Atherton Collieries v Eccleshall,NWCL Division 1,Saturday 28th February 2015

The push for promotion continues for Michael Clegg’s men at Alder House and this afternoons visitors Eccleshall bore brunt to a demolition job not seen since the days of Fred Dibnah when he would fell a chimney!



Eccleshall were on the backfoot just after five minutes in when Matt Bolan passed in for Mark Ayres to easily convert past keeper Brandon McElenty, Colls continued to dominate and ten minutes later Ayres was unlucky not to get his second when a powerful shot outside the box was knocker over for a corner. 

The away side did their best to contain Colls and were unlucky not to have equalised sooner when Eccleshall’s Steven Hughes had the ball in the box but had no support. 

Colls second came on 34 minutes when Gareth Peet struck the most beautiful free kick you will see all season from outside the area to double the hosts lead, Eccleshall finally got on the scoresheet when Adam Jones converted inside the area off a corner and were then unlucky not to equalise when Hughes shot over the bar when in on goal. 

HT Atherton Collieries 2 Eccleshall 1



After the half time oranges Colls set out to put the game to bed and after a few missed chances Mark Battersby got a quick fire double on 63 and 66 minutes respectively, the first of which was a cracking lob over the keeper then for the second of his brace he managed to haul himself off the already worn Alder House turf to follow up a rebound of his,he now needs another five to make it 50 for the season in all league and cup games,he should do it before to long. 

With Colls already 4-1 up it was a case of just get to the final whistle for Eccleshall but that was not to be the case when sub Jordan Clover did an easy strike on 85 minutes to make it a resounding 5-1 win. 



This win keeps Colls still four points behind Cammel Laird 1907 but with the advantage of having four games in hand,the first being Chadderton at Alder House on Monday night at 7.45

Eccleshall drop to 15th in this nineteen team league but should be ok for another season. 

In all fairness the points were never in doubt here, the only difference was Eccleshall not being able to level it before half time,had Steven Hughes been able to convert just before half time it could have been all different. 

All being well come May the local bus company will be dusting out the open topper as the streets of Atherton get rammed to celebrate promotion the NWCL Premier, off this showing even Man Utd must be tempted to ring Michael Clegg for advice. 

FT Atherton Collieries 5 Eccleshall 1

Atherton Colls. 

Taberner,Kenny,Swanton,Messer,Carson,Hardcastle,Ayres,Cooke (C),Battersby,Boland,Peet. 

Subs, Shaw,Cover,Adams,Heald,Grimshaw

Eccleshall. 

McEleny,Cooper,Dyer,McKay,Blendhead,Jones,Wakefield,Ridley,Hughes,Warren(C),Gartside. 

Subs,Abson,Page,Brice,Middleton-Hill

Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix,Birmingham,Saturday 21st February 2015

The roof of the newly renovated Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham was very nearly blown into the air and sent skywards scattering into pieces over Wolverhampton and Coventry from the huge roars of the crowd as the headline act Mo Farah brought the perfect ending to a top afternoon of International Indoor Athletics with plenty other British athletes getting on the scoreboard too.

In a time of 8.03.40 he was setting a new Indoor World Record in the Men’s Two Miles and finally giving him one of the few things missing from this stellar career on the track,Mo was over ten seconds ahead of Kenyan runner up Paul Kipsiele Koech in 8.13.46 and third was the veteran Bernard Lagat.

It was a solid piece of running here by Mo Farah,he looked supremely confident coming into this race and this will be a huge springboard for the year ahead

The performance diverted the attention from the online social media argument that Mo had been having with Andy Vernon,thankfully the crowd concentrated on the race and Mo should now be ready for the busy summer season.

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Other British success came from Wigan’s popular ‘Pocket Rocket’ Jenny Meadows who continues in fine form this winter in the 800m, taking over from halfway after pace setter Leah Barrow moved aside Jenny put them to the sword and never looked like being overtaken,winning in 2.01.25 as she heads off to Prague next month for the European Indoors.

Greg Rutherford produced an amazing final jump in an intriguing Men’s Long Jump, In the fifth round Chinese athlete Xinglong Gao took the lead when he lept 8.12m but on the last jump in the sixth and final round Rutherford with the aid of the crowd got the prize when going 8.17m to produce a real grandstand finish.

It was a weird event though,amazingly in the second round we had five jumps out of the eight that took part,Even Vladimir Putin wouldn’t have seen the red flag waved in the air that many times!

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In the Women’s Long Jump we saw the new star of track and field Katarina Johnson-Thompson fly through the air in round three to make the distance of 6.93m,A new national record,out of everybody else’s reach and she is going to be a force to be reckoned with even more this year in the Heptathlon.

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Nigel Levine won the Men’s 400m race with a seasons best of 46.43s, he just held off the late challenge of Jarryd Dunn and Bershawn Jackson then straight after that in the Men’s 800m an easy piece of running by Kenya’s Jeremiah Mutai saw him win in 1.45.93.

An intriguing Women’s 3000m race saw Laura Muir get the British qualifying time for next months European Indoors,despite coming in sixth place it was enough to secure her place on the plane to Prague, In a race which saw four set PB’s and two set SB’s the eventual victor was Tunisia’s Habiba Ghribi in 8.46.61 who just hung on from Ethiopian Senbere Teferi in 8.46.84, Of the other British girls in this race Steph Twell,Jessica Judd and Emelia Gorecka were all in the rear group and struggled to land a blow, they are all much better than this given Jess Judd and Emelia Gorecka’s exploits out in the Cross Country this winter.

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Seren Bundy-Davies won the Women’s 400m, Her time of 51.72 was a PB and gives her every chance in Prague.

The Men’s 1500m was taken by Kenya’s Vincent Kibet although the judge needed to look at the photo to separate him from fellow Kenyan Bethwell Bergen as the both recorded times of 3.34.91, Lee Emanuel ran the best of the Brits in sixth spot but Charlie Grice and Chris O’Hare were always stuck in the rear of the field.

The other imperial race of the day,the Women’s Mile went to Ethiopia’s Axumawit Embaye, in a rousing finish she managed to hold off the American athlete Shannon Rowbury with times of 4.23.50 and 4.24.12, GB had a few in this, Adella Tracey was employed to set the pace and along with Hannah England who was always struggling,both didn’t finish and Melissa Courntey and Alison Leonard were always in the second group.

Allan Smith won the Men’s High Jump despite five all completing 2.26m he got the prize due to being the only one who cleared each height with his first attempt.

In the sprint races the USA’s Shakira Nelvis won the 60m hurdles in 7.87, Tiffany Porter could only get fourth while Kevin Craddock made it a USA double in the Men’s 60m hurdles in 7.58 which was also a SB.

On the 60m flat Murielle Ahoure landed the spoils in a race which was won in 7.10 but was so tight that the last placed athlete in eighth,Rachel Johncock recorded a time of 7.29 which booked her ticket to Prague too.

The Men’s race was full of incident as two blatantly obvious disqualifications went to both Daniel Bailey and Michael Rogers, when the race finally got off it was a case of Kim Collins rolling back the years,his 6.50s just got him the first prize from Britain’s Chijindu Ujah in 6.55s.

Before the main action we had a six race competition in the Club:Connect series with some 4x200m relay races for U13,15 and 17s both for Men and Women athletes, Halesowen won four of the race and Birchfield Harriers won the other two,both had athletes with plenty of promise on display although the first race for U13 boys went badly wrong when the second set of runners didn’t come out on to the track so we needed a restart after they had a chance to draw breath.

A well organised afternoon of top quality indoor athletics with a new World Record,and the present and future of British talent showed what a top stable Team GB has as the 2015 season kicks into gear.

Hopefully I shall get to a few more athletics events this year wether it be at the big event like this or at grassroots level.

Next Saturday all being well it will be some local football depending on what the weather decides to do in the are,Until then,thank you for reading.

Haydock Park,Betfred Grand National Trial Day,Saturday 14th February 2015

Clues for Cheltenham and Aintree this afternoon on a competitive seven race card as the days to the big festivals begin to get copiously smaller.

It wasn’t as cold today and unlike last months Peter Marsh meeting the rain had the afternoon off as a fairly big crowd turned out for some top quality action and unlike the previous two meetings here all the obstacles were being jumped.

This was also a chance for the crowd to see AP McCoy,the dust seems to have settled on the face that he is hanging is saddle up at the end of the season and he had some good rides to look forward to.

The feature race was the marathon Grand National trial although an oddity in the calendar meant this race was being run before the unveiling of the weights this coming Tuesday.

Seven races then,let’s see what occurred.

1.45 Betfred “Six Best Odds Races Daily” Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle,Class 2,2m,8 flights,4yo

Only four turned out for this but generally has a small field anyway.

This was an easy hack round for the £7430 winners prize for Top Notch and Daryl Jacob for trainer Nicky Henderson and made it 5/5 in races contested,a French import he has won two races at Newbury and Ascot this term and will now head off to the Triumph although he will no doubt be given a Fred Winter entry just in case,he seems to ooze class and will be a top prospect.

Runner up was Medicine Hat who made most until the winner breezed past him up the straight,he was walloped by the winner but will find life easier in handicaps.

2.20 Betfred “Still Treble Odds on Lucky 15’s Hurdle,Grade 2,3m,12 flights,4yo+

Known as the Rendlesham Hurdle this years renewal was ok but it was missing a few of the staying divisions stars.

All eyes were on At Fishers Cross as he tried to win his first race since the 2013 Albert Bartlett and Sefton Novices’ hurdles at both Cheltenham and Aintree.

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However the race was to pan out differently as previous dual course and distance winner Closing Ceremony bellied his 12-1 outsider odds and despite being 19lb away from At Fishers Cross on official ratings did what he always does at Haydock which is to jump out and make all the running and shaking off the fight from the challenge of Seeyouatmidnight who was making his seasonal reappearance before heading off to the World Hurdle.

On paper this looked a shock but Closing Ceremony has done nothing but improve since stepping back up to three miles this season,he doesn’t hold a World Hurdle entry but is qualified for the Pertemps Series,Emma Lavelle has done well with her staying hurdlers in the North West this season so maybe the Liverpool Hurdle on National day will be an ideal race, next season he could go chasing depending if he eeks out more improvement over hurdlers.

Below,Closing Ceremony

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As for At Fishers Cross he remains a tricky horse to follow,He obviously is a classy horse but seems to have serious issues with the game,he jumped badly at a few hurdles so it may now be worth sending him over fences or maybe a change of stable to try and reinvigorate him.

2.55 Betfred Grand National Trial (Hcap) Grade 3,3m5f,22 fences,5yo+

A good quality renewal of this stamina sapping contest which came despite the weights not being unveiled till Tuesday.

For the third time since 2010 the race was taken over the border into Scotland as the ever popular 11yo Lie Forrit just got the verdict from the judge is a real pulsating battle probably not seen since the 2012 National as he and Harry The Viking gave everything that a staying Chase should do.

The pace was pretty generous from the tape with plenty of chopping and changing as the race progressed,going down the farside on the final lap we had the only faller as Tommy Whittle winner Broadway Buffalo fell at the 16th fence when making headway.

Turning for home the field were being led in by Gas Line Boy,he had Lie Forrit and Mountainous behind him,over the third last fence Lie Forrit took over the lead as Gas Line Boy began to feel the pinch and Harry The Viking began to come with a wet sail and was the only danger baring down on him over the last fence, after the last Harry The Viking took over the lead under Derek Fox (3) but Peter Buchannan drove Lie Forrit upto the line and just got the nod after the thick end of three and a half miles.

Lie Forrit will now be aimed towards the Scottish National at Ayr in April,he was pulled up last year but Lucinda Russell has done a grand job with him this term and he remains in excellent heart.

Harry The Viking has Aintree as his target but a more realistic target could be the Midlands at Uttoxeter or possibly the Irish National.

Monbeg Dude was third here of 144 and this will have done his credentials no harm at all, Gas Line Boy on fourth looks held by the handicapper,Trustan Times back in fifth spot plugged on but isn’t a natural over fences any Tim Easterby may be better asking the BHA to introduce 4m hurdle races for him!

Below, Lie Forrit

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3.25 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle,Class 2,3m,12 flights,5yo+

Another qualifier for the series and unlike the previous race this one was all one way traffic as last weekends Newbury winner Bygonnes Sovereign under conditional Michael Heard (7) adopted the same tactics of bowling out in front and didn’t see another horse until they finished the race.

The winner was up 13lb from last weekends win but he looks a horse still ahead of his new mark of 130, he will go the final but may not have things his own way out in front.

Run Ructions Run was three lengths back in second place,she looked to stay this extra distance and could have a crack at the Mares Hurdle, Favourite Aqalim under AP for John Ferguson is an improving stayer with more to offer. Kelvingrove ran an eye catching race on his first start over this trip and will do better in time.

4.00 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle,Grade 2,3m,12 flights,5yo+

Some useful staying types on show here but it was only two who mattered from the start.

Fletchers Flyer who was sent off favourite made the running and was still leading when second fav Definitly Red under Richard Johnson took over after the last flight and hung on by half a length, the pair were over twenty two lengths clear from last months Leamington Hurdle runner up Ballagh.

The top two were clearly the best horses on show, the winner may go for the Albert Bartlett unless connection decide the Sefton at Aintree would be a better choice, Fletches Flyer was giving the winner 3lbs and remains full of potential.

Ballagh probably didn’t stay this far,an easy maiden over 2m4f would be an ideal confidence booster for him.

Below,Horses leaving for the stables.

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4.30 Betfred “Home Of Goals Galore” Novices’ Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m5f,15 fences.

A very good looking contest with plenty of horses coming into the race on top form.

It was a first chasing success for the Jonjo O’Neill trained Oscar Fortune under Dougie Costello with the application of first time blinkers, he beat the well fancied Algernon Pazham who began to hang left after two out, the trip was a little bit on the short side for him and will be happier back over further.

Chasing debutant Wuff ran a respectable race on debut and will come on plenty for the run,Runswick Royal was behind in fourth place and has better form over 2m than this longer trip.

5.05 Betfred “Keep It Fun” Walrus Open Hunters’ Chase,Class 3,3m1f,18 fences,5yo+

A good renewal of this popular contest and it went the way of 12yo Pearlysteps under the command of Oliver Greenall, making all the running despite a mistake at two from home he had this in the bag easily, Temple Grandin having only his second start in a Hunters came here after a post Christmas win between the flags at Chaddesley Corbett and ran a good race in second spot, Cottage Oak was third.

Pearlysteps was fourth in last years Foxhunters at Cheltenham and will have a good a chance as any next month,should he go three places better he will be in line for a £10,000 bonus should he win that race.

All eyes were on Teaforthree in this race,Coming into this race after last weeks win at Bangor many thought it was a formality he would take this to qualify him for Cheltenham but he struggled to pick up when needed and faces a race against time to get in the race as part of his preparation for the National.

A top afternoon of jumps action then and some excellent finishes for the crowd which were greatly appreciated.

Without doubt the win of Lie Forrit was the highlight of the day, he really had to battle the attentions of Harry The Viking and it gave for me the finish of the day.

Next weekend we shall be swapping the turf for the track as I’m off to the Indoor Athletics in Birmingham with Mo Farah in the Men’s Two Miles being the main highlight.

Until then goodbye and keep reading.

Warwick Races,Kingmaker Day,Saturday 7th February 2015

For racing fans it was a day of looking forward to the future here but also a chance to remember many happy memories of the past as AP McCoy announced his retirement at Newbury.

It seemed quite appropriate to be at Warwick when hearing the news though,it was here where AP broke Sir Gordon Richards record of 269 winners in one season.

Racing wise at Warwick today we had a quality seven race card with Willie Mullins sending a couple over and with Paul Townend available for spare rides a few trainers took advantage of this.

1.00 Download The Titanbet App Novices’ Hurdle,Class 3,2m5f,11 flights,4yo+

An impressive display by Irish raider Arbre De Vie for the Mullins-Townend combination,always travelling well he crept into the race down the back and took over the lead from Big Jim who was running a PB this season and scored by 11 lengths, Kingscourt Native the second favourite was a further 7 lengths back in third spot.

Plenty to like about this winner,Only a 5yo he will probably be a stable second string at one of the big festivals later on and will jump a fence in time,he is one to keep an eye on next season.

Below,Going out in the country

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Below,Arbre De Vie posing

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1.35 Money Back Faller Insurance At Titanbet.co.uk Novices’ Chase,Class 3,3m2f,20 fences,5yo+

Only five in this but it could prove to be an informative race in time.

This was all about Cogry who was much more at home over this marathon trip than his last run at Haydock and under Sam Twiston Davies he managed to fight off the attentions of Doing Fine under Paul Townend who was coming back at him with a real rattle after the last fence.

Cogry looks to be suited by stamina tests and relished this,he will surely be bound for the Four Miler at the Festival next month and horses who win this race have a good record, next season races like the Welsh National should be his targets, Doing Fine ran back to his best and clearly has ability without necessary being the classiest horse and he is also turning into a stayer.

Back in third was Uncle Jimmy who readers of this will know won a Pertemps Qualifier here last season,he was staying on at the end and will have learnt a lot,his time will come in handicaps,I Need Gold made most of the running till getting headed down the back.

2.05 Titanbet.co.uk Kingmaker Novices’ Chase,Grade 2,2m,12 fences,5yo+

This was all about Vibrato Valtat who got himself primed for next months Arkle with a bloodless victory here,sitting off the pace set by Top Gamble he eased into contention over two out and scored without breaking sweat.

Of course Un De Sceaux is the one that everybody expects to be the banker of the meeting in the Arkle, Most of Ireland are expecting him to help pay off the winter fuel bills and pay for a summer holiday but Paul Nicholls is bullish about his chance in the Arkle and the way VV travels off the pace he will be in an ideal position to beat him and of course you should never be afraid of one horse.

The only negative is that on his Cheltenham run he might not be able to execute those tactics and the 2m event at Aintree would suit him better but there is only one Festival so you have to try.

Below,Vibrato Valtat.

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2.40 OLBG.com Mares’ Hurdle,Listed,2m5f,11 flights.

Back to back wins and a return to winning ways for Glens Melody who found the rhythm again and gave the Mullins-Townend partnership a double on the cards, arguably the class mare in the field,she won this before finishing runner up to the wonder mare Quevega at the Festival, she will head their now and depending where Annie Power goes Glens Melody will be in the shake up of what will be a top mares race.

Glens Melody oozed class in this and she was hard on the steel at the line a she picked them off one by one,apparently after Cheltenham she will head to Punchestown before being retired to the paddocks for motherly duties.

Of the beaten horses Emily Gray came second for the fourth consecutive time,she has class in abundance and deserves a nice win,Fairytale Theatre for the Dan Skelton yard picked up some more Black Type which will only enhance her value.

Below,Glens Melody post race.

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3.15 Bet & Watch At Titanbet.co.uk Handicap Hurdle,Class 4,3m2f,12 flights,4yo+ (0-120)

A good few of these were out of form desperate for a dropping in the weights but Tom O’Brien found himself working the double overtime to galvanise Heronshaw to record his first win over hurdles since 2013,Seeing out this long distance trip he would probably want the BHA to introduce hurdle races over 4m!

Island Cruise was second about nine lengths behind and a lot happier after a couple of poor runs over fences, Krackatoa King in third ran a sound race on his handicap debut but will be better down in trip

3.50 titanbet.co.uk Handicap Chase.Class 2,2m4f 110yds,17 fences,5yo+

A commanding performance on his British debut for ex French racer Camping Ground for trainer Tom Walford and giving Paul Townend a three timer, only a 5yo this horse has plenty to offer and probably won’t be going to any of the festivals but he is one to keep an eye on next season with something like the Paddy Power being an obvious target, he should get 3m in time.

Runner up was Al Alfa who kept the winner company all the way round until the last two fences,he ran a sound race and is happier at this trip than the three miles he tried last time, third place was Wilton Milan under the very promising Jack Sherwood,he was outpaced turning for home and could possibly do with a step up in trip.

Camping Ground has a nice touch of class about him, I expect Robert Walford will be having a nice summer now.

4.25 Whitson Bloodstock Handicap Hurdle,Class 4,2m,8 flights,4yo+ (0-120)

A masterful training performance helped produce a real 22-1 shocker in the lucky last as 11yo Temlett now under the care of Richard Phillips giving him his first race for 1106 days jumped out and made all under Gavin Sheehan and never saw another rival,lightly raced for an 11yo this was only his tenth start, back in 2008 at Punchestown he was 8-23 behind Solwhit in a 4yo hurdle.

Hepijeu was a very tired second on his British debut and will improve for the run,the rest of the field all had a lot to do as Temlett ran them into the ground and was never going to be stopped.

An intriguing afternoon of racing then with a few horses having their final outings before next months Cheltenham Festival.

Without doubt the two class acts were Vibrato Valtat and Glens Melody who will both be in the shake up come their respective races.

It was so good that this meeting went ahead,passing two inspections this course has clearly done the right thing in going jumps only as the quality will keep on improving over the years to come.

All being well next Saturday it will be the Grand National Trial at Haydock Park with some top Graded hurdle races thrown in for good measure too.

Until then,Thank you and Goodbye.