodwood’s Tapster Stakes on his only previous outing this year.

The Gosden-trained Mimikyu is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time after placed efforts at York and Haydock, while Norwegian raider Hard One To Please adds international interest.

Little Big Bear has been supplemented for Sunday’s Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.

Last year’s champion juvenile has not quite had things go his own way this season, coming home lame when last in the 2000 Guineas on his return to action.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien once again demonstrated his skill by getting him back on track at Haydock to win the Sandy Lane subsequently.

That set him up for a trip to Royal Ascot and the Commonwealth Cup and everything appeared to be going to plan until the remarkable Shaquille, who had been left at the stalls, flashed by him late on.

More recently his participation in the July Cup had been in some doubt due to a minor setback and while he did make the race, he was eased home in last place after being short of room two furlongs out.

Now he will travel to France for a race in which there are 13 still in contention, including the likes of Khaadem, Art Power, Rohaan and Cold Case.

O’Brien said: “We’ve supplemented him and he seems in good form.

“We’ll decide finally a little bit closer to the weekend, but the plan at the moment is to run.

“The ground is testing over there at the moment, but it can dry up.

“He’d had the problem before Newmarket but since then he has been fine, no problems.”

If ever Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls required a performance to add impetus to their charge of securing an historic Vitality Netball World Cup gold medal, it came in their historic 59-48 win over reigning champions New Zealand in their top Pool G clash at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in South Africa, on Thursday.

Captain Jhaniele Fowler shot a perfect 49 goals from 49 attempts and the defence produced one of its most consistent showings where applying pressure is concerned, as the number four-ranked Sunshine Girls topped their number two-ranked opponents for the first time ever on this stage.

Goal attack Shanice Beckford chipped in with nine goals from 10 attempts and Romelda Aiken-George the other goal from three attempts.

Maia Wilson led New Zealand with 31 goals from 33 attempts.

The Jamaicans, who extended their rich vein of form with this, their sixth-straight win at the tournament, will now have a day to rest and recover for their semi-final date with world number one-ranked Australia on Saturday. The Australians had earlier suffered a nail-biting final minute 55-56 loss to number three-ranked England, in their top Pool F clash.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s title defence seems in jeopardy, as they will have to wait on the result of South Africa's match against Uganda, to see if they are through to face England in the other semi-final.

Fowler lauded her teammates for their execution of the game plan, for the most parts.

“Kudos to my team, we went out there and did what we had to do, and it all came together in the end. We knew it was going to be tough, but we played hard and more importantly, maintained our focus and it showed in the fact that we remained consistent and disciplined which is what we were aiming for, so I am very pleased,” Fowler said in a post-game interview.

Having never beaten New Zealand on the World Cup stage previously, the Sunshine Girls drew inspiration from last year’s Commonwealth Games meeting when they drubbed the Silver Ferns 67-51 on their way to an historic silver medal.

Though they have proven strong side when they get their full squad together, the Jamaicans had their shakiest start of the tournament on this occasion, but eventually found their flow and got going. 

Of the two sides, Jamaica looked far more comfortable on attack in the first quarter, as they found the imposing presence of Fowler with consummate ease in the shooting circle.

The Silver Ferns, on the other hand, were made to battle for every pass and struggled to find any sense of flow in possession. That pressure resulted in them conceding multiple offensive fouls and, ultimately, a four-goal deficit on the scoreboard at 15-11.

This was the first opening quarter New Zealand lost in the tournament, but they again found the going tough in the second quarter.

Jamaica immediately shut down the Silver Ferns attack, as they delayed the passes to get the ball into the shooting circle. Once there, Ameliaranne Ekenasio's shot first up, was blocked and rebounded superbly by Shamera Sterling.

In fact, both teams defence proved too good to get past and forced multiple turnovers and missed shots in what was a messy period that New Zealand emerged strong from to quickly wipe out the four-goal gap.

From there, they evenly matched strides goal-for-goal, as both sides found their shooters with more ease.

But, as the second quarter seemed poised to end in a deadlock, especially after Jamaica lost Sterling to injury and a possible warning, the Sunshine Girls produced a late charge with two quick steals and passes to Fowler, who made no mistakes.

While New Zealand won the quarter 12-11, the Jamaicans maintained the ascendancy at half time, with a three-goal lead at 26-23.

Both sides were able to score more freely in the third quarter and Jamaica did well to open a five-goal lead at one point. But, unforced errors at the backend, allowed New Zealand to again close within two at 41-39, as they again outscored the Jamaicans 16-15 in that quarter.

However, any hopes the Silver Ferns harboured of finishing tops were dashed, as it appears the Jamaicans saved their best for the last quarter.

They applied consistent pressure in defence and mid-court, and that, coupled with quick passes into the shooting circle, allowed Fowler to score at will and open a 10-point gap, which was the Jamaicans biggest lead of the game.

At the end, they romped the quarter 18-9 and with it came the 11-goal win that solidifies their status as a gold-medal favourite. The last of their three bronze medals at this tournament, came in 2007.

John Quinn is confident ground conditions will not be a problem for his triple Group One-winning mare Highfield Princess when she bids to get back to winning ways in the King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood on Friday.

Expertly handled by the North Yorkshire-based Quinn, she has had a fairytale career, rising through the grades from a 57-rated handicapper to win three top-class sprints last summer. She was also narrowly beaten at the Breeders’ Cup in Keeneland.

A half-length runner-up on her York reappearance, she was then turned out twice in four days at Royal Ascot, narrowly beaten in the King’s Stand and placed again in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes.

She drops back a furlong now, with Quinn optimistic she can make the most of what appears a gilt-edged opportunity.

“We’re happy with her,” said the Malton-based trainer. “Who knows what the ground will be like on Friday, but the ground will be fine – she has won on soft ground before.

“She is in good form and we’re very hopeful. I’m not worried about the draw – it is other horses I worry about!

“You wouldn’t know where they’ll be racing come Friday, but straight line, she’ll be fine.”

Karl Burke saddles both Silky Wilkie, who was runner-up to the reopposing Nymphadora in York’s City Walls, and White Lavender, a short-neck runner-up in the Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp in October.

Burke said: “It is a bit of a punt with Silky Wilkie. He has done nothing but surprise us and impress us all the way through his career, really.

“We never expected him to get to these heights, but he deserves his chance now in these black type races.

“It is certainly a big step up for him, but he won’t mind the ground, he’ll like the track and with the ground being so soft, it might not suit some of the others. The draw in stall seven is good.”

White Lavender returned to France to take a Group Three in May, but was a little too keen on her last run in the Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh.

Burke added: “White Lavender is obviously a high-class sprinter and she’s proven herself in the Abbaye.

“She disappointed herself in Ireland, but she ended up making the running, which wasn’t the plan with her – she has to have a bit of cover and come late.

“Maybe I sent her to Ireland a bit too fresh and she took off with Chris Hayes, and she never finishes her races when she runs like that.

“You can put a line through that run. She seems in good form and she’ll love the ground.”

Charlie Hills has won this race five times in the last six seasons, four times with Battaash (2017-2020) and last season with Khaadem.

He saddles both the hat-trick-seeking Equality, who landed the Coral Charge at Sandown when last seen, and Equilateral, who was a decent fifth to Bradsell in the Group One King’s Stand at Royal Ascot on his last run.

Makarova was a length and a half behind Equality at Sandown and Ed Walker, whose string is in fine form, feels the four-year-old Acclamation filly has plenty to offer now that she is becoming accustomed to running over the minimum trip.

He said: “I’m actually super-excited about this race – she is bouncing. Since dropping back to five (furlongs) she has improved. She is really learning to be a five-furlong sprinter now.

“Last time she really jumped and travelled, where in her previous couple of runs over five, she had slightly been outpaced.

“Prior to Sandown, I would have been a bit worried that this race might have had a bit too much early speed for her, but I think she showed at Sandown she’s got bags of boot.

“She won’t mind the ground at all, but drawn in four isn’t great. That won’t help. It is not ideal.”

Dane O’Neill is making progress from injuries sustained in a fall at Wolverhampton earlier this month, but looks set to miss the rest of the domestic season.

The veteran rider was unshipped from the Charlie Hills-trained Eagle Eyed Tom in the extended nine-furlong Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 Handicap on July 11, just after the stalls had opened.

The race was abruptly halted and voided, while O’Neill was attended to by paramedics on the track before being stretchered off and taken to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Shadwell’s number two rider suffered a fractured thoracic vertebra and broken ribs, and is “frustrated” according to Angus Gold, racing manager for Sheikha Hissa’s powerful racing and breeding operation.

O’Neill’s misfortune has been exacerbated by Shadwell’s number one rider Jim Crowley incurring a 20-day ban for overuse of the whip aboard Hukum, when winning a thrilling King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Crowley will be ruled out of the Juddmonte International at York in a fortnight’s time and with O’Neill sidelined, the plum ride on the John and Thady Gosden-trained Mostahdaf is now up for grabs.

Gold said: “Mostahdaf, as far as I know, is well, although I haven’t spoken to John yet. We’ll get Goodwood out of the way first.”

Asked if either Frankie Dettori or William Buick may be considered for the ride, Gold added: “I’m not being perverse, but I’ve not even mentioned the subject. Obviously those are two possibilities, but we have literally not had a chat about it.”

O’Neill is on the mend, but he is not likely to return to the saddle in the immediate future.

Gold added: “Dane is mending. I spoke to him on Tuesday. It is frustrating, it’s a long process. Seven ribs (broken), he’s obviously very uncomfortable, poor man.

“Obviously, A – there’s the physical side and then, B – it is fantastically frustrating for him, when the whole point of being second jockey, when the first jockey is hurt or suspended, you want to make the most of the opportunity.

“But the poor fellow is not going to be able to be in a position to capitalise on it. It is very frustrating.

“I doubt he will be riding again this season. I haven’t asked him the question.

“It is the beginning of August and it is going to be another month mending them. I don’t know. He might be able to ride in early October, but that’s when he heads off to Dubai normally. I doubt he will be back here (this season).”

England erased an eight-point deficit to claim their first Netball World Cup win over Australia at the 14th attempt and secure top spot in Group A in Cape Town.

Jess Thirlby’s side stormed back towards the end of the third quarter and Fran Williams’ crucial interception in the dying seconds earned an historic 56-55 win.

Both teams had already secured progression from the group stage into the last four but their win means England will potentially avoid a more daunting path to the final.

Thirlby told BBC Sport: “It’s a massively important moment for this group because it adds to our confidence bank, but we know it means nothing if we can’t follow it up.

“I think it’s the fact we were eight down and then to be pushed in the last 15 minutes and still come out on top, I don’t think you can under-estimate mentally what that tells you about where this group is at.”

England were set to find out the identity of their semi-final opponents later on Thursday, with holders New Zealand facing potential elimination in their last group match against favourites Jamaica.

Ash Tree Meadow put up a brilliant performance from the front to lift the Tote Galway Plate.

Fourth in the Ballybrit feature 12 months ago, Gordon Elliott’s seven-year-old was given a superb ride by Danny Gilligan, who had the company of the loose Andy Dufresne to deal with at times after he departed at the very first fence.

Willie Mullins’ Authorized Art looked a big threat under Danny Mullins after jumping the last, but Gilligan kept his cool and his mount was quickly on top again before being kept up to his work on the way to recording a two-and-a-half-length success at 13-2.

Another Elliott runner, Hollow Games, took third, with Joseph O’Brien’s A Wave Of The Sea in fourth. Last year’s winner Hewick showed up well for a long way before his big weight began to tell approaching the business end of the contest.

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