2014 Review Special

Boxing Day 2014 and after enjoying the success of seeing Silviniaco Conti winning his second King George on the box it was time for tea,during the meal and watching the various tv specials I noticed that the dreaded snow was coming down.

Now while many people love the snow as a racing fan it is totally disliked which meant this weeks plan to go racing at Doncaster and Haydock was shelved hence this write up.

2014 was a fair year on the sporting front and I shall going through a few highlights of the events I’ve been to this year but doing it sport by sport as opposed to the full twelve months of the year.

Horse Racing.

The main sport that I go to this year had the usual good mix of quality from the jumps to the flat.

On the flat I went to Haydock,York,Doncaster and Thirsk which was a small amount of courses but some nice events were seen never the less

Flat wise the main highlights for me were seeing Chatez winning the Silver Bowl in May,although it rained solidly all day with Monsoon like conditions Chatez battled through and being trained by Alan King he has made a solid start to his hurdles career.

The other main highlight was at Doncaster in May at an evening meeting on 2000 Guineas day when in the first race a Luca Cumani trained 4yo filly called Silk Sari took an apprentice race with consummate ease,quickly she went down as a horse to follow and back at Doncaster’s Leger meeting duly hacked up in the Park Hill Stakes.

Over the jumps another rich abundance was brought before my eyes.

Silviniaco Conti showed his love of racing in the North West when wining the Betfred Bowl at Aintree then in November getting his second Betfair Chase,the main question has to be can he win the Gold Cup, like many I would love to see him do it but that hill does seem to find him out.

Holywell taking the Mildmay Novices on Ladies Day of the National meeting was a tremendous performance,he hasn’t begun the season as he finished it but comes to his own in the spring and remains a potential Gold Cup horse come March.

The New One took the Aintree Hurdle before taking the new Price Rush Hurdle in November,I still don’t think he will win the Champion as I think he performs a lot better over 2m4f.

Of the rest seeing The Young Master win at Cheltenham in October was a delight as he showed the attitude of a horse going the right way,despite the cock up in communications concerning his Wincanton win he his still improving and a few weeks later the evergreen Wishful Thinking defied the years when he emphatically took the Old Roan Chase at Aintree.

Jockey wise one to watch over the coming years for me had to be Jack Sherwood,his win at Ayr for Paul Nicholls on Silsol was a good piece of riding and the way he kicked on down the back straight was really enjoyably to see.

Football.

I only got to a handful of games this year with the North West Counties League being the main one due to the nice cost of £5 with good quality clubhouses.

Of the matches the most viewed one on here was the Atherton LR v Eccleshall in August,this was a most entertaining match which saw the home teams Goalkeeper getting sent off in a thrilling 2-2 draw.

Another highlight was just before Christmas in an Evo Stik League One North match as Droylsden battled back from being 3-1 down to win 5-3 on a cold December afternoon.

The other game which I enjoyed was seeing Atherton Colls play 1874 Northwich in front of a huge crowd of 236,this was a tough old game with no quarter given which resulted in the away side getting a 1-0 win.

Athletics.

I only went to four athletics events this year beginning in January at the Greater Manchester Cross Country in Leigh, the main highlight being the Leigh Harriers Ladies team getting the first four home in the Senior race over the muddy terrain.

In October the Red Rose Lancashire Cross Country began the first of it’s four race series in Leigh and one young athlete who won the U13G race in January did so again here in Keely Hodgkinson who has the mark of an athlete going places, she is one to watch over the next few years.

February saw me at Sheffield for the British Indoor Champs at the English Institute of Sport, a real top class venue it played host to some top names and top performances, on the track the class acts included Dina Asher-Smith in the 200m,Margaret Adeyoe over 400m and Laura Muir in the 800m all showing their class on the track.

June though was a great afternoon in Birmingham for final day of the British Championship at the excellent Alexandra Stadium.

On the day I saw Dwain Chambers roll back the years as he stormed to another 100m title,Lynsey Sharp and Eilidh Child both had years to remember with their victories both respectively in the 800m and 400mH form part of an amazing summer as they also took medals in the Commonwealth Games at Hampden Park.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson remains an athlete with lots of good days ahead of her, taking the Triple Jump the Liverpudlian Heptathlete is a fine
prospect for Rio, Jodie Williams is a fine sprinter too and on the up.

For me though the best athletics event I was witness to was the Women’s 5000m which produced a real battle between eventual winner Emelia Gorecka and European 10k Champion Jo Pavey, this was real heart in mouth stuff and they both slugged out the last lap like two prize fighters in the sort of finish you would pay to see.

It’s a race I was so proud to have seen,a great advert for athletics with both giving it everything then giving each other a warm sporting embrace after the finish.

I love the way that British Athletics run their events, always something to see as the day goes on plus the competitors themselves are so open to fans and media friendly, Plenty of sports can learn from this.

Commonwealth Games.

I was only in Glasgow for a couple of days this summer but the whole city opened it’s arms up and welcomed the world to the Friendly Games.

Saturday evening saw me at Kelvingrove Hall for the Lawn Bowls, an enjoyable evening seeing England and Devon’s Natalie Melmore just get the better in a final bowl against Scotland’s Caroline Brown 21-20 in the Women’s Singles Quarter Final,as someone who had never been to a match before I was totally enthralled by this and Natalie was so pleasant to chat with after I got a pic with her,she eventually got a sliver medal in the final.

Sundays double header began with a morning at Glasgow Green to watch the Marathons, I was there for about Five hours in total but the company I was with meant it flew by for a lovely time.

After that it was off to Ibrox for the finals of the Rugby Sevens and seeing a total of eleven matches at the home of Rangers FC.

Highlights included seeing England winning two matches the most exciting one being against Wales with the last play of the game 17-15 and the 15-12 against Scotland.

I’ve never seen such a sporting crowd than the one at the Sevens, the teams were all treated with the same respect and huge cheers were drawn when going on their respective laps of honour after the matches.

The Gold Medal went to South Africa who took the scalp of New Zealand 17-12.

An enjoyable year then of going to see live sport, 2015 should be a busy year although I won’t be going to the Rugby World Cup due to the silly ticket prices.

One thing I have learnt and enjoyed is the attending of sport at grassroots level

It’s not all about being in the big stadiums paying astronomic prices, the competitors have to begin somewhere and it’s vital for the development over the years.

I would like to wish you all a Happy 2015 and thank you for reading and sharing the blog as it enters it’s third year of production.

Haydock Park,Saturday 20th December 2014,Tommy Whittle Chase Day

Pre Christmas racing over the sticks was the order of the day for those who didn’t fancy being stuck in various city centres and shopping malls full of marauding people who were desperately doing the last minute shopping due to a lack of organisation.

Those who did turn up had a seven race card on the last Saturday before Christmas and a chance to earn some festive spends before the true meaning of Christmas which is of course the King George on Boxing Day!

Due to the Heavy ground caused by awful rain during the week which thankfully didn’t lead to any inspections the first fence down the back was omitted in all steeplechases.

12.00 The Joel Murray Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,2m,9 flights,3yo+ (0-125)

A tight looking race on paper but it was a decisive win here for the 4yo Sleepy Haven who has been a model of consistency and came on for his recent run at Sandown to score by seven lengths ahead of Attwaal in second place and Emral Silk just behind him in third.

This was a smart performance and going in off 123 he handled the conditions well enough,He should have a bit more to offer, Attwaal was making his debut for Lucy Wadham and connections will be pleased with this.

The one disappointment was favourite Goohar,he lost his position going round the home turn but it’s possible he was feeling the effects of last weeks Cheltenham race,he will be better after a rest.

12.30 The Swift Drafters Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m,12 fences,4yo+ (0-135)

A nice looking race which went the way of novice Whispering Harry who at the foot of the handicap have top weight Stagecoach Pearl a 1.25 length beating with the well touted Greywell Boy in third spot.

Back to Bracka unseated his jockey out in the country but came home safe and Supreme Asset who got hampered was virtually pulled up going over the line but he was ok.

Plenty to like about Whispering Harry here,he jumped well and had them all well held,he likes tracks where he can get a good run at his fences,He could be aimed at some better class events after this.

1.00 The Swift Time Right Time Novices’ Chase,Class 2,2m,12 fences,4yo+

Only five went to post and three came home.

This was a bloodless victory for favourite Boondooma,recently he chased home former classy hurdler Melodic Rendezvous at Bangor and showed he has been learning what steeplechasing is all about.

From the tape he made all and pulled away clearly from the useful Ifandbutwhynot by 12 lengths who in turn was 9 lengths ahead from Grate Fella.

Vivaccio who came here off the back of two Ludlow wins was in second and struggling under his penalty when he unseated at the last,he maybe pining for Ludlow again.

As for Boondooma he is a nice type for Dr Richard Newland,the drop back to 2m looked to be in his favour and could be ideal for February’s Kingmaker Chase at Warwick.

1.30 The Swift SFM Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle,Listed Race,2m4f,10 flights,4yo+

An exciting finish to this contest as Denis O’Regan gave a fine nursing ride on second favourite The Pirate’s Queen to just get up by a neck from favourite Bitofapuzzle in a real pulsating battle up the Haydock home straight.

The Pirate’s Queen had some top novice form on offer here,on her first start in a Grade Two at Chepstow she was third behind Blaklion and Vicente then bettered that with an easy win in a Doncaster maiden.

Both the first two have real quality about them and could reappear at Sandown next month for another Mares Hurdle and while the Mares race at Cheltenham is the major race of the season.

2.05 The Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase Sponsored By Swift Financial Soloutions,Class 2,3m,16 fences,4yo+ (0-125)

Not the race it used to be but a more than adequate renewal of this famous Haydock contest which had a good mix of staying chasers in it.

In a race which was run at a solid gallop from the outset a few of these made mistakes at their fences which given their experience was quite surprising.

Most of these were on and off the bride,being niggled and given the odd reminder all apart from Broadway Buffalo under Conor O’Farrell who gave a cool ride in the conditions to lead over the last fence from Toby Lerone who was always prominent as was Fill The Power.

This was a much better run from Broadway Buffalo who won the 3m hurdle race here on Swinton day back in May,he clearly loves Haydock and now looks to be going the right way over fences, seen as he likes this place the Peter Marsh back here could come under consideration.

Toby Lerone back in second ran an honest race,he looked to get the trip after a recent win over 2m4f at Lingfield, Fill The Power in third is a dour stayer but could do with some respite off the handicapper at some stage, Firebird Flyer stayed on back in fourth place but his best winning form is at Ffos Las and Ludlow,maybe a course with Welsh accents suits him better!

2.40 The Grech Family Handicap Hurdle,Class 2,2m4f,3yo+

On paper this race looked a real close tight knit affair but on the course the outcome could not have been different.

The Charlie Longsdon trained Kilcooley certainly benefitted from the step up in trip as he made all and ground the rest into submission, it was case of “Referee stop the contest” with over a mile to go and his first win that came away from the three he had already won at Market Rasen.

Run Ructions Run was held up early and would have won had Kilcooley not been in the race,she will be winning soon but Tim Easterby will clearly have his eyes on the Mares Hurdle at the festival with her.

Of the other horses Taj Badalandabad back in fourth came in off the back of a busy few runs and ran an ok race in his first handicap,he has more to offer and shouldn’t be written off after this run.

3.15 The Allison And Rielly Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,3m,12 flights,4yo+ (0-140)

Christmas came early for Emma Lavelle here as she recorded her third win in 3m handicap hurdles at Haydock and Aintree this time with Closing Ceremony who won here at last months Betfair festival duly followed up in style, jumping out and making all under Richie McLernon he jumped well and defied the 5lb rise and looks to have more improvement still in him,as for his next race maybe one of the Pertemps qualifying races and going in off 128 he should be upped to around 135

Araldur came second and was 4.5 lengths behind,he will be better between 2m4f and 2m6f and should pick something up before the season is out.

A nice afternoon of racing then which was infinitely better than being in the shops.

Without doubt the two best rides of the day came from Denis O’Regan and Conor O’Farrell who gave master classes of how carry out riding instructions to the letter on The Pirate’s Queen and Broadway Buffalo.

Coming into Christmas I’d like to wish those of you who read this a very Merry Christmas, over the festive period I shall be racing at Doncaster and Haydock on the 29th and 30th so that will be a busy couple of days then an event on the 3rd January which is as yet undecided.

Have a good time,stay safe and back plenty winners.

Droylsden v Ossett Albion,Evo Stik 1st Div North,Saturday 13th December 2014

On a day which led to cancelations at Ashton Town,Wigan RP,Litherland,Buxton and other places plus the Metrolink system being locked down for a while due to frozen rails,no doubt to the amusement of cities in the world have have theirs running even with the weather worse than what we have! It was game on for this intriguing tie between Droylsden and Ossett Albion.

It was a match that ending up with the home team getting the three points with a 5-3 battling victory.

The opening exchanges were very cagey with Droylsden using the 4-3-3 against an Albion side of 3-5-2 who began playing with the emphasis on not losing as opposed to winning.

It was Albion who took the lead on 17 minutes with a Connor Bower penalty after Ross Hardaker got brought down by Ben Hampson, Droylsden reacted two minutes later as Adam Morning easily potted into an open goal after they finally got the better of the Albion offside trap.

After the levelling both teams sparred a lot although Albion almost went ahead as Patrick Lindley hit the post but just before half time their persistency payed off as Bower got his second of the game to put them 2-1 up as a defensive error left him with an open goal.

Half Time Droylsden 1 Ossett Albion 2

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Second half came and while the chances came equally for both teams nobody could get anything in the back of the net, however cometh the hour cometh the goals and plenty of them we had.

Albion got an indirect free kick on the hour due to Droylsden defender Alex Frost sticking his leg in the air to kick the ball which he did but it was caught by the keeper who decided that it was a pass back, Connor Bower took advantage and smashed it through the ten man wall to put Albion 3-1 up and Bower his hat trick.

Droylsden though had other ideas and the fight back began as four minutes later a corner for the home side led to full back Ben Hampson getting a powerful header in to bring the score to 2-3 then on 72 minutes Andy Fowler continued his fine form met a wonderful through ball and smashed seven bells out of it to draw the scores level to 3-3.

The home side were in the ascendancy now and had the red mist with the bit between their teeth, it was soon 4-3 on 89 minutes when Ben Hampson scored his second of the day from a cross delivered exquisitely by Adam Morning then the result was soon put to bed on 90 as Morning took a low shot that came off the keeper to make it 5-3

Full Time Droylsden 5 Ossett Albion 3

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So a real eight goal thriller here and a crowd of 120 treated to a nice pre Christmas footballing treat, It’s been a turbulent couple of seasons for Droylsden suffering two relegations in a row but they are bouncing back and will be in the shake up come the business end of the season,this result leaves them in fourth while Albion are in 19th of the twenty two in this league.

Droylsden

Saunders,Hampson,Holden,Frost,Kenny,Dogan,Monaghan,Hibbs,Kilheeney (c),Fowler,Morning.

Subs Burke,Jones (GK),Hall,Wright,Parker.

Ossett Albion

Bennett,Walker,Hardaker,D Riordan (c),Trice,J Riordan,Jones,Sharry,Matthews,Bower,Lindley.

Subs McDonnagh,Souter (GK),Brooksbank,Reece,Tracey.

M.O.M.

Michael Monaghan (Droylsden) Never stopped all day and ran his heart out for the club,Very useful player indeed.

It’s good to see things going well at a club I always enjoy visiting,It was certainly interesting passing the new Academy at the blue half of Manchester,the new stadium for the reserves and ladies matches looks very impressive,I just hope it will help bring young players thorough in the next few years.