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Plenty eventualities on day one of Cheltenham festival

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By DEJA VU
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Three years in a row, those familiar green and gold colours of JP McManus, were first across the Champion Hurdle line, but on Tuesday, it was Espoir D’Allen, at 16-1, recording a success as easy as it was unexpected.

Espoir D’Allen was up against runners from three bigger stables of Gordon Elliott, Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson, who had claimed a majority of prizes at previous festivals.

Buveur D’Air, Henderson’s runner, was out at the third flight, where he fell and brought down Sharjah. Apple’s Jade 7-4, faded prematurely.

Laurina (Ruby Walsh), running towards the head of the field with Melon, could feel Espoir D’Allen, moving smoothly into contention for his jockey Mark Walsh.

The pair then passed Laurina and Melon, to steadily draw clear with 15 lengths credit. Silver Streak, 80-1, slotted into third place.

For Espoir D’Allen, at 5, to do that in what was one of the best recent Champion Hurdles, means he is a right light horse.

For Gavain Cromwell, who started out in racing as a farrier, and still shoes horses in County Meath as well as training a string of around 50, it was a first bite at Cheltenham. He definitely found it difficult to absorb this major league title.

A very troubling spectacle occurred during the final event, with twice as many fallers as finishers, ending with the euthanisation of Ballyward (Patrick Mullins 9-4).

In the review of safety at Cheltenham, carried out by the BHA, after seven equine deaths in 2018, this race was identified as presenting “the highest risk of incident”.

But the review panel evidently struggled to see obvious scope for a change, noting that shortening the race would be likely to produce a faster pace, which has its own dangers.

After the National Hunt Chase, three sets of screens were erected at different points on the course, as vets scrambled to save lives of fallen horses, providing a shocking scene for spectators leaving the site.

Eventually, the screens at the second-last were taken down to reveal that Atlanta Ablaze and Mulcahys Hill, had struggled to their feet. Moments later, Just Your Type emerged from behind screens at the final fence to prove that he had just been winded, and all three horses were able to walk away, homeward bound.

Finian Maguire was the only jockey taken to hospital, following his fall on Whisperinthebreeze.

Stewards were kept busy with the fallout for two hours, suspending three riders for continuing in the race when their horses were visibly fatigued.

Those punished included Robert James, who received a 12-day suspension for this offence, plus an additional week for misuse of the whip.

Noel McParlan, was given eight days, and, Declan Lavery ten, both for proceeding, when the stewards felt they should not have done.

The National Hunt Chase is a historic race which has become an oddity, being a marathon contest restricted to novice chasers and amateurs. The combination of factors that might be calculated to produce spills and thrills, could mean its existence is under threat.

Supreme Novice’s Hurdle –  Klassical Dream (Ruby Walsh 6-1)

Arkle Chase – Duc de Genievres (P. Townend 5-1)

Ultima Handicap Chase – Beware The Bear (J. McGrath 10-1)

Champion Hurdle – Espoir D’Allen (Mark Walsh 16-1)

Mare’s Hurdle – Roksana (H. Skelton 10-1)

National Hunt Chase – A Plus Tard (Rachael Blackmore)

Novice Handicap Chase – Le Breuil (JJ Codd 14-1)





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KCB RFC down Mwamba in Kenya Cup

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Mwamba RFC’s Stephen Sikuta taking on KCB RFC players. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 24 – Kenya Cup champions KCB Rugby Club registered their 13th victory of the season after completing a double over Mwamba, winning 20-27 at the Jamhuri Showground on matchday 14 of the 2018/19 Kenya Cup.

KCB ran in four tries, two of which were converted and a penalty against Mwamba’s three tries, one conversion and a penalty.

The bankers pick five points to stay second with 64 points just below Kabras on points difference as the latter beat Top Fry Nakuru 17-34 at NAC.

Mwamba will stay fifth for another week as a result of Nakuru’s defeat to Kabras.

-By Raga House-



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KCB, Kabras march on with Kenya Cup victories

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KCB RFC and Kabras Sugar kept their early Kenya Cup charge going as they won their respective fixtures to remain joint top on 64 points apiece.

The Bankers edged hard fighting Mwamba RFC 27-20 while Kabras won 34-17 against Top Fry Nakuru RFC away at the Nakuru Athletic Club.

Curtis Olago’s charges scored four tries converting two plus a penalty against Mwamba’s two converted tries and two penalties.

Kenyan Internationals Billy Odhiambo and Collins Injera scored the two tries for Mwamba RFC but it wasn’t enough to win the match against resilient KCB.

Elsewhere Menengai Oilers got their forth win of the season defeating heavyweights Nondescripts 30-17.

Varsity side Mean machine protected their home ground demolishing their fellow varsity side Blak Blad 25-3.

Frank Ndong’s Impala Saracens returned to winning ways defeating varsity side Strathmore Leos 38-19.

COLLATED RESULTS

Kabras Sugar 34-17 Top Fry Nakuru

KCB 27-20 Mwamba Rfc

Menengai Oilers 30-17 Nondescripts

Mean Machine 25-3 Blak Blad

Impala Saracens 38-19 Strathmore Leos

Kenya Harlequin 32-17 Homeboyz





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The Standard – Kenya: Burundi make history, qualify for first ever AFCON as Aubameyang’s Gabon crash out | The Standard

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By Reuters:

205

Saturday, March 23rd 2019 at 21:51 GMT +3
|

Football

Gabon’s Arsenal striker Aubameyang had a largely quiet afternoon. [Courtesy]

Burundi qualified for the African Cup of Nations finals for the first time as they kept Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in check to get the point they needed in a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

While Burundi needed only to draw, visitors Gabon, who hosted the last finals in 2017, had to win in Bujumbura to join Group C winners Mali in the expanded 24-team finals in Egypt in June and July.

Burundi join Madagascar and Mauritania as countries going to the finals for the first time and their achievement sparked wild celebrations in the tiny east African country.

Burundi were kept at bay repeatedly throughout the match by the heroics of Gabon’s veteran goalkeeper Didier Ovono before Cedric Amissi finally broke the deadlock in the 75th minute.

Yet celebrations were kept on hold until the final whistle as Gabon equalised with eight minutes to go when Burundi defender Omar Ngandu turned the ball into his own net.

Gabon’s Arsenal striker Aubameyang had a largely quiet afternoon and they were unable to get the second goal they needed to reach the finals instead.

Get the latest sports news updates. Subscribe to our SMS sports service by texting ‘SPORTS’ to 22840.

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