Cheltenham Festival 2019 is only weeks away and the meeting’s showpiece, the Gold Cup, is shaping up nicely to be the most competitive in years. Last year’s winner Native Winner isn’t the bookies’ favourite to make it back-to-back wins (a feat that last occurred in 2002-4 with Best Mate), with Presenting Percy the leader at this stage. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at this year’s leading contenders for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Presenting Percy – 3/1
The Irish front-runner will be looking to make it a hattrick of wins at Cheltenham Festival, with a first in the Gold Cup the main agenda. However, should Presenting Percy not race at Fairyhouse, he’d become the first horse to ever be successful without turning out for any races this season. Owner Philip Reynolds and trainer Pat Kelly have denied there are any problems:
“Presenting Percy is absolutely fine,” said Reynolds.
Continuing: “I’m not sure how many more opportunities Pat’s going to have to have a horse go to the Gold Cup. I certainly doubt I’m going to have many more. So, we just decided to be ultra, ultra-careful, that’s all. Nothing wrong with the horse.”
Clan des Obeaux – 4/1
Trainer Paul Nicholls will be looking to make it a fifth success in the Gold Cup with this season’s most-improved chaser,Clan des Obeaux. An impressive win in the King George VI Chase at Ascot cemented his claims for a win in next month’s cup.
Native River – 5/1
Who could forget Native River’s win in last year’s Gold Cup? Him and Might Bite were head and shoulders above the rest of the field and made for an epic encounter in the closing minutes. The equine flu outbreak ensured Native River was unable to complete his pre-competition training; however, he didn’t look too bad in the two run-outs at the end of last year.
Kemboy – 9/1
The odds of Kemboycontinue to shorten and expect them to shorten further if Ruby Walsh decides to ride. The winner of his last four chases, Kemboyis in decent form and is one of Ireland’s best offerings (barring the favourite, of course). However, Willie Mullins is looking to break his Cheltenham hoodoo as runner-up on six occasions, and he’s certainly going big this year with no fewer than four horses in the race.
“There’s Al Boum Photo, Invitation Only, Kemboy and Bellshill — and I’ll probably run as many as I can. Those four can run there, anyway,” Mullins said.
‘It would be nice to win the Gold Cup and we have as good a chance this year as any. You can make cases for them all”.
Bellshill – 10/1
Bellshill won the Irish Gold Cup earlier this month, beating favourite Road to Respect and shouldn’t be underestimated. This form has shortened his odds from the 20s and put the horse ahead of his Irish Gold Cup rival, while strengthening Willie Mullins’ strong hand of racers.
Might Bite – 12/1
Last year’s runner-up, Might Bite has looked a shadow of his former self in the two runs this season, hence only featuring sixth with the bookies. Finishing last at the Chase at Haydock, he came up short in the King George VI Chase at Ascot. Trainer Nicky Henderson believes he can make a timely return to form – and maybe even go one better than 12 months ago.
Today’s FM Holds U-20 Soccer Fiesta, Dec
The maiden edition of Today’s FM Under 20 Soccer Fiesta is set to commence first week of next month, at Treasure FM football field in Port Harcourt.
Speaking in a media briefing, last Friday, at the boardroom of the Station, in Port Harcourt, the chairman of the organising committee, Emeka Denar, said the tournament is basically to expose hidden talents within that age bracket.
According to him, the Soccer Fiesta is another way of giving back to the society and, to foster peace and unity in the State.
“This is the sixth year of our existence as a radio station in the State, so this Soccer Fiesta is to give back to the society. We decided to choose U-20, because there are backlog of talented players in that category. So our interest is to give them a platform to show case their talents”, Denar said.
The chairman further explained that the Fiesta would be on knock out basis and 16 teams are expected to participate in the novelty edition.
“The winner of the tournament is to walk away with N300, 000, while second and third positions will go home with N200,000 and N100,000 respectively. Registration has commenced with N10, 000 only”, he stated.
Also, speaking, the Head of News in the station, Victor Ezeama, said the competition is open for sponsorship, saying that the station would sustain the tournament.
On the issue of age cheat, the consultant of the tournament, China Acheru, assured the sponsors that they would try their best to check age cheating.
“We will try our best to check age cheating; even FIFA has not succeeded totally on that. I know some will scale through and some will not,” Acheru said.
Lala Happy To Score First NPFL Goal
Jigawa Golden Stars attacker, Abdullahi Musa Lala, says he’s delighted to score his first Nigeria Professional Football League goal for the Club.
The former Katsina United forward was on target for the Northern side in their 2-1 loss to Wikki Tourists of Bauchi in NPFL opener last Sunday
The young and pacy winger opened the scoring for Jigawa Golden Stars, before Wikki Tourists replied with two quick second half goals to snatched all the three points at the Pantami Stadium in Gombe.
“I am so delighted to score my first Premier League goal in the colour of Jigawa Golden Stars.
“Despite the loss, we gave a very good account of ourselves as a team.
“I wish to dedicate that goal to my teammates and the entire fans of Jigawa Golden Stars FC for giving Wikki Tourists a good fight in front of their fans.
“It has been my target to score in the first match of the league and I thank almighty Allah for given me the privilege to finally register my goal account in the NPFL, he said.
“This is just the first goal, I am very sure more are still coming because I am working hard in order to score in every game I will play.”, he said
Abdullahi Musa Lala recorded four goals and three assists in eight games for the newly promoted side last season.
Usule Eyes NPFL Top Scorer Award
Enyimba forward, Martin Usule, has set his sight on the Enyimba and Nigeria professional football league top scorer award at the end of the season.
Usule was on target for the People’s Elephants in their CAF Confederations Cup first leg victory over TS Galaxy of South Africa in Aba
The former Niger Tornadoes and Katsina United attacker is optimistic that he can kick on from his first goal for the Club and get more.
“I am so excited to have scored my first and second official goals for Enyimba in the CAF Confederation Cup against TS Galaxy of South Africa.
“I want to inform our fans to keep calm and keep praying for us and we won’t disappoint them.
“I don’t really have any number of goals in my mind as target for the season; my major target is to be crowned Enyimba top scorer by the end of the season. He declared.
“I want to score as many goals as possible for Enyimba”, he said.
Usule will however be in Enyimba squad for the clash with his former side Katsina United in the Matchday two of the 2019/2020 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
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