Louisiana State University (LSU) Sophomore Brianna Lyston was in a dominant mood once again on her way to victory in the women’s 60m at Friday’s 2024 LSU Twilight.

The 19-year-old, who recently signed a NIL deal with Adidas, produced 7.17 to win comfortably ahead of Kennedy Blackmon and Shannon Ray of Tiger Olympians who produced 7.39 and 7.41, respectively, in second and third.

Lyston is currently the collegiate leader in the event with her personal best 7.07 done at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville on January 27.

Elsewhere, LSU Sophomore Jahiem Stern produced 7.73 to win the men’s 60m hurdles ahead of teammate Matthew Sophia (7.74) and Haiti’s Yves Cherubin (7.91).

Trinidadian Hinds Community College Sophomore Rinaldo Moore ran 50.17 to win the men’s 400m ahead of teammate Braylin Demars (50.26) and Texas Lutheran’s Bryce Powell-Chimene (50.31).

Nemean Lion justified strong market support to win the Jennings Bet Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton for Kerry Lee.

Lee decided against running the seven-year-old under a big weight in the Betfair Hurdle last weekend in favour of this Grade Two and the decision was vindicated.

Winner of the Welsh Champion Hurdle earlier in the season, Richard Patrick settled him just behind the front-running Rubaud, who Nemean Lion had replaced as favourite due to sustained money in the morning.

Sent off the 6-5 market leader, it looked like it was going to be plain sailing at the second-last as Rubaud dropped away tamely and Nemean Lion was pulling away from Colonel Mustard.

To the Irish raider’s credit, Colonel Mustard stuck to his task gamely and kept Nemean Lion honest, but there was a length and a half in it at the line.

Saffie Osborne completed a magical double when guiding Emaraaty Ana to success in Qatar on Saturday.

Just 24 hours on from making history as the first woman to ride a winner in Dubai when Ouzo struck at Meydan, former Group One scorer Emaraaty Ana took the Dukhan Sprint at Al Rayyan Racecourse.

“It’s my first time riding here, I’ve tried to do as much research as possible and talk to people about the track,” Osborne said after Emaraaty Ana’s victory.

“He’s a horse who’s nearly won two Breeders’ Cup (Turf) Sprints, he has plenty of pace and I was able to use that to our advantage.

“He’s got so much ability this horse, I was able to get a breather into him around the bend and turning in he’s ultra-tough. I would ideally have been a bit further back, but he’s a really classy horse and I’m lucky to be on board him.”

Speaking after her win on Ouzo, she said: “I’ve grown up watching people ride big winners here.

“If you told me then that I’d be here riding a winner I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s something every jockey dreams of doing. It’s absolutely epic.”

Like Ouzo, Emaraaty Ana – formerly with Kevin Ryan – is trained by Osborne’s father, Jamie, and her mother Katie O’Sullivan was in both Dubai and Qatar to cheer their daughter on.

“We have had an unbelievable 24 hours, and so has that young girl there! Saffie and I got the 5.20am this morning. We have just been floating through life, it is incredible and so exciting,” she said.

“It was a solid run last time. Ian and Claire Barrett have reinvested in these kind of horses, and what a success it’s been for them! Saffie is doing what she loves and it is a pleasure to watch her.”

Kingston College and Wolmer’s Girls assumed pole position on the boys’ and girls’ standings at the Anthrick Corporate Area Championships, after an exciting opening day of action at Jamaica College’s Ashenheim Stadium on Friday.

The curtains fittingly came down on the day with the much-anticipated 100 metres, where three records were broken, two by Wolmer’s Girls representatives Natrece East and Tiana Marshall in Classes three and two respectively.

It was those performances that assisted in pushing the Heroes Circle girls to the summit on 150 points, three ahead of defending champions Excelsior on 147, with Immaculate High (133 points), The Queen’s School (77 points) and St Andrew High (61 points), complete the top five heading into Saturday’s final day.

On the boys’ side, Kingston College, on 146 points, opened up a 25-point gap on rivals Calabar, on 121 points, with Jamaica College in third on 109 points. Excelsior (56 points) and Wolmer’s Boys (52 points) occupy the other top five positions.

Earlier, East gave the 100m series an explosive start when she stopped the clock in a new meet record of 11.67s to top the girls’ Class three event. Immaculate’s Kayla Johnson (11.93s) and Tashika Thompson (12.43s) of Excelsior, were second and third respectively.

Marshall, also of Wolmer’s Girls then topped the girls’ Class two event in a meet record of 11.94s, in a negative 1.3 metres per second wind reading. Tashay Faulkner (12.32s) of Alpha Academy was second, with Immaculate’s Shevi-Anne Shim (12.33s) in third.

The Wolmer’s Girls sweep of the top three classes was completed by Mickayla Gardener, who successfully defended her Class one title and secured her ninth Corporate Area Championship medal. She recovered from a stumbling start to win in 12.21s, ahead of Excelsior’s Sharlla Whittaker (12.56s) and Abigail Watt (12.56s) of St Andrew High.

Meanwhile, Mario Ross of Wolmer’s Boys, became the first Class three athlete to clock a sub-11 time at the championship, when he stopped the clock in a meet record 10.99s. His time ran in a negative 1.1 wind reading, saw him finish ahead of Kingston College’s Orandy Campbell (11.41s) and Naethan Bryan (11.42s) of St George’s College.

The soft-spoken Ross expressed surprise at the time.

“I am very surprised that I ran that fast because I have been trying hard to get there since the start of the season and it wasn’t happening. But my teammates believed in me and told me I could do it and I finally did it, so I am happy,” he said shortly after catching his breath.

The boys’ Class two event was won by Excelsior’s Malike Nugent, who clocked a personal best 10.75s in a negative 1.2 wind speed. Nugent upset his more fancied rivals Nyrone Wade (10.79s) of Kingston College, and Tyreece Foreman (10.90s) of St George’s College.

Finally, Kingston College’s Yourie Clarke, signalled a return to form, as he clocked a personal best-equalling 10.55s to win the boys’ Class one 100m, ahead of Calabar’s Shaquane Gordon (10.59s), who is contesting his first year in the class. Damor Miller (10.63s) of Excelsior, was third.

NB: Action of Saturday’s final day of the Corporate Area Championships will be live on SportsMax and the SportsMax App.

Windward Islands Volcanoes made it two-in-two, as they completed a comprehensive nine-wicket win over Barbados Pride inside three days of their West Indies Championship encounter at Kensington Park, in Jamaica, on Friday.

Volcanoes, who were always in control of the contest from Wednesday’s first day, wrapped up victory by easily knocking off the 18 runs set by Barbados Pride, whose dismal second innings batting display, which resumed at 72-4, ended at 126.

Volcanoes seamers Shemar Springer and Ryan John again did the damage to set up the victory.

Springer took 4-44, to end with match figures of 6-105, after taking 2-61 in the first innings, while John, who had 4-47 in the first innings, snared 3-28, to end with match figures of 7-75. The in-form John now has 13-139 across the first two games, after match figures of 6-64 against Jamaica Scorpions.

Pride, who initially posted 214 batting first, started the day 39 runs behind, after Volcanoes replied to their first innings total with what turned out to be a match-winning 325.

Scores: Barbados Pride 214 & 126; Windward Islands Volcanoes 325 & 18-1 (3.5 overs)

Resuming their second innings on 72-4 with the likes of Kevin Wickham, who made 74 in the first innings, and others to come, Barbados Pride would have fancied their chances to possibly post something that would challenge the opponents. However, it was not to be, as the innings ended just as it started –in shambles.

Akeem Jordan added only 11 runs to his overnight score of four, while Wickham and the other batsmen, all failed to get into double figures, as Springer and John shared the remaining six wickets. Roshon Primus was the only exception, as he ended unbeaten on 25 off 26 balls.

Set only 18 to win, the Volcanoes unfortunately lost Kimani Melius (four) to the run-out route, but Jeremy Solozano, not out on 13, and Johann Jeremiah, with a solitary run, saw them across the line with minimum fuss.

The Jamaica Scorpions completed a dominant ten-wicket win over the Combined Campuses and Colleges in their 2024 West Indies Championship second round fixture at Sabina Park on Friday.

After starting Friday’s day three 259-6 off 73.1 overs, the Scorpions ended up being bowled out for 331 in 91.2 overs, a lead of 24 runs.

Peat Salmon was instrumental in helping the Scorpions establish a lead with a 44-ball 45 including four fours and two sixes.

17-year-old Zishan Motara, who entered the day with four wickets to his name so far in the innings, added three on day three to finish with career-best figures of 7-108 off 31.2 overs.

Facing a deficit of 24, the CCC had a horrendous showing with the bat in their second innings, being dismissed for just 87 in 30.4 overs.

Kirstan Kallicharan led the way with the bat with 29 against some excellent bowling from the Scorpions.

Peat Salmon with 4-12 from seven overs, Gordon Bryan with 3-19 from nine overs and Abhijai Mansingh with 2-35 from 8.4 overs were the main destroyers for the hosts.

Needing only 64 for victory, Scorpions openers Chadwick Walton and Carlos Brown wasted no time, needing just 9.3 overs to reach 69-0 and secure the Scorpions’ first West Indies Championship win in two years.

Walton followed up his 163 in the first innings with 46* while Brown, who hit 48 in the first innings, finished 19*.

Full Scores: Combined Campuses and Colleges 307 all out off 97 overs (Jonathan Carter 135*, Shamarh Brooks 36, Sion Hackett 30, Zishan Motara 28, Gordon Bryan 3-66, Ojay Shields 3-78, Abhijai Mansingh 2-37) & 87 all out off 30.4 overs (Kirstan Kallicharan 29, Peat Salmon 4-12, Gordon Bryan 3-19, Abhijai Mansingh 2-35)

Jamaica Scorpions 331 all out off 91.2 overs (Chadwick Walton 163, Carlos Brown 48, Peat Salmon 45, Zishan Motara 7-108) & 69-0 off 9.3 overs (Chadwick Walton 46*, Carlos Brown 19*)

 

Striker Fabian Reid recently crowned himself in glory when he became the Arnett Gardens player to score 80 goals in the Wray & Nephew Jamaica Premier League. Reid notched his 80th goal with a superb strike that helped lift Arnett Gardens to a 1-0 lead over fierce rivals Tivoli Gardens in the West Kingston derby.

However, Tivoli would respond by scoring three goals to win the match and dull the lustre of Reid’s milestone. Despite the final result, Reid was happy to have experienced that historic moment.

“It’s a feeling I can’t even find words to explain,” he remarked. “But one thing I can say is, I give God thanks. It’s not an easy task to do but I do everything in my power at all times to be that forward I was called to be. It’s a great joy for me!”

Reid began playing in the league for Arnett Gardens as a 20-year-old after he transferred from his junior club Boys Town and has spent the last 12 years playing in a number of positions in midfield before settling in the striker position where he has flourished.

 “I never dreamt of scoring so many goals but I’m just a natural goal scorer,” he said. “Every time I go out on the pitch, I want to go out there and deliver for my team to win. I felt very excited when I scored to go to 80 goals.”

Nicknamed “Muller” after the great German striker Thomas Muller, Reid says that his next target in the league is to get to 100 goals with Arnett Gardens, the only team that he has played for in the premiership despite many attempts by a number of other local clubs to lure him away.

“My heart is at Arnett Gardens from I was little was a boy until now. A lot of teams have made offers for me, but I don’t take it,” he revealed.

Reid has played for three clubs overseas, including, San Juan Tablet in Trinidad and Tobago in 2014/2015, FC Dlia Gori in Europe 2018/2019 and Neroca in India in 2023 from where he recently returned to Arnett Gardens.

His form in the premier league which has seen him score six goals in as many games since he returned in January and has earned a recall to the Reggae Boyz training camp by Head Coach Heimir Hallgrimsson.

In seven previous appearances for the Reggae Boyz, Reid has netted on three occasions.

 

Four Caribbean teams will be hoping to break into the much-anticipated inaugural staging of the Concacaf Women's Gold Cup when they contest the preliminary round of competition at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, on Saturday.

With only three spots up for grabs, only two teams from the Caribbean, and one from Central America, will progress to join United States, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Paraguay, Canada, Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica in the main event.

Guyana vs. Dominican Republic

Guyana and the Dominican Republic take the pitch in a first-ever encounter. Both teams are no strangers to the hustle, as they won their respective groups in League B of the qualifiers.

Having tallied 20 goals in their five wins and a draw, Guyana arrived in California ready to impress and they certainly possess enough quality to do so. Otesha Charles, who scored seven goals during the qualifiers, and Jalade Trim, who scored a brace in the last win, are key players to watch.

The Dominican Republic also know plenty about success, as they booked their spot in the preliminary stage as Group B winners in League B. Like Guyana, Dominican Republic registered five wins and a draw in six games, with a tally of 24 goals.

Jazmin Jackson, who had four goals in that total, will be the Spanish-speaking Caribbean team’s biggest threat in front of goal, with goalkeeper Odaliana Gomez and the defensive line, hoping to add to the four clean sheets they had in the qualifiers.

With not much separating the two teams, it is left to be seen, who will execute more efficiently, both in offensively and in the defence to come out on top.

Haiti vs. Puerto Rico

By all indications, Haiti will start firm favourites in their contest against Puerto Rico, not only because they have won four of the last six meetings between the two, but also due to the FIFA Women’s World Cup experience under their belts.

Haiti have scored 12 times against Puerto Rico, while conceding five. That coupled, with the fact that last year’s appearance at the global showpiece in Australia and New Zealand, has added impetus to their charge, all but signals their readiness for their next challenge.

Haitian legend Nerilia Mondesir, who scored six goals and provided eight assists, along with Batcheba Louis, who had five goals in their second-place finish in Group C of League A, will again be critical to their chances of clinching a spot in the group stage.

Puerto Rico’s one win, one draw and a loss, is nowhere close to Haiti’s three wins and a loss, but they are no fluke when it comes to important assignments, and this is an important as any. So, while on paper Haiti are favourites, the game has to be played and Puerto Rico could very well capitalise if the opponents slip up.

Goalkeepers Sydney Martinez and JLo Varada, whichever is given starting duties, will be charged with shutting out Haiti’s attackers.

El Salvador vs. Guatemala

El Salvador and Guatemala have faced each other nine times, with the latter holding a seven-win advantage. Now, they will add a new chapter to their history, with Guatemala are looking to keep the positive record going.

They placed second in Group B of League A, after they secured 2-2 and 1-1 stalemates with the Caribbean’s number one team Jamaica, albeit without their best players.

Knowing what it means to leave everything on the pitch, star players like Ana Lucia Martinez, who was the team’s top scorer (three goals), and Leslie Ramirez (one goal), will be key to their chances.

El Salvador will be looking to continue their winning momentum from the qualifiers where they won all six games to top Group B of League B, with their 24 goals coming from different players.

Brenda Ceren led the way in scoring five goals, closely followed by Danya Gutierrez, Samaria Gomez and Danielle Fuentes with four goals each.

Latenightpass will chart an unconventional passage to the Randox Grand National when he makes a belated debut over timber in the Albert Bartlett Prestige Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock.

The 11-year-old has been a standing dish in the hunter chase sphere for the majority of his career, where point-to-point handler Tom Ellis stewarded the gelding with great success.

However, success over the Aintree fences sparked dreams of a National bid and having finished no worse than fourth in three goes over the famous spruce, connections switched their veteran to nearby Dan Skelton to race under rules and set up a National bid.

It is a move that looks like paying off and having found the scoresheet for Skelton in a cross-country event at Cheltenham in December, Latenightpass finds himself on an official rating of 149 and effectively assured of his place in the line-up for the world’s most famous steeplechase, for which he is as short as 20-1.

To preserve that figure, Skelton has elected to revert to the smaller obstacles for his Aintree tune-up, and with his charge in rude health, is prepared to pitch him into a valuable contest while the iron is hot.

“Not many will debut over hurdles at 11, but he’s a novice because he has gone down an unconventional route,” said Skelton.

“He has lots of experience and he knows how to handle soft ground so we will see how he gets on.

“He could go and run in a £10,000 novice hurdle anywhere, but we thought we would take aim at something a bit better because of his high mark and this will be his prep for the Grand National.”

Isaac Des Obeaux may not yet be in line for Grand Nationals but could signal his readiness to compete at the top table if he builds on some encouraging performances this season.

Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old has scored twice over an intermediate trip at Chepstow this term and following a respectable effort in a Cheltenham Grade Two last month, steps up in trip for a race the champion trainer won with Makin’yourmindup 12 months ago.

“He ran a super race at Cheltenham the last day which suggested he wants three miles which this trip is,” said Nicholls.

“He doesn’t mind heavy ground and has won twice at Chepstow this year. Hopefully he is progressive and he will have a chance in a competitive race.”

The Ditcheat handler also holds a strong hand in the Virgin Bet Rendlesham Hurdle where his Red Risk will recommence rivalry with Gary Moore’s Botox Has.

Both finished among the also-rans in Ascot’s Long Walk Hurdle, but before that were first and second in the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby, with Red Risk gunning to reverse the placings this time.

“He will love the ground and he’s a Grade Two horse – we over faced him a little bit the last day,” continued Nicholls.

“He ran very well at Wetherby at the beginning of the season and if he repeats that I think he will be thereabouts.”

Six go to post for the Grade Two event which sees Ruth Jefferson’s high-class chaser Sounds Russian sighted for the first time since being brought down in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup and Nick Alexander’s 2023 winner Wakool defend his crown.

The Skelton team will be represented by Martha Brae, but the up and coming force could well be Olly Murphy’s Butch who is unbeaten in three starts this term and got the better of a strong cast of rivals when bringing up a hat-trick at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

“He’s in good form and although he looks slightly wrong at the weights with one or two, hopefully he can be the improver in the race,” said Murphy.

“He will handle the ground fine and he’s a horse who is definitely not going to Cheltenham, so this will probably be his main target for the season in terms of it being a graded race before he goes chasing next season. We’re looking forward to him.”

The British Horseracing Authority has lifted its recently-imposed exclusion order imposed on suspended rider Dylan Kitts for failing to comply with an investigation.

The jockey finished third aboard Hillsin at Worcester in July last year and was referred by the raceday stewards for the ride, with the horse banned from running for 40 days and eventually moved to another stable at the request of Chris Honour, who trained him at the time.

The BHA subsequently suspended Kitts, preventing him from taking rides or attending racecourses, and earlier this week added a disciplinary officer exclusion order to his sanction for “failing to provide relevant information requested by the BHA’s integrity team as part of an ongoing investigation”.

The order would prevent Kitts from attending any racing premises, including yards, and from communicating with people involved in the sport.

However, on Friday the BHA announced the order had been lifted after the rider provided the information requested, although Kitts remains suspended.

A statement from the governing body said: “The BHA can today confirm that it is now in receipt of relevant information requested by the integrity team as part of an ongoing investigation involving Mr Dylan Kitts.

“As a result of this information being provided, the disciplinary officer exclusion order issued earlier this week, which was imposed after multiple previous deadlines had been missed, has been lifted.

“Mr Kitts remains suspended from race riding while the investigation continues.”

Lucinda Russell’s Apple Away looks to take the next step in her promising chasing career when she lines up in the Sodexo Live! Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot on Saturday.

The Grade One-winning novice hurdler is in her first season over fences and has made a pleasing start so far, finishing third on debut in a competitive graduation chase and then winning by a huge margin next time out at Leicester.

She gained more experience in the Hampton Novices’ Chase at Warwick last month, finishing second to the highly-regarded Grey Dawning – the same horse that won her first race over fences and the highest-rated novice chaser in training in Britain.

“It’s a good opportunity for her and Grey Dawning looks a very good horse, but she is probably better than she showed at Warwick,” said Peter Scudamore, partner and assistant to Russell.

“I don’t know if I had her quite right at Warwick but I’m hoping for a big run this time.

“It’s a competitive race and we don’t underestimate the opposition, but God willing, she is jumping OK and she’s running to the same standard as she did over hurdles.

“We realise we’re in at the deep end with her, but we know we’re fortunate to have a mare as good as her, so we’re hoping for a big run.”

Apple Away is ultimately Cheltenham-bound, with connections likely to come away from this weekend with more of an idea of which direction to go in at the meeting.

Scudamore added: “We have Giovinco as well, who won on Thursday, and Apple Away and one will probably go to the Ultima.

“Apple will probably have more options and could go for the amateur race (National Hunt Challenge Cup), but I would like to keep Derek (Fox) on her if possible. You have the Ultima and the Brown Advisory, so we will see.”

Also running is Paul Nicholls’ Brave Kingdom, who has returned from a significant break this season to win both starts in novice handicap chases.

He steps up a level and Nicholls hopes he is open to improvement and may think bigger still if he impresses at Ascot.

“He’s come good, he had problems and missed a lot of time and then he won at Plumpton well and then again at Newbury,” he said.

“He has to progress again, but we’re very happy with him. Newbury was obviously a novice handicap and this is a different race again, but we’re happy with him and he’s had a nice bit of time since Newbury, so hopefully he will run well again.

“Because he has had problems, you only take things race-by-race with him but I suspect if he won or did very well in this then we might look at a better race down the line at Aintree or somewhere like that. I’m not convinced Cheltenham is his track at the moment, but we will see.”

Anthony Honeyball’s Kilbeg King is another interesting contender having finished third in the Grade One Kauto Star at Kempton when last seen, with the Ben Pauling-trained Henry’s Friend and Dan Skelton’s The King Of Ryhope completing the field.

Connections of L’Homme Presse are putting thoughts of the Cheltenham Gold Cup to one side as he heads to the Betfair Ascot Chase for a race that has been likened to the FA Cup Final.

Venetia Williams’ nine-year-old has already tasted success at the Cheltenham Festival as a novice, but he missed out on a shot at the blue riband in 2023 as an injury following his run in the King George VI Chase curtailed his season.

After a long and arduous 391-day absence L’Homme Presse returned in style to claim the Fleur De Lys Chase at Lingfield last month and having suffered the heartbreak of missing out on Grade One opportunities during his time on the sidelines, connections are excited to head to Ascot on Saturday for a race won by some of the sport’s greats over the years.

“We’re very calm and relaxed and looking forward to it,” said Andy Edwards, who co-owns L’Homme Presse with Peter and Patricia Pink.

“The horse is well and it’s exciting to be in a Grade One chase at Ascot.”

He went on: “When I was young and thought about owning a racehorse, days like Saturday are what dreams are made of. Footballers want to play in the FA Cup Final at Wembley and for me to be in a Grade One chase at Ascot is a privilege. Although everyone wants to talk about the Gold Cup, this is its own race in its own right and deserves proper merit.

“Cheltenham is obviously his end goal, but it is not the be all and end all. It may be the Olympics of our sport and where we want to get to, but there are lots of fantastic opportunities on the way and as we found out last year, you have to take your opportunities, because your dreams could be cut short very quickly – you can’t put your eggs in one basket.”

A select field of four will head to post, and Edwards has enormous respect for both Pic D’Orhy and Ahoy Senor, believing spectators at the Berkshire track could be in for a thrilling contest – similar to when L’Homme Presse went toe-to-toe with Protektorat in his Lingfield comeback.

“It might be a small field, but there are some very good horses in there – they have speed and like to run from the front” he continued.

“When we beat Pic D’Orhy in the Scilly Isles, that horse wasn’t himself and didn’t suit the heavy ground and track maybe. Ascot will suit him much better and he’s already won there earlier on this season.

“Ahoy Senor is a Grade One winner who beat us at Aintree and he came second to us in the Brown Advisory. He clearly goes better after Christmas and it is his time of year to start coming to himself.

“I think it will end up a proper race, just like Lingfield. There might only have been two horses in contention from eight fences out, but the race between L’Homme Presse and Protektorat was full on – it wasn’t an easy sprint finish like Galopin Des Champs had at Leopardstown recently. I’m sure Saturday will be the same.”

One who knows his way round every inch of Ascot is Pic D’Orhy, who had the misfortune of bumping into an on-song Shishkin in this race 12 months ago, but took advantage of that rival’s refusal to start when picking up Grade Two honours at the track in the autumn.

A top-table winner at Aintree last spring, a return to Merseyside is on the cards after this assignment, with champion trainer Paul Nicholls confident his consistent nine-year-old can take a hand in the finish here.

He said: “Consistency is his big thing and he runs in some good races, he won his Grade One at Aintree last year, and I’m sure he will run another solid race again on Saturday. He’s just a high-class horse who always runs to a high level.

“He’s not slow and he’s never been further than two and a half or two-mile-five – it suits him very well.

“Ultimately L’Homme Presse is en route to the Gold Cup and stays very nicely and Ascot is a stiff two-mile-five and the ground is not going to be quick at the moment, so I imagine stamina will come into it a little bit. But this is the ideal trip for us.

“Shishkin beat him in the race last year and funnily, even though he has won at Ascot a few times, he seems happier on a flatter track – he seems to keep his best form for a flatter track. But he’s good at Ascot and touch wood he jumps nicely and hopefully he has a nice chance.

“He will probably go to Aintree after this. I wouldn’t have thought he would go to Cheltenham and we’re quite keen to do what we did last year. If he has a hard race, which undoubtedly it will be a tough race, then it’s soon enough to Cheltenham and he will better off going to Aintree.”

Lucinda Russell drops Ahoy Senor back in distance as connections contemplate a tilt at the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Little has gone right for the dual Grade One winner this term, but Peter Scudamore, Russell’s partner and assistant, feels he is beginning to show his best at home on the gallops.

He said: “We feel we have probably got it wrong and things haven’t come quite right this season, his form figures will tell you that.

“I thought he ran well last time at Cheltenham and feels right now. It’s obviously a very competitive race and if he can run a big race we can see where we go at Cheltenham with him.

“I’m very happy with him like I was last time when he went to Cheltenham and hopefully this will just put him spot on for Cheltenham this time.”

Dan Skelton’s Sail Away completes the line-up.

In highly anticipated comebacks, Olympic champion Omar McLeod and World Championship silver medalist Britany Anderson are set to make their season debuts at the ISTAF Indoor Meeting in Berlin on February 23, 2024. Both sprint hurdlers will both compete in 60m dash as they step back into the competitive arena after some time away.

For McLeod, the journey to Berlin marks a return to competition after facing setbacks in recent years. The 2016 Olympic champion has struggled with poor form, leading to his failure to qualify for the Jamaican team in both the Tokyo Olympics and the World Athletics Championships in 2022. However, reports from his training camp in Italy hinted at a remarkable turnaround, with McLeod displaying renewed focus and determination to regain his winning form on the track.

Eager for redemption, McLeod is approaching the ISTAF Indoor Meeting as a pivotal moment in his career as the 2017 World 110m hurdles world champion aims to showcase the fruits of his hard work and dedication in front of the global athletics community.

On the other hand, Anderson's story adds another layer of inspiration to the event.

The silver medalist from the 2022 World Championships in Oregon had faced a significant hurdle in the form of a knee injury that required surgery in early 2023. This setback forced her to miss the entire season.

The ISTAF Indoor Meeting in Berlin is now the stage for Anderson's much-anticipated return from surgery.

The meet otherwise boasts stellar lineup, featuring world record holder Grant Holloway, European indoor champion Samuele Ceccarelli from Italy, Zaynab Dosso, the third fastest 60m sprinter globally, and British European Champion Daryll Neita.

Among the local contenders were the fastest sprinters of the German Leichtathletik-Verbands (DLV), including Alexandra Burghardt, Rebekka Haase (both in the 60m), and Franziska Schuster (60m hurdles). The anticipation built as the world prepared to witness the thrilling competitions unfold on the renowned blue track in Berlin, with McLeod and Anderson's comebacks adding an extra layer of excitement to an already star-studded event.

 

 

Famous Bridge could open the door to a shot at the Randox Grand National when he returns to Haydock for the Virgin Bet Grand National Trial Handicap Chase on Saturday.

Nicky Richards’ eight-year-old has built up a real love affair with the Lancashire venue this term and followed up a win at the course in November by claiming the Tommy Whittle a month later.

Famous Bridge forms one half of a strong hand for the famous Hemmings Racing silks alongside Jonjo O’Neill’s Welsh Grand National runner-up Iron Bridge and Richards feels conditions are perfect for his charge to return to his best having faltered at Doncaster last month.

“He acts around the place really well and seems in grand fettle,” said Richards.

“It will be deep old heavy ground and hard work for everybody, but we’re looking forward to it. He’s very well and I think he will run a big race.”

Famous Bridge was pulled-up in the Great Yorkshire Chase at Doncaster, but his handler lays the blame on his poor start at Town Moor, and said: “If you were watching the race, it was at the start where the problems happened.

“He was coming in lovely the first time but the starter wouldn’t let them go and when they turned round Sean (Quinlan, jockey) just didn’t get the rub of the green at the start at all.

“It’s the same old story in those big handicaps, they can be won or lost at the start really and it was lost at the start with him. Sean wisely pulled him up after a mile and a half and he was clearly never going to get into it – the winner made all.”

Famous Bridge does hold a Grand National entry, but currently rated 139, connections feel Famous Bridge will need to win on Saturday to stand any chance of sneaking into the National field at Aintree now that the safety limit has been reduced to 34 runners.

Richards added: “I think it will depend on what happens Saturday and what will the bottom weight be to get in the National?

“We thought 145 or 146 might sneak him in and we know what he will have to do. Let’s hope he does it.”

Disputing favouritism with the Hemmings duo is Emma Lavelle’s Classic Chase heroine My Silver Lining, who appears to have all the attributes to make another bold bid in a marathon event.

However, the one unknown the Warwick scorer will have to prove is her ability on really testing ground with Haydock sure to pose a stern stamina examination.

Lavelle said: “Ground-wise, is heavy ground what she wants? I don’t know, she has won on it but she’s pretty versatile with regards to everything really.

“She was so game at Warwick and she’s gone up 5lb. She jumps brilliantly and when these staying chasers can get in a rhythm it counts for a lot.

“She’s very straightforward, at home and in her races, and that helps. You don’t want to use or waste energy when you don’t need to.

“She’s in such good order we just decided to let her take her chance as there aren’t going to be that many runners, there’s a lot of positives.”

Anthony Honeyball’s Credo has made the podium at Haydock twice this term before finishing a respectable fourth behind My Silver Lining in the Classic Chase, while Sam Thomas’ Iwilldoit has been a model of consistency once more this term and another sure to be up for this particular challenge on the forecast going.

Venetia Williams has won this three times in the last 10 years, including 12 months ago with Quick Wave, and she saddles both Fontaine Collonges and Becher Chase hero Chambard, with Dan Skelton’s Snipe arriving in Merseyside an improving chaser.

Meanwhile, Gavin Cromwell will attempt to become the first Irish winner of this in almost 30 years as he saddles Yeah Man.

The Pat Fahy-trained Nuaffe was the last raider to pick up this prize back in 1995, but Cromwell has been no stranger to success in the UK this term and Yeah Man went close to picking up a big pot at Ascot just prior to Christmas.

“I am not certain that the heavy ground is going to be completely to his liking, but the trip certainly won’t be a problem,” said Cromwell.

“He’s had a couple of good runs at Ascot without winning and deserves a win at this stage. When he fell at the last on his penultimate start, he was rattling home and it’s one of those ones where we’ll never know.

“He definitely stays really well. The early part of the race and staying in the race can be an issue with him but I don’t think it’s going to be an issue on heavy ground at Haydock.

“I have no experience of the fences at Haydock, but they should not be a problem.

“The Kim Muir at Cheltenham could be an option in the future, but it might come a bit too soon after Saturday. The Irish National could also be an option, but we’ll see what happens on Saturday first.”

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