Monday 19 February 2018

In brief: Vettel on pole for Turkey

MOTORSPORT: Sebastian Vettel yesterday became the first driver for five years to secure five successive pole positions.

Not since Fernando Alonso in 2006 has a driver achieved such a feat, but Vettel is currently the man of the moment and could easily threaten Ayrton Senna's record of eight set 22 years ago.

For today's Turkish Grand Prix it will be an all-Red Bull front row, the 11th time for the team, with Mark Webber finishing 0.4 seconds adrift of his team-mate.

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golf: South African Thomas Aiken doubled his one-shot halfway lead in tne Spanish Open at El Prat, near Barcelona, by remaining eight-under after a third-round 72, but four players are now six-under -- Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal (73), Dane Anders Hansen (69) and Tour rookies Scott Jamieson and Romain Wattel from Scotland and France. They both shot 72.

Three birdies on the back nine saw Shane Lowry shoot a third-round two-under 70 to claim a four-way share of sixth spot, four shots in arrears. Peter Lawrie slipped back to two-under overall following a third-round 74.

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Welsh teenager Rhys Pugh will take a one-stroke lead over Scotland's Gordon Stevenson into today's final 36 holes of the Irish Amateur Open Championship at Royal Dublin.

The 17-year-old followed a 72 in Friday's gales with a two under par 70 to lead on two under par 142.

The Irish are well placed to strike with 18-year-old Leaving Certificate student Paul Dunne of Greystones (71) and 38-year-old Eddie McCormack (70) of Galway just two shots off the lead in a tied for third on level par.

Defending champion Alan Dunbar (72) and Mourne's Reeve Whitson (69) are three shots behind on one-over after a day that saw Belgian's Rutger Dhondt card a course record equalling, six under par 66 to set the early pace on three over par.

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GAELIC GAMES: Fingal booked a semi-final berth in the Nicky Rackard Cup, winning a one-sided quarter-final 3-19 to 0-11 at Swords yesterday afternoon. A goal in either half by Andrew Richardson added to a show of force for the north Dublin outfit, who will now take on London away in the last four.

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LOUTH held out for a narrow 3-9 to 1-14 win over Roscommon in Dundalk yesterday to book their place in the last four of the Nicky Rackard Cup.

Goals either side of half-time from Diarmuid Murphy and another from David Kettle had the hosts leading 3-9 to 0-10 midway through the second half.

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horse racing: Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty took the honours on the final day of the Punchestown Festival with a 235/1 treble -- highlighted by Grandouet's win in the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle.

Grandouet had been well fancied for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March but faded into third while he was still going well when brought down close home at Aintree.

Geraghty always looked confident and let the 5/2 chance coast clear to beat Kumbeshwar by nine lengths.

"He deserved that for his consistency, honesty and above all his jumping,'' said Henderson. It can be tough for a four-year-old to run in three festivals but he always looked like he would win today.

"We have all summer to think of plans but Barry suggests going chasing. There's a thing called Hurricane Fly to worry about if we stay hurdling.''

Meanwhile, Gary Bartley made an unglamorous trip from Scotland to Ascot in Jim Goldie's horsebox only to emerge with the biggest success of his career after partnering his beloved Hawkeyethenoo in the totesport Victoria Cup.

The 3lb claimer is a vital component of Goldie's stable near Glasgow and has now been in the saddle for four of Hawkeyethenoo's six victories since the versatile sprinter moved from Mick Easterby in the summer of 2009.

Although he has been replaced by blue-chip jockeys on many of the big occasions, the uncomplaining Bartley continued his job as the gelding's work rider and seized his opportunity.

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SHOWJUMPING: Ireland's Billy Twomey won his first ever Global Champions Tour Grand Prix at Valencia, Spain last night with a sparkling performance over three rounds on 'Je t'Aime Flamenco'.

One of just four to go clear in the second round, Twomey was second last to go in the jump-off and took Sue Davies's bay stallion through a third faultless performance to take the lead on time and pick up the winner's €92,000 prize pot..

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hockey: The Irish League play-offs conclude today at Garryduff, Co Cork, where Instonians, making their first appearance in the men's event, drew 1-1 with Three Rock Rovers, who got off the mark with a 2-1 win over Bandon the previous evening.

It leaves Instonians needing a draw with Bandon to secure qualification along with Three Rock.

In the women's play-offs Old Alex are sitting pretty to book their place in next year's League after yesterday's 7-0 win over Greenfields on the back of their 4-0 win over UCC on Friday night. UCC could well be joining them after their 2-1 over Ards yesterday, thanks to a winner from Miriam Crowley.

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TENNIS: Irish duo Sam Barry and Daniel Glancy had to be content with a doubles semi-final placing in the ITF Men's Futures event in Tarsus, Turkey.

Limerick's Barry and Mayoman Glancy, the No 4 seeds, yesterday had their hopes of clinching a place in the final of the outdoor clay court tournament dashed by unseeded Spanish pair Carlos Calderon-Rodriguez and Marc Giner on a 7-6 (8/6) 6-4 scoreline.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal will play Novak Djokovic in the Madrid Open final today after the world's top two won their semi-finals in three sets.

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