Weekly Sports and Racing Update

Weekly Sports and Racing Update

Make sure to check out our weekly racing and sports update. This week's edition looks at two all-English European finals as well as all the latest news from racetracks across the UK, Ireland and South Africa. 


Summer At The Gallop!

THE delights of the York May meeting reach a crescendo with Friday's Gr2 Matchbook Yorkshire Cup, while Gr1 entertainment arrives by way of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday. It adds up to a sublime feast of top-class action as Spring turns into summer in the UK.

On the historic Knavesmire, STRADIVARIUS will lay down the gauntlet to pretenders to his Cup crown under Frankie Dettori while all eyes will be on five times Gr1 winner LAURENS in the Newbury feature as the filly that owner John Dance has turned down mega offers for struts her stuff against the boys in the first big clash of the milers this season.

The punting fraternity of the UK are therefore once again afforded a weekend to savour, with both venues in Yorkshire and Berkshire expecting a full house and offering with it magnetic entertainment firstly with Stradivarius set to be opposed by new kid on the block DEE EX BEE who created such a favourable impression when landing the Sagaro Stakes on his seasonal reappearance for Mark Johnston.

Dee Ex Bee trounced Raymond Tusk in that Ascot Gr3, a win that could give him a valuable fitness edge over the John Gosden-trained favourite.

The Charlie Appleby- trained ISPOLINI is another potential threat to Stradivarius, hailing from a Godolphin operation that also houses Melbourne Cup and Dubai Cup hero Cross Counter. Ispolini found the latter a length and a quarter too strong in that Gr2 on World Cup night after looking a much-improved performer with two previous successes at the Carnival.

Ante-post activity in the Lockinge Stakes has centred on LE BRIVIDO who currently trades at 7-2 with Hollywoodbets. Now with Aidan O'Brien, Le Brivido was previously part of Andre Fabre's operation in France and impressed on his debut for Coolmore at Naas last month.

But Laurens will ensure this new name in the miling ranks doesn't have things all his own way as trainer Karl Burke believes she has improved physically and can put down a marker in the Lockinge that will take her to the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot and then onto the top mile and a quarter races. She excelled in a racecourse gallop at Newcastle last week and although likely to strip slightly heavier than her optimum racing weight, can make life difficult for the colts.

Another northern raider with solid claims from the world stage is LORD GLITTERS. He chased home the awesome Almond Eye in Dubai, and when also considering his second in the Queen Anne last year is a Gr1 winner waiting to happen.

At a bigger price BEAT THE BANK is another name to conjure with even though he needed plenty of rousting to land the Gr 2 Sandown Mile. His trainer Andrew Balding's horses are in tremendous form.

In South Africa, the weekend topliner is at Greyville on the East Coast where the Gr2 WSB 1900 heads an attractive turf programme at the inner city track.

The race is a traditional stepping stone to the Vodacom Durban July – although the last horse to actually win both was Mike de Kock’s BOLD SILVANO all the way back in 2010.

The standout in the race is the Peninsula Handicap winner DOUBLEMINT, who has not run in 16 weeks since finishing a credible sixth in the Sun Met. He looks to have most to fear from the long-striding ORPHEUS – a horse who goes up to lead and often doesn’t come back to his field. The latter won the Sledgehammer in record time by a country mile last time on the all-weather. But he now needs to earn his stripes and confirm his readiness to take his place in the July. It should be a cracking race.

The first declaration stage for the 2019 Gr1 Vodacom Durban July has come and gone and 44 entries remain in the running for Africa’s greatest race on 6 July.

A final field of 20 (inclusive of 2 reserves) will be announced on 25 June – so there is plenty of time to have an ante-post strike with Hollywood. But note that this weekend’s WSB 1900 could influence the picture – have a look here for more.

While on the subject of ante-post markets, a bumper entry has been received for the Scottsville Gr1 Sprint Jackpot of 4 premier speed events to be held in the KZN Capital City on 25 May.

The likely line-up includes the cream of our 2yo’s in a day that often defines the destiny of our Equus Awards.

South Africa’s leading bookmakers Hollywood have priced up – see more here.
Supplementary entries close on Friday 17 May, while declarations are due on Monday 20 May.
In Australia, the A$700 000 Gr1 Doomben Cup heads the weekend action Down Under on Saturday with ‘Mr Winx’ Chris Waller dominating matters with a quintet of runners, including the favourite YOUNGSTAR.

The 4yo mare, who won the Queensland Oaks during last year's Brisbane carnival, has drawn at 11 but will come into barrier nine should the two emergency acceptors fail to gain a start.

Yushun Himba Day will be held at Tokyo Racecourse in Japan on Sunday.
The Gr1 2400m Yushun Himba is Japan’s equivalent of the Oaks and is the second leg of their Fillies’ Triple Crown. It has a fascinating history, having been first run in 1938 at Hanshin Racecourse, and has been run every year since - except for 1944 and 1945.  It was moved to Tokyo in 1946.

It has been won by some exceptional horses in the last decade, such as BUENA VISTA (2009), GENTILDONNA (2012) and ALMOND EYE (2018).

EPL crescendo gives way to European hype

Manchester City’s clinching of the Premier League title last weekend brought the curtain down on what was arguably the best title race since the rebranding of the league in the early 90s. Pep Guardiola’s men had to fight from a goal down at Brighton, but ended up running out 4-1 winners to finish on a staggering 98 points, one ahead of a heart-broken Liverpool outfit who fulfilled their side of the deal by beating Wolves at Anfield. Tottenham and Chelsea rounded off the Champions League spots 26 and 27 points further back respectively. Arsenal and Manchester United missed out on the top four following dismal league campaigns, however, the Gunners can still claim a seat at Europe’s top table next season if they go on the claim the Europa League.

Looking ahead, the Champions League final is an all-English affair as Tottenham and Liverpool go head to head at Atletico Madrid’s beautiful Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Both teams go into the game off the back of stunning semi-final comebacks against Ajax and Barcelona respectively, which will only serve to make the pain of a defeat in the final that much worse. The Reds, of course, will be looking to claim their sixth European Cup and will look to put the pain of last season’s final defeat at the hands of Real Madrid behind them. For Tottenham, this will represent their first ever European Cup/Champions League final and will be desperate to pip the Jurgen Klopp to Europe’s top prize.

The Europa League, too, will see two English teams slug it out as Chelsea and Arsenal meet at the Baku Olympic Stadium in Azerbaijan. While Chelsea will welcome the chance to claim a piece of silverware this season, it’s Arsenal who need to win this final more. The competition offers the Gunners a back-door route into the Champions League next season after missing out on the top four. Unai Emery has plenty of pedigree in this tournament too, winning it three times in a row with Sevilla in the 13/14, 14/15 and 15/16 seasons. This final also gives Maurizio Sarri the perfect chance to claim his first piece of silverware as a manager.

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