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LONDON: Star sprinter Blue Point is on course for glory in the much-anticipated Al-Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night. That is the message from Godolphin after a brilliant victory in the G2 Meydan Sprint on Thursday.
The Dubai-based stable have long held high hopes for the Shamardal horse and the five-year-old’s win confirmed that they have something special on their hands.
Blue Point took up the running from Faatinah with more than two furlongs to race and readily opened up daylight over his rivals approaching the final furlong, quickly going clear.
For Charlie Appleby the performance only went to prove that Blue Point has it in him to steal the show on Dubai World Cup night in March.
“If he brought his class, he was going to be good enough to win, but we had left a bit on him because the G1 Al-Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night is our target,” the Godolphin trainer said.
“No disrespect to this race, and we were pleased to win it, but it was the right stepping stone onto the Al-Quoz.
“I was pleased to see him in the paddock, more so than a couple of days ago when it looked like he had a couple of pounds left on him. He had tightened up a bit.
“We were always confident that he was going to come forward for whatever he did. He is a five-year-old now and a professional — getting better with racing. He came alive two furlongs down and it was only a matter of William asking him to pick up and do a bit of work.”
The “Boys in Blue” always place a lot of focus on the World Cup night and a second win in the Al-Quoz sprint — Appleby saddled Jungle Cat to victory last year — is one of the aims for the famous race meeting in March.
“I am very pleased and, all being well, he should step forward for it and all roads will now lead to the Al-Quoz Sprint,” Appleby said.
“I feel that he is not overly exposed as a sprinter — we looked after him as a two-year-old and a three-year-old, while he wasn’t over-raced last year so he is entitled still to be learning.”
Added to the optimism surrounding Blue Point is the fact that William Buick feels he is coming to form at just the right time.
“It was a nice comeback opportunity for Blue Point and he did it very comfortably, doing everything right. It was lovely to see him come back like that,” the jockey said. “He has probably matured a little bit compared to 12 months ago and the biggest difference this year is that he is a G1 winner this time. He had proved himself and feels like a very confident horse — there is no question that he is a top sprinter.”
Meanwhile, Godolphin’s star G1 performers Hartnell, Best Of Days and Alizee have been entered for the world’s richest mile race, the $5 million All-Star Mile to be run at Flemington on March 16.
Head trainer James Cummings confirmed that all three horses will seek a place in the famous race.
“We think it’s great the way in which it really engages with not only the racing audience, but potentially reaching out beyond just that and bringing in a wider audience from not only Australia, but from around the world,” Cummings said. “We’re really excited to be a part of the richest mile race anywhere in the world.”
LONDON: The Saudi Arabia men and women’s bowling teams landed in Cairo confident they could make their mark on the Arab Bowling Championship which starts today.
The men’s outfit head into the competition on the back of international success last year. Abdulrahman Alkhelawi is one of the stars looking to build on an impressive 2018, having shot up to third in the rankings after his success in the World Youth Championship last year.
The team also includes Hassan Al-Alsheikh — who delivered gold and bronze in the trio event at the eighth Arab Bowling Championship held in Oman — and Ammar Tirad, who was ranked first in the Hong Kong Open Bowling Championship.
Bader Al-Alsheikh, president of the Saudi Arabia Bowling Federation (SBF), is hopeful that the team can make more strides this week.
“The team underwent a training camp in Riyadh before going to the Universal Bowling Center in Riyadh in preparation for this competition,” he said. “They have been supervised by a professional technical team to ensure they give their best. I wish the team all the best in their competition.”
For the women’s side the tournament will offer another stepping stone and provide a good exposure of top-class bowling, as it is still very inexperienced at the international level. Not only that, but it should act as yet another boost to female participation in the sport.
“The women’s team has inspired many new fans already,” said Dr. Razan Baker, SBF board member and supervisor of the women’s team.
“We never knew how many women loved bowling until the SBF kicked off the three women bowling tournaments last October and women of all ages started showing up. They are setting an example and hopefully inspiring many more to love the game and excel in it.”
SANTIAGO, Chile: Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay are to submit a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup, Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera announced on Thursday.
Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay had already submitted a joint bid to host the centenary edition of football’s most prestigious tournament, but Pinera said on Twitter that those countries’ presidents had agreed to Chile’s participation in the “joint candidacy.”
Argentina and Uruguay originally announced their intention to submit a joint bid in 2017 before Paraguay joined the coalition later that year.
In December last year, Bolivia’s football-mad president Evo Morales offered those three countries help in their bid, proposing “two or three departments as sub-seats” for the competition.
Had his offer been accepted, it would have meant the Hernando Siles Reyes stadium in La Paz potentially included as a host venue.
Pinera said he had been touting his idea to the presidents of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay for several months.
Uruguay hosted and won the inaugural World Cup in 1930, Chile was the venue in 1962 and Argentina emulated its neighbor’s achievement by lifting the trophy on home soil in 1978.
Like Morales, Mauricio Macri of Argentina, Uruguay’s Tabare Vazquez and Paraguayan Mario Abdo Benitez are all passionate about football having all been president of a club in their countries.
Pinera is a billionaire businessman who started out as a teacher and has no previous connection to football.
The South American bid faces competition from Morocco and potentially several other joint bids, including one from Britain and Ireland and another by an eastern European confederation of Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has even mooted a joint bid with Morocco, which has failed five times in bidding to host the World Cup, and Portugal.
MANCHESTER: Manchester United revealed on Thursday that sacking Jose Mourinho cost the club nearly £20 million ($25 million), with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward hailing the impact of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The sum of £19.6 million which is listed under “exceptional items” in the club’s second-quarter results, includes pay-outs for the members of Mourinho’s staff who left with him after he was sacked in December.
The fortunes of the Premier League club have been transformed since Solskjaer took the helm as interim boss.
United are now in the top four after being 11 points adrift of the Champions League places when Mourinho left.
“The appointment of Ole and Mike (Phelan) as caretaker manager and assistant manager... has had a positive impact throughout the club,” said Woodward.
“We are delighted with the improvement in the team’s performances since December and we look forward to a strong finish to the 18/19 season.”
In the report, the club announced record revenues of £208.6 million for the quarter, which translate into earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of £104.3 million and an operating profit of £44 million.
Real Madrid last month knocked Manchester United off the top of Deloitte’s Football Money League after two years at the top for the Premier League club.
BERLIN: Sepp Blatter has been summoned to explain how Germany was awarded the 2006 World Cup as prosecutors in Switzerland investigate suspected corruption in the bidding process, the disgraced former FIFA supremo said on Thursday.
Swiss authorities are targeting Franz Beckenbauer, former captain and coach of the German World Cup winning sides, who was president of the German 2006 bid, with a suspect €6.7 million ($7.5 million) payment at the heart of the investigation.
“Via my lawyer I got a call up on February 8 to a meeting with the Berne public prosecutor as a person of interest in the attributing of the 2006 World Cup to Germany,” Blatter said.
Currently serving a six-year ban from football related activity Blatter will meet the Berne prosecutor, who has been working oin the case for two years, on March 28.
“It’s not the first time I’ve been called up in relation to this matter,” said Blatter, who will have turned 83 by the time of the meeting.
“The general secretary (of FIFA) at the time was Urs Linsi, and he maintains I gave him specific guidelines, which I contest,” said Blatter.
The scandal first came to light in October 2015, when news magazine Der Spiegel accused Germany of having used a secret slush fund to buy votes in support of its bid to host the 2006 World Cup.
The fund reportedly held 10 million Swiss francs, or €6.7 million according to the exchange rate at the time.
The money was allegedly provided by the late Robert Louis-Dreyfus, head of German sportswear giant Adidas, at the request of Beckenbauer, who headed the committee promoting Germany’s candidacy.
Beckenbauer, now 72, captained Germany to the 1974 World Cup and coached the side that won the trophy in Italy in 1990.
The cash-for-votes scandal has hung over German football since October 2015 when German magazine Der Spiegel revealed the secret fund.
DURBAN: Dale Steyn bowled his way past another milestone and enabled South Africa to gain an advantage over Sri Lanka on the second day of the first Test at Kingsmead on Thursday and admitted he felt he had “started over” following a two-year struggle against injuries.
Steyn, 35, took four for 48 as South Africa took a first innings lead of 44. They stretched their lead to 170 by reaching 126 for four at the close.
It took Steyn’s career total to 437 Test wickets, moving him past India’s Kapil Dev (434) and drawing level with Stuart Broad of England in joint seventh place on the all-time list.
“It’s just a blessing to be able to be playing again,” he said.
“I almost feel like I’ve had to start over. I don’t feel I’m on 430-odd wickets, I’m on probably twenty. It’s nice to finish a Test series against Pakistan and not have someone saying he’s an injury away from retiring and it’s nice to contribute again. Hopefully it can continue a bit longer.”
Steyn bowled a ten-over spell after lunch in an effort to blow away Sri Lanka’s tail, which he said he believed was only the third time in a 92-Test career he had bowled so many overs in succession.
“When I’m bowling ten-over spells it shows I’m enjoying what I do,” he said.
South Africa’s decision to pick five specialist bowlers meant that their advantage was some way short of being decisive, with Faf du Plessis (25 not out) and Quinton de Kock (15 not out) their last two recognized batsmen going into day three.
Sri Lanka were bowled out for 191 and were unable to build on a good first day when their inexperienced bowlers surprised the South African batsmen, who could manage only 235 in their first innings.
Steyn and Vernon Philander soon put their stamp on the game when Sri Lanka resumed at 49 for one on Thursday, taking three wickets in the first ten overs of the morning.
Kusal Perera played some bold and occasionally lucky strokes in making 51 off 63 balls for Sri Lanka and the hosts were frustrated when a barrage of short-pitched bowling could not break a stubborn ninth wicket partnership of 32, the joint second-highest of the innings, between debutant Lasith Embuldeniya and Kasun Rajitha.
It was particularly frustrating for Steyn. He had already taken four wickets when Rajitha, on ten, gloved what looked a simple chance to Dean Elgar in the gully, only for the fielder to put it down.
The stand was eventually ended by a smart run-out of Rajitha by Aiden Markram at short leg.
Steyn paid tribute to Embuldeniya, 22, who battled to 24 off 63 balls.
“He took a couple on the head but he never backed away or had a slog. He gutsed it out.”
Perera said he felt Sri Lanka were still in the game but added: “We have to get them out quickly.”
The left-handed Perera played some audacious strokes, including a scooped six off Kagiso Rabada.
Asked about his attacking approach, he said: “It’s my only game plan. Their bowlers are in the top ranks in the world and if they’re attacking I’m trying to counter-attack.”
Perera said that although the pitch was slow, there was seam movement to help the bowlers.
With bright sunshine following the morning’s overcast conditions, the stage seemed set for South Africa to move into a commanding position but their top-order batting again proved fragile.
Embuldeniya followed up his courageous batting by dismissing Temba Bavuma and Elgar with his left-arm spin bowling.
LONDON: Sergio Garcia apologized for his spectacular meltdown at the Saudi Arabia International on Wednesday, blaming his tantrum for “emotional, personal news” that he had received earlier in the week.
The Spanish star was thrown out of the tournament after damaging several putting greens in frustration and caught on camera wildly attacking a bunker after a poor shot at the Royal Greens course.
Speaking ahead of this week’s Genesis Open in Los Angeles, his first tournament since his humiliating expulsion in Saudi Arabia, the 39-year-old former Masters champion said his behavior was inexcusable.
“I received some very emotional, personal news earlier that week that didn’t help,” Garcia told The Golf Channel. “It was in the back of my mind. As I became frustrated on the course everything erupted.”
Garcia did not divulge details of the news that prompted his loss of control, saying only it was a mix of “some emotional and personal things going on and a little frustration with the greens.”
Garcia was kicked out of the European Tour event after reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed and a number of other players complained Garcia had damaged six greens.
Garcia said he had snapped out of his rage during the round. He reportedly apologized to Reed and other players following his expulsion.
“It hit me like on the 10th hole. I started thinking: ‘What am I doing? Get your head back on top of your shoulders,” Garcia said.
“I know I lost it. I feel terrible about it. I’ve been thinking about it for the last week, every day. I’m an emotional player. If I channel it the right way, it’s amazing. If I channel it the wrong way, it’s too extreme. My goal is make sure the bad gets better and the good stays.”
Meanwhile Garcia said he had no issue with remarks by world number two Brooks Koepka, who said of the Spaniard: “You’re 40, so you’ve got to grow up.”
Garcia and Koepka are due to play next week at the World Golf Championship in Mexico City.
“I’m going to tell him I agree,” Garcia said. “But I don’t agree with the age. He got my age wrong. I’m 39, not 40. But when I see him, I’ll tell him I’m sorry.”
LONDON: Tottenham took a huge step toward reaching the Champions League quarter-finals as Son Heung-min inspired their 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 first leg on Wednesday.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side had been under the cosh as Dortmund dominated the first half at Wembley, but Hugo Lloris kept them level with a series of fine saves.
That set the stage for a sublime second half from Tottenham, who were sparked into life by a fine finish from South Korea forward Son.
Son’s fourth goal in his last four appearances took him to 16 for the season, but none have been as priceless as this one.
Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen capped his own powerful performance when he swept in their second goal in the closing stages and substitute Fernando Llorente’s late third put the seal on a remarkable result.
Although Tottenham still have to survive the second leg at Signal Iduna Park on March 5, they have a golden opportunity to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2011.
It was an especially impressive success for Pochettino given he was without the injured Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Danny Rose and Ben Davies.
Pochettino devised a clever game-plan that eventually frustrated Dortmund and secured Tottenham’s first ever Champions League knockout-round win at home.
With Rose and Davies sidelined, Pochettino deployed center-back Vertonghen out of position at left wing-back and switched to a three-man defense that stifled the Bundesliga leaders.
Pochettino had insisted Tottenham would be able to ignore the draining effects of a gruelling schedule which he felt left them at a “massive disadvantage.”
And his passionate talk of seeing the “energy” in his players’ eyes as they looked forward to a big Champions League night proved prescient as they worked tirelessly to leave Dortmund helpless to stem the tide.
Lucas Moura gave Tottenham an early spark when he latched onto Davinson Sanchez’s header and smashed a volley just wide from the edge of the area.
Juan Foyth gifted Dortmund their first sight of goal when he dwelt on the ball too long and was alertly dispossessed by Christian Pulisic.
But Lloris spared Foyth’s blushes as he blocked Pulisic’s shot at the near post.
Dortmund’s rapier attacks were led by Jadon Sancho, who left Manchester City to join Dortmund in 2017 without ever playing for the Premier League team.
Just two years later, the 18-year-old winger made his first appearance back on home soil now established as an England international rated as one of Europe’s hottest prospects.
Sancho hit top gear on several occasions in a mesmerising first-half display, leaving two Tottenham midfielders for dead and linking with Pulisic, whose shot was blocked at the last minute.
It took Tottenham over half an hour before they finally forced ‘keeper Roman Burki into action after Son wriggled through the visitors’ defense.
Lloris made a superb save to deny Dortmund on the stroke of half-time as Dan-Axel Zagadou met Sancho’s cross with a header that the Tottenham captain clawed out at full stretch.
Despite being pushed back for much of the first half, Tottenham had refused to surrender and their perseverance was rewarded in the 47th minute.
When Vertonghen swung over a cross from the left, Dortmund’s defense were out of position for the first time all night and Son timed his run perfectly behind Zagadou to caress a fine volley past Burki.
Suddenly, Tottenham had all the momentum and Vertonghen rampaged forward to fire over.
Dortmund had no answers to Tottenham’s high-tempo pressing and it was Vertonghen who was the hosts’ unlikely hero in the 83rd minute as he volleyed home from Serge Aurier’s cross.
Tottenham were rampant and Llorente completed a memorable night when he glanced a close-range header past Burki from Christian Eriksen’s corner three minutes later.
LONDON: Some of the best golfers on the planet are set to battle it out for the largest prize in golfing history in the Middle East later this year, after it was revealed the winner of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, will pocket a cheque for $3 million.
That eye-watering figure headlines a raft of changes to the final three Rolex Series events of the 2019 European Tour Race to Dubai, which include reducing the number of players hoping to pick up the stacks of cash from 60 to 50, and increasing the prize money on offer to the winners of the Turkish Airlines Open and South Africa’s Nedbank Challenge — the two events leading up to the Dubai finale.
For tour chief Keith Pelley that all adds up to one thing — a lot more fun on the fairways.
“The changes we have announced in terms of enhanced winner’s cheques, Race to Dubai points and bonus pool dividend are designed to increase the excitement around the end of the season, as well as encourage greater top-player participation in our final three events,” European Tour boss Pelley said. “Had these additional Race to Dubai points been available over the past five years, on average between five and 16 players would have come to our final event with a chance of winning the Race to Dubai, in addition to an average of 43 players having the chance to earn bonus pool money at the end of the season — both numbers considerably higher than was actually the case in those years.
“With the revised prize money breakdown and the extra Race to Dubai points in place for 2019, this provides a tremendous incentive for our players.”
The Race to Dubai was conceived in 2009 as a means of the European Tour challenging the more lucrative PGA Tour for the biggest names in world golf. While it has added prestige to the tour and more US-based players, such as Patrick Reed, teeing it up in events there remains a feeling that the Tour is its US rival’s poor cousin. That sentiment was only added to this year when Rory McIlroy (left) revealed he might not play in enough events to maintain his membership of the European Tour.
The increased money on offer is a response to the PGA Tour’s revamped FedEx Cup this year which has seen a doubling of prize money to $70 million — and a first prize of $15 million. This includes a $10 million regular season bonus pool to be distributed at the end of the Wyndham Championships at the start of August.
The $3 million on offer to the winner at Jumeirah Golf Estates in November is mind-boggling — beating the US Open winner’s prize of $2.16 million — but it is not a one-off with the Turkish Airlines Open and South Africa’s Nedbank Challenge both increasing their winner’s pots to $2 million and $2.5 million respectively. The bonus pool will also only be distributed to the top five players — not the top 10 — so the winner will bank $2 million (up from $1.25 million).
In addition, the field sizes for the final three events of the season have been revised and reduced to show a clear progression from event to event; with the leading 70 players from the Race to Dubai playing in Turkey, the leading 60 competing in South Africa, and the leading 50 lining up in Dubai.
Golf has for some time now been associated with huge paydays and winner’s cheques — the complaints from past players being that you do not have to be that good to make a very nice living smashing booming drives down the fairways and holing long putts on the greens.
This move ups the ante even more and, as Pelley said, offers up yet more options for golfers keen to add to their bulging bank balances.
“With the revised prize money breakdown and the extra Race to Dubai points in place for 2019, this provides a tremendous incentive for our players,” he said.
LONDON: Lewis Hamilton has delivered an ominous warning to his Formula One rivals by vowing to improve on his almost flawless championship-winning campaign in his Mercedes car.
The British driver emerged from his winter hibernation at Silverstone on Wednesday to see the car he hopes will fire him to a sixth world title.
The 34-year-old won 11 of the 21 races in 2018 to beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and secure his fifth championship with two rounds to spare.
And as he enters the first campaign of the new two-year Mercedes deal that will earn him £40 million ($52 million) a season, a fully refreshed Hamilton is ready to extend his dominance of the sport.
“2018 was a great year, but I feel like 2019 can be even better,” he said. “I want to achieve more, I want to continue to keep pushing. I feel energised and I am ready to attack.”
Hamilton, who will be partnered at Mercedes for a third successive season by Valtteri Bottas, was set to get his first taste of the new Silver Arrows during a private filming event at Silverstone on Wednesday.
The British driver has kept a relatively low profile over the off-season, spending time in America, while also attending the Super Bowl earlier this month.
Hamilton said: “I had a great Christmas with my family and then I went snowmobiling, I went skiing, I went surfing with Kelly Slater, which was amazing.
“I completely switched off from racing for a while, trying to focus and re-center myself and training hard for the new season.”
“I’m really looking forward to the next step of our journey together with Mercedes and embarking on what’s not been done before,” he added.
“This is my seventh year with the team and the energy and the determination within the team are really inspiring.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said: “When we met after the winter break, Lewis was refreshed. He’s extremely hungry and wants to start racing again.”
Pre-season testing gets under way in Barcelona on Monday before Hamilton starts his championship defense in Melbourne on March 17.