Reigning champions Mount Pleasant Football Academy reclaimed their regular position in the top two on the Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League standing, following a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Harbour View at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Monday.

Devonte Campbell (25th) and Shaqueil Bradford (35th) got the goals for Mount Pleasant, after Demar Rose gave Harbour View an early second-minute lead in the encounter that started at a decent pace, but lost tempo in the second half.

The win, which extended Mount Pleasant’s unbeaten run across seven games, pushed the St Ann-based team up to 39 points, one behind leaders Cavalier, on 40 points.

Tivoli Gardens (37 points), Portmore United (36 points), Arnett Gardens (34 points) and Waterhouse FC (26 points), occupy the other playoff positions. Harbour View are ninth on 19 points.

Winning coach Theodore Whitmore was pleased with his team’s recovery after conceding early.

“It was a high intensity game which is what we expected, but the problem is how we started the first half, and secondly, we played in the middle, instead of going out wide where we needed to play because that is where we are dangerous. After we sorted that, we got back into the game and got the job done,” Whitmore said in a post-game interview.

“After conceding, we didn’t panic, we maintained our focus and used the width of the pitch and that is where we were successful. So, it was a good win, but we want to take it game-by-game and just do what we have to do,” he added.

It was a frantic start to the contest, as Harbour View grabbed the early ascendancy, when Demar Rose lashed a right-footer past Mount Pleasant’s goalkeeper Shaquan Davis from deep inside the 18-yard box, after Jashaun Anglin neatly chested the ball down into his path.

The ‘Stars of the East’ continued to enjoy the better of possession and should have doubled the lead in the 11th Okeemo Jones broke down the right channel with Rose for company in a two-on-one situation. However, he was hesitant in getting the pass off and was later dispossessed by a recovering defender.

That missed opportunity proved costly 14 minutes later, as Mount Pleasant pulled level courtesy of a tidy team build up, which ended with Campbell firing home his second of the season from an angle, after Daniel Green’s initial effort was parried by Davis.

From there, Whitmore’s side took advantage of the game, as they spread the ball to the left channel, in particular, where Campbell utilized his speed and nippy footwork to rattle Harbour View’s defence.

Three minutes past the half-hour mark, the 20-year-old Campbell produced a burst of speed down the left channel and was felled inside the danger area by Jones.

Referee Christopher Mason quickly pointed to the spot, and Bradford, who was assigned responsibility, made no mistakes from the 12-yard spot to put Mount Pleasant 2-1 up.

Mount Pleasant thought they had a third when Sue-Lae McCalla got the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed by referee Mason, who spotted a handball.

They again got the ball in the net on the stroke of half-time, but again it didn’t count as Bradford’s finish was from an offside position, and the score remained 2-1 at the break.

The second half, which was marred by stoppages, offered very little to write home about where goalmouth action is concerned, as both teams nullified each other’s attacking prowess and, as such, were unable to really produce anything meaningful in the final third.

Though slightly disappointed with the outcome, Harbour View’s Head coach Ludlow Bernard took heart from his team’s performance.

“I thought we gave it our all it is just unfortunate that after two breaks, we conceded and this about the third time this has happened, so we have to concentrate better,” said Bernard, who also took a jab at the officiating.

“I wouldn’t entirely say it was down to indiscipline, but more incompetence on the part of the officials. I think they were extremely poor, but that is that my guys battled hard, I think we needed to continue being patient with our build ups and that is a positive that we will build on going forward,” he noted.

Matchweek 18 Results

Cavalier 4, Lime Hall Academy 0

Molynes United 2, Portmore United 2

Dunbeholden FC 1, Treasure Beach FC 1

Humble Lion 0, Tivoli Gardens 2

Montego Bay United 0, Arnett Gardens 0

Vere United 0, Waterhouse FC 1

Harbour View 1, Mount Pleasant FA 2

Kemar Foster, one of the most influential shot stoppers in the Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League, produced a gritty goalkeeping display to ensure Waterhouse edged Vere United 1-0 in a lively contest at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Monday.

Foster, who often partners Reggae Boyz captain Andre Blake on national duties, made a number of saves to shutout Vere United in a dazzling performance that pushed the Drewsland-based team over the line after Revaldo Mitchell’s solitary 24th-minute strike.

The 31-year-old Foster displayed unbeatable form, which underlined his credentials. He claimed crosses, shut down angles and even went full stretch to tip shots around and over his goal frame. Nothing was too much to ask of Foster on the day, as he flew around his box, putting his body on the line to deny Vere United.

It’s gritty goalkeeper performances like this that keep teams in the hunt for championship honours, and the shutout not only handed Waterhouse three points, but also propelled them back into the top six on 26 points, two points ahead of seventh-placed Dunbeholden, and three ahead of eighth-placed Montego Bay United, their closest pursuers. Vere United on the other hand, remains 10th on 19 points.

Foster, who required medical attention on a few occasions, felt he was exposed too often, but expressed content with his display between the sticks, which is sometimes overlooked.

“In the midfield, I think we gave Vere too much space to play and they did play. Teams will hurt you once you give them space, but I am fortunate to come out with a clean sheet,” Foster said in a post-game interview.

“It (goalkeeping duty) is rough to be honest, you have to stay focus after a game like this and not get ahead of yourself, and also ensure you recover properly and rest when possible before hitting training hard again. This is the best performance I had so far this season, it’s a long season, so I am hoping I can have many more like this going forward.” he added.

After a spirited start, it took Vere United 15 minutes to ask their first question of Foster, and the custodian proved equal to the task when he went full-stretch to his right to parry Odane Murray’s stinging right-footed effort.

That may have been the wake-up call Waterhouse needed, as they got into their rhythm shortly after, and eventually found the go-ahead goal. It came when Navardo Blair’s free kick sparked a melee, which ended with Mitchell tucking home from close range after Javane Bryan and Andre Fletcher’s efforts were desperately kept out by Javier Brown on the goal line.

Though they continued to threaten in open play, Waterhouse failed to add to their tally, as numerous half-chances were squandered and, as such, the score remained unchanged at the break.

Like they did at the start, Vere United came out more purposeful on the resumption, but unlike the first half, they didn’t allow Waterhouse a look-in on this occasion, and were only denied by Foster’s resilience.

It took two great saves in quick success by Foster to deny Vere United in the 54th, as he first blocked Kemar Beckford’s well-struck left-footed shot and recovered well to parry Justin Cohen’s acrobatic effort on the rebound.

Vere pressed the ascendancy and found a couple more openings in the latter stages of the contest from which they again tested Foster’s mettle in their probe to pull level.

Javon Smith got on the end of weighted Javier Brown corner kick with a firm header, but Foster got down well to his right to squeeze out the effort at his near post.

And even with the game nearing its end, Vere United’s substitute Lorenzo Lewin unleashed a well-struck snapshot, and Foster again came up big in time added to ensure his team secured all three points.

Waterhouse’s assistant coach Damion Gordon hailed the defensive line for holding firm as their attacking front came up short.

“The big question surrounds our consistency. I thought our first half was very good and they (Vere United) were clearly better than us in the second half, but in terms of our defensive structure, I think we did well,” he said.

For Vere United’s Head coach Linval Dixon, there is cause for concern over his team’s failure to convert a goal in five straight games, but he is also mindful that it is not for a lack of trying.

“Not scoring goals is disturbing for us because we have really been working hard in training to score, so it is cause for concern. But we are still working, and we are still fighting. It is just that we came up against a national goalkeeper and he was the difference in the game. I can’t fault the team for effort so like I said, we will continue working because when we start scoring things will change,” Dixon declared.

Ronsford Beaton, the Guyana Harpy Eagles fast bowler, was reported for a suspect bowling action during the ongoing West Indies Championship four-day first-class competition. Beaton’s action was cited by match officials during the first-round match between Guyana Harpy Eagles and Trinidad and Tobago Red Force at the Conaree Cricket Centre in St. Kitts, which ended last Saturday.

 As part of the process, once a player is reported for a suspect bowling action, video footage from the match in which the player was reported is provided to CWI. The video footage along with the written report is then sent to the CWI Bowling Review Group (BRG) and Loughborough University for analysis using an Opinion Report.

 On Sunday, Cricket West Indies (CWI) confirmed that the Opinion Report by the Independent Assessor at Loughborough University, has found Beaton’s bowling action to be illegal and, as such, he has been suspended from bowling in all West Indies international and regional matches with immediate effect.

 The assessment revealed that Beaton’s deliveries exceeded the level of tolerance for extension of the elbow permitted under playing regulations. As per the International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations the suspension will also apply to all other domestic leagues worldwide.

 Beaton will remain suspended until such time as his action is found to be legal, either by an Opinion Report from Loughborough University or by an independent analysis from an accredited ICC testing centre, in accordance with the CWI Regulations for Dealing with Suspected Illegal Bowling Actions.

 Isai Thorne who returned from competing with the West Indies Men’s Under 19 team at the recently concluded ICC Men’s Under-19 World Cup in South Africa, will replace Beaton in the Guyana Harpy Eagles squad.

 The Round 2 of matches in the West Indies Championship start on Wednesday 14 February. Guyana’s first-round match against Trinidad and Tobago was abandoned with no result due to seepage of water onto the pitch from 24 hours of persistent rainfall.

Willie Mullins is still to decide how he will shuffle some of his novices’ hurdle pack, with Ballyburn looking his ace card to play amongst a team brimming with talent.

The master of Closutton has won the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle a record seven times, while the following day’s Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle has gone his way on six occasions, including last year when scoring with Impaire Et Passe.

The handler is blessed with an array of riches in both races this time around, with many of his Closutton inmates double entered – including high-class pair Ballyburn and Mystical Power, who are dominant in the ante-post lists for both races.

Owned by Ronnie Bartlett in conjunction with football agent David Manasseh, Ballyburn laid down his claim to be Mullins’ Supreme number one with a faultless display at the Dublin Racing Festival.

However, the Irish champion trainer is willing to bide his time before firming up final running plans.

Mullins said: “Ballyburn has been very impressive. He’s in the Supreme and Baring Bingham, pedigree-wise you’d say Baring Bingham but looking at his races you’d say Supreme. His owners haven’t shown a preference and they’d be very happy to go wherever we go. I’ll leave that one open for the time being.

“Mystical Power is another one, owned by JP who is good pals with Ronnie Bartlett and will they want to take each other on?”

“I’ve been very pleased with what he’s shown over two miles as on pedigree I thought he’d want further but he’s shaped more like a two-miler.”

Mystical Power comes with a champion’s pedigree being a son of Galileo out of Champion Hurdle winner Annie Power and having done his early winning last summer, served a reminder of his potential when landing the Grade Two Moscow Flyer last month – a race that has served Mullins well in the past.

He added: “I think he’s a bit like his mother, a later developer. You get some pedigrees, like Quevega and all her progeny who are late developers, so this fellow is improving all the time.

“I was amazed with how much he’d improved in his last bit of work before the Lawlor’s of Naas, but then that was put back a week so I said ‘let’s go for the Moscow Flyer’ and he was very good in that.

“You’d have to think Supreme but we’ve had Moscow Flyer winners go both ways. It’s been a very good race for us as a trial to Cheltenham.

“Asian Master has had his two runs and I imagine he will also probably take his chance in the Supreme Novices’, he’s every right to.”

Mullins saddled a one-two in the Grade One Lawlor’s of Naas last month with Readin Tommy Wrong picking the pocket of Ile Atlantique late on.

And while the Tony Bloom-owned runner-up is pretty much certain to continue campaigning over an intermediate trip, there is the possibility Readin Tommy Wrong will step up to three miles at Prestbury Park.

“Ile Atlantique, my preference all along has been the Baring Bingham, unless something awkward happens he’ll go there,” continued Mullins.

“I thought he put up a tremendous performance in Naas when he was beaten by Readin Tommy Wrong. Ile Atlantique did all the donkey work and Daryl (Jacob) was very cute on Readin Tommy Wrong and just pounced on him.

“Cheltenham will be a different test and we’ll see. I think it’s harsh if people say he’s soft, we can change tactics and ride more of a race. I think it’s very harsh given he did all the work and then he was pounced on by a very good horse.

“Readin Tommy Wrong is in the Baring Bingham but is also in the Albert Bartlett and could go for either race. He has stamina and class so it’s a nice position for Simon (Munir) and Isaac (Souede, owners) to be in.”

Meanwhile, High Class Hero will attempt to prove he is well named when he leads Mullins’ Albert Bartlett squad, which could also include Dublin Racing Festival scorer Dancing City.

He said “When High Class Hero won his race in the autumn, I said to David Casey I’ll pick one race in the spring as a prep for Cheltenham, I don’t want him having a hard race at the Dublin Racing Festival and he found the race at Thurles and he came through it lovely.

“Dancing City had actually been disappointing me and then everything came right, it was obviously a step up in trip and maybe nicer ground were a big help to him. I think he’ll go to the Albert Bartlett with a chance.”

Nicky Henderson’s Sir Gino sets a high bar in the juvenile division, but Mullins looks set to saddle a strong team in opposition in the Triumph Hurdle.

Kargese led home a Closutton one-two-three-four in the Spring Juvenile at Leopardstown, but it is third-placed Majborough who has Mullins enthused.

“Majborough ran a cracker the other day. Every time I see him I think Gold Cup, not Triumph Hurdle, he’s just a magnificent beast,” he said.

“I was surprised when he arrived from France to see what an individual he was. He’s not a typical juvenile hurdler, you’re looking at him and thinking three years down the road.

“Maybe he could be like Douvan and just fully develop as a four and five-year-old. I’ve got some nice juveniles, but he’d be in the top couple of picks.”

A Cheltenham hero of old, Sir Gerhard, is set to bid for his third Festival success in the Stayers’ Hurdle, while Sa Majeste – who claimed the scalp of Noble Yeats at Limerick – could be one of Mullins’ leading players in the handicaps.

Willie Mullins is confident Galopin Des Champs will put up a staunch defence of his crown in next month’s Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The eight-year-old was a brilliant winner of the blue riband last season, a third Gold Cup triumph in five years for the Festival’s most successful trainer following the back-to-back victories of Al Boum Photo in 2019 and 2020.

Galopin Des Champs was beaten by Fastorslow at the end of last season and at the start of the current campaign, but roared back to his best with a stunning Savills Chase success over Christmas before taking his revenge on Fastorslow when plundering his second Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown earlier this month.

Speaking at his annual press morning ahead of the sport’s showcase fixture in four weeks’ time, Mullins appeared more than happy with the condition of his star performer ahead of his return to the Cotswolds.

“He’s come out of his race in Leopardstown very well and I’m very happy. It’s going to be a tip-top Gold Cup I think. We’re in great form,” he said.

The Closutton handler feels a change to more positive tactics has played a significant part in Galopin Des Champs’ mini resurgence as the division’s top dog.

Paul Townend was widely lauded for the patience he showed in last year’s Gold Cup, but it seems highly likely he will be ridden closer to the speed this time around.

Mullins added: “I’d wanted him ridden off the pace the two years before as I felt he was too keen and I didn’t want him getting drawn into a battle, but this year I don’t mind.

“He’s bigger and stronger, well certainly stronger but he’s more mature now and definitely up for it (leading).”

Galopin Des Champs may well be joined in the Gold Cup field by stablemate Monkfish, who was sidelined for two years after an excellent novice campaign in 2020-21.

He was beaten on his first two starts after his return last spring, but resumed winning ways in last month’s Galmoy Hurdle and Mullins feels a good portion of his ability remains intact.

“Monkfish is also in the Stayers’ Hurdle, but if enough rain comes I’d seriously have to consider him for the Gold Cup,” he said.

“He’s got the class and I was happy he came back in good order in Gowran, albeit over hurdles.

“At the moment I’d say I’ll prepare him for the Gold Cup, I’ll have a word with Rich (Ricci, owner) and see what he is thinking.

“I thought he went a long way to answering if he was as good as he was at Gowran and come Cheltenham, he will be better again.”

Such is the staggering strength in depth Mullins has at his disposal, he did not even enter his Cotswold Chase victor Capodanno for the Festival’s most prestigious event.

The JP McManus-owned gelding’s likely target at Prestbury Park appears the Ryanair Chase, but Mullins did reveal the possibility of supplementing for the Gold Cup “has been mentioned”.

Mullins’ novice chase team appears just as strong, with Fact To File seemingly the leading the way.

The seven-year-old is two from two over fences, and while his performance in coming home alone in a Grade One at Leopardstown last time is difficult to gauge after his stablemate Gaelic Warrior faded tamely before coming to grief at the final fence, there is no doubt he is held in the highest regard.

“Fact To File is in the Brown Advisory and Turners at Cheltenham. I’d be leaning towards the Brown Advisory, but I’m just wondering what other horses in the same colours might be going that way,” Mullins continued.

“His speed figure at the Dublin Racing Festival was fantastic. Someone told me at Christmas in his beginners’ chase he did a huge one, I’m into what I see visually and the way they do it but the run at Christmas it transpired was right and he doubled down on it.

“Fact To File has done everything right and has put in a huge trial for either race at Cheltenham.”

Of Gaelic Warrior, he said: “Obviously going left-handed didn’t suit Gaelic Warrior, but getting worked up before the race didn’t help and during the race he made a mistake at the fourth last which seemed to unsettle him.

“He was very disappointing but he seems all right. He’s a little quiet in himself but he would be, most good horses are when they are beaten.

“We’ll try to get him right and the Turners was what we had in mind for him.”

Irish Arkle victor Il Etait Temps will bid to follow up in the Arkle and may be joined by Facile Vega, who is set to have his training routine tweaked as Mullins bids to reignite his fire following a disappointing run of form.

Embassy Gardens appears the stable’s chief contender for the National Hunt Chase, while Dinoblue and Allegorie De Vassy will give Mullins a strong hand in the Mares’ Chase.

Willie Mullins believes State Man returns to Cheltenham a stronger runner this year as he tries to make up the deficit with the all-conquering Constitution Hill in the Unibet Champion Hurdle.

The Irish raider trailed home nine lengths adrift of Nicky Henderson’s National Hunt superstar last year, the only time he has been defeated in 11 completed hurdles starts.

State Man has added a further four Grade One triumphs to his record since that second place, most recently seeing off Bob Olinger by a comfortable five and a half lengths in the Irish Champion Hurdle – a race in which stablemate and familiar rival Impaire Et Passe failed to fire.

In contrast to State Man, Constitution Hill will head to the Festival having had just one run this term, but Mullins expects Henderson to have his defending champion at concert pitch nevertheless.

“State Man will go for the Champion and I think he’s in great order,” he said.

“I didn’t talk to any of the time men after Leopardstown because I thought his performance at Christmas was huge against Impaire Et Passe who was much more competitive than he was the other day. Tactics were changed on Impaire but he was nearly a non-runner as far as I’m concerned, you could see after two hurdles.

“I don’t know if State Man was at his best in last year’s Champion, we’ll find out this year. He’s very good, he’ll be very race-fit but Nicky Henderson does have a habit of having his horses very right on the day when people think they haven’t raced enough, Nicky gets everything right for Cheltenham.

“We hope it will be a hell of a race, Nicky probably doesn’t and Constitution Hill fans probably don’t but we are stronger this year, I don’t know if better but stronger. I will leave tactics to Paul (Townend) but we’re happy to have him in the order which he is.”

Mullins has won the race four times already with Hurricane Fly (2011 and 2013), Faugheen (2015) and Annie Power (2016) and feels State Man brings different qualities to the table.

He added: “He hasn’t won a Champion Hurdle yet so he has a bit to catch up with those that have. He doesn’t have the pizzazz of Faugheen or the speed of Hurricane Fly but he has other things, he jumps well, he’s so consistent. Hopefully we can turn the tables this year.”

Constitution Hill is the 1-3 favourite with the race sponsor with State Man next best at 5-2 and then another Closutton inmate, Lossiemouth, a 12-1 shot.

She is much shorter with many other bookmakers, but her target is the two-and-a-half-mile Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle, in which she is likely to be joined by Ashroe Diamond and Gala Marceau, with Champion entry Echoes In Rain also in the mix.

Lossiemouth hacked up in the Unibet Hurdle on Trials day at Cheltenham last month, prompting plenty of talk about whether the mare should be aimed at the main event.

However, Mullins is certain it is too early to pitch the five-year-old against the likes of Constitution Hill.

He said: “Lossiemouth hasn’t done anything wrong. I know a lot of people want her to go down the Champion Hurdle route, but I’m not even sure if there wasn’t a Mares’ Hurdle we’d go down that route with a five-year-old.

“In my lifetime a five-year-old usually wins once every 30 years and usually a bad year and this doesn’t look like it’s going to be a bad year for the Champion Hurdle. I don’t think the five-year-olds are physically strong enough.

“She did everything right the other day, maybe she needs longer, she’ll have other days to go at the Champion Hurdle. We’ll let State Man soften up Constitution Hill first and leave the door open for her!”

John ‘Shark’ Hanlon is praying for good ground ahead of next month’s Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, as his King George hero Hewick prepares to take on defending champion Galopin Des Champs.

Hewick took a crashing fall two out in his first taste of the Gold Cup last year, with Galopin Des Champs carrying on up the hill for a memorably impressive victory.

Willie Mullins’ charge has since looked imperious when winning at Leopardstown this season, firstly in the Savills Chase at Christmas and then when bettering chief blue riband rival Fastorslow for his second Irish Gold Cup during the Dublin Racing Festival.

However, Hewick has also gone from strength to strength and following a career best to win the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, Hanlon is now keen to try to exploit a possible chink in Galopin Des Champ’s armour on a sounder surface at Prestbury Park.

He said: “It is beginning to get exciting times and I love to see that sun coming out, which I want to see in England more at the minute than I want to see over here.

“The weather is what’s most important to him. It was soft ground last year and I want that soft ground out of there this year.

“Galopin Des Champs is a very good horse and he’s won on soft ground a couple of times this year and has looked very good on it.

“But I would love to meet him on good ground. Maybe if he is as good then he will win, but I just think on proper good ground, he might not be as good as he is on soft and heavy ground.

“The horse is in really good form and he came out of the King George very well. He will probably go and do a bit of work now in Naas on Wednesday in a schooling bumper and that’s the route we went down before the King George.”

Hewick is a best priced 16-1 for Gold Cup glory, but Hanlon is predicting an open feel to the race this time around and is confident his contender is worth his place in the line-up.

“There’s more than one horse in the race, every horse is there to be looked at,” he continued.

“You don’t ever duck away from one horse or a challenge and if you have a horse good enough, there is no problem doing that.

“Shishkin won over the weekend and he looked quite good, but the horse who was second to him was only a 150-rated horse and he didn’t run away from him.

“It’s a good race, it is always a good race. There’s more than two or three in it and there will be probably 10 horses in it and any of those 10 horses can win.”

Hanlon has always embraced his underdog status, but he is alive to the possibility of interest in the sport dimming if only a handful of yards house all the leading contenders.

He said: “The big problem in Ireland anyway, and the English people can see it when Willie went over with Fun Fun Fun yesterday, is he wins everything.

“He has the owners to buy those horses. If a good horse comes up for sale tomorrow morning, he’s gone to Willie Mullins because Willie has the customers. Fair dues to him because he started with nothing and now has the men to buy them, but I think England and Ireland are feeling the pinch a bit with it because a lot of these owners just go to Willie now.

“This is nothing against Willie or Gordon Elliott or anyone, but I think the smaller people in the game need looking after. Because if you haven’t got the smaller lads then you are going to have races every week with five runners and people will get bored.

“Every small trainer is able to train, they just haven’t got the owners able to compete with the likes of Willie. There is a bundle of trainers taking over and I don’t think it is good for racing.”

Mullins’ dominance in Irish racing was exemplified at the Dublin Racing Festival when he won each of the eight Grade Ones at the meeting, with one contest ending up a match between two Closutton runners.

Hanlon added: “The Dublin Racing Festival was great but without the two big handicaps (on each card), there wouldn’t have been 30 runners on either day. The two big handicaps were full and there was more excitement over the handicaps than there was over the Grade Ones.

“The Grade Ones and Grade Twos are lovely, but they are for three or four people and they need to look beyond that to see how they are going to get the people back going racing.

“The Dublin Racing Festival is a great meeting and on the Saturday you had a huge crowd and on Sunday an OK crowd. But if you took the English people out of it on the Sunday, there wouldn’t be too many in.

“If it wasn’t for the cost of travelling horses over to England, then I would run horses over there every week.

“You can say I’m running away from Willie, I don’t care, but there is a better chance of winning and England is a big area and you can go to the top or the bottom and you are not competing with Willie and Gordon every day.”

Bahamian Devynne Charlton was not surprised by her record-breaking performance in the women’s 60m hurdles at the 2024 Millrose Games in New York on Sunday.

The 2022 World Indoor Championships silver medallist produced a stunning 7.67 to win and establish a new world record in the event, breaking the previous mark of 7.68 done back in 2008 by Sweden’s Susanna Kallur in Germany.

“I knew it was in me. I knew the type of numbers I’ve been putting up in practice but it was all about just executing it,” said the 2022 Commonwealth Games silver medallist in a post-race interview.

Charlton, who is currently training in Lexington, Kentucky and being coached by Rolando “Lonnie” Greene, has been in sensational form to start her 2024 indoor season. The 28-year-old produced 7.88 to win at the UK Rod McCrary Memorial on January 13 before, eight days later, running 7.75 for victory at the Corky Classic.

She then produced 7.76 to win at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston on February 4. She credited the race at the Corky Classic as the one that made her know she was in world record shape.

“I think early on we were just trying to see where we were at and get an idea of what was going on,” she said.

“After my second meet when I ran 7.75, I went to my coach and said that was a sloppy race and so I knew once we went back and started working on it, this race would show up. I thought I could’ve got it in Boston but once I didn’t get it so once I went back to practice, the focus was on executing that perfect race,” she added.

 The main difference between her races in Boston and New York, according to Charlton, was being more “locked in.”

“All I was thinking about was just executing the start. I did that and it was just a blur. I knew I crossed the line first,” she said.

“I was anticipating the time and I thought I heard him say world record and didn’t really catch it until everyone got so excited, started to embrace me and started jumping up and down so I thought I must’ve done something special. It didn’t really hit me until they brought me around to the clock and I saw my name and world record,” added Charlton.

She said the thought of breaking the world indoor record has been on her mind for a long time but, after her performance at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, it became her main focus coming into 2024.

She got to the final of the 100m hurdles in Budapest but just missed out on a medal, finishing fourth in 12.52.

“At the World Championships when I finished fourth place, just outside of a medal, it was a really disappointing feeling and one of the first things I said to my coach when I went back to the warm-up area was now I have to break the world record indoor,” she said.

“This has been a goal for a while but that moment was when we really put a plan in place. We went back and looked at everything I did indoor and outdoor last year, focused on my weak points and built on that in practice,” she added.

As for when fans can expect to see Charlton in action again, “we’re going to stick to the plan. Madrid in two weeks and the World Championships in three,” was her response.


Owner Andy Edwards is looking to L’Homme Presse to book his Cheltenham Gold Cup in Saturday’s Betfair Ascot Chase at the Berkshire track.

The nine-year-old made a faultless return to action following a lengthy lay off in last month’s Fleur De Lys Chase, beating Protektorat by just over two lengths on his first start since unseating Charlie Deutsch in the 2022 King George VI Chase.

L’Homme Presse sustained a season-ending injury in that mishap, with trainer Venetia Williams and Edwards, plus his co-owners Peter and Patricia Pink, giving the gelding plenty of time to recover.

He is now set to turn out 27 days later at Ascot, with Edwards not putting much stock in the theory of the ‘bounce factor’ for horses having their second run back after an absence.

He said: “Everything has been fine with L’Homme Presse since Lingfield.

“I thought it was an amazing comeback and we were thrilled with everything we saw from him. Hopefully, he can kick on again from there, starting this weekend in the Betfair Ascot Chase.

“I don’t think the ‘bounce factor’ is a scientific thing. Every horse is different and that is not something that fazes us. We are only concerned about our horse and he will run a race that suits him.”

L’Homme Presse is a general 8-1 chance for next month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, with reigning champion Galopin Des Champs odds-on to defend his title for Willie Mullins.

While Edwards is aware of the task L’Homme Presse would face in the Cotswolds, he would not shy away from taking on that challenge.

He added: “The dream is still alive. To even be in the reckoning for a race of that calibre is a privilege in itself. We want to do our very best to win at Ascot this weekend and then, all being well, take our chance at Cheltenham.

“It is a horse race and no horse is unbeatable, especially in a top-end race like the Gold Cup because there are so many variables that can affect the outcome – jumping, positioning, luck in running et cetera.

“Having said that, Galopin Des Champs is a champion and looks something to be admired. And you can’t discount the other horses in the race, as everyone will go there thinking they have a valid chance.

“With L’Homme Presse, we still don’t really know where his ultimate ceiling is. He has only had three runs outside novice company and they have all been fantastic. He might have a ‘U’ against his name from the King George but he was still running a great race on a track and ground that did not suit his style.

“The one thing that I would say about L’Homme Presse is that he has an attitude and aptitude where he does not want to be beaten. That determination and grit in an athlete is what can make the difference on the day.

“I am sure everyone like us is feeling excited, whether it’s Shishkin’s camp or Gerri Colombe’s camp. We have all seen lots of turn-ups in big races down the years, just look what happened in the King George this season. As I always like to say, keep the faith, believe in your horse and enjoy the moment.”

L’Homme Presse is one of five entries for the Ascot Chase along with 2022 hero Fakir d’Oudairies, Pic D’Orhy, Ahoy Senor and Sail Away.

Seven have been entered in the Grade Two Sodexo Live! Novices’ Chase – better known as the Reynoldstown – including Apple Away and Kilbeg King.

Strong Leader is set to continue plying his trade in the staying hurdle division, having been handed a Liverpool Hurdle objective by trainer Olly Murphy.

The seven-year-old has shown smart form at Aintree in the past, winning a novice hurdle by eight lengths last term before ending the campaign by finishing a close-up second to Inthepocket over an extended two miles in the Grade One Top Novices’ Hurdle.

Since being well beaten over the minimum trip on his return to action, Strong Leader has gone up in distance, first running well in the Ascot Hurdle before excelling in his first try at three miles on Cheltenham Trials day in the Cleeve Hurdle.

On that occasion, only Stayers’ Hurdle-bound Noble Yeats and Paisley Park finished ahead of Strong Leader.

And with Murphy’s charge holding no graded entries for the Cheltenham Festival, he is set to bypass Prestbury Park in favour of another trip to Merseyside for their Grand National day Grade One.

“He’s going straight to Aintree for the three-mile race,” said Murphy.

“I know everyone talked about Paisley Park and Noble Yeats and rightly so, but he was the unlucky loser. He never jumped a hurdle, didn’t come down the hill and yet was only beaten a length and a quarter.

“He relished the step up to three miles. His sectionals were very good over two miles but he’s always worked like a horse who would want a trip.

“He will go straight to Aintree and whether he will be good enough, I’m not sure, but he’s a very good horse on his day – and the one day it all clicks for him, then he could win a big one.”

Theatre Man has Cheltenham Festival handicaps on his agenda, having picked up a silver medal at Prestbury Park on Trials day.

Richard Bandey’s eight-year-old won two of his four starts over hurdles last term and, although yet to open his account over fences, has not been too far out of the picture in all three novice chase starts.

Despite blundering four from home, he finished less than three lengths adrift of Paul Nicholls’ Turners hope Ginny’s Destiny at Cheltenham on Trials day, a performance that suggests he is more than worth his place at the Festival.

Connections now need to choose between the Trustatrader Plate over the same track and trip as that most recent outing, or step up to three miles for a shot at the Ultima Handicap Chase, with ground conditions nearer the time set to be a crucial determining factor in the decision.

“We were very pleased with the run at Cheltenham,” said Bandey.

“He finished very strongly, but we’ve always felt he is a strong-finishing two-and-a-half-mile horse rather than a definite three-miler.

“I think after his mistake four out (at Cheltenham), he just got swallowed up a bit and didn’t go through the gaps as fast as Harry (Bannister, jockey) would have liked, but he ran on strongly and we were delighted with the run.”

He went on: “All roads will lead back to Cheltenham now, all being well, with both the Plate and the Ultima being his options – and determined by the ground and shape of the races really.

“If the ground was soft, I think we would see a better horse – I think softer ground helps him rather than what we saw on Trials day, when it was good to soft. If it was similar ground or drier than it was on Trials day, then we might consider the three-mile race.

“It’s a lovely problem to have and Mr Syder and Mr Burke (owners), Harry and I will all put our heads together and work out a plan. We’re a small yard and he’s definitely the flagbearer for us this year, so we’re very lucky to have him.”

In a significant move to amplify her brand and broaden her horizons, Jamaican sprint phenomenon Briana Williams has officially signed with 7venz Media Agency. The announcement comes on the heels of her performance at the 2024 Millrose Games in New York, where she secured a fourth-place finish in the highly competitive 60m dash with a time of 7.25 seconds.

Turning 22 in March, Williams boasts an impressive athletic resume, including a gold medal as a vital member of Jamaica's 4x100m relay team at the Tokyo Olympics. Additionally, she clinched silver medals at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon 2022 and Budapest 2023 as a key contributor to Jamaica's formidable sprint squad.

Williams, who achieved the sprint double at the World U20 championships in Tampere, Finland, in 2018, expressed her excitement about the collaboration with 7venz Media Agency. "I'm elated to have such a talented and dedicated team supporting me. Their expertise and passion are unparalleled, and I'm confident that together, we'll achieve great things."

The media agency, known for its representation of World 100m hurdles champion Danielle Williams, warmly welcomed Briana to their esteemed roster. "Briana is an exceptional talent, and we're honored to be a part of her journey. Our team is committed to helping her build a strong brand and showcasing her unique talent to the world."

This strategic partnership marks a new chapter in Williams' flourishing career, providing her with the resources and expertise to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of sports and entertainment. As she continues to make waves on the track, fans can anticipate exciting developments and innovative projects in the coming months.

Big-money buys Imagine and Mollys Mango could both head to the Cheltenham Festival having been picked up by Harry Derham at the Andy and Gemma Brown dispersal last week.

Over €5million was spent across 29 lots offered by Tattersalls Ireland, with Derham’s former boss Paul Nicholls set to train the top lot Caldwell Potter and Gordon Elliott pulling out all the stops to retain the next four highest-earning offerings at his Cullentra House base.

However, there was a statement of intent by Derham and owner Ian Barratt to bring the hammer down at lofty six-figure fees for Imagine and Mollys Mango, who have both impressed this term.

Imagine – who was sent off favourite for the Martin Pipe at last year’s Cheltenham Festival – created a taking impression in his first two chasing starts for Elliott, including winning the Grade Two Craddockstown Novice Chase in November, before a below-par effort back at Punchestown.

It took €320,000 to bring Imagine back to Berkshire, while Mollys Mango commanded €170,000 having won two of her three starts over hurdles, romping to a 17-length success at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day.

“They are two very nice horses bought for Ian Barratt, who is a very nice man and also a relatively new owner to me,” said Derham.

“If they are both OK, they will both run at Cheltenham – Molly in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and Imagine in the Golden Miller (Turners Novices’ Chase).

“They have to be OK and Ian and his family know it’s quite an interesting time to buy a horse and there isn’t that long to Cheltenham, so if they are OK, then they will run.

“But we know the more we get to know them, and my team get to know them and they get time in a new regime, then they will obviously be better.”

In just his second season with a trainer’s license, the acquisitions add a touch of quality to Derham’s ever-expanding string, with the young handler already closing in on a half-century of winners.

He added: “It’s obviously nice to get two very smart horses like that. It’s never nice in those circumstances, where you are taking them from another trainer, but they were there for sale and are two to look forward to.

“Monday’s sales results show how serious the owner is and they are two nice horses, but as I said to my team, it’s irrelevant and it doesn’t matter how much they cost, once they are in the yard, they will get the same care as everybody else.

“It’s lovely to get horses of that quality into the yard and hopefully we get some luck.”

If both Imagine and Mollys Mango make it to the Cheltenham Festival, they will take their place on a small but select Prestbury Park team Derham is assembling, as he tries to add success in the training ranks to the victory he enjoyed at the Festival aboard Salubrious during his time as a jockey.

The current ace in the trainer’s Cheltenham pack is unbeaten hurdler Queens Gamble, who Derham feels has more in her locker and is as short as 10-1 with Paddy Power for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

“Queens Gamble will run in the Mares’ Novices’ and that has been the plan all season,” said Derham.

“I’m very excited about her and it’s a really good race but I believe there is plenty more to come from her.

“If I think my horses have realistic prospects of running nice races, then I will get involved, but I’m not really into going for a day out.”

In a moment of pure exhilaration, Jamaica's female hammer thrower, Erica Belvit, shattered Jamaica's national weight throw indoor record during the URI Coaches Invitational at Rhode Island on Saturday. The impressive throw of 23.08m not only secured her place in the record books but also marked a significant milestone in her quest for a spot at the upcoming Paris Olympics.

The mark, if ratified, will eclipse the record of 22.95m set by Kim Barnett in March 2004. Erica was a class above her competition that included her younger sister Hope, a senior at Northeastern, who was a distant second with her best throw of 17.92m.

Megan Wood, a junior of Rhode Island was third with 17.02m.

Erica, overwhelmed with emotion, shared her immediate reaction to the record-breaking moment, saying, "I was jumping and screaming! I didn’t expect it; I just knew something was going to happen for sure! I have so much in the tank ready to go."

The achievement comes after meticulous preparation, with Belvit and her coach, Wilfredo de Jesus Elias, dedicating their focus exclusively to the hammer throw and outdoor events in the lead-up to the 2024 track and field season. The URI Coaches Invitational served as a platform to fine-tune her competition mindset after a hiatus from competing.

Reflecting on her preparation for the season, Belvit mentioned, “This meet was just to ‘shake some dust off’ and practice getting into that competition mindset since I haven’t competed since July."

The disappointment of being overlooked for Jamaica's team at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest in 2023 fueled Belvit's determination to make her mark in Paris this summer. Addressing the setback, she expressed, "Yes, it changed my whole view of training and competing. I was heartbroken for some time. Now we move forward."

Despite a challenging off-season marked by illness, Belvit's mental fortitude and patience played a pivotal role in her development. She shared insights into her off-season journey, stating, "My off-season started pretty rocky. I had gotten sick, which delayed my start for several weeks. When I was able to start training again, we focused on recovery and gradually increasing my training. I grew so much mentally during that time because I had to be patient with my body."

Looking ahead, Belvit has set ambitious yet straightforward targets for the season. Her focus is on giving her all each day, without regrets or holding back, believing that this approach will propel her toward success.

The 23-metre throw represents a significant step forward for Belvit and her coach. She sees it as evidence that their hard work is paying off and that they are heading in the right direction. As she shifts her attention to outdoor competitions, Belvit is eager to continue her journey, armed with newfound confidence and the belief that she has more to offer in pursuit of Olympic glory in Paris.

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