The Kosovo Tennis Federation is preparing an official complaint about Novak Djokovic’s on-camera message and will call for the 22-time grand slam champion to be fined.

After his first-round victory at the French Open on Monday, Djokovic wrote on the camera lens: “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence.”

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 but Serbia has never recognised that and violence broke out in the north of the country over the weekend after ethnic Albanian mayors were installed in Serbian-dominated areas, with NATO peacekeepers among those injured.

Djokovic’s message immediately drew attention on social media, with the Serbian telling journalists from his country: “As a Serb, it hurts me what is happening in Kosovo.

“Our people have been expelled from the municipalities. This is the least I could do. As a public figure, I feel an obligation to show support for our people and all of Serbia.

“I hear there was a lot of criticism on social media. I don’t know if someone will punish me or something like that, but I would do it again. I am against wars and conflicts of any kind.”

The French Tennis Federation said on Monday it would not be taking any stance on the matter because grand slam rules do not forbid political statements from players, but the Kosovo federation believes Djokovic should face punishment.

Jeton Hadergjonaj told the PA news agency: “It’s not the first time that Djokovic is doing this. He’s continually provoking Kosovo.

“He suggested he has roots from Kosovo because his father was born in Kosovo. He lived in the north part and probably you heard now in that part there is some troubles and some of the peacekeepers, international soldiers, were injured because the Serbian people attack them.

“OK, Djokovic has some connections, he still has some family there I think and he visited that part. It’s understandable, he’s connected with that part.

“But Kosovo is an independent country recognised by the ITF (International Tennis Federation), Tennis Europe and the international community.

“But he continuously attacks us every time he can do it. In a basketball match in Belgrade one month ago, all the people in the stadium were chanting ‘Kosovo is Serbia’. He was not shouting but he was doing the signs with his hand supporting that.

“That one was not very public, I reacted as well, but this one was a big one. According to the Olympics charter, the fundamental principle is that sporting organisations within the Olympic movement should apply political neutrality.

“The ITF is recognised by the International Olympic Committee. We have to react. Tomorrow we will send an official request for Djokovic to be charged, to have a fine. We will request from the ITF, the ATP and the French Tennis Federation.”

Serbia has troops stationed near the border and there are fears the situation could escalate 15 years after the Kosovo war left more than 10,000 people dead.

Asked if Djokovic’s involvement could increase tensions, Hadergjonaj said: “Potentially it will inflame it. For such a public figure, in this occasion, in this big event and (amid) this Ukraine-Russia war, to give this kind of message is really not helpful.

“The Kosovo-Serbia talks are ongoing and are near to be solved, the problem of Kosovo for a lifetime. To do this kind of declaration from Djokovic, I think is not clever.”

Djokovic faces Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics in the second round in Paris on Wednesday.

There are two kinds of people in life – those blessed with happy happenstance and those for whom the opposite is true. Ben Hanbury puts himself firmly in the former camp.

Despite ending his training career prematurely for financial reasons in 2004, the passing of his beloved wife Moira four years later and his own ongoing health issues, Hanbury’s particular, unmistakable vernacular is most notable for the use of the word “lucky”, in every conceivable grammatical form.

And it provides an interesting dichotomy.

Replete with perma-tan and always the sharpest-dressed man on a racecourse, he was never one to follow the usual fashions or tried-and-tested ways of acquiring equine talent.

Hanbury will forever be remembered for his association with Midway Lady, winner of the 1000 Guineas and Oaks in 1986.

“She is a remarkable story,” said Hanbury, 77, who saddled some 900 winners in an illustrious career.

“I used to go to Venezuela to look for new owners, because when I was assistant to Bernard Van Cutsem he trained for Venezuelan owners.

“Michael Stoute and Barry Hills were plundering the English market for owners and I thought I’d go to Venezuela, America and Japan, anywhere to look for new owners.

“I made friends with a man whose father was a trainer out there and I said to the Venezuela Racing Association I was the champion trainer in England – and I’d hardly trained a winner!

“I kept in touch and he rang me up one day and he said, ‘I’ve seen a horse and I’ve had a dream – and in this dream she is going to become the champion filly of Europe’.

“I was desperate for horses, so we went to Keeneland and he showed me this filly. She was by Alleged, who was a hell of a sire, but she was very crooked and very ugly.

“The average for Alleged was 200,000 or 300,000 (dollars) and we picked her up for 42,000, which I thought was a lot of money. So we bought her with his dream intact.

“I got her home and she was very weak and a chronic box walker. She was coming on all right as a two-year-old and I went to Keeneland in July and I said to my apprentice, ‘you can ride her at Yarmouth, but I haven’t worked her’ – she’d just started strong cantering.

“I said, ‘look after her, I don’t care where you finish, but it might just change her mind and give her something to think about’.

“Anyway, she was second to Stoute’s best filly, Untold, and I was absolutely astounded.

“So after that race, I backed her for the Oaks at 100-1, which I thought was a terrible price because I’d never had a Classic runner, never mind a winner. I thought she should have been 500-1.

“After that she was never beaten!”

Midway Lady went on to race five times more, winning a Yarmouth maiden, the May Hill at Doncaster and the Prix Marcel Boussac under Lester Piggott, who retired for the first time at the end of 1985.

“I was never going to train her for the Guineas,” said Hanbury. “As she was a chronic box walker, I used to turn her out in the field.

“Then, in February, she fractured a splint bone, which was quite serious but not life-threatening.

“I said, ‘that’s it, we’ll be lucky to get her back for the Guineas’.

“Anyway, she recovered quite quickly and as any trainer will tell you, they are just like flowers. They suddenly come. This filly had to be box-rested and she got stronger and suddenly looked a million dollars.”

A racecourse gallop at Yarmouth convinced him to run in the Guineas and, with Ray Cochrane in the saddle as Piggott opted not to come out of retirement, the 10-1 chance powered up the stands rail at Newmarket to score by three-quarters of a length from Maysoon, with the 6-4 favourite Sonic Lady third.

On June 7, 1986, Midway Lady then justified 15-8 favouritism in the Oaks, winning by a length from Untold, with Maysoon third.

“Everyone looks from the outside and thinks things are rosy. But there are 365 days in a year – 350 of them are disappointing,” Hanbury pointed out.

“Most days, for everyone with horses, it’s depressing, so it’s great when you have a bit of luck.

“I didn’t have a party, I just went home and was physically ill. It was such a relief.”

However, during the race Midway Lady picked up a leg injury, which failed to respond to treatment, and in August that year she was retired.

“In my short training career, I was never lucky in so far that I had some good horses but every one of them got injured or never went on,” said Hanbury.

“She broke down in the Oaks. She never ran after June, but obviously if she was sound, she’d have won everything.”

Nineteen years later, Midway Lady’s daughter, Eswarah, similarly won the Oaks, a few months after Hanbury retired.

“Eswarah never ran as a two-year-old and had an injury – that’s why I really gave up,” he added.

“I walked into her box about October time and she had this injury, and I said, ‘that’s it!’.

“Eswarah was a very tricky, nervous filly. She went to Michael Jarvis and he trained her unbelievably well.

“I was absolutely delighted for Michael. He was a big friend, good luck to him. He was a lovely man. You can’t look back – ‘if’ is a great word, you know.”

Hanbury was just 58 when Diomed Stables was shuttered, with the keys passed on to Stuart Williams.

“You need a lot of luck. All my life I have been very lucky,” he added. “I don’t think I had much ability.

“I’d had a shocking year. When luck goes your way, I’d won every photograph, the ground was right, the draw was right.

“Then I had a five-year spell when it rained – I got the wrong draw, the jockey got shut in and I was having no luck, absolutely none. Everything went wrong.

“My accountant said, ‘you’ve lost £80,000 and you won’t last’. I had a valuable yard and unfortunately, when things go against you, you have got to have owners, you’ve got to have horses, you have got to have numbers. I was down to 30 horses.

“It takes quite a lot of guts to give up. Once you ring all your owners and say ‘I’m retiring’, that’s it. You can’t ring them up and say ‘I’m very sorry, I made a mistake’.

“I regretted retiring, but as it turned out, it was the best thing that ever happened financially.”

Anyone who is scorched by the fires of hardship – financial, physical or mental – can often feel grateful if blessed with a positive disposition.

To some, Hanbury may not seem particularly fortunate.

In his formative years, after working as a stable lad for Ryan Price, he ventured to Ireland. As a jockey, he had modest success, even partnering Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National winner L’Escargot to victory twice early in the horse’s career for Dan Moore.

Yet a terrible fall sidelined him for a year and fate took him on a different path.

“I came to Newmarket to get strong and I went to Bernard Van Cutsem, just to ride out and help him, and I saw there was much more money than being a bad professional jockey,” he said.

“That was 55 years ago and I never left Newmarket, never left my house. That was luck, complete luck.

“You need luck. Kala Dancer is another example. He got such a fright when Law Society bumped him just on the line, that he put his head out and that’s how he won the Dewhurst (1984).

“He only won by an inch. Every trainer will tell you, you need luck,” he added.

“Of course I regretted retiring. But as it turned out, I sold my yard and I had something to live on.

“I looked after the pictures at the Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket for 16 years, but I’ve had cancer and just had a big heart operation. I’m feeling fit and I’m a million dollars, but not for doing any work.”

He is still content to do things in his own, unconventional way, however.

“I’m just gardening now. My doctor said to me, ‘no gardening for six weeks’. I waited about three days!” he laughed.

“I’m great, but I tell you what, I’ve been very, very lucky. I tell people so much is down to luck.

“I was very, very lucky to have an amazing wife. I was very lucky to meet her, lucky to have the career I had, lucky to have trained some good horses. I feel extremely lucky.”

The Oaks has produced many brilliant winners during its long history – yet the 2007 renewal created two points of argument that are, while more anecdotal than empirical, equally worthy of note.

Light Shift is arguably one of the most aptly-named winners and received the biggest reception for a horse ever to run in the race since its inception in 1779.

Sir Henry Cecil, saddling his eighth and final victory in the middle leg of the fillies’ Triple Crown, felt the warmth of the crowd. He never quite understood the adulation he was afforded or the esteem in which he was held by his adoring public, and the reception he received moved him to tears.

For this moment encapsulated, to the public at least, a glimmer of light at the end of the trainer’s dark tunnel.

“I think a lot of people thought this was his last hurrah, but little did we know it was the beginning,” said his wife, Lady Jane Cecil.

Cecil, a modest man, had almost effortlessly scaled unimaginable heights in a career which stared in 1969 and brought 25 domestic Classic winners and 10 trainers’ titles.

Top-class victories flowed with regularity. Wollow, Kris, Le Moss, Ardross, Slip Anchor, Oh So Sharp, Reference Point, Indian Skimmer, Bosra Sham, Oath and Reams Of Verse – things came easily to Cecil for so long.

What followed is well documented. The removal of Sheikh Mohammed’s horses from the Warren Place yard in 1995, the death of his twin brother David, from cancer, five years later and the breakdown of his second marriage, all took a heavy toll.

“The joy went out of his life and the focus went,” said Lady Jane, “particularly after David’s death. He took it very badly.”

In 2005 he saddled just a dozen winners and his stable of 200 horses shrank to barely 50.

A year later, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer.

Life’s fates then turned once more, with Light Shift providing the most significant winner in his career.

Musidora winner Passage Of Time was the 9-4 favourite. Also trained by Cecil, she was expected to give him his 24th Classic winner.

However, she had not wintered as well as Light Shift and had an issue with her throat, which came to light after the race, in which she finished eighth, over 21 lengths behind her stablemate.

But the diminutive Light Shift, a daughter of Kingmambo, who had broken her maiden at the third attempt the previous September, was no forlorn second-string.

She came to Epsom on a hat-trick, having opened her Classic season with a win at Newbury, followed by a comfortable Cheshire Oaks victory under Ted Durcan.

“She was so straightforward,” said her jockey. “She was neat but was extremely well-made and light on her feet.

“She was a lovely-moving filly with a lovely action and a lovely mind on her. She was a genuine, straightforward filly.

“Although she was a little bit antsy, there was no malice in her. She was one of those fillies who didn’t like hanging around or being held up in her regime. She loved getting on with it.

“She was a little bit headstrong as a two-year-old, but she learned to settle and was just a really sweet filly.”

He added: “I was very taken with her in the Cheshire Oaks. She gave the leaders a good head-start and picked them up in a matter of strides. On paper it says she won by a neck, but literally she won under hands and heels. I never had to give her a flick. She glided around Chester and showed an electric turn of foot.

“Once she won like that, we all headed to Epsom very excited, as she had every attribute you needed.

“She glided under the radar. At Epsom, I was mindful that I didn’t want to get her in a ruck, because she wasn’t over-big and it might light her up.

“But we had a lovely, smooth run around. The only thing was I was left in front too early. I thought by following Mick Kinane on Four Sins, who I fancied to run a big race, I was in a good position.

“I thought that filly would take me a bit longer into the straight, but she emptied quickly and I was left in front a bit sooner than I wanted.”

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Peeping Fawn, closed the gap significantly to half a length, but Martin Dwyer’s mount could not quite reel Durcan in.

“Aidan’s filly turned out to be brilliant. His filly may have lacked a little experience on Oaks day, but she showed she was smart afterwards and won four Group One races on the trot,” said Durcan.

“I think anyone who didn’t have an interest in the race wanted Henry to win with one or the other.

“Anyone who was neutral, or who loved racing, they were willing Henry to win the race. When one of the fillies won, everyone’s goodwill and emotion was aimed towards Henry, and rightly so.

“It was his day and that was right. One of the nicest things was the Niarchos family and Juddmonte had stood by Henry in his lean times. So for him to have a runner for both of them, and for one of them to win, it just added up to a magical day.

“It was my first Classic and an honour for a rider of my stature to win one. I totally appreciate how fortunate I was, as there were a lot better riders in the weighing room who were not fortunate enough to win a Classic.”

Light Shift’s Epsom win and marriage to Jane (nee McKeown) gave Cecil the fillip he needed.

“You’d never see Henry cry, but he shed a few tears that day with the reception he got, although he didn’t understand the public’s affection,” said Lady Jane.

“Light Shift wasn’t very big, but she was very brave. She was actually a bit of a worrier, so to do it on a day like that was incredible.

“It was a completely amazing day. That was the race that mattered most to him, because that was really the start of things.

“He was amazed by that response. Things from then, they started to get better and it bloomed from there.

“I was there when Love Divine (2000) won and that was a wonderful day and we had lots of well-wishers. I thought ‘this is marvellous’, and that we’d never get that feeling again, but when we arrived back after Light Shift, it was a whole different feeling, it went to a whole other level. You could just feel the love.

“People were willing Henry to win, because he’d had all that treatment and he didn’t look that good.

“He was so pleased for the Niarchos family, who were lovely to work for. Maria (Niarchos) was so delighted, as much for Henry as the horse.

“And Ted was a good rider. He knew her well and was a very good jockey and a very nice person. Henry liked him as a person and as a jockey, so he was delighted for Ted as well.”

Cecil’s story was yet to have its glorious final chapter written. The unbeaten Frankel, who gave him his final Classic in 2011, with a memorable 2000 Guineas romp, is the most famous of his training success stories.

Cecil bore his illness and treatment so gracefully, with such humility and dignity right until the end, which came eight months after Frankel’s retirement in October 2012 following victory in the Champion Stakes.

Lady Jane will keep a wistful eye on the action at Epsom this weekend with Soul Sister, a daughter of Frankel, bidding to give Frankie Dettori another big win in what is set to be his final season as a jockey. He also partners Arrest, another son of Frankel, in the Derby.

“Both races are very interesting this year, especially with the Frankel factor,” she added. “It’s just incredible really. That is the saddest thing, that Henry is not around, because he would have loved to have trained any of the Frankels,” she said.

“It’s so lovely to have the interest. There’s the Frankie factor as well. If it was Frankie’s last Oaks and Derby, winning either would be a great send-off, wouldn’t it?”

Who knows, it might even get the same hearty reception accorded to Light Shift, Durcan and the imperious Cecil.

Covey is likely to run in either the Jersey Stakes or the Britannia at Royal Ascot following his easy win at Haydock on Saturday.

The John and Thady Gosden-trained colt has now won three of his four races following a narrow defeat on his debut.

Unraced at two, he is rapidly making up for lost time but after Frankie Dettori admitted to being run away with on the gallops with him last year, what has pleased connections most is that he now saves his energy for the track.

A 10lb rise from the handicapper means he is now rated 100.

“We were all happy at Haydock and I was expecting the sort of rise he’s got,” said Barry Mahon of owners Juddmonte.

“We’ve got a couple of weeks to decide, but I would imagine he’ll go for either the Jersey or the Britannia.

“He’s a beautiful horse, an unbelievably good physical specimen and we always felt he could be a very good horse last year but he just didn’t give himself a chance, as Frankie said he was a bit of a boyo.

“But in every run on the track this season, he hasn’t put a foot wrong in temperament or performance, in every run he’s turned up and behaved well. He’s grown up a lot and we’re on the right path, hopefully he can turn into a nice horse.

“He won under hands and heels at Haydock. We’ve been a little bit behind all year but he’s catching up now, it just takes a while to get where you need to be.”

Peter Schiergen’s Tunnes will fly the flag for Germany in Dahlbury Coronation Cup at Epsom on Friday.

The four-year-old has an eye-catching pedigree as he is out Tijuana, the dam of 2021 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Torquator Tasso.

Tunnes was a juvenile winner and then had a successful three-year-old season as he claimed the German St Leger and the Grosser Preis von Bayern in fairly quick succession as autumn approached.

He then jetted to Tokyo to take on the Japan Cup, a Grade One race in which he finished ninth of 18 to wrap up his season.

This year he kicked off his campaign in the Carl Jaspers Preis, a Group Two held at Cologne, and came home second over the same one-mile-four-furlong trip he will encounter at Epsom on the first day of the Derby meeting.

“He is good, he will run on Friday,” said Schiergen.

“He had a break and after the break he started and was second, he was good, he’s improved and I’m happy in the mornings.

“It was good enough for the first time, he wasn’t 100 per cent, he has improved and should be right now for Epsom.”

Should his Coronation Cup bid go to plan, there may be a return to British turf on the agenda for Tunnes, with the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot pencilled in for later in the season.

Schiergen said: “If he runs well,
we might plan to run him in the King George.”

Emily Upjohn makes her seasonal bow in the race and joint-trainer John Gosden feels the race should put the filly spot on for her targets later in the summer as last year’s Oaks runner-up returns to Epsom.

“She’s been fine but like a lot of the fillies, after that false glimpse of spring in February, we then had it cold and wet and she went back into herself,” he told Nick Luck’s Daily podcast.

“She’s taken a long time to come ready but hopefully she’s ready now to run a nice race in the Coronation.

“The race will bring her on. For the older horses, the races are June onwards. We had a think about going to Dubai but chose not to which was the correct and wise decision given who won it (Equinox).

“It looks like a small, select, elite field and she’s a filly taking on the colts, but we want to get her back going and I think you’ll see a big improvement going into June and July.

“She showed brilliance early on last year then it all went wrong in the King George when a few of them, like Westover, over-raced.

“She then had a long time off to come back on Champions Day, when she won with great authority. Right now she’s on the way to getting back up to that level, but I think the race will be key to bringing her on.”

Cameron Norrie has hit back at Novak Djokovic’s accusations of poor sportsmanship.

The pair had an unexpectedly fiery clash in Rome two weeks ago, with the main flashpoint coming when Norrie hit Djokovic on the ankle with a smash after the Serbian had turned away to walk back to the baseline.

In his press conference afterwards, Djokovic criticised Norrie not just for that moment but for what he perceived as the British number one celebrating in his face after winning points, as well as a medical timeout he took prior to the final game of the match.

Djokovic, who won the contest comfortably, said: “Those are the things that we players know in the locker room it’s not fair play, it’s not how we treat each other.”

Norrie did not see what the fuss was about, saying of the smash: “I apologised straightaway and I didn’t see him. I looked up and hit the ball down low. I didn’t see him turn and concede the point.

“I wanted to win, it was one of those matches where he’s one of the best players in the world and I wanted to play my best and compete as hard as I could.

“I didn’t think I was in his face at all. I think, if anyone knows me, I’m pretty vocal in some matches. It was a regular tennis match for me.

“I was feeling feeling my hip a little bit and I took the medical time-out. It is within the rules. And for him also it’s in the rules to start the match on his time – being late.”

The last comment was a pointed reference to the fact Djokovic turned up more than 10 minutes late for the match after spending time in the treatment room.

“He wanted some more time on the physio bed and the match was scheduled for 11am,” said Norrie. “And we walked out maybe 11.12am, 11.13am. I don’t think he saw any problem with that. He never said anything to me. And he never apologised.

“I asked: ‘Was that OK to do that?’ They said: ‘Yeah, it is within the rules.’ After 15 minutes, he gets defaulted. I said: ‘OK,’ and I continued warming up.

“I’ve never seen that before from any player. Regardless if it’s a tennis match or not, you turn up on time for whatever it is.”


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Djokovic’s complaints have sparked a debate in tennis about where the line is drawn between firing yourself up and disrespect towards your opponent, with Marton Fucsovics also complaining about Sebastian Baez celebrating the Hungarian’s mistakes during a match in Lyon last week.

“If you’re doing it right in front of someone’s face and looking at them and trying to taunt them, that’s not great,” said Norrie.

“I was not doing that, Baez was not doing that, and I think it’s part of the game. I love seeing players compete and really get up for the matches and really wanting to win. You see it in all sports.

“For me, I’m competing as hard as I can. I’m not trying to do it to distract the other guy or anything. This is the only time that anyone’s had an issue with it.”

Norrie could have had reason to complain about a very partisan crowd for his dramatic five-set win over Benoit Paire but the 27-year-old enjoyed the atmosphere and can expect more of the same in the second round on Wednesday when he takes on another Frenchman, Lucas Pouille.

The 29-year-old was ranked in the top 10 in 2018 but an elbow injury the following year began a downward spiral, with Pouille battling depression and turning to alcohol.

He did not play any matches in the second half of last year but returned to the circuit in January and came through qualifying here before winning his first grand slam match since 2019.

Pouille has been roared on by the French crowd and led them in a rendition of the Marseillaise on court following his first-round win.

“It’s really special,” said Pouille, who beat Norrie at Roland Garros back in 2018.

“That’s why also I think I took another 30 minutes on court to sign all the autographs, take all the pictures, because we finished pretty late and the court was still packed, and they were cheering me from the first point to the last one. The energy was just incredible. It was so many good emotions.”

Royal Ascot’s Hardwicke Stakes is still the aim for Brigadier Gerard Stakes winner Hukum, who handed Derby winner Desert Crown his first defeat at Sandown earlier this month.

Owen Burrows was happy to report the Shadwell-owned six-year-old returned to his Lambourn yard in fine fettle after his first run for 11 months.

Hukum had three screws inserted in a hind leg after suffering an injury when winning last year’s Coronation Cup at Epsom.

Having made a remarkable recovery, under a fine ride from Jim Crowley, he produced a telling burst to collar Desert Crown and take the Group Three 10-furlong prize by half a length.

“Hukum thankfully trotted up sound the next morning all good and had a little canter on Saturday. That was the most important bit,” said Burrows.

Victory over the trip opens a few more doors for the year-older brother to the brilliant Baaeed. Hukum had won over a mile and three-quarters in the past, although he has predominately raced over a mile and a half.

Burrows added: “He is trip versatile. We are just going to be in the lap of the gods to see what sort of summer we have this year.

“He doesn’t need it soft, but he does need it safe, good ground.

“Jim has always made that point and I’m in agreement. Talking to (Shadwell owner) Sheikha Hissa the following day, she was in agreement as well.

“I’ve not got him in the Prince of Wales’s or an Eclipse, but as you know well with the British summertime, if the forecast is a bit wet, we might just have to have a conversation.”

Should ground conditions be favourable, there is the fascinating prospect of a clash with stablemate Anmaat, who won Monday’s Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp.

“We have Anmaat in both the Prince Of Wales’s and the Eclipse, so it would be a nice problem to have,” he added.

“We will be watching the weather with Hukum and I always said the Brigadier Gerard would be a prep for the Hardwicke, but if the Hardwicke turned up good to firm, we might have to wait.

“There is the Eclipse at the beginning of July and a race in France in early July over a mile and a half. There is the King George at the end of July, but we will be on a constant weather watch.”

Caernarfon is reminding Jack Channon of some of the great fillies of his past ahead of her tilt at the Betfred Oaks at Epsom on Friday.

The daughter of Cityscape provided Channon’s father Mick with success in the Montrose Fillies’ Stakes last autumn and it would be somewhat fitting if she was to build on her 1000 Guineas fourth and provide the younger Channon with a Classic victory in his first season since taking over the training licence at West Ilsley.

As well as assisting his father, Channon has previously spent time working for Clive Brittain, and having been encouraged by what he has seen from Caernarfon since Newmarket, is now looking forward to her next big-race assignment, believing she compares favourably with some former top-class fillies.

“We’re really excited and she ran an absolute belter in the 1000 Guineas,” said Channon.

“I’ve been very lucky to have been around some very good fillies in the shape of Rizeena and obviously some of dad’s very good fillies – Samitar, Queen’s Logic, Music Show, Nahoodh and all those – and it’s very exciting to have one again. They are very hard to come by, but she gives me a similar feel to some of those good ones.”

Caernarfon was staying on strongly in the closing stages of the 1000 Guineas but will now have to prove her stamina as she takes the leap up to a mile and a half on the Downs.

However, Channon has always felt she would benefit from tackling further than a mile and is quietly confident she will take the challenge of the Oaks in her stride.

He continued: “Her work has taken a step up since Newmarket and she did a wonderful piece of work on Friday that has got everyone very excited. We’re quietly hopeful she stays.

“We felt going into the Guineas she would benefit from going up to a mile and a quarter. It’s one of those where we don’t know if she will stay a mile and a half but she has all the assets to and she looks a stayer physically, even if her pedigree doesn’t reflect that.

“The way she runs and the way she races will say there is a chance and she looks to have improved a bundle since the Guineas.

“Her work has improved immeasurably and her well-being and her coat and everything else, I couldn’t be happier with. We’re excited to give it a whirl.”

Jayson Tatum lamented an untimely injury while Grant Williams bluntly said the Boston Celtics "got punked" after their defeat to the Miami Heat.

The Celtics fell short of becoming the first team in NBA history to win a seven-game series after going 3-0 down, as the Heat ended their season with a 103-84 win in Boston.

With talisman Tatum hampered by an ankle injury that he sustained on the first play of Monday's game, the Celtics could not get going as Jimmy Butler led the Heat to the NBA Finals.

Tatum finished with 14 points on 5-for-13 shooting, and was left to reflect on a missed opportunity.

"It was just frustrating that I was a shell of myself," Tatum said.

"It was tough to move. Just frustrating, with it happening on the first play."

Williams' assessment was a blunt one.

"We got punked," the Celtics forward told ESPN.

 "We didn't play our game from start to finish. Defensively, we just lost it all, and then offensively we were scrambled and trying to do everything ourselves and just didn't go our way.

"You hate to have that be the end of your season, especially with the fight that we've shown. But shots didn't fall either, so that didn't help. It's just tough."

"[We were] missing shots, and then they're coming down and hitting shots," added Marcus Smart.

"It puts a lot of pressure on our defense to get stops. They were hitting some shots and they got in a rhythm and we weren't making ours."

Highfield Princess is fully on course for the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot following her good return to action at York.

John Quinn’s stable star gave best to the match-fit Azure Blue in the 1895 Duke of York Stakes, but nevertheless ran a fine race to finish second, beaten only half a length.

It is a result that gives hope the six-year-old can replicate the blistering form she showed last season when she entered the winner’s enclosure on five occasions, picking up a hat-trick of Group One contests in the process.

The daughter of Night Of Thunder has shown her versatility over the years and although returning over six furlongs on the Knavesmire, she will drop back to the stiff five furlongs of the King’s Stand when appearing at the Royal meeting next month.

“She’s in grand nick and has come out of York fine,” said Quinn.

“She will go to the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot next, all being well.”

It is 20 years since Aussie speedball Choisir did the King’s Stand/Jubilee Stakes double, but although holding entries for both sprinting Group Ones at the showpiece fixture, Quinn is unsure if his flying mare will attempt to become just the second horse along with Blue Point to achieve that rare feat since.

“I don’t know,” he continued. “She’s in both races and we’ll jump the first hurdle and she will be in the other race if we so decided. Tuesday is the aim.”

Erik Spoelstra hailed the "intimate" and "raw" relationships within the Miami Heat's roster after his team overcame the Boston Celtics to reach the NBA Finals.

The Heat had squandered a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals, but Game 7 went their way in emphatic fashion.

Jimmy Butler led Miami with 28 points as the Heat won 103-84, ending the Celtics' bid at history in the process.

Boston was aiming to become the first team to win a seven-game series after losing the opening three encounters, but it was not to be.

"It wasn't scripted," Spoelstra told reporters.

"When you have such an intimate relationship with a locker room and they have it with each other, the staff has it with them, they have it with the staff, sometimes it's just whatever's raw, whatever's real at that time.

"Professional sports is just kind of a reflection sometimes of life, that things don't always go your way.

"The inevitable setbacks happen and it's how you deal with that collectively. There's a lot of different ways that it can go. It can sap your spirit. It can take a team down for whatever reason.

"With this group, it's steeled us and made us closer and made us tougher.

"These are lessons that hopefully we can pass along to our children, that you can develop this fortitude.

"Sometimes you have to suffer for the things that you want. Game 6, the only thing that we can do is sometimes you have to laugh at the things that make you cry."

The Heat are only the second No. 8 seed in NBA history to make the Finals, after the 1999 New York Knicks.

Butler was named the Eastern Conference finals MVP, and has full confidence the Heat can go all the way against the Denver Nuggets.

"I just know why coach Pat [Riley] and coach Spoelstra wanted me to be here," Butler said. "That's to compete at a high level and to win championships.

"I know that the group that they put around me at all times is going to give me an opportunity to do so.

"I know the work that we all put into it, so I know what we're capable of. Nobody is satisfied. We haven't done anything. We don't play just to win the Eastern Conference; we play to win the whole thing."

Spoelstra reserved special praise for the Heat's talisman.

"There's no way to quantify the confidence that he can instil in everybody. Jimmy has never had to apologise," Spoelstra said of Butler.

"I don't want him to ever apologise for who he is and how he approaches competition. It's intense. It's not for everybody, and we're not for everybody.

"That's why we think it's like an incredible marriage. We never judge him on that. He doesn't judge us for how crazy we get. It's the same language. But the confidence level that he can create for everybody on the roster is incredible.

"He's gnarly, but he knows how to have a soft touch to give somebody some confidence at the right time. That's the special gift that he has."

William Karlsson scored two goals and added an assist, Adin Hill stopped all 23 shots he faced and the Vegas Golden Knights rolled to a 6-0 Game 6 victory over the Dallas Stars on Monday to clinch the Western Conference title and advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Michael Amadio, William Carrier and Keegan Kolesar each added a goal and an assist as Vegas bounced back from losses in Games 4 and 5 to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in the franchise's six-year history. The Golden Knights previously did so in their expansion season of 2017-18.

Vegas, the West's No. 1 seed will face the surprising Florida Panthers in a finals series pitting two teams that have never won the Stanley Cup.

The Golden Knights will host the Panthers, who won the Eastern Conference tournament as the eighth and lowest seed, in Game 1 on Saturday.

After failing in two previous chances to wrap up the series, Vegas set the tone with a dominant first period in which it outshot the Stars by a 16-7 margin. Carrier opened the scoring 3:41 in, Karlsson converted on a power play nearly seven minutes later and Kolesar beat Dallas goaltender Jake Oettinger with six minutes left in the period to send the Knights into the first intermission with a commanding 3-0 lead.

Jonathan Marchessault's goal midway through the second period increased Vegas' advantage to 4-0 before Karlsson and Amadio scored in the third to hand the Stars their most lopsided postseason defeat since the franchise relocated from Minnesota to Dallas in 1993. 

Jimmy Butler backed up his bold guarantee and the Miami Heat bounced back to prevent the Boston Celtics from making history.

Butler led all players with 28 points as the Heat advanced to the NBA Finals for the second time in four years with a 103-84 rout of the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night.

Miami went ahead late in the first quarter and never looked back en route to joining the 1999 New York Knicks as the only No. 8 seeds in a conference to reach the NBA Finals. The Heat will meet the Western Conference champion Nuggets with Game 1 to be held Thursday in Denver.

The Heat also denied Boston from becoming the first team in league history to win a seven-game series after losing the first three contests, as well as make Butler's claim after Game 5 that Miami would win the series a reality. 

Boston had forced Monday's winner-take-all matchup with a dramatic Game 6 victory in Miami on Saturday, with Derrick White's buzzer-beating tip-in giving the Celtics a 104-103 win and extending the series.

The Celtics could never muster a comeback in Game 7, however, as Miami built a 27-15 lead early in the second quarter and took a 52-41 advantage into half-time.

Boston got the deficit to within seven late in the third quarter before Caleb Martin scored the first eight points of a 12-2 Heat run that put Miami up 83-66 with 10 minutes remaining.

Martin finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, which went 14 of 28 from 3-point range while the Celtics shot just 21.4 per cent from beyond the arc. Butler was named the Eastern Conference Finals MVP and received the Larry Bird Trophy, named in honour of the former Celtics great.

Jaylen Brown led Boston with 19 points but went 8 of 23 from the field, while All-Star Jayson Tatum was held to 14 points after playing through a sore ankle he injured early in the contest.

Adam Peaty insisted adding more gold medals to his already bulging collection would not be the cure-all to his struggles.

The three-time Olympic gold medallist withdrew from the British Swimming Championships last month after citing mental health issues and later admitted he had been on a “self-destructive spiral”.

Peaty has spoken previously about periods of depression and problems with alcohol, which he admits worsened last year as he struggled with injury, motivation and the breakdown of his relationship with the mother of his young son.

He remains hopeful of heading to the Paris Olympics next year as he looks for a third straight title in the men’s 100 metres breaststroke but was adamant that doing so would not be a silver bullet for him.

“A good friend of mine said a gold medal is the coldest thing you will ever wear,” Peaty told BBC Breakfast.

“It’s the coldest thing because you think it will fix all of your problems. It will not.

“I took a break because I was on this endless search of a gold medal or a world record and I looked into the future and I said ‘OK, if I do get that is my life fixed or any better?’ No.

“So take the time now to really think about who you are, what you want out of life and then get the gold medal.

“Hopefully when I get to the Olympics I will be in a very good mindset, very grateful and most importantly happy.”

The National Basketball League (NBL) is set to make its long-awaited return from a two-year break, with one of the main features of the upcoming season being a partnership between Jamaica Basketball Association (JABA) and the Ministry of National Security, to use the sport as a way of influencing troubled communities and schools, to reduce violence.

Some 10 teams led by defending champions St George’s Slayers are down to contest the season and players and coaches have expressed their delight about the return of the country’s top league on the basketball calendar, following the COVID-induced break.

This season will be launched on Wednesday May 31, at the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) starting at 2:00 pm.

The league is expected to be played over four months and will showcase some of the best local-based talent and aspiring national payers, who will parade their skills in the presence of national coaches. An all-star NBL team will also be selected mid-season to play against the visiting University of Missouri NCAA team, during the summer.   

Games will be played primarily at the National Stadium Courts, while select games will be hosted in Montego Bay and other approved venues. Teams will vie for cash prizes and other incentives provided by sponsors and partners. 

Confirmed teams are, St Georges Slayers (Defending Champions), UWI Runnin rebels, Rae Town Raptors, Urban Knights, Upper Room Eagles, Tivoli Wizards, Falmouth Saints, Central Celtics, Spanish Town Spartans and Portmore Flames

Cameron Norrie defeated Benoit Paire and the French Open crowd to reach the second round, edging through in five sets.

The 14th seed is the only British player to make it through the first round in singles after Jack Draper was forced to retire with a shoulder problem against Tomas Etcheverry.

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz both won their openers in straight sets while Petra Kvitova was among the women’s seeds to fall.

Picture of the dayShot of the dayTweet of the dayStat of the day

A landmark moment for 37-year-old Fognini.

Paire talking balls

Paire was not unhappy with the balls being used for this year’s tournament, saying after his loss to Norrie: “You have to hit every ball really hard because it’s not moving. It’s terrible. It’s Roland Garros, one of the greatest tournaments in the world, and we’re playing with these silly balls.”

Fallen seeds

Men: Felix Auger-Aliassime (10), Jan-Lennard Struff (21), Botic Van De Zandschulp (25), Bernabe Zapata Miralles (32)

Women: Petra Kvitova (10), Veronika Kudermetova (11), Belinda Bencic (12), Karolina Pliskova (16), Martina Trevisan (26)

Who’s up next?

Women’s defending champion Iga Swiatek begins her campaign on Philippe Chatrier against Spaniard Cristina Bucsa.

Fourth seed Elena Rybakina takes on Czech teenager Brenda Fruhvirtova, while Coco Gauff faces Rebeka Masarova.

In the men’s draw, second seed Daniil Medvedev meets Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild, and sixth seed Holger Rune faces American Chris Eubanks.

Nick Nurse has found a new coaching job.

The Philadelphia 76ers agreed to hire former Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse on Monday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Nurse led the Raptors to the franchise’s only title in 2019, but was fired on April 21, nine days after losing 109-105 to the Chicago Bulls in their play-in game.

He replaces Doc Rivers, who was fired after three seasons at the helm in Philadelphia on May 16, two days after the Sixers’ Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics to blow a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Nurse coached the Raptors for five seasons, amassing a 227-163 record for a .582 winning percentage – the best in franchise history.

He led Toronto to a pair of Atlantic Division titles, however, the team finished last this season with a 41-41 record to miss the playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons.

Led by 2022-23 MVP Joel Embiid, the 76ers finished second in the Atlantic this season and third in the East but bowed out in the conference semis for the third year in a row.

This year’s ouster was the second time Philadelphia was eliminated with a Game 7 loss, in addition to 2021, when the top-seeded 76ers lost to the Hawks.

The loss marked Rivers’ 10th such defeat in a winner-take-all playoff game.

Novak Djokovic eased into the second round of the French Open but risked inflaming political tensions in his home region with a message about Kosovo.

After a 6-3 6-2 7-6 (1) victory over American Aleksandar Kovacevic, who is of Serbian heritage, Djokovic wrote on the camera lens: “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence.”

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 but Serbia has never recognised that and violence broke out in the north of the country over the weekend after ethnic Albanian mayors were installed in Serbian-dominated areas, with NATO peacekeepers among those injured.

Serbia has troops stationed near the border and there are fears of a return to the violent conflict of 1998-99.

Speaking to Serbian journalists in comments reported by the country’s media, Djokovic, whose father was born in Kosovo, said: “I am not a politician, nor do I intend to enter into debates.

“As a Serb, it hurts me what is happening in Kosovo. Our people have been expelled from the municipalities. This is the least I could do. As a public figure, I feel an obligation to show support for our people and all of Serbia.

“I hear there was a lot of criticism on social media. I don’t know if someone will punish me or something like that, but I would do it again. I am against wars and conflicts of any kind.

“Kosovo is our heart, stronghold, the centre of the most important events, the biggest battle took place there, the most monasteries. There are many reasons why I wrote this.”

The Serbia football team were fined by FIFA at the World Cup in November after a flag showing Kosovo as part of the country was displayed in their changing room.

Djokovic is, of course, no stranger to controversy and he was dragged into a row at the Australian Open in January after his father Srdjan was pictured with pro-Russia demonstrators, which he later insisted was unwitting.

On the court, there were no real alarms for the third seed, who has struggled on clay so far this season but maintained his record of not dropping a set in the opening round in Paris since 2010.

He was broken serving for the match but responded with a strong tie-break, and said: “I think I played really well and held things under control for two-and-a-half sets and then lost my serve and things got a little bit on a wrong side for me.

“But I managed to hold my nerves and played pretty much a perfect tie-break. So overall I’m pleased and content with my level.”

Djokovic could meet Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals and the top seed also impressed in a 6-0 6-2 7-5 victory over Italian qualifier Flavio Cobolli, delighting a packed Suzanne Lenglen arena with some flamboyant shots.

Alcaraz won the first eight games of the match, and he said: “I felt I couldn’t lose a game. I thought that I was able to win easier than I did but a match can turn around in each game. But, at the start of the match, I felt invincible.”

Elsewhere, 10th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime’s difficulties continued as, struggling with illness, he lost in straight sets to Fabio Fognini, while another veteran, former champion Stan Wawrinka, battled past Albert Ramos-Vinolas in five sets.

The 38-year-old Swiss conducted the crowd like an orchestra at the end, and he said: “It is one of the main reasons why I keep playing. It’s to play those big tournaments like here, to have such an amazing atmosphere. I have so much support and it gives me a lot of emotion to win those matches.”

There was disappointment for former finalist Dominic Thiem, though, who remains without a grand slam victory since wrist problems two years ago after going down in five sets to Pedro Cachin.

Mystical Power, the first foal of Champion Hurdle-winning mare Annie Power by superstar sire Galileo, made the perfect start to his career at Ballinrobe.

Sent off at the prohibitive odds of 2-5, he justified favouritism with the minimum of fuss despite perhaps lacking the fireworks that many expected.

Racing in the colours of J P McManus, the four-year-old is owned in a partnership along with Mrs John Magnier and Mrs Susannah Ricci, the latter also owned Annie Power.

Annie Power only suffered two defeats in a 17-race career under rules, with her two reverses coming at the Cheltenham Festival. The first when second to More Of That in the 2014 World Hurdle and then the following year in the Mares’ Hurdle when falling at the last with the race at her mercy.

In 2016 she ran in the Champion Hurdle, beating My Tent Or Years and she went on to follow up in the Aintree Hurdle before retirement.

Trained by Willie Mullins, just like Annie Power, Patrick Mullins had to get serious in the closing stages before Mystical Power pulled clear to beat Perfect Nelson by two and three-quarter lengths.

Patrick Mullins said: “I’m happy with that. His mother was all out to win in Galway first time and improved significantly, so he’s equalled his mother this far anyway.

“He’s a horse that has improved. The more work he’s got the more he’s improved and I think he’ll continue to improve. He got to the front very easily but I don’t think he did an awful lot when he got there.

“He’ll win plenty of races and I have to commend Ballinrobe on the fabulous job they’ve done with the ground here. We weren’t afraid to bring up a good horse like that. They do a super job and I hope they enjoyed seeing him here.

“He has been in Enda Bolger’s before coming to us and has done loads of jumping. Whether he goes for a winners’ bumper or maiden hurdle I don’t know, but he has lots of jumping done and jumps well.”

McManus’ racing manager Frank Berry said: “It was grand. He was a little bit green when he got to the front but you couldn’t have asked for anything more. He’ll tip away for the summer.”

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