One Arm XI versus One Legged XI

In 1848, unfettered by so-called ‘political correctness’, two teams of Greenwich Pensioners, resident at the Royal Hospital for Seamen in Greenwich, took part in a spirited, and well-received, two-day cricket match at the Priory Ground in Lewisham. The names of the teams are, hopefully, self-explanatory, but all the players were retired Royal Navy sailors, who had lost their respective limbs in the cause of duty and, hence, found a permanent home at the Royal Hospital.

In what I suspect was meant as a nod toward camaraderie but also respect for the service of those involved, the match was met with a positive reaction, and depending on how you perceive it could even be said to be ahead of its time. Of course nowadays sporting events for those with certain physical limitations are rightly heralded as inclusion and necessary in rewarding achieve just as they are in the able bodied. The paralympics was of course a recent brilliant example of showcasing sporting achievement in those with additional challenges.

Gone are the days where cricket had a narrow appeal. Branching out beyond the physical, cricket has been dragged into the modern age in varying regards. Take for instance ‘The Hundred’. This new format aimed at appealing to new audiences achieved just that, selling over 500,000 tickets, and reaching a TV audience of 16 million+.  Not only that, 57% of those tuning in had not watched live cricket this year. The key to its success was to involve both mens and womens teams (from various major cities across the country – making it more diverse). It’s a 100 ball tournament and all signs are that it’s bringing a new and younger audience to the sport, which can’t be bad. Of course Cricket already holds mass appeal all around the world, from the UK to India, as sites like attest to,  so hitting on new angles to keep things fresh and interesting is key to continued interest.

The aforementioned One Arm and One Leg cricket match appears to have been something of a ‘jolly’ for the Greenwich Pensioners, each of whom received an allowance of ten shillings, not to mention free transport to and from the Priory Ground. Eating and drinking were high on the agenda, with a generous lunch and dinner served before and after each day’s play and, at the end of the match, both teams marched off, with musical accompaniment, to the Bull Inn in nearby Shooters Hill.

While the players cut a dash in their distinctive veterans’ uniforms, their age and infirmity led to a rather comical, if good-natured, encounter, in which extras made a significant contribution to the totals in all four innings. The One Arm XI bowled 43 wides and the One Legged XI 30, while Mr. Sears, who batted at number five for One Legged XI, top scored with 15 in the second innings. All told, the One Arm XI made 50 and 41 and the One Legged XI made 32 and 44, although the batting was as bad as the bowling, with 21 ducks in the match, including five pairs for the One Legged XI.

Revenge Mission on the cards as Ambassador ready to go for Gold

GREAT AMBASSADOR is in line for a crack at the Ayr Gold Cup after securing a comfortable win in the Download The MansionBet App Handicap at Newmarket.

Ed Walker’s progressive four-year-old followed up an impressive third-placed finish in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood with a near two-length success over Brando, seeing him confirmed as favourite for the big handicap north of the border.

The clash at Ayr is looking more and more like a re-run of the Goodwood race, the first three finishers all expected to make the trip for the six-furlong highlight of the Virgin Bet Gold Cup Festival.

Winner Commanche Falls is being targeted at the race with trainer Michael Dods hoping to find a suitable warm-up for his four-year-old, while runner-up Gulliver, trained by David O’Meara, is also expected to line up, reports SportShock.Net.

There was less than a length separating the first three finishers in the Stewards Cup, and early markets have Great Ambassador as 9/1 favourite to gain revenge on Commanche Falls (12/1), with Gulliver and the James Fanshawe-trained Fresh (both at odds 14/1, based on the UK horse betting apps) also near the top of the betting.

A drying surface is expected to boost Great Ambassador’s chances of winning the big handicap, with trainer Ed Walker believing both the draw and the conditions were key to his Goodwood defeat.

“If he’s drawn the other side he probably would have won, and he probably would have won if he hadn’t lugged across the track looking for some company,” said Walker of the third-placed finish in the Stewards Cup.

“It’s gutting, because I think we’ve been second, third and fourth in the race now in recent years. It’s a lovely race to win, and I’ll keep trying. It’s amazing how much speed this horse has – (jockey) Will (Buick) said you could bring him back to five.

“I think he’ll end up being a Pattern-book horse before the end of the year.”

The Ayr Gold Cup dates back to 1804 and was originally limited to horses bred and trained in Scotland. The field is formed from the highest-weighted horses entered for the race, with a maximum number of runners limited to 27. Those eliminated are offered to chance to compete in the Silver Cup, a consolation race introduced in 1992, and in 2009 a Bronze Cup was established for those missing out on the silver race. BBC Sport

It is one of the biggest betting races of the year and last year’s winner, Nahaarr, was the subject of massive gamble on the morning of the race. After trading at 8/1 overnight, the William Haggas-trained runner went off as 7/2 favourite, the shortest priced winner for 25 years.

Twelve months ago, Haggas was making a rare foray north of the border, but this year he has three entries, with Boosala (12/1) probably the most interesting of his runners. The four-year-old launched his career with two wins before a five-month absence from the track ended with a third-placed finish at Wolverhampton on Boxing Day 2020. Another extended absence has followed, with his entry in the Ayr Gold Cup clearly pricking the interest of punters and bookmakers alike.

Another Haggas runner Motawaajed (14/1) put in an impressive performance at Doncaster, beating favourite Dance Fever to win the Cazoo Handicap, but the big Ayr event would be a first run over six furlongs for the three-year-old.

Saeed bin Suroor’s Dream would be to send the Irish raiders packing

IN a festival that includes three Group One races, it may seem somewhat surprising that the Ebor Handicap is arguably the most attractive clash of the four days at York.

One of the most valuable flat handicaps in Europe, the Ebor offers a first prize of £300K, and it is no surprise the race attracts high quality entries from both flat and hurdles background.

The horse bets are currently led by trained Saeed bin Surur, four-year-old Live Your Dream, winner of four out of seven starts, including over £ 1 million in the Bet365 Trophy at Newmarket in July. Prior to that, Wolverhampton had a comfortable six-length, two-mile success so endurance was no problem for Iffraj’s son Godolphin.

With form at the track another consideration for punters, Live Your Dream ran a very creditable second to Spanish Kiss in a 1m4f handicap on the Knavesmire in May this year – coming on considerably in his outings since, so BBC Sport

Live Your Dream missed the whole of 2020 so appears to have some catching up to do, with Saeed bin Suroor saying: “The Ebor looks the race for him. He’s improving – he came out of his last race nicely and he’s in good form.

“He’s probably a Group Three horse at the moment, but I think you need a Group horse for the Ebor, so we’ll take it from there. Good ground would be what he wants.”

With the record of favourites in the Ebor reading one winner in the last 13 runnings, with ten of those 13 winners going off at double-figure odds, you may be forgiven for giving Live Your Dream (8/1) a swerve, but the colt is unaware of where he is in the betting, and his credentials appear to underline why he is the standout entrant in the race.

There will be a strong challenge to Live Your Dream from Ireland, with Willie Mullins and Johnny Murtagh bringing over runners that are just behind the favourite in the betting, reports SportShock.Net.

Mullins will head into the race with a number of runners, Saldier leading the way at a price of 12/1. However, he would have to buck the trend of seven-year-olds in the race, with just one horse aged over six winning in recent history – Litigant producing a shock success in 2015 at a price of 33/1, handing trainer Joseph Tuite the biggest success of his career.

Saldier has the Galway Hurdle under his belt this season, with famous hurdle winners proving successful in the past; the race famously won by Sea Pigeon in 1979, a horse that was better known for his steeplechase efforts, winning the Champion Hurdle twice, in 1980 and 1981. Aside from his hurdles success, Saldier’s flat form is perhaps more interesting, winning a qualified riders’ race at Listowel over the Ebor trip; he was also fifth in the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot off his Ebor mark.

Johnny Murtagh has Sonnyboyliston (12/1) and Mirann (20/1) down to run in the race, with the former potentially a better prospect than Saldier. Sonnyboyliston finished seventh at York in the Group Three John Smith’s Silver Cup in July over the Ebor distance, and he would be trainer Murtagh’s second win in the race after Mutual Regard’s success in 2014.


No Horses Finish

Beforehand, the Totepool Flexi Betting at Cheltenham Festival Novices’ Chase, run over 2 miles 4 furlongs, at Towcester on March 17, 2011 hardly appeared a horse racing moment that would make history, but it did. Just four runners went to post, but that number was reduced to two when the leader, Zhukov, and Cengiz, who appeared to be tailing off in any case, fell independently at the same fence.

The remaining runners, the market leaders Identity Parade, ridden by Adrian Lane, and Radharc Na Mara, ridden by Peter Toole, continued to duel until approaching the second-last fence, where it became clear that the former had taken command of his toiling rival. However, on the run to the final fence, no sooner had commentator uttered the words ‘in safe keeping’ than Identity Parade nigh on refused, barely clambered over the obstacle and fell. Radharc Na Mara, who had been about four lengths behind, jumped the fence successfully and, momentarily, took the lead. However, he stumbled on landing, jinked right and unseated Toole, who beat his fist on the ground in frustration.

As Radharc Na Mara had unseated rider, rather than fallen, Toole briefly discussed remounting with a steward, but eventually walked the horse back to the stables. With remounting after the start of a race banned, upon pain of disqualification, by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) in November, 2009, this was the first time since the rule change that all the horses in a race had failed to finish. Thus, the Totepool Flexi Betting at Cheltenham Festival Novices’ Chase made history as the first race to be declared void for that reason.