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Issue 247 | March 9 2012

CHRIS ROBSHAW Up close and personal with England rugby’s new captain



reD BULL gIVeS YoU WIngS. to See carISSa’S StorY VISIt


ISSUE 247, MARCH 9 2012 Radar 08 Six Nations stats

In an infographic that wouldn’t look out of place at your next budget meeting

10 Drugs runners

Some of those who have failed drugs tests but could challenge for Olympic medals this summer

12 The knives are out


A first for Sport: knife throwing. But on this evidence, it should be a regular thing

to do this coming week Features

18 Chris Robshaw

Cover: Christopher Thomond/Guardian News & Media Ltd. This page: David Rogers/Getty Images



England’s new rugby captain on the honour of leading his country and helping to restore pride

27 Six Nations

France v England is the big clash of the weekend

31 Cheltenham Festival

Our brilliant eight-page preview of the jumps racing showpiece

42 Focus 2012

This week it’s sailing in the spotlight, as the London Olympics drifts ever closer

Extra Time 52 Kit

Six tracksuits in which you can either train or just slob around

54 Kelly Carlson

Look, don’t touch. The usual rules of society, then

56 Gadgets

Yet more stuff to put on your wish list. Christmas a way off

58 Grooming

This week, a colour theme. And two (two!) moisturisers

60 Entertainment

Street Fighter meets Tekken – things could get a bit tasty | March 9 2012 | 07












p13 – PFA predictions







p12 – Knife is beautiful


4 27

12 3




p10 – Dopey athletes



0 40




















9 48



1 37










That said, it’s one more than England, who lie last in tries scored and line breaks, and hover just above Italy in terms of total minutes spent in the opposition half. Unsurprisingly, it’s Wales who lead in this category, while proving they’re adept at the defensive arts by putting in the most tackles too. France can take heart from the fact they’re the cleanest nation (no, really) with just 16 penalties conceded, while Ireland entertain by scoring at least two tries in every match so far for an overall total of nine. See page 27 for our preview of this weekend’s matches












hree down with two crunch games to go, now is the ideal time to see what we can learn from the key Six Nations 2012 stats so far – with some surprising results. Scotland prove they’re rugby’s tiki-taka masters, with 704 passes (Wales are second, 215 behind), but their much maligned lack of cutting edge means that’s been rewarded with just three tries.

08 | March 9 2012 |

11 4


Six Nations by numbers T




Dopes welcome 1. Justin Gatlin The former 100m Olympic champion failed a routine drugs test in July 2006, almost two years after winning gold in the Athens Olympics. Banned for four years from the sport, he returned to the track in 2010 and reached the 100m semi finals at last summer’s World Champs in Daegu despite being hampered by frostbite on both feet. Apparently, entering a cryogenic chamber in wet socks isn’t the best idea. Who knew?

The BOA’s lifetime Olympic ban for British athletes caught doping could soon be ruled illegal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, freeing the likes of Dwain Chambers to compete in London alongside (non-British) drug-test flops. These four, for example, could take gold despite their rap sheets





2. LaShawn Merritt After winning 400m gold at Beijing 2008 and the 2009 World Championships, Merritt turned his attention to being the best man he can be away from the track too. In the winter of 2009-10, the US athlete failed three drugs tests after taking what his lawyer claimed was an “over-the-counter male-enhancement product”. Merritt was handed a two-year ban from the sport, but faces a lifetime of locker-room ‘banter’.

3. Claudia Pechstein A five-time Olympic speed-skating champion, Germany’s Pechstein received a two-year ban for doping in 2009 after becoming one of the first athletes to fall foul of blood profiling. She returned to the ice last year, winning a bronze medal at the World Champs, but has since turned her attention to cycling as she bids to compete in the Velodrome this summer.

The US diver tested positive for cannabis for two years running at the same swim meet, leading FINA to slap a one-year ban on the 22-year-old last June. The man with the curiously Raiders of the Lost Ark name will return three months before the US Olympic trials, but would be advised to avoid any university campuses for the foreseeable. The kid probably can’t be trusted to just say no.

Ready to T rumble

hat’s right brother, it’s time to don your neon lycra – the 1991 arcade classic WrestleFest has been converted for iOS. Featuring stars current (John Cena, The Rock), legendary (Steve Austin, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts) and sadly departed (‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage), it’s graphically sharp and easier to get to grips with than an oiled-up grappler. Throw in the various match types, such as cage, tag team and royal rumble, and you have hours of button-mashing enjoyment. WrestleFest (iPad, iPhone, IPod Touch), £1.99

10 | March 9 2012 |

Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images, Jerry Lampen/AFP/Getty Images, Harry How/Getty Images

4. Harrison Jones


Target audience

Roger Viollet/Rex Features

nife throwing is not a sport we regularly cover. In fact, we might previously have ended that sentence after the first six words. But that was before this vintage classic flashed up on our radar: a book clearly titled Knife Throwing: Sport..Survival..Defense. The author behind it is Blackie Collins – US knife maker, writer and, erm, designer of holsters that conceal firearms – who died in a motorcycle accident last year. At the age of 71. Frankly, Blackie sounds like the most badass guy who ever lived. So if he says knife throwing is a sport, who are we to argue? His short, sharp intro to this domain was written in the 1970s and contains info on knife types, accuracy, making targets and ‘survival’. While we’re against the illegal idiocy of carrying a knife around, we’re definitely into the safe, sensible teaching of knife throwing as a sport. Preach on from beyond the grave, brother Blackie. From and other vintage booksellers

12 | March 9 2012 |



ere’ eeoryut snfIIf esfocyyou’re -sofleuer’sreaa sself-centred elf-centred f l a ftdi sdrteldnliindividualist naftdbvtsiivsdoidtoful taslist footballer footballer (in ( the eL e me P m rurergem aPegie?reuLLeague? egague? Perish Persis the Premier e i t h , ) hog htotthought), hothutgthnmt, )t, tthe m nheiottime ioism nsestioiisst nnigh oitgh ttoo kkick b u y ookcabback, cackl, occool oonl nyyour ouanr bboots oaonoats aand ndcccoast o d et eh lntuuntil ntlil etthe hse eend onsdaoof nfoahtthe shaeesseason. eason mr e u c B ecaruir,senrf,offrom reorem ehhhere ere oonn iin, n the Because, kw o adwhhard aord ow orokdi iiss ddone: oMnMeM: M arc is the work March c h s soi uuccurious suouurooiouoshcchoice hoem icm em ooff m tonth when month h r o g i oovvoting fFooFtiynagl FP oPffor oA PrtFtthe Phe P FA P laye of PFA Player w er heatthe heeYYear earaaawards wr ards ttakes askes place. ht eg o o S rtofrfforget oercrgcecuftrhftthe chefccrucial rufcl ial ffinal nin 12 So sa s ht f o k es ew keeksw feooffhttthe nw honenesseason heswanson w heene ttitles, elitles weeks when d a no ag i etirrelegations eeclaesalgprai tnrioarnespauoaand runudEEEuropean uropean pplaces lace are y a p – ded eddecided eidceidseurjdeer–r applayers ylasryuers aare ure jjudged uudgded uupp to now. f o dyne iw he‘ h,itw liS itwo‘n,ua‘‘why twiahayww ait uuntil ntil tthe he eend nd ooff the So, wait sr ent nineaweeasseason hetheaorsahoenhttoo hhear ear tthe he w innewrwsw’, w winners’, wee hear y yu yuor.yyou ryorucccry. ryh. TThusly, hsrpusrly,rpS orpuoorpthhhas sas ppoured oure Sport ot ni r af suht aet aed s’snesosaehstthis hsis sseason’s eason’s ddata ata tthus hus ffar ar iinto nto our et up mocr epus dem rme wm opa- amassteam-powered eteam-powered ssupercomputer, upercomputer and e me ev ah stl ul seroogl ni fowolfl hotthe fhe ffollowing ollowing rresults esults hhave ave eemerged. mer ehtAf o r eAyalAP AF PPFA FA Player Player ooff tthe aheerYY Yaa aaYear Year aa latpnepr appi A nsrpepaPnrineanivtlyni R bobin vvan an P ersiewwill Apparently Robin Persie s de s det scei derstppredicted rroehdsicdted sshortlist hsosrstilist hot eomobbecome cecome tthe he ffirst irst A rsenal pplayer layer since Arsenal n Pninaivn ni RRobin borbeiPn nvvan an PPersie eeirsie ey al pl anesr At smri f em rheierry H enry iinn 2 004 ttoo w in tthe he overall Thierry Henry 2004 win di eveaidDe, ) rnwen((winner), w nninnevrli),SDDavid diavid Silva, Sil,vhat, ni wot 4002 ni yrrrnerH yrhrT sudpw,aaward, dwr ard, ppushing ushing ssilky ilky pplaymaker laymaker David e aYe, nyeneono RnenW Wayne yayne RRooney, ooney, Y Yaya ayar ek a my al p ykli s,, gni h, d vS vlilva iinto nto ssecond econd pplace. lace. TThat hat iis, s, unless Silva r ekrearPtt eorcSr, er uTToure, oure, Scott Scott Parker, Park, esir,t ahT. ecal p dnoces oat nai va ii r eui g Agoi gSSergio r ergio A Aguero guero oe mos r of et ov taasuj sabr ellbaob ffootballers tootballers jjust ust vvote ote ffor or ssomeone omeon from

the team who will win the league (sorry United fans, that’s Man City, the computer also informs us) and ignore the Arsenal team-carrier. Young Player of 2011-12 took longer to calculate, as the archaic rules mean all that’s required is for a player to be under 23 at the start of the season to qualify. This means relatively ancient Premier League stars such as Gareth Bale and Sergio Aguero (who turns 24 this year and has played 33 games for Argentina) are viable choices. However, our computations show that a lot of players will ignore this and plump for someone a bit more clearly youthful, with the breakthrough of Danny Welbeck earning him the honours.

PFA Young Player of the Year predicted shortlist Danny Welbeck (winner), Gareth Bale, Daniel Sturridge, Mario Balotelli, Sergio Aguero, Phil Jones

Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images, Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

A AP PFA AFAww winners v erevealed rev

Radar Editor’s letter @sportmaguk

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Boas constricted: AVB is the seventh manager in eight years dismissed by Abramovich

Patience is a virtue...


... but when you’ve got as much cash as Roman Abramovich, who needs to be virtuous?

Editor-in-chief Simon Caney @simoncaney

were clearly twofold – he didn’t have the dressing room and he didn’t have the backing of the owner. He tried to impose his own team and tactics, and was beaten back on all fronts. Now one must ask the question: apart from the obvious financial incentive, why on earth would anyone want to manage Chelsea? Abramovich, presumably surprised that there was someone out there with more money than him who wanted to buy a football club, knows he can no longer really compete with Man City on a financial level. But he could still compete on a football level. He could build a club with stability; one that is not undermined by player power; one that has an eye on the future rather than just the here and now. Maybe Villas-Boas was the wrong man anyway. Chelsea fans probably think that. But eight managers in eight years tells its own sorry story.

Wonderful to see Rory McIlroy become the world number one golfer last weekend, and deservedly so. Often, such rankings can be skewed by a host of different factors, but in this instance there’s no quarrel – McIlroy is the best player out there. I expect Lee Westwood to take a run at him (not literally) in 2012, but McIlroy is the long-term future of golf. He is adored both in Europe and America, and is playing a brand of golf that is a joy to watch. Roll on the Masters in April. Elsewhere in this magazine you’ll find a preview of the Cheltenham Festival. It’s been written by people who know a great deal more about the racing game than I, despite 25 years of devotion to handing my money to the bookies. But what I do know is that few sporting events can match the festival in terms of sheer emotion. Magical.

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Hearty thanks this week to: Amy Sherman; Carolyn Small at Nike Total Average Distribution: 304,700 Jul-Dec 2011

Reader comments of the week @simoncaney agree Lanc shd get job, brilliant ethic, refreshing.H/ver, 1 change, Ashton HAS 2 go. Arrogance personified & woefully out of 4m.

@simoncaney nice piece on Lancaster today. Eng defeat to Wales was best performance for years! @Official_RFU #longwaytogo #ontherighttrack

I agree that English rugby is in a better state than under Johnson but still think there a few of the old guard of players who need to be dropped for real progress to happen.

Loved the Charles van Commenee interview. He’s a breath of fresh air in sports administration: he wants to win!

@JamieHockin Twitter

@JRBatch Twitter

Peter, via email

Jason, via email

14 | March 9 2012 |

No great surprise that English teams have struggled in the Champions League: the best players in the world don’t play here any more. We’re behind the curve.



Don’t forget: Help keep public transport clean

and tidy for everyone by taking your copy of Sport away with you when you leave the bus or train.

Michael, via email

Agree or disagree? Tweet us @sportmaguk

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here’s not much point in banging on about how things were different in the good old days, and how Sir Fergie was given five years by a patient board before he won anything. If those same people were running Man Utd now, and Ferguson went as long without success, they’d be as trigger-happy as the next board. Football has changed. But even that doesn’t excuse what has happened at Chelsea. Let’s forget for a second the sheer unbridled joy that Andre Villas-Boas must feel to be out of the poisonous atmosphere pervading the club – and with a ludicrous amount of money in his back pocket. He has been treated very harshly. Indeed, it was with interest I noted his record over 40 games matched that of Roberto Mancini’s first 40 at Man City almost exactly. Villas-Boas’ problems

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Radar Frozen in time

Hanging tough Alberto Lessmann/ Red bull Content Pool

ot gcni dcr occ A According csicfhontri idnnelioinfngoetto i hottt toatthe fhmer ffile oifleni iinformation nformation oonn tthis his image, sosihssai sii si htthis huiosuPiis PAsr9eakeIsshot hfhtogtncoof icfbIIker km ilecrPPou Puou cclimbing limbing tthe hde +9 A+ difficulty 9A+ ’ level with Nit de Bruixes at Margalef, Spain. We’ll you here: we haven’t got a chuffing clue what any of that actually means, but the sight of a man hanging for dear life off a craggy cliff as the sun slowly sets was too much to pass up. Hey, come on, cut us some slack here.

16 | March 9 2012 |

| 17

Chris Robshaw

Leader of th Revolution The England rugby team has undergone a dramatic overhaul since falling short at the World Cup. Three games into the new era – and ahead of a trip to Paris for their biggest test yet – Sport talks to Chris Robshaw, the man at the centre of England’s new dawn


t’s a quiet Monday afternoon in the suburban back streets of Kingston and, as the dust settles on Wales’ late smash-and-grab victory at Twickenham the previous Saturday, we – like thousands of people across the country – are sitting chatting about the game with a cup of tea and a biscuit. The only difference is our cup of tea was made for us by the man who led England on to the field not 48 hours earlier, and the biscuits were bought for his guests. “I got a pack earlier because I knew I’d be having people round today and I didn’t know if they would have eaten,” England’s new captain explains. It seems a trivial point, but we can’t imagine many Premier League footballers making tea for their guests and popping out to buy them biscuits. But then, Chris Robshaw is not a Premier League footballer. He is no ordinary rugby player either; virtually unknown outside rugby until two months ago, and all but unknown outside of the corridors of Harlequins until a year ago, Robshaw has been thrust into the limelight as the poster boy for Stuart Lancaster’s new-look England. The new skipper is loving it, he tells us – even if the first 30 minutes of life as captain of his country was a bit surreal. “I couldn’t tell anyone, which was quite a strange feeling,” he says. “Stuart had a

meeting with all the senior players, of which I was one, and had a chat with them one at a time. I was called in second to last and he asked me if I’d lead the side that Saturday. The problem is nobody else was going to be told for another half an hour and I couldn’t wipe this big grin off my face – so I had to go to my room on my own and sit in silence.” Robshaw’s selection as captain makes sense in so many ways. After the World Cup debacle, England were crying out for a clean-cut, likeable guy – one who leads by example on and off the field. Robshaw ticks all those boxes and – perhaps more importantly – the players respect him. Along with Tom Wood, Robshaw was named the stand-out performer in England’s pre-World Cup training camp. While Robshaw was overlooked for the final squad, Wood made the trip to New Zealand but barely featured. As such, both were obvious choices to lead England’s new dawn – with Wood injured, the captaincy fell to Robshaw. He led a starting XV out at Murrayfield with a total of just 236 caps between them for their first game under Lancaster; a game that, with Scotland failing to take their chances, England won. A new England, then, a new hope and a new leader. How was it for the man carrying the hopes of a nation? “It was freezing,” Robshaw says first of all. “But the most important thing for this

When Robshaw led England out last month at Murrayfield, in just his second cap, he did so as England’s least experienced captain since Nigel Melville took the armband on his debut in 1984 – 28 years ago

side was to get the win, because we hadn’t been together long. A good performance that ended in defeat would have been nothing compared to coming away with that win.” That’s fine, but what of leading his troops out for the first time? “Oh, yeah. I was hugely honoured, of course. To captain them up at Murrayfield for the first time was absolutely incredible. It was weird, because I had so much to do on the day. But of course I loved it once I was out there – that’s when I can just play my game.”

FIRsT sTEPs as CaPTaIn It took just 17 minutes for Robshaw to stamp his authority on the game, emerging from a ruck and grabbing Chris Cusiter after an altercation – he ripped his own shirt in the process and refused to let go until he was dragged away by officials. A minor incident, perhaps, but Robshaw was setting his – and England’s – stall out. He wasn’t going to take a backwards step, and nor should his team. >

‘to captain england for the first time up at murrayfield was absolutely incredible’

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18 | March 9 2012 |

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| 19

Chris Robshaw

After tackling himself into the ground for 80 minutes, his reward came as he lifted the Calcutta Cup – marking England’s first win on Scottish soil since 2004. How did England’s new skipper celebrate his first win in charge? “I knew you’d ask that,” he laughs. “I actually celebrated my first cap as captain with wine gums and a packet of Skips at the airport. We were on a chartered flight straight back after the game, so there was no time to celebrate. We got back pretty late and, even worse, I ended up digging my car out of the snow at about 1.30am. That’s about as rock and roll as it gets for me.” Despite being just 25, Robshaw talks with the experience of a man far beyond his years – perhaps it’s something that comes from playing regular rugby from such a young age. Robshaw has been a virtual ever-present in the Harlequins back row since breaking into the side in 2005. It’s here, under Dean Richards and, more recently, Conor O’Shea, that Robshaw honed his game – and his leadership skills. “Yeah, being captain can be a weird one,” he says. “When I was first given the role at Quins [at the start of the 2010-11 season], I think I tried too much. It’s a common mistake. You worry about individuals, you worry about team patterns, you worry about who missed

20 | March 9 2012 |

what tackle, and – in the end – you forget what got you to where you are in the first place, which is playing consistently well. “It took me a while to learn that at Harlequins – it wasn’t until Nick Easter took me aside at training one day and explained that everyone else in the team is there to help and it’s not all down to me. I think that experience allowed me to carry it on to the international scene. I’m still learning with England, but I’m enjoying every minute.” What about the recent Wales game? After two victories on the road, Robshaw’s first home game as captain ended in defeat – and with that David Strettle ‘try’. “Strets still says it was a try, and I’ll back my players all the way,” Robshaw says with a laugh. “But yeah, it was devastating to lose it like that. Having said that, we felt we did ourselves proud. The first two games were about functionality, and getting the wins on the board first and foremost. But we had a week and a half together between Italy and the Wales game, in nice weather, so we got to know each other a bit better – and I think it showed at Twickenham. “The attacking flow was there and we wanted to prove to everyone that we are a force to be reckoned with. We’ve taken a massive step forward as a squad, and we’ll head to Paris next with confidence.”

Having played numerous times at Twickenham for his club – Harlequins’ close links with the ground have seen them turn out there at least twice a season for the past four years – Robshaw is certainly no stranger to rugby HQ. But surely leading your country out there is a different prospect altogether? “Of course, it was one of the best days of my life,” he explains. “To captain the guys in Murrayfield and Rome was a huge honour, but to lead them out at Twickenham, to hear the roar of the crowd – it was something else entirely. Singing the national anthem – a little out of tune, I must admit – along with 80,000 other English people was something I’ll never forget.”

highs and lows If leading out his team in that game signalled the high point in Robshaw’s career (to date, at least) then he has certainly had his fair share of low points – not least the injuries that haunted his early career after signing

for Harlequins from school, including two broken feet, a broken leg and a damaged anterior cruciate ligament. He is, however, quick to point out that Harlequins couldn’t do enough for their young star. “It was a hard time for me, definitely,” he says. “I remember wondering if I needed to drink more milk or take on more calcium to make my bones stronger, and there are days when you think: ‘Is my body up for this?’ You go through dark days when you see your friends having fun playing rugby while you’re stuck on the sofa, especially as such a young guy. But Harlequins were great. At the time I did my knee, someone told me that the club can get rid of you if you’ve been out for six months – and I remember sweating a bit about my future after that. “Dean Richards [then Quins’ director of rugby] obviously got wind of this because he went out of his way to come and tell me to take my time and get myself fit. He said Quins would be there for me when I got back, which helped a lot. On top of that, >

| 21

David Rogers/Getty Images

‘we wanted to prove against wales that we are a force to be reckoned with. we’ve taken a step forward – we’ll go to paris with confidence’

‘THIS PROJECT IS ABOUT GETTING US BACK TO POTENTIALLY BEING THE BEST SIDE IN THE WORLD’ the club physios were great getting me playing foot tennis – not that it did much for my kicking! And the lads gave me support, and stick, all the time. Now I just have to keep an eye on my injuries, but it’s looking back on moments like that when you realise what a special club Harlequins is.” It was Richards who carried Robshaw through his early years and pushed him to be the best he could be. “Yeah, I remember Dean comparing me to Lewis Moody when I first broke through,” he says. “He used to tell me that I should be playing Premiership rugby and that I need to be on the international stage in three or four years and establish myself as a great player. Dean was great at getting the players going. He believed in building an English club with English players that could challenge all the way.” It is impossible to discuss Richards’ time at Harlequins without discussing Bloodgate – the moment that changed this club forever. Sunday April 12 2009, with time ticking down in the Heineken Cup semi final against Leinster and Quins trailing the Irishmen 6-5, the Londoners made the blood substitution that rocked rugby. “I honestly had no idea what had happened,” Robshaw recalls. “It was such a tight game that I had no time to see what was going on 50 metres away. “In the changing room afterwards, all our thoughts were on how gutted we were to lose such a tight game. It wasn’t until the

papers started reporting it that we realised what had happened. A lot of people lost their jobs over that incident, so obviously it was a sad time. It’s a hard thing for a club to recover from, but we’ve had to try move on and Conor O’Shea’s arrival has been a breath of fresh air and allowed us a fresh start.”

Within reach: the plan, says Robshaw, is for England to compete ‘in a big way’ at the 2015 World Cup

A NEW BEGINNING It was this fresh start that saw O’Shea name the then 24-year-old – fresh from winning Premiership player of the year – as captain. With a young squad around him, Robshaw was tasked with the job of rebuilding Harlequins’ reputation after Bloodgate, a job he readily admits was no easy task. “We definitely struggled in that season,” he says. “We got a lot of stick for that blood incident. I mean, we were in the wrong, so we expected it. And although we said it hadn’t affected us, you see it on the news, on the TV and everywhere, so subconsciously it probably did. We were lucky to finish seventh, but qualifying for the Amlin Challenge Cup the following year was the perfect rebuilding platform for us, with some good trips across Europe. That season really helped us reform the Harlequins team, and the fans stuck with us, so it was nice to repay them with a trophy.” Amlin Cup glory came on the back of a win away to Munster and victory in Cardiff. “To lift the trophy with some of the guys I’ve been playing with since I was 17 or 18 was

incredible and something I’ll remember forever,” says Robshaw. And it finally put the Bloodgate days to bed. This club was going somewhere again and, with a World Cup on the horizon, its back-row figurehead couldn’t have lifted the trophy at a better time. But Martin Johnson left Robshaw out of his World Cup squad, opting instead to stick with the old guard. Was there a feeling of jealousy watching on TV back in England? Or perhaps even a temptation to enjoy England’s early return? Absolutely not, says Robshaw. “At the end of the day, I’m an England fan like anyone else,” he explains. “I was up at six or seven in the morning – or using my Sky+ box at least – for all the games, and it was disappointing to see them lose. Obviously, when Johnno taps you on the shoulder and tells you you’re not going to the World Cup, it’s pretty hard to take because you know you might not get many more opportunities for your country. I came home and had a little sulk and a mope, as anyone would, but then I went back into the club for training and the lads started giving me stick for missing pre-season with them and getting above myself. They’re a great bunch, and to go on our incredible run of 13 or 14 wins in a row was the perfect response to missing out with England.” The perfect reward followed when he was named captain of his new side – one Robshaw excitedly insists is full of potential. “When you first get the call for international rugby it’s exciting, but that feeling is exaggerated with this group because it’s a new, fresh squad,” he says. “Everyone wants to make their mark, and it’s a really exciting place to be. Stuart sat us down before the Six Nations and asked us about our goals. Not today, not in six months, but our long-term goal. That’s what we’re all about. “This project is about getting us back to potentially being the best side in the world. We know that won’t happen overnight, but the plan is to be there ready to compete in a big way at the 2015 World Cup in England. We are here to take English rugby forward again.” Sensible words from a very grounded man. For now, all eyes are on Paris on Sunday – an appropriate place for the next phase of a revolution. Success for England, and Robshaw in particular, would really take the biscuit. Mark Coughlan @coffers83 Chris Robshaw is ready to make this game count for England. Whatever your goal, tell us about it. Make this year count and make your pledge by signing up at #makeitcount

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22 | March 9 2012 |

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Chris Robshaw

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Six Nations 2012 Sunday France v England | Stade de France | BBC One 3pm

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France v england

Fresh from battling back to draw with Ireland, World Cup finalists France welcome the new-look England to Paris this weekend. We take a look at the two sides ahead of the game, and pick out the men to keep an eye on

French look Fallible Phillipe Saint-Andre’s first two games in charge saw the French ease to relatively comfortable wins over the Scots and the Italians – even if the Scots caused a brief scare. But last week’s home game against the Irish betrayed a team struggling for form. The French backs looked toothless in attack, running from too deep and letting Ireland spoil their ball, while the forwards lacked some of their usual power – until they got going in the second half. France had more of the ball and Ireland scored two opportunistic tries, yes, but the French need to rediscover the spark in their backs in order to get going again. Tiredness from the World Cup is surely no longer a viable excuse – a big performance is needed to rediscover the je ne sais quoi that French rugby thrives on.

one to watch

Wesley Fofana’s finishing ability got the French out of trouble against Ireland last Sunday, and the Clermont centre’s quick feet continue to impress in a French backline that is flattering to deceive. This weekend, Fofana will be tasked with stopping

the rampaging Manu Tuilagi as well as trying to create something of this own.

english need to bounce back The last thing England did on a Six Nations field was fail to score a match-defining try against the Welsh, and the two-week break since won’t have helped them quickly forget. Stuart Lancaster’s job is up in the air, but it’s on the field where England need to do their talking, and Ireland’s big showing in Paris will have stoked the English fires ahead of Sunday’s game. With Owen Farrell set to remain at 10, the English side will have a familiar look to the one that flew out of the blocks against the Welsh. The problem, then, is finishing off chances. England are starting to create opportunities now that they’re a more settled outfit, but getting across the line has proved to be a problem, with Charlie Hodgson’s two chargedown tries the sole scores they’ve managed thus far. Quicker recycling is needed, and Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt need to be used to punch holes in defences. Chris Ashton and David Strettle thrive off second and third-phase ball – England just need to be on the front foot when it comes.

one to watch In front of his own fans and behind a dominant pack, Owen Farrell shone on his Twickenham debut – his first England start at fly half – where he showed he has all the assets required to be the team’s long-term solution in that position. The French fans will be less supportive (surprisingly) of the young number 10, while his pack are unlikely to be the dominant force. It will be fascinating to see how he stands up to the test.

Sport’s prediction With the battle in the forwards set to be titanic, the fly halves could be an essential part of both teams’ gameplans. Francois Trinh-Duc put in a hit-and-miss performance against Ireland, while Owen Farrell belied his years against the Welsh. Both packs will be huge, while both backlines are short of creativity. Expect a tight game, with two tries likely to win it for either side. Both teams are in transition, but England seem to be a bit more sure about what they want to do. Expect that to make the difference.


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| March 9 2012 | 27

Six Nations 2012 Saturday Wales v Italy | Millennium Stadium | BBC One 2.30pm

wales v italy wales


The Welsh have shown all aspects of their game in their three wins to date – strong running, good discipline (Bradley Davies aside), great defence – and will be confident of hosting France next week with Grand Slam glory in sight. Misfiring Rhys Priestland will hope Gatland sticks with a consistent line-up, while the expected absence of Sam Warburton is less of a hindrance with the return of key men elsewhere in the pack. Having picked Wales to lose and been wrong three times out of three, Welsh fans will be sad to hear we’re backing their boys this week.

Three defeats out of three makes bad reading for the early days of Jacques Brunel’s reign, but what makes it worse for the men from Rome is that their first-half performances have been so solid. As ever, their problems stem from the lack of a creative pivot at fly half. While performances are improving, a victory here would be one of the biggest upsets in Six Nations history – and the odds are that the Italians will face Scotland in a wooden spoon showdown (again) next week.

Mike Phillips (right). The big number nine will be key to creating space for the Welsh backs. A few early carries will keep the Italian forwards interested, allowing him to move the ball wide and let the backs run riot.

Sergio Parisse. Predictable, maybe, but it’s hard to pick out any other player in this Italian squad, particularly with such a monumental task ahead. If they are to keep Wales quiet, Parisse needs another one of those days.

Sport’s prediction 27-10

Saturday Ireland v Scotland | Aviva Stadium | BBC One 5pm

ireland v scotland ireland


It’s been a Six Nations to forget for the Irish, and things didn’t improve much in Paris last weekend – letting a 17-6 lead slip is inexcusable. The pain will only have been made worse upon hearing that Paul O’Connell and Conor Murray are now out for the remainder of their games. Their tournament now hinges on a win over the Scots, which would give them a shot at overtaking England in the final standings. But that is easier said than done without an on-form O’Connell. The pack need to stand up the Scottish power, but get good ball out to the backs and Ireland should be comfortable.

The Scots are hurting after three defeats from three, all of which were very winnable. Still walking the employment tightrope, Andy Robinson has gone for consistency ahead of Sunday’s game, leaving Max Evans, Ruaridh Jackson and Euan Murray on a strong bench. Stuart Hogg is the man who can light up the stadium, but it’s the link between the forwards and backs that needs to be fixed. Get the ball moving and Scotland could be more dangerous than expected.

one to watch

Tommy Bowe (left). Scotland have conceded six tries in three games, and they’ve all been scored by backs. With Tommy Bowe in the kind of form he showed in Paris, expect that number to grow on Sunday.

one to watch

Much-maligned centre Nick De Luca looked back to his best against France two weeks ago. If the Scots are to get around and through the Irish blitz defence, De Luca’s quick hands and strength will be a key weapon in their armoury.

Sport’s prediction 24-15

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one to watch

one to watch

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Cheltenham 2012 The Festival

Tuesday March 13 – Friday March 16 All races are live on Racing UK; daily terrestrial coverage on Channel 4 from 12.30pm

| March 9 2012 | 31

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field of dreams

The 2012 Cheltenham Festival, when the great and good of British and Irish jumps racing descend on the Cotswolds, is now just four days away. And here begins our bumper eight-page preview, featuring expert tips, big-name interviews and all you need to know on the major races >

Cheltenham 2012 The Festival

flight attendant stable jockey to the powerful nicky Henderson yard, barry geraghty has a host of chances at this year’s cheltenham Festival. but, as he told Sport, the best of the lot is sprinter sacre – a horse his trainer calls ‘the black aeroplane’

ife as a jumps jockey isn’t easy. You are only ever moments away from the next potential fall, and all the danger that inherently comes with it. The body conditions itself to cope with such trauma, though, enabling the men who put themselves through such a job to develop a frame of steel, a will of iron and, if Barry Geraghty is representative of his kind, a mind as sharp as a tack. “My first ride at Cheltenham was on a mare called Fishin Joella in 1999,” recalls the 32-year-old when Sport asks the question in an exclusive chat ahead of the 2012 festival. “I did 9st 12lbs on her, so I had to sweat off a few pounds beforehand. She travelled well and I had a chance coming down the hill, but she just wasn’t quite good enough, and eventually finished fifth behind Khayrawani.”


RetuRn to Moscow Thirteen years on, you suspect Geraghty could recall every single one of his festival rides in such detail – in particular the 20 winners that see him sit fourth on an all-time list of jockeys headed by king of the hill Ruby Walsh. But he reserves special mention for the first of those, aboard the great Moscow Flyer in the 2002 Arkle Chase. “It was brilliant,” he smiles. “It was an exciting race, but he was an exciting horse as well. He’d been a top-class hurdler but missed Cheltenham the year before, when he’d have been a contender for the Champion Hurdle. He’d had a patchy build-up with a couple of falls, but he was very good that day – and your first winner at Cheltenham means the world to you.” Geraghty went on to form a special bond with the Jessie Harrington-trained gelding he confirms as the best horse he has ever ridden, winning two Champion Chases in an era of top-class two-mile chasers. It’s a discipline at which he excels, having also ridden Forpadydeplasterer to win the 2009 Arkle and Big Zeb to victory in the 2010 Champion Chase – and one about which he bristles with excitement when asked to speak on this year’s festival. HaRd to beat “He’s the first horse I’ve ridden since Moscow that has that raw pace and ability to jump over two miles,” says Geraghty when asked how good Sprinter Sacre, favourite for the 2012 Racing Post Arkle and the apple of trainer Nicky Henderson’s eye, could be. “He could be every bit as good as Moscow was, and time will tell if he’s better. But he really is something else. When you start popping [jumping fences] with him, the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.” Third in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, when he travelled like the best horse but was seemingly outstayed up the Cheltenham

CHELTENHAM 32 | March 9 2012 |

hill, Sprinter Sacre has taken his form to a new level since switching to fences. He’s unbeaten in three starts, including one breathtaking victory over former Arkle favourite Peddlers Cross. Such is his style of jumping that Henderson refers to him as ‘the black aeroplane’, and his jockey is in no doubt as to his ability to see out the trip. “He was only a five-year-old last year, a big, weak horse,” stresses Geraghty. “He’s a much bigger stamp of a horse this year, and I’d have no concerns at all about him getting up the hill. Given a clear round, he’ll be very hard to beat. I wouldn’t want my confidence to be mistaken for arrogance, either; I just really do think he’s that good.” stRong suit Geraghty has registered at least one race victory at every festival since that maiden win in 2002. It’s hard to see past Sprinter Sacre (right) in the Racing Post Arkle on the opening day, but he has plenty of chances elsewhere too. It’s not inconceivable that Simonsig (Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle), Bobs Worth (RSA Chase) and

Although stable jockey to Nicky Henderson, Geraghty has a 16 per cent strike rate when riding for Irish trainers at the festival since 2000. That’s roughly one win every six rides, so it’s worth keeping an eye on any horse he rides from across the Irish Sea

In association with Book corner THE ESSENTIAL READ

Racing Post Cheltenham Festival Guide 2012

There are other guides to the festival out there, but the Racing Post remains the venerable old sage of racing publications – and it’s no surprise that this 192-page tome leaves the pretenders trailing. Edited by Nick Pulford but with contributions from any number of knowledgeable horsey types, the guide features an in-depth look at all the major stables, a staggeringly detailed race-byrace guide and a plethora of tips from the Racing Post’s impressive team of experts – led, inevitably, by the incomparable Tom Segal, otherwise known as Pricewise. You have four days in which to buy this before the festival starts – if you want to make a profit, we suggest it’s very much in your interests to do so. £9.99 |


Finian’s Rainbow (Champion Chase) could give him a hat-trick on Wednesday, while Oscar Whisky is set to take on the mighty Big Buck’s in the World Hurdle on Thursday. Throw in Riverside Theatre (Ryanair) and strong stayer Burton Port in the Gold Cup, and he could have quite the week – but is there one horse he’s not riding that he would dearly love to? “All I know is that, if I was someone else, I’d love to be riding Sprinter Sacre,” insists Geraghty. “I guess there’s Big Buck’s, but I’m hoping to beat him on Oscar Whisky; then Long Run or Kauto Star, both of whom you’d love to ride, but I’m hoping to beat them on Burton Port. But no, Sprinter Sacre is the one for me – I’m not looking past him.” Come 2.05pm on Tuesday and the likelihood is that nor will anyone else. Tony Hodson @tonyhodson1 For all you need to know about a day at the races, visit

Barry Geraghty boasts a mighty impressive record at the Cheltenham Festival, but one jockey stands alone – and he is this man: Ruby Walsh. He may not have the most natural smile in the world, but Walsh is a master in the saddle, and his total of 32 Cheltenham Festival winners is a record he looks likely to extend this year. First published in October 2010, this autobiography features Walsh speaking openly about his relationships with Paul Nicholls, Willie Mullins and AP McCoy, and giving an insight into what it’s like riding horses such as the great Kauto Star and Denman. Now updated to include the former’s amazing win in the 2011 King George Chase, this will provide top-class reading in between races – and, indeed, the likely tears. £9.99 |

| 33

Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Ruby: The Autobiography

Cheltenham 2012 The Festival

Day 1: CHaMpion HurDle 3.20pM

A HuRRicAne STRikeS if he turns up fit and well, expect reigning Champion Hurdle king Hurricane Fly to kick off a golden day for irish trainer Willie Mullins

expert view with Paul kealy of the Racing Post

urricanes are not renowned for their fragility, known instead for the relentless force with which they batter and often destroy anything that has the temerity to get in their way. Having arrived at the festival last year with a reputation for the former, the lightly raced Hurricane Fly duly produced a performance worthy of the latter, showing electric pace and iron resolution to hold off Peddlers Cross for a stunning victory in the Champion Hurdle. The eight-year-old has been seen only twice since, his trainer Willie Mullins insistent that he will run only when he is totally happy with a horse with a history of injury problems. It’s an approach that has worked, however – Hurricane Fly remains unbeaten since November 2009 and was staggeringly impressive when winning the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January. It will take a performance of some quality to usurp him this time round, and the 2012 field is arguably weaker than it was 12 months ago. Former winner Binocular is an unpredictable beast, while the talented Paul Nicholls pair of Zarkandar and Rock On Ruby will both have to improve plenty to offer a true threat. Expect another Hurricane to hit the festival on its opening day. Elsewhere on the card, the in-form Alan King can take the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with Montbazon, Mullins can hit a first-day hat-trick with Quevega and Scotsirish, and our chief interviewee Barry Geraghty can pilot the exciting Sprinter Sacre to glory in the Arkle – but then we’ve told you that already.


CHELTENHAM 34 | March 9 2012 |

The last two winners of the Champion Hurdle are set for a battle royal in 2012, with Hurricane Fly and Binocular both coming off impressive warm-up wins – and it’s the latter that could provide the value. Binocular did not get to defend his title last year, withdrawn late with antibiotics still in his system, but he showed all his old panache when slamming Celestial Halo at Wincanton last month. Hurricane Fly is a deserved favourite, but didn’t win as easily as everyone seems to remember last year – he looks short enough at odds-on. Another odds-on shot who could struggle up the Cheltenham hill is Sprinter Sacre in the Racing Post Arkle. He stopped quickly after the last in the Supreme last March and may run out of stamina again. Two of his confirmed rivals, Al Ferof and Cue Card, are both former festival

winners – and Cue Card (above) looks terrific each-way value, with jockey Joe Tizzard promising to make it a test from the front. Ireland can land the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle courtesy of Steps To Freedom, put away by Jessica Harrington after winning in November. She did exactly the same with her 2007 Champion Bumper winner Cork All Star.

Tuesday: The Other Races Time 1.30pm 2.05pm 2.40pm 4.00pm 4.40pm 5.15pm

Race William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2m ½f) Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy (2m) JLT Specialty Handicap Chase (3m ½f) Glenfarclas Handicap Cross Country Chase (3m 7f) OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (2m 4f) Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase (2m 4½f)

Sport tip Montbazon Sprinter Sacre Magnanimity Scotsirish Quevega Vino Griego

In association with

Day 2: Champion ChaSE 3.20pm

EuROpEan RulE

it’s hard to look beyond the defending champion and hot favourite Sizing Europe in the big race on Wednesday

Expert view with paul Kealy of the Racing post


In the RSA Chase, don’t fall for the claims of the possibly Gold Cup-bound Grands Crus at a short price. His Kempton victim Bobs Worth (above) is going to be a different proposition back racing left-handed, and won last season’s Albert Bartlett on his way to compiling a 3-3 record at Cheltenham. He’ll absolutely storm up the hill.

Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images, Scott Heavey/Getty Images

nly one horse in the past 10 years has won the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the venerable age of 10 or above. That was the great Moscow Flyer back in 2005, who defied the grand old age of 11 to romp home under Barry Geraghty. It takes a special animal to buck such a trend, then – but in the 10-year-old Sizing Europe Ireland and trainer Henry de Bromhead may well have just that. Despite a course record of two wins from three outings, one of which came in the previous year’s Arkle, Sizing Europe went off at a remarkably generous 10/1 for last year’s renewal. He duly hammered 2010 winner Big Zeb by five lengths, and as such returns an evens favourite to repeat the feat in 2012. At 10, Sizing Europe is no spring chicken – but his form this season, winning the Tingle Creek at Sandown at a canter, has been rock solid. His old rival Big Zeb is now 11 years old and was firmly put in his place last time out, while an English challenge most likely spearheaded by 2011 Arkle runner-up Finian’s Rainbow looks to be a tad short of the quality required to upset the favourite. It will be a big shock if he is beaten. Elsewhere on the day, we’re predicting a grand day for Philip Hobbs, who can take the Coral Cup with Dunraven Storm and the Champion Bumper for a second straight year with the grand-looking Village Vic. If David Pipe decides against running his exciting novice chaser Grands Crus in the Gold Cup itself, the seven-year-old can and will take the RSA Chase.

If there is a banker at this year’s festival, it is surely Champion Chase favourite Sizing Europe, who won the Racing Post Arkle in 2010, this race last year, and has destroyed virtually all the worthwhile opposition at two miles over fences this term. He would have won the Champion Hurdle here in 2008 if he hadn’t broken down; that remains his only defeat at the course, so he really does look bombproof. Elsewhere, Noel Meade has a good record in the novice hurdles and could land another Neptune courtesy of the impressive Naas winner Monksland. This horse could be a bit of a loon, as he ran out when looking the winner in his only point and flashed his tail at Naas, but there’s a huge engine in there and Meade appears certain that he’ll improve dramatically for a bit of decent ground.

Wednesday: The Other Races Time 1.30pm 2.05pm 2.40pm 4.00pm 4.40pm 5.15pm

Race Diamond Jubilee National Hunt Chase (4m) Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle (2m 5f) RSA Chase (3m ½f) Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (2m 5f) Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2m ½f) Weatherbys Champion Bumper (2m ½f)

Sport tip Alfie Spinner Batonnier Grands Crus Dunraven Storm Red Inca Village Vic

| 35

Cheltenham 2012 The Festival


A cough in the yard and doubts surrounding the fitness of his stable star... it hasn’t been the ideal pre-festival preparation for champion trainer Paul Nicholls, but punters write him off at their peril


aul Nicholls is used to his phone ringing in the run-up to Cheltenham. This, after all, is his time of the year. The champion trainer has had at least one winner at each of the last nine festivals, winning the top trainer award five times in the process; and, lest we need tell you, he has trained the great chasing pair, Kauto Star and Denman, to win the Gold Cup three times between them. But this year, his phone has been ringing for different reasons. Where once journalists would have been asking how many winners Nicholls was expecting this year, and whether Kauto or Denman would be winning the Gold Cup, they are now asking simply if the former will be there at all. The latter, of course, is now retired. “It would obviously be fantastic to get Kauto Star to Cheltenham fit and well, and we could have done without this,” says Nicholls, referring to the recent schooling fall that has jeopardised the 12-year-old’s participation in a sixth straight Gold Cup. “But what we don’t want to be doing is running him when he’s not right. That’s why it’s such a big and tough decision; before he had the fall he couldn’t have been in better form, but that’s the way things go and we have to deal with it as best we can.” LOOKING UP A decision on Kauto Star’s participation is due as early as today, with the noises generally positive in recent days. But it hasn’t been all doom and gloom at the Nicholls stable. Despite closing his

CHELTENHAM 36 | March 9 2012 |

yard to the media after a recent bout of coughing, the trainer has been able to celebrate his head lad Clifford Baker being named employee of the year at the recent Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards – and he heads for Cheltenham with plenty of chances. Big Buck’s is the obvious selection in Thursday’s World Hurdle, with Nicholls admitting that “Oscar Whisky is a new and very good opponent, but Big Buck’s keeps on winning and is in very good shape”. It’s hard seeing the nine-year-old getting turned over in a race he has made his own in recent years (see right), but he’s far from his trainer’s only hope of the week. Nicholls is bullish about Zarkandar and Rock On Ruby, both of whom have the unenviable task of trying to usurp Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle, while Pearl Swan (Triumph Hurdle), Ulck Du Lin (Fred Winter) and Cristal Bonus (Jewson) are all genuine contenders for glory. But there is one horse Nicholls sounds more than quietly confident about: Al Ferof, who faces up to talking horse Sprinter Sacre in the Racing Post Arkle on Tuesday. “You saw how well he outstayed them in the Supreme Novices’ last year,” says Nicholls of a race in which Sprinter Sacre finished well beaten in third. “It all depends on how he jumps, but if he’s anywhere near them, snapping at the heels of the leaders turning in, then he’s going to have every chance.” Al Ferof got the yard off to a winning start 12 months ago. If he does the same again in 2012, that phone may start ringing for the right reasons once again. Tony Hodson @tonyhodson1

Number of runners Paul Nicholls had at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival, down from 97 the previous year. The more selective approach worked; his strike rate grew from 16 to 23 per cent

In association with

Day 3: worlD HurDle 3.20pm

buck’s fizz a fourth world Hurdle looks a formality for the wondrous Big Buck’s... or is it?

his time last year, we previewed the festival’s big race on Thursday by simply reeling off a list of statistics that proved why the inestimable Big Buck’s was about to equal Inglis Drever’s record of three victories in the championship race for staying hurdlers. This time this year, we’re doing the same thing to explain why he’ll break that record and win a fourth. So here goes: the nine-year-old has now run 15 times over hurdles in Britain, and remains yet to even come close to defeat. Since last year, he has increased his greatest winning margin from seven lengths to eight; and, while 12 months ago he saw off a David Pipe pretender in Grands Crus, this season he has twice done the same to another Pipe grey, Dynaste. The skinny odds at which Big Buck’s is available for this race suggest the bookies think he is unbeatable, and he does continue to look so. But every unbeaten run comes to an end – and now Nicky Henderson has thrown his classy hurdler Oscar Whisky into the mix. Third in last year’s Champion Hurdle and thrice a winner over two and a half miles on this very course, the seven-year-old has speed in abundance – but does he have the stamina to get three miles up the Cheltenham hill and see off the beast that is Big Buck’s? We say no. Elsewhere on Thursday’s card, we think Somersby can back up his Victor Chandler Chase win at Ascot with victory in a competitive Ryanair Chase. Barwell Bridge can improve on sixth in last year’s Pertemps Final to win this time round, while canny trainer Nick Williams can take the Jewson with the strong-staying For Non Stop.


The Ryanair Chase looks like being the most open Grade 1 chase of the meeting, and Poquelin – a beaten favourite in the race for the past two seasons – could finally land the prize when everyone least expects it. He has been undone for the last two seasons by a lack of pace in the race, but with a huge field looking all but guaranteed he could get the conditions he wants – and he proved he’s as good as last year when second to the ridiculously well handicapped The Giant Bolster last time out. He’ll be at least 10/1 this time. Buena Vista (right) is prepared for one race every year, and he bids for a hat-trick in the Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle over three miles, having scored easy victories for the past two years. He’s only two pounds higher than last year so has a major chance of emulating

Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images, David Davies/PA Photos, Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Expert view with Paul kealy of the Racing Post

Willie Wumpkins, who won three on the spin between 1979 and 1981, the last time at the ripe old age of 13. Buena Vista is a relative youngster at 11. Oh, and you won’t get rich backing Big Buck’s to land the World Hurdle for the fourth consecutive time – but you won’t get rich opposing him either.

Thursday: The Other Races Time 1.30pm 2.05pm 2.40pm 4.00pm 4.40pm

Race Jewson Novices’ Chase (2m 4f) Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle (3m) Ryanair Chase (2m 5f) Byrne Group Plate Handicap Chase (2m 5f) Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (3m 1½f)

Sport tip For Non Stop Barwell Bridge Somersby Out Now Start Me Up

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In association with

Cheltenham 2012 The Festival

Day 4: betfreD gOlD cup 3.20pm

gOOd FRiday?

With the great Kauto Star’s participation still in doubt, long run looks set to start favourite for a repeat win in the festival’s showpiece race

Expert view with Paul Kealy of the Racing Post


See next week’s edition of Sport for a full preview of the 2012 Betfred Gold Cup, with analysis from Paul Kealy of the Racing Post

38 | March 9 2012 |

other than hell for leather in this, though, and he can finally show what he is really made of. Nicky Henderson won the first running of the Martin Pipe Conditonal Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle and can take it again with Oscar Nominee, who has been handicapped on his two-mile form but looks a certainty to improve dramatically once raised in trip.

Friday: The Other Races Time 1.30pm 2.05pm 2.40pm 4.00pm 4.40pm 5.15pm

Race JCB Triumph Hurdle (2m 1f) Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (2m 1f) Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (3m) Christie’s Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup (3m 2½f) Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (2m 4½f) Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup (2m ½f)

Sport tip Dodging Bullets Olofi Sea Of Thunder Merchant Royal Open Hearted Slieveardagh

Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

uestions, questions, everywhere, and not an answer in sight. Such is the state of things ahead of next Friday’s Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup – the race that gets the purists purring. The biggest question mark at the time of writing hangs over two-time winner and 12-year-old horse of the people Kauto Star. Can Paul Nicholls’ charge, who has recaptured his spark to twice defeat Long Run this season, recover in time from a schooling fall a fortnight ago to make the line-up for a sixth straight Gold Cup? Only time will tell on that, but it really is just one question of many. Will the aforementioned Long Run bounce back to his best to regain his crown? How about his stablemate at Nicky Henderson’s yard, Burton Port – can he avoid the dreaded bounce factor after impressing so much on his return from a long layoff at Newbury last time out? Will David Pipe let the scintillating novice Grands Crus take his chance in the big one? And do any of the support acts, including Jonjo O’Neill’s Synchronised, big Irish hope Quel Esprit and course specialist Midnight Chase, have enough to take centre stage? It’s one great puzzle indeed, and we’ll be taking a closer look in next week’s issue. For now, though, Paul Kealy of the Racing Post gives his tips for the rest of the card over to the right. As for us: well, we really fancy Olofi in the County Hurdle at 2.05pm – 16/1 looks a very nice price for a horse that deserves a big-race win.

Alan King probably won’t have a runner in the Gold Cup, but the first two races on the final day may well go his way. He has a terrific record in the Triumph Hurdle, having won it in 2005 with Penzance and 2007 with Katchit – and, if fit, Grumeti (right) is very much in the Katchit mould, as he’s tough as old boots and enthusiastic with it. King also has an understudy with a major chance in Balder Succes, who should be backed if the ground goes on the soft side. Otherwise, it’s Grumeti all the way. Next up is the County Hurdle, and King’s Raya Star is selected in the hope that he’ll get the fierce pace he craves. He was able to overcome a slow gallop when landing the valuable Ladbroke at Ascot in December, but couldn’t quite repeat the trick at Newbury last month in the Betfair. They rarely go anything

Champions League The Last 16 Part II

Just desserts Chelsea v Napoli

Wednesday 7.45PM, ITV1 Roman Abramovich tasted the familiar flavour of European defeat (along with chocolate and strawberry) when his team visited the Neapolitans at the Stadio San Paolo a fortnight ago, in what was a very predictable ‘upset’. A more palatable performance from Chelsea this time around would be welcomed by Abramovich, who is probably starting to wonder if it might be easier to just step in and pick the team himself. If you want something done right... They say too many cooks spoil the broth, and Chelsea are a mish-mash of random ingredients pulled together by six chefs in five years. Andre Villas-Boas tried in vain to throw the whole lot out and start again, and it will be interesting to see whether Roberto Di Matteo continues that process or opts to return to the old staples (assuming he hasn’t been sacked by Wednesday). Contrast that with Napoli’s clear attacking vision under Walter Mazzari, and you begin to see why the Blues came undone a fortnight ago. Two unanswered goals would still see them progress, but Napoli are at their most dangerous on the break – and when you have David Luiz in defence, the opposition are pretty much guaranteed to score. Chelsea won all three home group games for the second year running, but that record has a habit of breaking down in the later stages: they’ve failed to win any of their past five matches at Stamford Bridge in the knockout rounds, succumbing to the pressures of hosting like a Come Dine with Me contestant crying into a soufflé. LAst timE: NApoLi 3-1 ChELsEA Chelsea took the lead against the run of play on 27 minutes, Juan Mata’s side-footed volley capitalising on a Paolo Cannavaro mistake. A sublime curler by Ezequiel Lavezzi levelled things, and Chelsea wasted chances to retake the lead. The Italians made them pay – Edinson Cavani shouldered home a cross from Gokhan Inler in first- half stoppage time before outmuscling Luiz halfway through the second half and inviting Lavezzi to add a cool second.

40 | March 9 2012 |

Bayern Munich v Basel

Inter Milan v Marseille

Real Madrid v CSKA Moscow

The German champions were mooted by many (including us) as the most likely team to take the European Cup out of Spain this season. That said, perhaps Basel’s 1-0 win two weeks ago shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise, given the way in which they eliminated Manchester United. Basel are undefeated away from home in the competition, with two highly credible draws against Benfica and at Old Trafford. Another draw would be enough to see the Swiss roll into the next round, but there’s still much work to do for Heiko Vogel and his team if that’s to happen. Bayern have won 11 of their past 12 home games in the Champions League and have won all four of the games played at the Allianz Arena in the competition this year. However, they’ve been below par of late in the Bundesliga – and despite enjoying the majority of possession in the first leg, looked sluggish and predictable in attack. The trickery and speed of Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery will be crucial if Bayern are to avoid becoming another major Basel scalp.

French side Marseille will be hopeful of building on the 1-0 advantage they earned at home as they seek to make it through to the quarter finals for the first time since 1993, the year they won the trophy. Didier Deschamps, their captain that day, is now in charge at the Stade Velodrome, and it should be a good omen – he never lost to Inter in the five games he played against them at the San Siro. A better omen (for Marseille) is probably Inter’s appalling form – at the time of writing they had lost five and drawn one of their past six, including that first-leg defeat in France, and hadn’t won at all since January 22. They truly are a club in crisis, and the fact they even made it out of the group stage is probably more down to the poor quality of their adversaries than anything else. The Nerazzurri still conspired to lose two of their three home games, against CSKA Moscow and Trabzonspor, so they probably won’t be too optimistic ahead of Marseille’s visit to the San Siro. Like Inter, Marseille lost two home games in the group, and made it through thanks to their away record, collecting seven points out of nine.

Clearly not wanting to be left out of a night full of last-minute goals, CSKA delivered a sucker punch of their own with the last kick of the first leg to pull level with Real Madrid – and in the process end the Spanish team’s run of six straight Champions League wins. Still, a 1-1 draw on the Luzhniki’s plastic pitch is not a bad result, even for Madrid – especially considering the impressive fact that they’ve gone through on all nine previous occasions that they’ve drawn the away leg 1-1. Jose Mourinho will be confident that his side can do the business again at the Bernabeu – they’ve lost only two home games all year (both to Barcelona, naturally). With all respect to the Russian side, who were impressive, that’s probably the problem the Special One is spending most of his time worrying about (that, and selling electric shavers). He will go into the second leg knowing his team are better equipped, better prepared and have the quality to see out the tie, inching ever closer to another seemingly inevitable showdown with Barcelona.

LAst timE: BAsEL 1-0 BAyERN After an eager start by Bayern, Basel came into the game, twice hitting the frame of the goal in the opening stages. The Germans were largely restricted to long-range efforts, and were thwarted by Yann Sommer when they did manage to break through Basel’s defence. This Swiss scored just four minutes from time, as Valentin Stocker was played in by substitute Jacques Zoua to slot past Manuel Neuer.

LAst timE: mARsEiLLE 1-0 iNtER miLAN Marseille finally ran out deserved winners after a pulsating contest in which they created the majority of chances and continually pinned Inter back. Still, Diego Forlan had a golden chance to score for Inter, his close-range volley saved by Steve Mandanda. Marseille’s goal finally came in the third minute of injury time, and it was pure simplicity – a corner whipped in by Mathieu Valbuena, and headed home by Andre Ayew. Advantage to the French.

LAst timE: CsKA 1-1 mosCow The Russians looked sharp in their first competitive fixture for several months, and created chances early, but Madrid soon found their feet when Ronaldo fired them into the lead on 28 minutes. From there they dominated possession and created a number of chances, but deep into injury time Alan Dzagoev crossed for Aleksei Berezutski to nod back across goal. The ball fell to heroically named debutant Pontus Wernbloom to fire home a late equaliser.

Tuesday 7.45PM, sky sPorTs 4

Wednesday 7.45PM, sky sPorTs 2

| 41

Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images, Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty Images, Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images, Harry Engels/Getty Images

Tuesday 7.45PM, sky sPorTs 2

140 Days to go

Focus 2012


THE VENUE The glorious south coast of England will get its share of Olympic action when the sailing gets under way at the end of July. Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy and the nearby commercial marina were chosen for their existing facilities – the site hosted the 2006 ISAF World Youth Championships – and for their position on the exposed spot at the western end of the English Channel, one expected to provide the best natural sailing waters in the UK. So, the south coast will inevitably be hit by torrential rain, hail and gale-force winds this summer. But we’re sure LOCOG has contingency plans for that. While tickets to the sailing events are sold out, there will still be several vantage points from which to watch the action even without one of LOCOG’s precious passes. There will also be a big screen on Weymouth beach showing the racing – the same place we presume 99 per cent of attendees will be wearing sunglasses on their foreheads. THE EVENT Contrary to how it may appear, there are only 10 medal events in Olympic sailing – six for men and four for women. Competitors have to complete 10 races (or 15 in the 49er class) with points awarded depending on finishing positions in each race (one point for first place, two for second, and so on). Each boat can then discard its worst score,

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leaving the 10 with the lowest total to fight for the medals in the, er, medal race. Match racing, on the other hand, is run as a roundrobin competition to start with, before the top teams advance to the knockout stage. Crew sizes vary according to craft – there’s just one sailor in the Laser, Laser Radial, Finn and RS-X classes, two in the 470, 49er and Star, and three in women’s match racing. The latter event is a new addition to the Olympic schedule that has come at the expense of the Yngling class in which GB’s ‘three blondes in a boat’ sailed to gold in Beijing. It’s set to be a new crowd favourite though, with its thrilling one-on-one racing action played out over a two-lap course. TEAM GB’S PROGRESS “We have the aim to win four medals at the Olympics, and we also want to be ‘medal competitive’ in each of the 10 classes,” says Stephen Park, the Royal Yachting Association’s Olympic manager. “So perhaps, if things go well, we will win more than four. Realistically, considering the improvement of other nations, it will be very tough for anyone to reach the six-medal tally we had in Beijing.” ROWING AT LONDON 2012 DATES July 29-August 11 CAPACITY 30,000 HOW TO GET THERE National Rail, Park and ride

GB hopeful

Nick Dempsey AGe in 2012 31 MedAl ReCoRd Miami World Cup gold 2012; Olympic Test Event silver 2011; RS:X World Championships gold 2009; RS:X European Championships gold 2006; Olympic bronze 2004 Married to Sarah Ayton, a double Olympic champion in sailing’s Yngling class, windsurfer Nick Dempsey has been to three Olympic Games but is yet to better his bronze medal from Athens in 2004...

On the same day his then wife-to-be, Sarah Ayton, won her second Olympic gold medal in the Yngling class at the Beijing Games, Nick Dempsey finished in the worst possible position in the RS:X – fourth. The final race was full of drama, with medal positions changing hands several times, but Dempsey was left as the unlucky loser. Missing out on a medal when he’d won bronze four years earlier was a painful experience, and he is desperate to make amends this summer. A former world number one in the RS:X class, Dempsey finished a disappointing 13th at the World Championships last December, but followed that result with a gold medal at the Miami World Cup regatta in January. Now it’s full steam ahead to London (or, rather, Weymouth) where, with his wife now retired, at least he doesn’t have to worry about her upstaging him again.

KEY EVENTS BEFORE LONDON 2012 RS:X World Windsurfing Championships March 20-29, Cadiz, Spain Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta June 4-9, Weymouth and Portland Clive Mason/Getty Images, Clive Rose/Getty Images

Great Britain is the most successful sailing nation in Olympic history, coming top at the past three Games


MARHIGHLIGHTS 9–MAR 15 » Football: Arsenal v Newcastle » p46 » Athletics: World Indoor Championships » p48 » Motorsport: WTCC Rounds 1 & 2 » p48 » Tennis: Indian Wells » p50 » Best of the Rest » p50


The age of Shaun White when he won his first amateur snowboard contest and got his first sponsor – snowboard makers Burton

Adam Moran/Red Bull Content Pool

Ride the ride France’s Northern Alps will be overflowing with adrenaline next week, when more than 125 world-class athletes arrive for the Winter X Games Europe in Tignes. It’s the third edition of the event, which features both slopestyle and superpipe competitions for skiers and snowboarders, as well as a snowmobile freestyle exhibition for those who prefer to be seated while, quite frankly, scaring the bejesus out of themselves.

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And for the first time, snowboarding’s best known face (and hair), Shaun White, is competing in Tignes. The ‘Flying Tomato’ has already collected 17 Winter X Games medals (12 of them gold), but was forced to miss the slopestyle event at the American Winter X Games in Aspen earlier this year after injuring an ankle in training. The Californian did manage to compete in the halfpipe, though, winning the gold with a perfect score – the first athlete in Winter X Games history to do so. Canadian freestyle skier Kaya Turski also made history in Aspen, landing the first switch 1080 – three full rotations through the air – in the history of women at Winter X. Kelly Clark did the same in the superpipe last year, and the American will be in Tignes to try and repeat the feat. The lingo takes a while to pick up, but there’s little expertise required to watch and marvel (and ooh and aah, etc).


Gunning for Europe It’s Saturday February 5 2011. Arsenal have won their past six games in a row, and are 4-0 up away at Newcastle after just 26 minutes. A win will close the gap to league leaders Manchester United to just two points and, with 13 games remaining, the Gunners have every chance of overhauling them. If Arsene Wenger could pick the moment the wheels fell off the title campaign last season, this would probably be it. Who knows what he said to his players at half time, but it had a disastrous effect. Five minutes into the second half, Abou Diaby was dismissed for shoving Joey Barton. It heralded the start of a famous Newcastle comeback, as they pulled it back to 4-4 with Cheik Tiote’s blistering equaliser three minutes from time. Arsenal went on to win just four of their remaining 13 league games. They would have been hoping for a fresh start when they met Newcastle again on the opening day of this campaign, but there was a sense of deja vu for the Gunners as debutant Gervinho was sent off for slapping perpetual victim Barton. The match bore little other resemblance to the previous goal fest, though – a 0-0 draw was a sign of things to come for underachieving Arsenal, and for

46 | March 9 2012 |

a Newcastle side that had the best defensive record in the division early in the season – largely thanks to an unchanged back five of Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Stephen Taylor and Danny Simpson. Both sides have been squabbling over that prime patch of Premier League real estate that grants access to Europe’s private garden, but Newcastle have fallen away of late. After impressive back-to-back wins over Liverpool and Spurs, the Gunners now look favourites for that final Champions League place (you know, the one that counts as a trophy in Wenger’s book). The boss won’t be on the phone to the silversmith just yet, knowing better than anyone his side’s capacity for falling apart under pressure. A win here would be Arsenal’s fifth in a row in the league, and will put them in prime position to secure the W inaugural Arsene Wenger Cup as the season draws to a close.


An Arsenal player has been sent off in each of the past three meetings between the teams: Gervinho this year, Abou Diaby last year and Laurent Koscielny in 2010

South shield: can Simpson (below) shut out the prolific Robin van Persie again?

Around the grounds

Aston Villa V Fulham Villa Park, Saturday 3pm Chelsea V Stoke Stamford Bridge, Saturday 3pm Sunderland V Liverpool Stadium of Light, Saturday 3pm Wolves V Blackburn Molineux, Saturday 3pm Everton V Tottenham Goodison Park, Saturday 5.30pm ESPN Man Utd V West Brom Old Trafford, Sunday 2pm Swansea V Man City Liberty Stadium, Sunday 2pm Norwich V Wigan Carrow Road Stadium, Sunday 4pm Sky Sports 1

Premier League table 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Man City Man Utd Tottenham Arsenal Chelsea Newcastle Liverpool Fulham Stoke West Brom Norwich Sunderland Everton Swansea Aston Villa QPR Blackburn Wolves Bolton Wigan

P 27 27 27 27 27 27 26 27 27 27 27 27 26 27 27 27 27 27 27 27

W 21 20 16 15 13 12 10 9 10 10 9 9 9 8 6 5 5 5 6 4

D 3 4 5 4 7 8 9 9 6 5 8 7 7 9 12 7 7 7 2 8

L 3 3 6 8 7 7 7 9 11 12 10 11 10 10 9 15 15 15 19 15

F 69 66 52 55 47 39 30 37 27 34 38 35 27 30 30 28 38 30 29 23

A Pts 19 66 27 64 33 53 38 49 32 46 39 44 25 39 36 36 38 36 35 35 44 35 31 34 28 34 34 33 35 30 46 22 60 22 56 22 56 20 52 20

Tuesday LiverpooL v everton | AnfieLd | Sky SportS 1 8pM

1. King Kenny’s reign The Carling Cup triumph has papered over some serious flaws in Liverpool’s league campaign. The Reds are now 10 points behind Arsenal in fourth, after last weekend’s oddly one-sided defeat. They have a big chance to narrow that gap this week, as they play Sunderland on Saturday and again on Tuesday against Everton. The Merseyside derby is Liverpool’s game in hand, and Kenny

Dalglish will be desperate to collect three points to avoid slipping into the mid-table mire. They won the previous derby in October after Jack Rodwell was dismissed for an innocuous challenge on Luis Suarez. The Reds might need a similar stroke of luck this time – Liverpool have won just two of their past 10 league games, while Everton are unbeaten in six.

saTurday BoLton v Qpr | reeBok StAdiuM | Sky SportS 2 12.45pM

2. Kevin Davies You have to question how much longer Phil Gartside is going to stick with Owen Coyle. After their worst start to a season for 109 years, Bolton wandered out of the relegation zone briefly in January, but have lost their past four league games. The departures of Daniel Sturridge and Johann Elmander have left a hole that David N’gog and Ivan Klasnic have not looked equipped to fill. Klasnic hasn’t

netted since November, and £4m signing N’Gog has scored just two league goals in 22 games (although at £2m per goal, he’s still better value than another former Liverpool striker). Kevin Davies has had a mixed season, netting just thrice in 15 starts, and he has missed the past few games through injury. But, with Coyle identifying the last 11 games as a favourable run-in for his side, it’s time for experienced battler Davies to step up once again.

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images, Mike Hewitt/Getty Images, Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images, Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images, Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

A big week for...


Top Brits take on Turkey

Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images; FIA World Touring Car Championship image courtesy of WTCC

Sunday MOTORSPORT | WTCC ROUNDS 1 AND 2: MONzA, ITALy | FROM 12PM, BRITISH EUROSPORT 1 & 2 The World Touring Car Championship season begins at Monza this weekend, in the first meet of a drastically changed calendar. Gone are the rounds in the UK, Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic, replaced by Austria, Morocco, Slovakia and the United States. Despite the changes to the itinerary, the series should still offer exciting wheel-towheel racing and the kind of close contact and overtaking that’s often sorely lacking from certain other formulas (we’re not pointing any fingers, lest Bernie’s FIA police squad come hammering on our door in the dead of night). Chevrolet continued to dominate the series last year – Yvan Muller pipped his British teammate Rob Huff to the title by just three points, with fellow Chevrolet driver Alain Menu a distant third. Huff led the standings for much of last season, and had some riveting battles with Muller as he sought the first drivers’ championship of his WTCC career. He leads a large British contingent in the series, with James Nash, Tom Chilton and Tom Boardman joining 32-year-old Huff and Alex MacDowall. With a Chevrolet driver winning 21 of the 24 races last season, they remain the team to beat – and even at the ripe old age of 42, it’s hard to see anyone other than young(er) upstart Huff challenging Muller as he seeks his fourth drivers’ championship. 48 | March 9 2012 |

Lads on tour

UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee might have told Sport last week that he won’t set much store by the results from this weekend’s World Indoor Athletics Championships in Istanbul, but the athletes competing know he will still be keeping a close eye on their performances. For defending world indoor pentathlon champion Jess Ennis (left), it’s an opportunity to take on the athlete who beat her to heptathlon gold at the World Championships in Daegu last summer – Tatyana Chernova. The Russian is considered to be one of Ennis’ main rivals for the Olympic crown, and the Brit would love nothing more than to show she’s on track for the top step of the podium in London with a victory this weekend. The same goes for Mo Farah, who was disappointed with his run over two miles at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham last month, where he was beaten into second place – something he seems to have become unaccustomed to over the past year or so. In Istanbul he’ll race over 3,000m, pitting him against two-time world indoor 3,000m gold-medallist Bernard Lagat, who could only watch on from second as Farah sprinted to 5,000m gold in Daegu last summer. Dwain Chambers is the third British headline act heading to Turkey, where he’s likely to come up against fellow former convicted doper Justin Gatlin (see page 10) in trying to defend the world indoor 60m title he won in 2010. The 33-year-old could find his path to the Olympics cleared over the coming weeks – and gold in Istanbul would be some way to start his road to the Games.



UP TO 50% OFF OUR WINTER RANGES IN-STORE & ONLINE & MANY MORE TOP BRANDS Chertsey, Covent Garden, Croydon, Harrods, Hemel Hempstead, Holborn, Kensington, Monument, Romford



Indian summer

That was the start of the Serb’s dominance over Nadal in a run of finals that Rafa will be desperate to break, having lost to the Djoker at Wimbledon, the US Open and in January’s Melbourne epic. Nadal will at least be fresh – this will be his first ATP tournament since that gruelling slugfest. Victoria Azarenka heads the women’s draw (qualifiers for which began on Monday) after her Australian Open win, with former Indian Wells winner Maria Sharapova and defending champ Caroline Wozniacki joining Petra Kvitova in seeking to stop the Belarusian making further headway at the top of the world rankings.




SWIMMING British Gas Swimming Championships, Olympic Aquatics Centre, BBC Red Button 6.25pm

FOOTBALL Scottish Cup: Dundee Utd v Celtic, Tannadice, Sky Sports 1 1.15pm

RUGBY UNION LV=Cup Semi Final: Bath Rugby v Leicester Tigers, The Rec, Sky Sports 3 7.30pm CRICKET New Zealand v South Africa: 1st Test Day 4, Dunedin, Sky Sports 3 9.25pm

CYCLING Paris-Nice Stage 8: Nice-Col d’Eze, British Eurosport 2 1pm RUGBY UNION LV=Cup Semi Final: Northampton v Scarlets, Franklin’s Gardens, Sky Sports 2 1pm GOLF WGC-Cadillac Championship Day 4, TPC Blue Monster at Doral, Sky Sports 2 5pm

BASKETBALL NBA: San Antonio Spurs v LA Clippers, AT&T Center, ESPN 1.30am



CYCLING Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 7: San Benedetto del Tronto, British Eurosport 2pm

RUGBY UNION Super Rugby: Sharks v Lions, Kings Park Stadium, Sky Sports 1 3.05pm


HORSE RACING Paddy Power Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle, Sandown Racecourse, Channel 4 3.15pm RUGBY LEAGUE Super League: Hull KR v Bradford, Craven Park, Sky Sports 1 5.05pm FOOTBALL La Liga: Real Betis v Real Madrid, Benito Villamarin, Sky Sports 1 9pm UFC Alves v Kampmann, Allphones Arena, Sydney, ESPN 1.45am

50 | March 9 2012 |

CRICKET New Zealand v South Africa: 2nd Test Day 1, Hamilton, Sky Sports 4 9.25pm BASKETBALL NBA: Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat, United Center, ESPN 1.30am

THURSDAY SNOOKER PTC Grand Finals Day 1 , NUI, Galway, British Eurosport 7.30pm FOOTBALL Europa League Round of 16 2nd leg: Athletic Bilbao v Manchester United, San Mames, Channel 5 6pm

The pick of round six of the Stobart Super League sees league leaders Warrington Wolves take on the reigning champions and current world club champions Leeds Rhinos. The Wolves remain unbeaten and came through a tough test at Bradford last week. They have class across the squad, too, with hooker Michael Monaghan and stand off Lee Briers hugely influential. Leeds continue to bask in the glow of their victory over Australian champions Manly, and in winger Ryan Hall have one of the deadliest finishers in world rugby – underlined with his seventh hat-trick in Leeds colours in their recent 34-16 win over Castleford Tigers. In Friday’s other match, an out-of-sorts St Helens take on Hull FC at Langtree Park. Saints haven’t won since their victory over Salford in their first Super League game at their new stadium, and may be without hooker James Roby, who is a doubt with a knee injury. Saturday sees Hull Kingston Rovers take on Bradford Bulls and London Broncos, looking for their first win, play Castleford at the Twickenham Stoop. Catalans Dragons will look to put last Sunday’s defeat at Wigan behind them when they entertain Salford City Reds on Saturday evening, while Sunday sees bottom club Widnes take on second-placed Wigan, with Wakefield hosting the Huddersfield Giants.

Big hitters face off

Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images, Stu Forster/Getty Images

At the grand old age of 30, Roger Federer has been enjoying a balmy autumn to his career so far this season. Since losing to Rafael Nadal in the semi finals of the Australian Open, he has won in Rotterdam and dismissed Andy Murray to take the title in Dubai last week, making him the form player going into Indian Wells. The Swiss won this tournament three times between 2004 and 2006, but was beaten in a thrilling three-set semi final last year by Novak Djokovic during that 41-match unbeaten streak. Djokovic (above) went on to take the title, coming from a set down to beat Nadal – the first time he had beaten the Spaniard in a final.

P56 Watch a ridiculously small screen and look menacingly futuristic

Extra time Kit

artEx m itra time Making the most of your time and money

Smarten up in a (track) suit







Whether you’re planning to head out for a run or spend the weekend at home on the sofa, this lot should keep you comfy

1 Do Unlimited Ultra Light Pro Jacket

Lime green and blue, eh? Well, to each their own. The advantage of this jacket is that you can make hilarious (well, hilarious to us) jokes about your new ‘do. People will think you mean hair, then you tell them you meant your jacket. Just think of the fun you can have. £35 |

2 Puma T7 Track Pants

These are like shorts, only they cover more of your legs. Oh, and they come in other colours. And they have pockets. Sorry for getting all technical on you there. £35 |

3 Lonsdale Tracksuit Bottoms

You can’t go too far wrong with grey tracky b’s for wearing around the house or working out. Plus, these ones are made by boxing brand Lonsdale. And boxing’s a pretty honourable sport – right, Dereck? £12 |

4 ODLO Race Jacket

ODLO’s motto is ‘always make sure you’re one step ahead’. While this top can’t guarantee that, it can at least make sure you look good – and keep nice and warm – while everyone else on the track stays many, many steps ahead of you. If you’re anything like us, that is. £100 |

5 Official Virgin London Marathon Jacket

If you’re planning to run the London Marathon this year, congratulations – and please stop reading now. Have they gone? Right – the rest of you, just get one of these, pour water over your face, turn up at the finish line and everyone will think you ran it. You’re welcome. £60 |

6 Franklin & Marshall Tracksuit Bottoms

Aretha Franklin and Marshall Mathers (or Eminem, as he’s better known) seemed an unlikely combination, but proved with No Love Deeper that their partnership can work. Now the duo are back with another item to add to their collection. Respect. £31 |

52 | March 9 2012 |

*Conditions apply. See for full details.

54 | March 9 2012 |

S orry old boy – she’s taken. End your interest right away and turn over, because Kelly Carlson – she of US plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck fame – is the arm candy of retired Canadian ice hockey player Tie Domi. And what an arm. Domi’s role during a 16-year career as enforcer for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets was to pound away on the face of any and all opposition players he took a disliking to. And there were many (seriously, YouTube him). Still thinking of having a crack? So is Domi, probably. He’s hit the gunishment button for less.

In 1995, he was suspended for eight games for a devastating sucker punch that knocked out New York Rangers’ defenseman Ulf Samuelsson (nicknamed Robocop), apparently because Ulf called him ‘Tie Dummy’. If you’re still insistent on seeing more of Carlson, we recommend you do so from a safe distance and catch her in soon-to-be-released film Jimmy – which, according to IMDB, is ‘the story of a mentally challenged teenager who interacts with supernatural beings’. So, if Sport does ever pluck up the courage to come face to face with her, at least she will be capable of relating to us on our level.


Extra time Kelly Carlson

Apix Syndication

| 55

Extra time Gadgets

Vision express So, it turns out that RoboCop’s glasses were actually just for watching Cheers reruns in his car in between annihilating criminals

Epson Moverio BT-100 These glasses are designed for entertainment on the move, although they’re probably more suited to a first-class airport lounge than the N35 to Clapham Junction. They are the equivalent of watching an 80-inch TV from five metres away, so no more tiny tablet screens (#firstworldproblems) – and they have transparent lenses, so you’ll remain somewhat aware of your surroundings. They pack an impressive several gigs of storage, and Wi-Fi connectivity in case you run out of stuff to watch. A touchscreen remote is also included for easy navigation, though telepathy is not a built-in function... yet. £519 |

The Mu This concept has been doing the rounds online for a couple of years – and now it’s finally been brought into production. It unfolds into a three-pin UK plug, has a USB socket so you can plug in a smartphone charger and is small enough to fit in your pocket, making it ideal for travel. We just hope it doesn’t open the floodgates for other internet virals to emerge into the real world. The horror! £25 |

Philips HMP2000 HD Media Player

Fujifilm FinePix XP150

Sometimes, even with Freeview or satellite TV, there really isn’t anything on. This box frees you from the sadistic whims of the schedulers by providing access to on-demand streaming services like iPlayer and Netflix through an HD TV, instead of on your laptop. And it connects to Wi-Fi, so you never have to face a six-year-old episode of Mock the Week on Dave again.

This rugged camera is impervious to all manner of liquids and powdery substances, from water to sand. With a rubberised grip and solid exterior, it’s great for adventure holidays. It’s also freeze-proof down to -10°C, so it was ideal for the in-freezer surveillance system we built to work out who was stealing our chicken dippers. £219 |

£58 |

TP-LINK TL-WR702N It’s frustrating when you’re in a hotel room with only one phone point and can only use one internet device (#morefirstworldproblems). The credit card-sized and catchily named WR702N solves that by dint of being the smallest router in the world. £15 |

56 | March 9 2012 |

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Extra time Grooming THE FRAGRANCES

Black and blue...

£33.50 for 100ml

... and, er, a bit of orange in this week’s lazily colour-themed grooming page

Paco Rabanne Black XS L’Excès, DKNY Summer Men The seasons come together this week, in the form of two new fragrances from Paco Rabanne and DKNY. The former has just released Black XS L’Excès, which when you say it out loud just sounds like you’re repeating yourself for no real reason. Anyway, the scent itself is a darkish, deepish concoction that is being marketed as ‘an intense rock fragrance’. That would explain the little skull adorning the bottle (see right), less so the vibrant accord of lemon and lavender that comprises its top note. That said, the deeper base notes of amber wood and patchouli soon take over, to give off the kind of rocky aromas that are ideally suited to dark and dingy indie clubs on a cold Friday night in winter. That’s the black sorted, now what about the blue? DKNY’s new limited-edition Summer Men fragrance is the answer – which, despite coming in the lankiest bottle known to all of perfumery, is a pleasing scent that really does scream summery sweetness. The combination of white pepper, geranium, labdanum and cedar may be a little heavy on the sweet for some, but those who like it will really like it. Paco Rabanne at, DKNY exclusive to

£44.50 for 100ml


THE OTHER MOISTURISER Lab Series for Men BB Tinted Moisturiser SPF 35


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The name ‘Lab Series’ has always conjured up images of men in white coats messing about with smoking test tubes, for us; but, while that isn’t necessarily the case, it is true that science is at the heart of the brand’s ethos. Take their new BB Tinted Moisturiser, which launches nationwide next Friday. Nominally a moisturiser that firms, tones and hydrates the skin, it also features special technology that customises in colour to match all skin tones. Thus does it camouflage imperfections in the skin, resulting in a pretty much immediate noticeable improvement. Very nice work.

Ole Henriksen Truth Crème Advanced Hydration March, it would seem, is the month of the moisturiser. Not only have Lab Series for Men launched the tinted effort to the left, but the ever-colourful Ole Henriksen have also been busy with this: the all-new Truth Crème Advanced Hydration. This one may not have the tinted technology of its competitor over there, but what it has is an exclusive Advanced Hydration Complex that,as you may guess, ensures optimal hydration while delivering strong anti-ageing benefits and promoting healthy cell turnover. All of which (and maybe more) you’d expect after shelling out more than half

a ton on a 50ml tub. But you generally pay for quality with Ole Henriksen, and the signature citrus orange and vanilla scent of the Truth range will keep your mush smelling great throughout the day – and that’s almost priceless.


C ett elli Ge1hT121©02012 The G.iyllentatepC mompany.



Extra time Entertainment

Special effect


Vladimir Putin’s toilet humour, Grimes gets sublime and Tekken meets Street Fighter. This week: wins MUSIC

Winning the BBC Sound of 2012 poll seems less a blessing and more a curse to us: a big, dull Blue Peter Badge to say that you’re Auntie Beeb-approved. However it’s clear from the first moment you hear Michael Kiwanuka’s rich, textured voice that the London soul singer isn’t an easy man to categorise. On the best parts of Monday’s debut album – such as opener Tell Me a Tale – he sounds a worthy heir to the likes of Bill Withers. At his less inspired, he’s a bit too close to the Family of Lighthouse. A mixed bag, but the warm, rapturous highs outweigh a few yawns.


Mass Effect 3 (PC/PS3/Xbox 360)

In the final instalment of the Mass Effect trilogy, players reprise the role of Commander John (or Jane) Shepard, battling to save a bewildering array of alien races from annihilation at the hands of the Reapers, a race of sentient machines (who don’t actually have hands). The story develops differently depending on your actions, and it plays out with cinematic scope and ambition regardless of the path. The stunning graphics were created with motion capture and real sets, and the immense dialogue boasts voice actors from Martin Sheen to Seth Green. Developers BioWare actually launched a copy of this game into space, in one of the more dubious publicity stunts we’ve heard of. It’s not as if it needed the hype – this RPG has rightly been at the top of the ‘must-buy’ lists for months.



The Man Without a Face Masha Gessen

This is England ’88 Bleaker than ever, but still superbly observed and crafted, the latest in Shane Meadows’ This is England series is out on DVD on Monday. A necessary counterpoint to the glossy bullshit of The Iron Lady, it’s seeped in authenticity and dark humour. TiE ‘90 can’t come soon enough.

Moscow journalist Masha Gessen delves into the rise of Vladimir Putin and finds that there’s more than just judo belts in the Russian PM’s closet. It seems he’s fond of controlling his populace, removing his enemies and crude jokes. The utter cad.

Street Fighter X Tekken (PS3/Xbox 360)

Visions Grimes

Two of the greatest fighting games have merged – and the results are as refreshing as a hadouken to the face on a cold day. New features include cross assaults (allowing you to attack with two bruisers at once in tag team mode) and even four-on-four scramble mayhem. However, the best thing is how well the Tekken characters have been integrated into the Capcom world. A winning combo.

Don’t let the grubby title fool you, Grimes is no heavy metal act. Rather, the 23-year-old Canadian is a creator of quirkily brilliant ‘dream pop’ likely to appeal to a totally different audience. The lavish 1980s-style synths (all the rage, we know) mix with her vocals to create some sublime songs. It may be a little too kooky for some, but there are soaring highs on this fantastic album.

60 | March 9 2012 |


Raphaël Ouellet

Home Again Michael Kiwanuka


reD BULL gIVeS YoU WIngS. to See DaI’S StorY VISIt

Sport magazine - Issue 247  

Sport magazine - Issue 247