Paul Nicholls is considering the possibility of rerouting Cyrname to the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot on Saturday.
The highest-rated horse in Britain, having beaten Altior in a highly-anticipated clash at Ascot last November, the eight-year-old subsequently disappointed when a hot favourite but only second in the King George VI at Kempton, before suffering a heavy fall in the Ascot Chase.
With plans to send Cyrname to Down Royal for the Ladbrokes Champion Chase shelved because of coronavirus travel complications, Nicholls last weekend confirmed Saturday’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby as his intended comeback target.
However, on Monday Cyrname also received an entry in Ascot’s Sodexo Gold Cup – a Grade Three handicap, in which he would have to concede more than a stone to each of his rivals.
Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, Nicholls said: “I’ll talk to Johnny (de la Hey, Cyrname’s owner) and see what happens with the ground and the weather.
“We haven’t got to declare until Thursday, so I can’t tell you one way or the other at the moment.”
The Ditcheat handler had earlier talked about the dilemma he faces, on Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.
“Obviously we had thought about and talked about going to Ireland, but it’s very difficult to get the horse out there with staff and do the job properly, so we didn’t think we’d take a chance, hence we rerouted to the Charlie Hall,” said Nicholls.
“He has got an entry at Ascot in the three-mile handicap. It’s quite a valuable race – and as we know, he does like Ascot.
“He would have to run off 176 at Ascot, which would be a huge task. But as Frodon showed on Saturday (when winning at Cheltenham), top weights can win those handicaps – and you do keep a lot of horses out of the handicap.
“Looking at the weights, you’d say the Charlie Hall would suit him better, but it is a bit of an unknown because we’d be going left-handed.”
Raul Jimenez’s deflected effort off Kalvin Phillips gives Wolves third win of season; Leeds lose for first time in three games, failing to score despite dominating first half
Monday 19 October 2020 22:22, UK
Wolves snatched all three points against Leeds as Raul Jimenez’s deflected second-half effort gave them a 1-0 victory at Elland Road on Monday Night Football.
An energetic Leeds dominated the first half but failed to find an opener, the best chance in fact falling to Wolves’ Daniel Podence, whose effort was saved by Illan Meslier.
But Wolves improved in the second half, and after Romain Saiss’ superb volley was rightly ruled out for offside by VAR, the visitors took the lead as Jimenez’s effort from the edge took a wicked deflection off Kalvin Phillips and wrong-footed Meslier (70).
Jimenez may count himself lucky not to have been sent off late on for a kick out at Robin Koch, and despite some late Leeds pressure, Wolves held on for their second straight victory having lost their previous two games. Leeds lost for the first time in three games, and sit on seven points from five games.
Leeds’ energy was relentless in the first half, virtually camping themselves in Wolves’ half, but without finding an opener.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side had nine shots in the first half – only Chelsea against West Brom (11) have had more attempts in the opening 45 minutes of a Premier League game this season without scoring.
They were reduced to half chances, albeit frequent – Luke Ayling saw a shot well blocked by Max Kilman, Douglas Costa dragged wide from a good position, and Rodrigo’s chest and volley was stopped by Rui Patricio – but the best opportunity fell to Wolves in first-half stoppage time.
After Romain Saiss pulled back Leander Dendoncker’s cross, Podence ran onto the ball, took a touch and saw his fierce effort beaten away by Meslier.
And Wolves came out the brighter in the second half as Saiss looked to have given them the lead, smashing home a brilliant half volley from 18 yards after Podence’s cross had been cleared, but Podence was found to be offside from Conor Coady’s initial diagonal.
40 of Wolves’ last 56 goals have come in the second half
The goal came from sheer persistence from Jimenez, dancing across the edge of the box and turning before shooting, but the effort would have been comfortably saved by Meslier had it not taken a nick off Phillips’ head, dropping into the bottom left corner as the goalkeeper dived right.
Since the start of last season, Jimenez (30) is one of only four Premier League players to have scored 30+ goals in all competitions alongside Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Leeds came close to levelling with six minutes remaining as Saiss’ interception fell to Ian Poveda in the box, but his poked effort looped up just over Raphinha’s head as Wolves survived.
Leeds made three changes following the 1-1 draw with Man City over a fortnight ago; Roberts and Alioski dropped to the bench, replaced by Harrison and Rodrigo. Skipper Cooper was injured in the warm-up, so Struijk replaced him.
Wolves meanwhile made just a single change from the 1-0 win over Fulham as Neves was replaced by Moutinho in midfield.
Though Jimenez turned out to the matchwinner, his evening nearly ended on a sour note as he kicked out at Koch after the two collided on the touchline. Jimenez didn’t catch Koch, and neither referee David Coote nor VAR Michael Oliver saw anything wrong with the Mexican’s action.
Wolves, nowhere near their best, were nevertheless rewarded for standing firm against a Leeds side who seemed to spend all their energy on a first-half blitz which failed to yield a goal.
🥇Man of the Match, Max Kilman of @Wolves 5 clearances (most in match) 8 times possession gained 100% duels won Assist for Jimenez goal 6th PL appearance (4th start) pic.twitter.com/nG5cCo7OIi
Your big review of the weekend’s Premier League action – Download the latest Pitch to Post podcast on Apple | Spotify
Coady on Kilman MOTM: ‘Was he?!’
"Stop laughing and making a show of me!" 😂#WWFC skipper Conor Coady was stunned to find out that Max Kilman was awarded Man of the Match instead of him! pic.twitter.com/FddZB4WV1E
What the managers said…
Wolves boss Nuno EspiritoSanto: “The hard work of the boys pleased me most, the fitness of the team. We grew as the game went by. Both teams worked very hard and it was a very good game.
“I think this is the bounce-back that we desire. A second clean sheet in a row. It was a very difficult game for us, Leeds started very well, caused us enormous problems, but the second half we played good.”
Leeds suffered their first home defeat in 12 games in all competitions (W8 D3), since a 0-1 defeat to Wigan in the Championship in February 2020.
Wolves have won four league meetings in a row against Leeds for the first time since February 1958-April 1960 (a run of five).
Leeds mustered 13 shots in the game without scoring, with only three sides in this season’s Premier League managing more without a goal (Fulham v Aston Villa 16, West Ham v Newcastle 15 and Sheffield Utd v Leeds 14).
Wolves have won three of their first five games (L2) of a top-flight campaign for the first time since 1979-80.
Leeds now go to Aston Villa in the Premier League on Friday night at 8pm, while Wolves host Newcastle on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League at 4.30pm.
Member, Professional Basketball Writers Association
Let us all, as fans of America’s game, mull over the ramifications of what we have just seen: The Tampa Bay Rays are going to the World Series. And Randy Arozarena was the MVP of an American League Championship Series that featured Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, George Springer and Zack Greinke.
Even as we wait to see who emerges from another Game 7 on Sunday, when the Los Angeles Dodgers face the Atlanta Braves in Texas, let’s acknowledge how in the year of a pandemic, we are on the cusp of a World Series. It’s going to happen. For so long, that didn’t seem possible.
Next, let’s acknowledge that everyone who picked the Rays to win the AL pennant before the shortened season began in July was spot-on. (This writer was not one of them. Thanks, Yankees.) But let’s also revisit the rationale for picking the Rays back then, because that has been on full display throughout this postseason. A lot has been on display during this long postseason.
“You might think a 60-game season, you get to the postseason and it’s just not the same,” Rays Game 7 starter Charlie Morton said. “But I have looked across the dugout in every team we played this postseason, and I know the guys we were playing, they care, they want to win. Probably more so this year than any other year. The motivation is doing it for each other.”
The forecasted love for Tampa Bay had more to do with the Rays’ pitching operation than their hitting. Because the Rays have featured a decentralized, crowd-sourced pitching structure for many years, they seemed well-suited to the frantic, 60-game campaign we ended up with. Starters wouldn’t be built up. No one, really, would be built up. So a club with exceptional pitching depth and a plan for disparate pitcher usage would be well-situated.
If that doesn’t sound like the Rays, nothing does. Sure enough, as the ALCS played out, Tampa Bay’s organizational approach emerged as a moment-by-moment proof of concept.
“The way we have just acquired talent through our minor leagues and trades, it’s incredible what [general manager] Erik Neander and the front office have done,” Kevin Kiermaier said. “It really is. They made a great roster, and that’s why our talent and depth is what it is. If I’ve said anything, it’s that if there’s any staff that can shut down the hot-hitting Astros, it’s our staff.”
True enough, but you also have to score. The issue for the Rays’ offense was that their most productive hitters during the regular season were not being productive during the playoffs — Brandon Lowe, Joey Wendle, Willy Adames and Michael Brosseau among them. So others stepped up, including usually light-hitting catcher Mike Zunino and semi-regular outfielder Manny Margot.
But no one typified the next-man-up dynamic of the Rays more than Arozarena.
Arozarena broke into the majors last season and raked — for St. Louis. He had a .891 OPS over just 19 games and went hitless in four plate appearances during the playoffs. Then he was traded, along with Jose Martinez (since dealt) in exchange for pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore.
Well, players move around the major leagues, right? Arozarena looked good during his brief stint for St. Louis, but sometimes players look good in short stints and get flipped because their original team knows why that success is going to be fleeting. The only problem is that once the Rays inquire about a player, they’ve proved time and again that your best response probably should be, “No, thank you.” Because if the Rays like your player, then there is something very much to be liked.
“I wouldn’t say I was chasing MVP,” Arozarena said through an interpreter. “I was just trying to do everything for the team.”
He almost did. This is not to hammer on the Cardinals, although as the years play out, perhaps it will be impossible not to do that. But who possibly could have conceived that Arozarena would be doing what he’s being doing this postseason?
Look, players get on hot streaks. It happens all the time, and when a player gets on a roll, he isn’t necessarily headed for Cooperstown. Postseason series are by definition a parade of small sample sizes, so you figure that there are always going to be plenty of unsung heroes available to populate playoff narratives.
Yet, what Arozarena has done is not normal. It’s not routine. Others have gotten as hot as he has during the postseason, but if you have any conception of baseball history, his name is going to jump of the list of hottest postseasons and poke you in the eye. Among players who put up a higher OPS than Arozarena’s 1.288 over at least 50 playoff plate appearances, you find only Barry Bonds (1.559 in 2002), Carlos Beltran (1.557 in 2004), Paul Molitor (1.378 in 1993) and Alex Rodriguez (1.308 in 2009).
Then there is Arozarena. One of those names is not like the others.
“Ever since I got traded over, it’s felt like a family,” Arozarena said. “They welcomed me with open arms, and they gave me the freedom to be the player I want to be.”
But that’s the Rays. Just ask Zunino, who homered again in Game 7 and was picked up in a zero-buzz trade last year from the Mariners. Just ask Austin Meadows, rescued from prospect-bust status from Pittsburgh. Ask Manny Margot, who just dominated in a series played on the home field of the Padres — the club that shipped him away last winter.
There are so many similar stories. The common denominator is a lesson that sounds simple, but if it really was, every team would have learned it. The lesson the Rays have learned is that if you focus on what a player can do, rather than what he cannot, and you put him in position to do that thing he does well, that player can excel. Then, as a team, if you surround that player with other players who do complementary things well, it all adds up a good baseball team. Granted, none of this is fodder for a sexy World Series teaser. But, damn, it sure is effective.
“Man, it feels awesome,” Zunino said. “This is beyond my wildest dreams here. I feel extremely grateful. This group of guys, this organization, what we had to endure this year. It is a special group.”
Beyond the everybody-does-his-part aspect of the playing roster, there are the machinations of manager Kevin Cash, who is a kind of oddly enthusiastic Vulcan as dugout logicians go. He speaks in the no-ego, it’s all-about-the-players style of a successful College World Series coach putting on a front for potential recruits. But he’s also a merciless adherent to the actuarial side of the game, following best analytic practices as if he had the dead emotional life of Spock.
Time and again, to the consternation of baseball lifers, his interpretation of quantitative principles is spot-on. It happened again in the clincher.
Charlie Morton, the veteran Rays starter who played a key role in the Astros’ 2017 championship, was on his game. After five innings, he had retired 13 straight Houston hitters and used just 49 pitches. No Rays pitcher has thrown a complete game since May 14, 2016, when Matt Andriese did it, but could it happen again? After all, given Morton’s dominance and minimal pitch count, why would you remove him?
After striking out Josh Reddick on three pitches to start the sixth, Morton walked Martin Maldonado on four pitches. Springer rolled into a forceout. Altuve singled, but it was an infield chopper that was perfectly placed. Morton was at 66 pitches, and while there was traffic on the bases, he still looked like a pitcher in command of the game.
So, of course, Cash took him out. And, of course, it was the right move.
“The thought to go get him, I think we need to stay consistent with what we think is the right decision,” Cash said. “That is not to say [the decisions] are not tough. They certainly are. We’re just so appreciative of Charlie Morton, what he brings to our club on the field and definitely in the clubhouse.”
Nick Anderson — the Rays’ closer — came on to escape that sixth-inning jam. He did just that, then pitched the seventh, and by the time he exited for Pete Fairbanks, he’d gotten six outs. Fairbanks got the last four. Overall, the Rays threw just 114 pitches in the game, easily within Morton’s capability had he been left in to go the distance. But that’s not how these Rays do things.
Now the Rays are in the World Series. Just like in 2008, the other Tampa Bay pennant season, there are going to be numerous examinations about how a no-star team with a rock-bottom payroll can end up in the World Series.
Those examinations are worth conducting, but ultimately, they are going to come up empty. The Rays succeed because they have to. You can apply the same principles and follow the same methods and crunch the same numbers, but you probably can’t come up with the same answer. Because you’re not the Rays.
The Rays do not have superstars. They have a roster full of excellent baseball players, even if a lot of players on that list weren’t that special when they toiled for someone else. It’s like rooting for ants, or a Rotten Tomatoes score, or the All-Star Game voting.
Keep that in mind when the Rays match up in the World Series against the Dodgers or the Braves. You might scan their roster and wonder how that team of drones could end up in the Fall Classic. Don’t. The Rays are the collective wisdom of the baseball masses.
“We believe in our process,” Cash said. “And we will continue doing that.”
Winx has lost her first foul just weeks before the super mare was due to give birth this month.
The news was confirmed on Tuesday by the ownership connections of the champion seven-year-old.
The ownership group, including the Kepitis, Tighe and Treweeke families, announced the “traumatic” news in a joint statement with trainer Chris Waller.
“It is with great sadness that the Kepitis, Tighe and Treweeke families wish to inform everyone that unfortunately overnight Winx lost her foal,” the statement said.
“There are so many people involved in the Winx story from owners, staff past and present to her many fans around the world. Our thoughts and attention at the moment are on Winx ensuring that she remains healthy, as anyone in this situation would respect.
“It is a traumatic time for a mother and those involved and Winx is now the centre of our attention following the loss of a beautiful filly this morning.
“We wish to thank everyone for their support and understanding, please respect the connections during this sad time and we will update you as soon as appropriate.”
Winx pictured recentlyjust weeks away from her expected birth date.Source:Supplied
It was announced in May that Winx was in foal for the first time to stallion I am Invincible.
The super mare, the greatest Australia has ever seen and the greatest ever trained by Waller, was retired last year on the back of 33-straight race wins.
Winx walked away from the track after amassing more than $26 million in prizemoney.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez covered the Oakland A’s home and away nearly every day from 1992-97 for the San Jose Mercury News and Sacramento Bee and then became the national baseball writer and later a general columnist at the Arizona Republic before becoming an ESPN bureau reporter in 2003.
SAN DIEGO — It was a year ago that Randy Arozarena made news for all the wrong reasons. It was Arozarena who live-streamed Cardinals manager Mike Shildt’s profanity-laced postgame talk after St. Louis eliminated the Braves in the National League Division Series. It went viral, and Arozarena was ashamed.
Fast-forward to the present, and Arozarena is making MLB news this October with his bat instead of his phone. After a torrid stretch in which Arozarena was 12-for-20 in the Tampa Bay Rays’ first five postseason games — including home runs in each of the first three games against the Yankees in the ALDS — teammate Tyler Glasnow proclaimed him “the best player on earth” last week.
It’s difficult to argue that point after Arozarena again came through in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros, blasting a laser-like solo shot to straightaway center field in the fourth inning to erase a one-run deficit. The Rays went on to win the opening game 2-1.
“I think everyone is just in awe when he steps into the box,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “The power surge really ignites our offense. The sky’s the limit with him. It’s truly amazing what he can do against the best arms in the game.”
Arozarena’s four postseason home runs put him in elite Cuban company. He joins Tony Perez, Jose Canseco and Kendrys Morales with the most postseason home runs by a Cuban-born player. Remember: He’s still technically a rookie.
Rays manager Kevin Cash knows a good thing when he sees one, and that’s why Arozarena has been in a key spot in the lineup since he was activated in early August after returning from the COVID-19 list.
“I don’t know if I can,” manager Kevin Cash said when asked after Sunday’s victory to describe what Arozarena is doing this postseason. “I don’t know if I want to get in the way right now. He doesn’t have any familiarity, doesn’t know these guys he’s facing. He’s timed up. For a guy who swings as aggressively as he does, Randy’s just been as bright as any spot or as any player in the postseason.”
Like so many on this Rays roster, Arozarena fits in perfectly as someone who came from another organization that believed it would be better off without him. His is a story not uncommon to many of the Cuban-born players now in Major League Baseball. It’s a tale that includes a covert and incredibly dangerous journey and the desire to play baseball at the highest level possible. Arozarena has said that he escaped Cuba under the cover of night on a boat, heading across the 120 or so miles from the westernmost point in Cuba to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.
Leonys Martin, 32, is from an earlier era than Arozarena, 25, and the two have much in common, though they have never met. Martin made almost the exact same journey five years earlier in 2010. He wound up playing nine seasons in the majors and has been playing in Japan the past two seasons. He knows firsthand the terrifying anxiety associated with the path Arozarena took.
“Knowing I have made $40 million in my career, if you put me in the same situation, I would of course leave Cuba again, but I would never again put myself in a nightmare situation like that again in my life,” Martin said from Japan, where he plays for Chiba Lotte. “The worst decision a human could ever make is to put their life in danger simply to realize their dream. From the time you start planning until the time you are comfortable in the United States and playing baseball, there are so many things that can happen, from losing your life to losing everything you have worked so hard to attain.
“If they catch you in Cuba, you are ruined, and you will never be anything ever again. You can die so easily on open seas. You can be killed once you arrive in Mexico or be kidnapped. And you really have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. Knowing everything I know now, I would never leave Cuba again in the manner I did. No chance.”
Sadly, that is the way many of the Cubans currently in American professional baseball arrived. The two countries have no formal relations. It was in Mexico that Arozarena established residency and began playing pro ball in the Mexican League.
From there, the St. Louis Cardinals scouted him and signed him for $1.25 million. He has hit at every level he has played, even flexing some power numbers. But that was nothing like what he has done since the calendar flipped to September this year. His 11 home runs since Sept. 1 are second only to Adam Duvall’s 12. His first game for Tampa Bay this season was more than a month after the season began in late July because he contracted COVID-19.
As an aside, Arozarena wore No. 66 for his team in Tijuana because of his admiration for fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig, and he did so again last season in St. Louis. Upon arriving in Tampa Bay, Arozarena was given No. 56 after he was traded along with Jose Martinez in January, a deal that sent highly regarded pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore and another minor leaguer to the Cardinals. The Rays, an organization that always thinks pitching first, liked Arozarena so much that they dealt one of their top minor league arms.
Unlike Puig, Arozarena was mostly a silent player inside the clubhouse, shying away from most any interview requests while with the Cardinals last year. He has been on a couple of postseason zoom calls with reporters this month and is starting to show more of his personality, joining teammates in a celebratory dance-off on the field on Friday at Petco Park after the Rays sealed their five-game series victory over the Yankees.
“I’ve always considered myself a pretty good player and also a pretty good hitter,” Arozarena said last week during a pregame call with reporters.
Anyone who shines brightest under the intense lights of October could very well be MLB’s next Cuban star in the making.
Rafael Nadal sent coach Carlos Moya and physio Rafael Maymo to watch Novak Djokovic take on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the French Open semi-finals.
There was no time to celebrate for Moya and Maymo after helping Nadal reach the French Open final.
The Spaniard did so with a straight-sets win over Diego Schwartzman earlier in the day on court Philippe-Chatrier.
French Open LIVE: Novak Djokovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
As the world No 2 went off to fulfil his media duties and spend time with his family, who were allowed into the stadium along with some fans, his coach had another task on their hands.
Nadal is hoping to win a record-extending 13th title at Roland Garros in Sunday’s final.
And he wanted all the information he could get on his potential next opponents.
Djokovic will be a familiar foe if it is to be him who Nadal faces next.
The two legends of the game have met on 55 occasions, with Djokovic enjoying a 29-26 win advantage.
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If it is to be the younger Tsitsipas who makes his maiden Grand Slam final then that will be a different challenge in itself.
Nadal has beaten the Greek ace in five of their six battles but with every tournament the 22-year-old is improving.
Whoever it will be, Moya and Roig must help to come up with a plan which can help Nadal tie Roger Federer’s 20 Grand Slam titles in the French capital.
Moya spoke earlier this week about the threat Djokovic poses to Nadal’s clay-court crown.
“Novak is playing at a great level,” Moya said. “He played a very hard game against Karen Khachanov and he solved it quite well.
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“He is a great player and I think that it is the player who benefits most from all these conditions of this Roland-Garros.
“We are concentrating on our work for the semi-finals and if the moment arrives to face Djokovic it means that Rafa is in the final and that Djokovic has won his two matches.”
Meanwhile, John McEnroe thinks Djokovic will be the favourite if the top two players in the world reach the final.
“I’m counting on Novak – Nadal in the final, in which, in my opinion, Nadal has no chance in these conditions, on this clay and with Novak, who has got into his head,” he said.
“I went a little too far, but in my opinion Novak is the number one favourite. He brought his body, his head and preparation to perfection.
“He prepares everything in detail, from tactics, technique, to nutrition, and he adheres to it.
“That’s the most important thing because I couldn’t stick to half of it, but he knows it makes him better, he wants to progress every day and it’s very interesting to work with him because he wants something better every day, at least 0.00001 percent, but something has to be happening, I have never seen such a mentality in my life.”
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