The struggling powerhouse, which have already been disqualified from the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player, will also have to be careful not to be caught by fourth-place Villarreal after Bruno Soriano scored his second of two goals deep into stoppage time to grab a 2-1 victory at Deportivo La Coruna. Benitez’s latest stumble, which arrived after losses at home to Barcelona and away at Sevilla and Villarreal in the last eight rounds, came in his return to a Mestalla Stadium where he established his reputation with two league titles and a UEFA Cup trophy. Benitez’s counterpart, Gary Neville, remained winless in his fourth league game since taking over at Valencia, but his team earned a morale-boosting result. Madrid’s strong start provoked panic in Valencia. Bale started the move with an audacious back-heeled flick to send Benzema’s pass to Cristiano Ronaldo, who slid the ball back for Benzema to slot his shot into the corner of the net. But instead of going for a second goal to finish the hosts off, Madrid let complacency creep in, and Valencia slowly began to push forward through midfielder Andres Gomes and forward Joao Cancelo. A Gomes incursion was only stopped when Pepe tripped him in the area, letting Parejo step up and level the score. Madrid recovered some of their attacking verve after the restart, but it was stalled by Kovacic’s sending-off for a lunging tackle on Cancelo in the 70th. Toni Kroos, however, placed a free kick for Bale to rise up and gracefully head in off the far post to momentarily restore Madrid’s lead. But Valencia charged right back to score when Rodrigo Moreno headed down a pass for Alcacer to nod home. Also Sunday, it was Athletic Bilbao 2, Las Palmas 2; Real Betis 0, Eibar 4; Granada 2, Sevilla 1; and Rayo Vallecano 2, Real Sociedad 2. Struggling powerhouse BARCELONA, Spain (AP): Real Madrid squandered a great opening goal and a chance to catch Barcelona in the Spanish league standings when they slipped to a 2-2 draw at Valencia in a match it ended with 10 men yesterday. Madrid seemed set to romp to an easy victory after Karim Benzema finished off a superb move in the 16th minute, but Valencia’s Dani Parejo levelled from the penalty spot just before half-time. Gareth Bale headed Madrid back in front in the 82nd, despite his team playing a man down after Mateo Kovacic saw a direct red card, only for Paco Alcacer to strike right back for the hosts a minute later to spark a thrilling finish by both teams. Coach Rafa Benitez will face even more scrutiny after Madrid failed to capitalise on Barcelona’s scoreless stalemate at Espanyol on Saturday and remained two points behind the defending champions, which have a game to play. Madrid also fell four points behind provisional leaders Atletico Madrid, the only title contender to win this round. Benitez said: “I can’t stop some people from speculating” about his future. “What I can do is get the team to work hard like they did today,” he said. “We missed an opportunity – only if you look at the result. But the effort that my team made deserves more praise that anything else.”
With the fancied horses having held their own at Caymanas Park last Saturday, both the Pick-9 and Super-6s start anew with guaranteed minimums of $1 million and $750,000 respectively.The Pick-9 will embrace all nine races on the card, the first Super-6 from race two to seven, the late Super-6 from race four to nine.We look at the first Super-6 which gets under way with a maiden special weight over 1500 metres for native-bred three-year-olds which should see PIANO MAN, PROUD PRESIDENT and MCCALLAN in serious contention at the end. The latter caught the eye when finishing a close second (running on) to VISION OF GOLD over 1200 metres on his debut last Saturday and will be better for the experience.Preference, however, is for the Philip Feanny-trained colt PIANO MAN, who was all the rage (4-5) on his debut in October, but dissipated his chances by rearing badly at the start, finishing 16 lengths fifth to the impressive fast-time winner DREAMING THE CODE over 1100 metres. Having impressed at exercise coming into this race, PIANO MAN should recoup losses with Orlando Foster now called up for the ride.DREALINLER, one of the top two-year-olds last season by virtue of winning the $2.95 million Cash Pot Only One For Me Trophy at 1200 metres on October 19, gets the nod over the speedy pair of BUBBLING KITTEN and ZUGULU in the next race for three-year-olds and up over 1100 metres.ABOVE THE RADAR and PERFECT FLYER, both runaway winners over 1820 metres in recent weeks, should fight out the finish of the fourth race over the same distance for $250,000 claimers.With ABOVE THE RADAR having achieved his win on a $325,000 claiming tag, the seven-year-old gelding (Walker up) from the stables of Lawrence Freemantle gets the nod over PERFECT FLYER and WATER WAVE.STrong runFLYING MIRACLE, who ran on very strongly to win over 1400 metres on Boxing Day, this on a $450,000 claiming tag, should resume winning ways with the improving apprentice Dane Dawkins aboard in the fifth race (fourth in Super-6) over 1500 metres for $350,000- $300,000 claimers.Trained by Victor Williams, the six-year-old gelding wasn’t disgraced in better company when finishing third to out of class BOLD AVIATOR over a mile on a $450,000 claiming tag on New Year’s Day and should rebound in this easier spot ahead of BRAVE PROSPECT and DOC HOLIDAY.FIRST SUPER-6 FANCIES(2) PIANO MAN/MACALLAN(3) DREAMLINER/BUBBLING KITTEN(4) ABOVE THE RADAR/PERFECT FLYER(5) FLYING MIRACLE(6) SPEEDY PROCESS/GENUINE FRIEND(7) STERRI’S CHOICE/ROSY PARKS
The best of the native bred three-year-old fillies will hold centre stage at Caymanas Park today in the 77th running of the Caribbean Choice Jamaica Oaks over 2000 metres and given the presence of a top heavy favourite in NUCLEAR AFFAIR, victory for her should be a mere formality.Offering a total purse of $3 million, this the season’s third classic has attracted 10 starters, including the first eight past the post in the April 9 Post to Post 1000 Guineas, which saw the howling favourite, NUCLEAR AFFAIR, powering home by 9 1/4 lengths from A THOUSAND STARS and SORRENTINO’S STAR in a fast 1:39.2 for a mile.NUCLEAR AFFAIR was then ridden by three-time champion, Dane Nelson, who left the island last week for another riding stint in Canada. Her connections have called up big-race jockey Shane Ellis, the reigning champion, to replace Nelson, who will be back to ride her in the derby.Unbeaten in three starts this season, NUCLEAR AFFAIR has already stamped herself as an exceptional three-year-old filly and Subratie is looking beyond the Oaks to the June 25 derby where she will come face to face with the colts.GLORIOUS UNCERTAINTY”She has everything in her favour today, having beaten seven of her opponents in the Guineas. But she still has to go out there and execute for racing is a sport of glorious uncertainty,” said Subratie, who is seeking his first Oaks win, having finished second with the 99-1 outsider ZACAPA some years ago.”She has done everything asked of her this season and I was particularly pleased with how she carried herself at exercise last Sunday morning in a six-furlong gallop, looking pretty easy in 1:14.4.”Nuclear Affair can do anything … she can run with the pace or come from behind if the situation demands and I am confident she will deliver for her deserving owner Michros,” he added.”It is only left to be seen whether my other runner, Golden Glory, can complete the exacta after finishing fifth in the Guineas. She did not have much luck in running, however, and my hope is that she can beat the runner-up, A Thousand Stars, and the third horse, Sorrentino’s Star, for second, with Ameth Robles who rode Zacapa taking the ride,” said the second generation trainer.For me, NUCLEAR AFFAIR, a chestnut filly by Nuclear Wayne out of Commandra Affair, bred by her owner, is so much better than her opponents that it will take an act of God to deny her today.The Wayne DaCosta-trained A THOUSAND STARS, a fast improving sort, should follow her home, again.Other firm fancies on the 12-race programme are CAMPESINO to repeat in the third race for open allowance horses; last year’s Oaks winner, MOM’S STUDENT, in the fourth; SOUND OF MIRACLE in the fifth; RUNAWAY GAL in the sixth for the Ricochet Cup; PROLIFIC PRINCESS in the seventh; and LORD EQUUS in the ninth.
COACH OF THE YEAR Montego Bay United Football Club captured the most awards at the Professional Football Association of Jamaica (PFAJ)/Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) presentation ceremony on Thursday night at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston. Chairman of the PFAJ Don Anderson described the season as one of the most interesting. “It has been one of the most intriguing coming to an end. MBU has been most consistent in three years by competing in the last three finals and winning two times,” Anderson said. “I salute MBU. However, Portmore’s Michael Binns scored a goal in the final that was worthy of a World Cup final,” he shared. He admitted that there were challenges along the way. “Personally, throughout my 37 years in administration, my firm belief is that off the field issues must be dealt with around the table. Football needs us all, so let us work together,” he also added. The 2015-16 champions collected the coveted title and winning cash incentive of $2.5 million, plus 35 medals, while beaten finalists Portmore United walked away with $1.5 million and 25 silver medals. Last season’s champions, Arnett Gardens, finished third and were rewarded $1 million and medals, while Humble Lion received $500,000 for their fourth-place finish in the 12-team league. MBU were the best defensive and top-scoring team. Their striker, Owayne Gordon, received four individual awards. Gordon, who missed the final last Sunday at the Montego Bay Sports Complex in Catherine Hall, received Round Three top striker for scoring 10 goals, the leading goalscorer with 20 goals, the Most Valuable Player and the Tony Burrowes Player Personality Award. MBU’s Jacomena Barrett won the goalkeeper of the year award for the third consecutive season, while former national player Paul ‘Tegat’ Davis won the Winning Coach award, and Dwayne Ambusley won the Winning Captain award. Marcel Gayle of first-time team in the Premier League the University of the West Indies FC, won the Coach of the Year award. Portmore United won the regular season award for the team that finished on most points and were also the team with the most wins. Junior Flemmings, who is on loan from Tivoli Gardens to MLS club New York Red Bull, was the Junior Player of the Year. MBU’s Dino Williams was the Round One top goal scorer with six goals, while Cory Burke, who started the season at Rivoli United before transferring to MoBay, scored the most goals (six) in Round Two. Boys’ Town FC won the FIFA Fair Play award, while the top referee was Valdin Ledgister and top assistant referee was Richard Washington. The RSPL best XI players were: Damian Hyatt (Arnett Gardens), Ladale Ritchie (MBU), Oneil Thompson (Arnett), Khareem Manning (Portmore United), Rosario Harriott (Harbour View), Ricardo Morris (Portmore), Andrew Vanzie (Humble Lion), Renae Lloyd (Arnett), Owayne Gordon (MBU), and Dino Williams (MBU).
GOALS GALORE Kingston College goalkeeper Jahvanni Grant came up trumps with three saves as the North Street-based school came from behind in a penalty shoot-out to stun defending champion Wolmer’s 4-3 after the teams battled to a pulsating 2-2 draw in an ISSA-FLOW Walker Cup quarter-final at the Constant Spring field yesterday. Alphonso Gooden fired Wolmer’s in front against the runner-of-play in the 16th minute, but the North Street school equalised through Rashawn Mackison five minutes later and then went in front after 60 minutes courtesy of Omar Thompson’s deflected strike. But Rivaldo English sent the game into extra time when he capitalised on an error from Grant to put the ball into an empty net. In the shootout, KC missed their first two kicks, while Wolmer’s netted theirs. But after KC scored their next two, Grant stopped two straight kicks and then in sudden death, he saved a penalty from opposing goalkeeper, Jemison, to clinch the win. Both coaches believed Grant made the difference. “I know Jahvanni (Grant) from previous school (Wolmer’s), I know he is a good shot-stopper when it comes to penalties. I needed the first save from him and that would have boosted his confidence. When I saw Jemison step up, I said: Why is Jemison taking a penalty when Jahvanni knows everything about him as both were once together at Wolmer’s? Right there, I knew he would have stopped it,” Ludlow Bernard the KC coach said. Wolmer’s coach, Vassell Reynolds, also thought Grant’s knowledge of his former teammates played a big role in the shoot-out. “The KC ‘keeper’ knew my players, and I think that ended up making a big difference,” he said.
ST JOHN’s, Antigua, (CMC):The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) yesterday confirmed the appointment of former West Indies captain Jimmy Adams as its new director of cricket.The 49-year-old, who recently stepped down as head coach of English County side, Kent, after four years in charge, has replaced the controversial Englishman Richard Pybus, who did not seek a renewal of his contract.News of Adams’ appointment had been widely reported last month.The Jamaican, who will be based in Antigua, officially started his new role yesterday on a three-year contract and said he was keen to undertake his duties.”I am very excited to be directly involved in Caribbean cricket once again, and I look forward to working with all those committed to moving the game forward in the West Indies,” he noted.Adams, a gritty left-hander during his playing career, represented West Indies in 54 Tests between 1992 and 2001, scoring, 3012 runs at an average of 41 with six centuries.He led the regional side in 15 Tests, winning four, losing eight and drawing three.Following his retirement, Adams managed the West Indies Under-19s, headed up the international players association (FICA), before overseeing Jamaica’s cricket programme as technical director.According to the WICB, Adams will “oversee and manage all cricket matters, to include development of all teams, all coaching and cricket education and other technical programmes.”Pybus, who was a member of the panel that selected Adams, said the new director of cricket was entering the role at an “exciting time”.EXCITING TIME”I look forward to Jimmy bringing the breadth of his international experience and knowledge of cricket in the Caribbean to continue the work of rebuilding West Indies cricket,” said Pybus.”It is an exciting time for cricket in the region, with the momentum of the World Cup’s success and the professional cricket structures beginning to produce players capable of competing and excelling at international level.”Pybus, who spent three years in the role, reportedly endured a strained relationship with players and was once criticised by West Indies opener Kieran Powell over his controversial exclusion from the regional squad.Former head coach Phil Simmons also hinted at a breakdown in his relationship with Pybus months before he was sacked last September.
Chelsea revealed that firing Jose Mourinho the second time cost about £8 million, adding that £67 million p was paid for the early termination of the Premier League team’sAdidas sponsorship.Mourinho, who now manages Manchester United, was dismissed by Chelsea during his third season back in charge in December 2015.termination paymentChelsea’s newly published accounts reveal “termination payments and compensation” of £8.3 million (then US$13 million).Mourinho previously managed Chelsea between 2004-07. Chelsea later said that itpaid £23.1 million to dismiss Mourinho and successor Avram Grant.Most of Chelsea’s “exceptional costs” last year covered the £67 million (then US $97 million) payment to adidas to allow the club to sign a new sponsorship with Nike worth more than US$1 billion.
Promising British sprinter Zharnel Hughes has signed with the American sports agency Doyle Management Group, as he looks to regain success shown as a junior athlete.In 2015, at just 19 years old, Hughes challenged and nearly beat Usain Bolt at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York. He then went on to win a pair of 200m races at Diamond League meets in Lausanne, Switzerland, and on home soil in London before finishing fifth at the World Championships in Beijing.Hughes found himself injured for 2016 season, but is recovering nicely and can’t wait to take on 2017 stronger than ever.”I’m excited to attack the 2017 season with a vengeance. I had a tough year with injuries in 2016, but I’m healthy again and I’m learning about my body. I’m doing a better job of taking care of myself on and off the track and I am very focused. I am still very young and I know there’s a lot of time ahead for me in this sport, but I am hungry! I had a taste of success in 2015 and I want to build on that this year and put myself on the map at the top of the sport. To win a medal in London in front of the home crowd is what I am working towards, and I am confident I can succeed,” said Hughes yesterday.Paul Doyle, CEO of Doyle Management Group, spoke very highly of his newest client.DESTINED FOR GREATNESS”Every once in a while, a very special athlete emerges and you just know they are destined for greatness. That is certainly the case with Zharnel. I’ve watched countless race videos of Zharnel and he just has a way about him. His stride are effortless. His strength and power is something rarely seen, especially in a 19-year-old kid. In a few years’ time, we could be regarding Zharnel as the greatest sprinter in British history. He has the talent, he has the determination, and he has the maturity and mentality to be successful. I honestly think he could be one of the best sprinters of all time, when all is said and done,” said Doyle.The 6’3″ Anguilla-born athlete will open his competition season race this Saturday at the Camperdown Classic in Kingston, Jamaica, where he will contest the longer sprint of 400m. Twice the distance of his bread-and-butter event, the 200m.”I’m looking forward to getting back on the track and competing again. The 400m race will be a good indicator of my fitness and the progress I have made in training. Consider me one to watch,” said Hughes.
Without giving a specific date, three-time Olympian Michael Frater is contemplating his retirement from athletics. Speaking last Saturday at the Gibson McCook Relays, Frater expressed his joy of being part of a golden era in Jamaican track and field. He is, nevertheless, looking forward to a good 2017 season. Though he didn’t compete at the Relays this year, the 34, year-old sprinter described 2017 as “a very important year for me”. “It’s getting down there to maybe the final years of my career”, he clarified, “so I just want to finish up on a good note.” He was on his way back to good form last year when he ran 10.04 seconds for the 100m at the inaugural Racers Grand Prix. But, his bid for a place on a fourth consecutive Olympic team was spoilt by an ill-timed bout with the Zika virus. The 10.04 was his best time in four injury-ridden seasons. Frater, the 2005 World Championships 100m runner-up, agrees that he was part of a generation of Jamaican athletes who did extremely well. “It’s the end of a great era for us, and looking forward, for the youngsters to really come and carry on the mantle from this one because the last 10-12 years have been excellent for us,” he said with obvious pride. “We have pretty much dominated the world,” he went on, “and I definitely want to see us continue doing that.” A 9.88 sprinter at his best, Frater was also a finalist in the 2008 Olympics and helped Jamaica to world record 4x100m victories at those Games, the 2011 World Championships and the 2012 Olympics.
After a fine 2016 season, Jaheel Hyde wants to go one step further in the 400m hurdles. The 20-year-old plans to surpass his Olympic Games semi-final placing with a spot in the final at this year’s IAAF World Championships in London. To that end, he is working to move to the next level.”You know, last year I hit every mark that I set out for last year,” he reflected recently on a 2016 campaign that saw him defending his World under 20 400m hurdles crown, cutting his Jamaican junior record to 48.81 seconds and reaching the Olympic semi-finals. “I wanted to defend my World Junior title and to take everything in steps,” he said.Now, the University of the West Indies student is focused athletically on London. “Each year, I’m going to have to put on one step on it,” he asserted, “so that is what I’m aiming for this year.”Asked to pinpoint his 2017 target, Hyde said, “Of course I want to make the World Champs team, and I want to make the finals, and that’s the one step.”The former footballer is still adjusting to the rigours of training solely for athletics. “Trust me, it’s very hard, “he confessed. “When I was doing football, you know I started track and field in January,” he recounted, “so sometimes I would say to him just let me start training in January because to train from September straight back through to August is very hard.”He is, however, resolved to do the work greatness requires. “If I want to move to the next level, these are the sacrifices I have to make, so I’m not really bothered by it anymore.”MY OWN DESTINYIt’s no surprise that he misses the beautiful game. “Of course I miss football,” he revealed. “I even have thoughts of going back to football, between me and you,” he said.Despite that, this precocious Cameron Blazers team member won’t lace up his boots for quite some time. “I just want to enjoy my track and field career and see what happens,” he said . Moreover, he is quite sure that he was right to choose athletics over football. “I always wanted to do something where I control my own destiny,” the former Wolmers’ Boy striker reasoned.”For example, the Manning Cup final,” he recalled of a 3-2 loss to Jamaica College in 2013. “I played my heart out there, scored two brilliant goals and we lost.””When I go out there by myself now, and I mess up, I know that’s all on me,” he said. “When I lose, it’s on me,” Hyde said. “When I win, it’s on me.”