Wednesday 13 December 2017

In Brief: Hello Bud rolls back the years

RACING: Hello Bud rediscovered old form to win the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase for a second time at Aintree, the highlight of a memorable 193/1 treble for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and his jockey son Sam.

As well as lifting the other race run over the Grand National fences with Little Josh, they also struck with Master Of The Sea.

But it was 14-year-old Hello Bud (14/1) which took the plaudits with an emotional triumph for his connections.

Successful in 2010 and running in this race for a fourth time, the veteran answered his rider's every call.

The winning jockey said: "He absolutely ran his heart out for me. He means everything to me. I just can't tell you just how much I love his horse."

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Sprinter Sacre's facile success in the Tingle Creek Chase proved the highlight of a four-timer for trainer Nicky Henderson at Sandown.

On a memorable afternoon for the Seven Barrows handler, he also teamed up with stable jockey Barry Geraghty to claim the Markel Insurance Henry VIII Novices' Chase with Captain Conan. Sprinter Sacre (4/11 favourite) was the undoubted star of the show, extending his unbeaten run over fences to six on his seasonal bow in the Grade One feature.

Much had been made of the showdown between Sprinter Sacre and the Paul Nicholls-trained Sanctuaire but it turned into a one-horse race on the day.

Ruby Walsh built up an eight-length advantage riding Sanctuaire at one stage, but Sprinter Sacre reeled him back in with the minimum of effort to take charge three fences from home to eventually win by 15 lengths.

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GOLF: The new European Tour season finally began two days late on a rain-saturated Royal Durban course in South Africa.

The inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship was reduced from 72 to 36 holes, but might still have to be extended to tomorrow if there are any further hold-ups. Former Players Championship winner Tim Clark raced into the lead at four-under par after 11 holes, joined by Dane Morten Orum Madsen after he made a late charge. One behind were South African Colin Nel and Swede Bjorn Akesson, joint 14th at the recent Tour qualifying school. Following the disruption on Thursday and Friday, it was announced that the objective of the tournament was to achieve 36 holes by this evening or Monday.

Irishmen Damien McGrane and Peter Lawrie posted rounds of 66 yesterday.

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BADMINTON: Top-seeded Irish duo Scott Evans and Chloe Magee last night advanced to the singles finals in the Carlton Irish Badminton Open at Baldoyle, Dublin.

Dubliner Evans saw off French challenger Lucas Clearbout on a 21-17 21-18 scoreline, the visiting player putting up a gritty challenge considering he is placed at 166 in the world rankings compared to his opponent's 59 mark.

In the women's semi-final, Spain's No 5 seed Beatriz Corrales levelled at one game all against Magee, but the 56-ranked Donegal native regained the initiative against 86-ranked Corales in the decider en route to a 21-18 21-13 21-12 success. Today, Evans will face French qualifier Lucas Corvee, while Magee takes on Denmark's No 6 seed Line Kjaersfeldt.

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HOCKEY: Pembroke Wanderers had to hang on grimly to consolidate their place at the top in the men's Leinster's Division One campaign edging a home 5-4 win over Corinthians.

Pembroke led 5-1 at one stage, with four goals from Alan Sothern, before Corinthians hit back, leading to a tense finish with three goals in the final eight minutes.

Monkstown took over second spot on goal difference over Three Rock Rovers, with a 3-0 win over Fingal, while Rovers lost 1-0 to UCD. Ballymoney, Hermes and Ards all won their two second round Irish Senior Cup ties postponed earlier this month.

Hermes nicked it on penalties over Armagh after it finished 1-1 in normal time. However, the remaining tie between Catholic Institute and Pegasus was postponed.

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GAELIC GAMES: A 49th-minute goal from substitute Adrian Maguire proved pivotal at O'Toole Park yesterday afternoon, as Meath progressed to the next round of the Leinster Vocational Schools Senior Football competition over 14-man Dublin, winning 1-12 to 1-8.

The Royals raced into a five-point lead early on with scores from Ronan Lynch (2), Freddie Newman (2) and midfielder David Toner.

Dublin eventually settled to reduce the margin with points from Adam Rogers (2), Killian O'Gara and Lee O Briain, before an O'Gara stoppage-time goal gave the Sky Blues a slender 1-4 to 0-6 cushion at the interval.

Despite Conor Molloy being sent off, well-taken efforts from Rogers (2) and ó Briain meant that Dublin were two points to the good moving into the final quarter. Meath pushed on when it counted, however, and Maguire's instinctive flick past Kevin McGovern and points from half-back Jamie Reilly, and the excellent duo of Lynch and Newman, helped Meath ease over the line.

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SNOOKER: Shaun Murphy has been inspired by memories of Paul Hunter as he closes in on UK Championship glory.

Hunter died of cancer in October 2006 at the age of 27 and when Murphy has had to fight to stay composed, Hunter's attitude has come to mind. From 8-4 behind against Ali Carter, Murphy won five frames in a row to prevail 9-8 in their semi-final yesterday.

Meanwhile, Mark Selby returned to the top of the world rankings, qualifying for his first UK Championship final. Selby needed five of the nine available frames yesterday to convert his 6-2 mid-session lead in his semi-final with Mark Davis into a winning 9-4 score.

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CRICKET: England inflicted a telling collapse on India to put themselves on the verge of victory, and an unassailable 2-1 series lead, after day four of the third Test at Eden Gardens.

The tourists took six wickets for 36 runs but, with an innings win almost within their grasp in the final session, Ravichandran Ashwin (83 not out) prevented them finishing the job.

Ashwin stayed to complete his 111-ball 50 with successive fours off Graeme Swann, which means England must bat again.

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basketball: Neptune dug deep against Dublin Inter in the Men's SuperLeague quarter-final in Cork last night.

With Aurimas Statkus posing problems for Neptune inside, Mark Scannell's men faced a 15-point deficit at one stage in the first half.

However, underage star Matt Rudak scored some crucial baskets to help his team claim a 85-79 victory.

UL, meanwhile, were comfortable 94-74 winners over Killester, with Neil Campbell and Stephen King prominent in the second quarter.

Elsewhere, UCD Marian beat an under-strength Moycullen 69-59 in Galway – two crucial free throws from Conor Meaney eventually putting the game to bed for the students.

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