Nina Carberry will saddle her first runner as a trainer as Peak Raider lines up at Gowran Park. Widely regarded as one of, if not the most talented female jockey in National Hunt racing, Carberry partnered Arthur Moore’s Organisedconfusion to win the 2011 Irish Grand National and has also ridden four winners at the Cheltenham Festival. While she has no intention of hanging up her riding boots just yet and will be back in the saddle at Prestbury Park next week, she takes on a different role this weekend as Peak Raider, formerly trained by her father Tommy, takes his chance in the Shamrock Handicap Chase. Davy Condon rides. Carberry said: “I’m looking forward to it and hopefully he should run well. His last few runs have been a bit disappointing, so I’m just hoping he can improve a bit. He’s the only horse I’m training at the moment, I have a few younger horses of my own. I’m doing a bit of buying and selling and that’s the main reason I’ve taken the licence out.” Peak Raider faces no easy task in the feature event of the day at Gowran Park, with the weights headed by last weekend’s Leopardstown scorer He’llberemembered. His trainer Paul Fahey said: “You never really know until you run them, but he seems to have taken the race the other day very well. Looking at him at home, he seems in the same form today as he was this day last week, so hopefully he’ll be all right. “With the better horses going to Cheltenham, hopefully it’s a good chance for us to pick up another nice pot. The ground will be more testing than last week, but I’m not overly worried. I don’t think he’s really ground dependant.” Nina’s brother Paul rides leading contender Barneys Honour in the same race for trainer Gordon Elliott. Elsewhere on the card, the Willie Mullins-trained Are Ya Right Chief is bound to be popular as the recent Thurles winner makes his debut over fences in the Support Kilkenny GAA Raceday On 23rd March At Gowran Park Beginners Chase. The Tetratema Perpetual Cup has attracted a decent field of hunter chasers including Mullins’ Boxer Georg and Declan McNamara’s Mossey Joe. A host of previous winners from the point-to-point sphere make their debut under Rules in the concluding Bennettsbridge Point-To-Point INH Flat Race. Press Association
Hughes was thrilled to have captured the left-back, who has won 17 caps for Holland, saying: “I am delighted to have secured Erik’s signature. The main focus this summer in attempting to strengthen the squad is ensuring it is balanced in key positions. “While Erik is predominantly a left-back, he has also played for his country as a central defender, so he gives us other options. “We need good quality in our starting eleven and good quality back-up for all areas, which Erik will certainly give us defensively.” Pieters started his career at FC Utrecht before moving to PSV in a 2.5million euro (£2.1million) transfer in 2008. In his five years at the Philips Stadium, Pieters has helped PSV claim three top-three finishes in the Eredivisie and a runners-up spot last season. PSV also won the KNVB Beker (Dutch Cup) in 2012 and have been regular participants in Europe. Stoke’s chief executive Tony Scholes said: “Erik has a considerable amount of experience of playing at the highest level, both on the international stage with Holland and in the Champions League with PSV Eindhoven. “He is a player who was identified by our technical director Mark Cartwright as one who could strengthen our defensive options and we have been tracking his progress, so we are delighted to have brought him here now.” Press Association The 24-year-old has signed a four-year contract and will cost Stoke a fee of 3.6million euro (£3million), the Barclays Premier League outfit announced on their official website. Pieters becomes Stoke manager Mark Hughes’ first signing since he succeeded Tony Pulis in May. Stoke have completed the signing of Holland defender Erik Pieters from PSV Eindhoven.
Press Association Saxo Jack denied top-weight Steps To Freedom in the valuable Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Red God’ Handicap at Dundalk. Trained by Ger Lyons, the three-year-old was the most unexposed runner in the field, arriving on the back of just three previous outings culminating in a Leopardstown maiden success, but he belied that statistic with a smart display under Gary Carroll. The 7-1 shot was always travelling well and hit the front inside the final furlong before resisting the strong challenge from the rear of Steps To Freedom by half a length, with Mick Halford’s course specialist Banna Boircha running a great race in third, another length and three-quarters away. Lyons said: “He just got in the race, which was a concern, but I thought he’d enjoy this trip. Gary gave him a lovely ride. I rate my own horses at home so it is irrelevant what the handicapper gives them really, I have this lad down as a stakes horse eventually. He’s by King’s Best, so he’s only going to get better with age. I thought his mark of 89 was grand. “I was a bit worried about the hurly burly nature of the race, especially at the first bend, as he’s a bit feminine-looking, but when he got a good position I was happy. Ultimately he’ll be in Dubai with me, so I don’t care what the handicapper does – as long as he doesn’t give him 117 (as stablemate Brendan Brackan was after winning at Galway).” Jessica Harrington will have been very encouraged by the performance of Steps To Freedom ahead of his proposed tilt at the Ebor at York on Saturday. Dundalk six-furlong specialist Farmleigh House (10-1) put up a fine weight-carrying performance to take the Bar One Racing Mourne Handicap in a thrilling finish. Niall McCullagh hit the front a furlong out on Willie Martin’s six-year-old, who was carrying the welter burden of 10st 2lb, and he was all out to hold the charging Via Ballycroy by a short head as they flashed past the post together. The Wexford handler said: “He goes to Newmarket on Saturday for the Listed race over six furlongs (Hopeful Stakes), and hopefully the ground will be quick over there. He’s been working well but was coming back from a lung infection. He’d mucus on his lungs and was off for a month getting treatment.” In-form jockey Connor King got Queen Grace (10-1) away quickly in the Crowne Plaza Race & Stay Rated Race and Michael Browne’s mare had the contest won coming down the straight before holding favourite My Good Brother by half a length. The trainer said: “She’s been threatening that for a while. When I saw this race I thought it was readymade for her and I knew she was in great form coming here. She’s going to be covered next year and that’s a real thrill to win today.”
Moyes watched Ronaldo’s awesome performance for Portugal in their World Cup play-off victory over Sweden in Stockholm on Tuesday on TV. Like everyone else who witnessed the winger’s hat-trick, the United boss was spellbound by the talent Ronaldo displayed so regularly during his six seasons with the Red Devils. Indeed, there was intense speculation during the close season Ronaldo was intent on heading back to his old club, with United eager to make a marquee signing to herald the arrival of Moyes as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor. It did not happen. And now he has signed a five-year contract with Real Madrid, and declared his intention to remain at the Bernabeu for the remainder of his career, it seems highly unlikely it ever will. However, maybe clinging to the most slenderest of hopes, Moyes is not giving up completely. “Everyone at Manchester United would tell you he is the best in the business anyway,” Moyes told MUTV. “I have not been fortunate enough to work with him but there is still hope some day it might be possible.” Press Association Manchester United manager David Moyes has not given up on the possibility of working with Cristiano Ronaldo one day.
Ireland prop Cian Healy will miss the start of the RBS 6 Nations after being ruled out for eight weeks because of surgery on his right ankle. Press Association “Cian had ankle surgery on Wednesday so he’s unavailable for about eight weeks. He’s doing good but he won’t play for a while,” Leinster coach Matt O’Connor said. Healy had surgery on his left ankle during the summer to correct an injury sustained on the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia and has made just four appearances for Leinster this season. Healy withdrew from Leinster’s starting XV shortly before kick-off of last weekend’s 40-7 Heineken Cup win over Northampton and had already been declared unfit for Saturday’s return fixture in Dublin. The two-month time-frame means the opening fixtures against Scotland and Wales appear too early for his return, but he could feature against England on February 22.
They are in contention in four competitions and, now unbeaten in 14 games, starting to look formidable. Yet there have been weaknesses, both defensively and in terms of away form. City have lost four on their travels in the league, results that might have been different with a change of emphasis, but Pellegrini believes doing so would have hampered long-term progress. The Chilean said: “I remember when we lost at Cardiff and Aston Villa. “I wanted them to continue in the same style, the only way is to have a style of football. “We could have had a better chance if we’d played against Cardiff and Aston Villa with 10 players behind the ball, but I was sure in that moment it was impossible to improve in that way. “We lost but for the players it was important to understand we were not going to change – we lost for a set-piece or a mistake. “I think it was more important to build the way we play.” Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini accepts a change of approach might have benefited his side at times – but he will always stick to his attacking guns. With the likes of Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko, David Silva, Samir Nasri and Yaya Toure at his disposal, Pellegrini has players well suited to his attacking philosophy. The veteran former Malaga, Real Madrid and Villarreal boss also finds his methods easy to coach, because he has never changed them. The 60-year-old said: “I’ve been the same my whole career. “A lot of managers can manage the way they want, there is not just one way to do it. “Maybe other managers would see their team score one goal and then prefer to go back and counter-attack, then try to score the second goal. “A lot of those managers are the best managers at the moment, but for me it’s very important to continue the way I play.” City’s style is much more fluid than that seen in the final season of Roberto Mancini’s reign but Pellegrini does not think it is fair to look back on what his predecessor did. He said: “I will not compare with last season. I’m just thinking of the way I coach them at the moment and I give the players more freedom.” Pellegrini arrived at City last summer as a largely unknown quantity in England. His track record was modest in terms of success but impressive in relation to the clubs he had overseen. City had seen enough to believe he was the man to further their development and he is proving to be a good fit. He also feels settled but has not even considered that his stay could last for longer than his initial contract. He said: “In this career it is very difficult to be happy too long so you have to enjoy these moments. “I am very happy here, I have a three year contract – but I’m not thinking about the future, I’m thinking about this week. “We will talk with the club in the future. For the moment we are doing things well and must continue in the same way.” Pellegrini admits football consumes his life but he is also keen to take in English culture. He said: “In this moment, I’ve not got much time to enjoy other things but the other day after the match I went to York. I want to get to know the country. “It was a very beautiful city – like a lot of villages and towns here. There is a lot of history behind them.” Press Association Pellegrini has kept his promise to deliver an exhilarating brand of football at the Etihad Stadium this season, and with it has come some impressive results. The 6-0 thrashing of West Ham in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final in midweek took City’s goal tally for the season, just past its midway point, to a remarkable 92.
Press Association Lennox Lewis revealed he had given West Ham a pre-match prep talk ahead of their clash with fellow Barclays Premier League strugglers Norwich – and it was James Collins and Mohamed Diame who delivered the late knockout blows that gave the Hammers a 2-0 victory. The Canaries would have won the tentative battle on points after creating most of the better openings in the game but Collins arrived just in time to head home an 84th-minute chance – with Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy culpable of coming to collect the delivery and getting caught out. With the visitors chasing a late equaliser they were then exposed at the back, allowing second-half substitute Diame to wrap up the win late in stoppage time. Former undisputed world heavyweight champion and Hammers fan Lewis was paraded to the supporters before the game, with both sides then sparring for the majority of the 90 minutes as not losing the game became paramount to their respective survival bids. It was Norwich, and striker Gary Hooper, who passed up a number of gilt-edged chances to secure the three points, with Hammers goalkeeper Adrian again in top form. Robert Snodgrass and Alex Tettey also found the Spaniard in the way as they looked to secure a third away league win of the campaign, with West Ham rarely able to trouble Ruddy in the Canaries’ goal. Sam Allardyce’s side were lacking the spearhead of Andy Carroll and only Diame truly tested Ruddy before the England goalkeeper went missing for Collins’ late show. The win takes Sam Allardyce’s side up to 10th in the table as they won three consecutive games in the top flight for the first time since the end of the 2006/07 season. Hooper, whose first league goal for Norwich came in their 3-1 win over the Hammers back in November, came close to opening the scoring on nine minutes as his header from Nathan Redmond’s cross forced Adrian to push the ball away and it was cleared behind for a corner to the visitors. It was Adrian who once again came to West Ham’s rescue as Snodgrass timed a forward run to perfection and was found by the busy Redmond. But the Scotland winger took a heavy touch, giving the goalkeeper time to narrow the angle and keep out the resulting shot. The Norwich defence then almost paid for their collective inability to clear the ball as Matt Jarvis curled an effort towards goal but it proved simple for Ruddy to collect. The Canaries were finding gaps in the final third on regular occasions, with Hooper creating another chance after chasing a seemingly lost cause. He played the ball across to Redmond, with Snodgrass picked out on the overlap and his cross only just evading the onrushing Bradley Johnson as the home fans became increasingly restless. The slow-starting Hammers were reduced to looking for spectacular ways to beat Ruddy and it was Mark Noble who was next to send a long-range effort straight at the England man. As the half wore on the hosts started to enjoy more sustained pressure on the Norwich goal as Stewart Downing fired over before delivering a teasing cross that was well cleared by Norwich skipper Sebastien Bassong. Adrian was again on hand to keep the scores level, this time pushing Tettey’s shot behind for a corner as the visitors worked their way through the West Ham backline. Hooper spurned another chance to open the scoring early in the second half, this time collecting Tettey’s speculative effort but only managing to roll a tame effort into the gloves of Adrian when free on the edge of the penalty area. The former Celtic striker was the man who looked most likely to provide a winning goal for the visitors but he was thwarted by Adrian yet again as he shot from an acute angle after being picked out by Johnson. Ruddy made a great save moments later as Kevin Nolan slipped the ball through to substitute Diame, whose low effort was turned behind by the Norwich goalkeeper. West Ham, on the ropes for much of the contest, then came out fighting at the death as a short free-kick to Diame was crossed towards Collins and, with Ruddy rushing out and getting nowhere near the ball, the Wales defender steered the ball home to put West Ham ahead. As Chris Hughton’s side searched in vain for a dramatic, and deserved, equaliser, Diame was freed into a barren Norwich half and turned the ball home courtesy of a heavy deflection to send the home fans into raptures at the final whistle.
The hosts were restricted to 116 for eight, Chris Gayle top-scoring with just 18 as Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien and Alex Cusack took two wickets apiece. From eight for two, Ireland powered to 117 for four to win with five balls to spare as Ed Joyce top-scored with 40 not out. Windies captain Darren Sammy won the toss but his side struggled to build momentum, save for two early sixes from Dwayne Smith (14). He and Gayle put on 31 before falling in successive overs and wickets continued to fall at regluar intervals. Marlon Samuels and Lendl Simmons made 16 apiece and Andre Russell hit 15, with the 10 batsmen required all scoring between three not out and 18. Cusack was the pick of the bowlers with two for 17 in four overs, figures matched by O’Brien in two while Murtagh took two for 28. Irish captain William Porterfield hit the third ball of their innings for four but was dismissed by the next and opening partner Paul Stirling followed in the next over. But Joyce put on a steady 29 with Gary Wilson before the crucial partnership, 58 with Andrew Poynter. Poynter hit six fours in an innings of 32 from 30 balls before being bowled by Sunil Narine. Ireland still needed 22 at that stage but Joyce, whose watchful 49-ball innings contained just two boundaries, was joined by O’Brien (15no) to see them home. The teams meet again over 20 overs on Friday before a one-off one-day international on Sunday, also at the Jamaican venue. Ireland earned a famous win over the West Indies in their first of two Twenty20 internationals at Sabina Park. Press Association
The six-year-old powered up the famous hill to claim the Champion Bumper at Prestbury Park earlier this month under a jubilant Robbie McNamara. Stable companion Vigil also ran well in fifth and may reappear at Fairyhouse’s upcoming Easter meeting. Dermot Weld’s Cheltenham hero Silver Concorde will bid to complete a Festival double in the championship bumper at Punchestown next month. Press Association Weld said: “The plan is to go for the Grade One bumper in Punchestown with Silver Concorde. “We’ll look at Fairyhouse for Vigil, or there is also a race for him at Punchestown. “One horse (Silver Concorde) wants good ground and the other likes plenty of cut.”
Jamie Spencer punched the air with delight, but connections were made to sweat as 33-1 chance Certerach caused a big upset in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan. Trained in Ireland by Michael Halford, who excels with his runners in the Gulf, Certerach had an awful lot to find on form. But Spencer was always in the right place and edged his way past his pacesetting compatriot Ralston Road with about a furlong to run. Last year’s winner Cavalryman, the 7-4 favourite for the Godolphin stable, got himself into all sorts of trouble and was rapidly gaining at the line, but he ran out of time. Star Empire finished third. There was drama, however, as Cavalryman’s jockey Silvestre de Sousa claimed Certerach had impeded him. “The winner came right across me and took my ground, otherwise I would have won,” he said. There was a stewards’ inquiry but an objection was withdrawn, reportedly by Sheikh Mohammed himself, and the result stood. Halford said: “This is beyond our wildest dreams. The horse has had a great Carnival and this time last year he picked up an injury in the Nad Al Sheba. “He’s really grown up since then. I wasn’t aware of the objection until I got to see Jamie but he said he thought we’d be OK. “He’s a strong stayer and we’ll definitely think about the Ascot Gold Cup and the Melbourne Cup.” Spencer said: “I rode him once last year when he was beaten in a photo. “He’s a very nice spare to pick up and Shane Foley told me exactly how to ride the horse. “He quickened well to get to the lead and, if anything, he idled in front. We only just held on.” Press Association