Despite spirited efforts, Jamaica’s players Latanya Wilson, Shamera Sterling-Humphrey, Romelda Aiken-George and Jodi-Ann Ward were on the losing end in second round action of the Suncorp Super Netball League at John Cain Arena, on Saturday.

Aiken-George scored 28 goals from 30 attempts, while Wilson and Sterling-Humphrey were resolute in defence, but it wasn’t enough to stop Adelaide Thunderbirds going down 53-54 to Melbourne Vixens in a nail-biting encounter.

Georgie Horjus, with 16 goals from 17 attempts was the next best scorer for the Thunderbirds, while Keira Austin (31 goals from 33 attempts) and Sophie Garbin (23 goals from 24 attempts) got the job done for the Vixens.

It was an intense battle from the opening whistle, with both teams gunning for their second win of the season. The Adelaide Thunderbirds’ defence caused havoc for the Vixens, as Wilson forced the first turnover of the match with her quick closing speed. Alongside compatriot Sterling-Humphrey, the defensive duo brought immense pressure early into the Vixens’ attacking front. 

However, Austin signalled fearlessness to take aim from anywhere, as she scored two consecutive super shots to put Vixens 14-11 up at the end of the first quarter.

Thunderbirds used the full prowess of their bench in the second quarter, with wing attack Laura Scherian and goal attack Horjus adding impetus to their charge, but the Vixens kept their noses in front at 27-25 at the half-time break. 

Both sides showed more urgency in the third quarter where they matched each other goal-for-goal, before the electrifying Sterling-Humphrey made some crucial interceptions that saw Thunderbirds opening a three-goal lead at 34-34. But a string of super shots off the hot hands of Garbin and Austin, ensured the teams headed into the final quarter locked at 40-40.

From there, the Vixens displayed their clinical experience to not only surge ahead, but also expertly ran down the clock before handing off the ball to Austin who sunk the winning goal in the final seconds of the hard-fought match.

Meanwhile, Ward and her GIANTS team suffered a 62-65 loss to Queensland Firebirds in another thrilling contest at Ken Rosewall Arena.

Donnell Wallam, with 55 goals from 60 attempts, and Tippah Dwan, with 10 goals from 12 attempts, led the way for the Firebirds. GIANTS got their goals from Jo Harten (33 goals from 35 attempts) and Sophie Dwyer (29 goals from 29 attempts).

From the opening whistle, the Firebirds displayed masterful finesse, leaving the GIANTS struggling to keep pace with their savvy and patient play. Firebirds came out firing on all cylinders, as Wallam's prolific scoring spree put them firmly in control 21-11 at the end of the first quarter.

Ward came out worse in a collision with Lara Dunkley, which caused more problems for the GIANTS as they struggled to regain their stride in the match.

Though the GIANTS clawed their way back with the introduction of Sam Winders into the fray, they were still four goals down at 36-32 at half-time.

However, a fired-up GIANTS took the game to the Firebirds, some crucial defensive efforts from Winders and Ward brought the team to life with flashes of brilliance, but consistency eluded them and, as such, Firebirds, ended the third quarter seven points ahead at 51-44.

Despite the GIANTS' resilience and Ward's pivotal turnover and subsequent conversion by Harten, the Firebirds remained composed under pressure and secured their maiden triumph in the 2024 campaign.

Metal Merchant showed his strength to ignite Royal Ascot dreams when victorious in Newbury’s OLBG Spring Cup.

Trained by Jack Channon, the son of Make Believe struck twice as a juvenile, finishing his two-year-old season competing for Group Three honours.

He would add a further victory at Ascot during a busy three-year-old campaign, but wasted no time in getting on the scoresheet on his return to action at four, travelling powerfully before keeping on strongly for jockey David Probert in the closing stages.

Metal Merchant finished half a length clear of the William Haggas-trained 11-2 favourite Godwinson, with Channon now eyeing up a crack at the Royal Hunt Cup later in the summer for his 12-1 winner.

Channon said: “He’s a lovely horse who banged his head against the wall in some good races last year. We gelded him over the winter and his work has been exceptional during the spring.

“We thought he would improve a ton and I was quietly confident he would run a nice race, but you never know in these big-field handicaps – you can be on the wrong side, all sorts could happen. That was a very smart performance.

“We competed at a good level last year, he ran in the Britannia and the Silver Bowl at Haydock and ran really creditable races.

“He was a good two-year-old and a decent three-year-old and it wasn’t until we gelded him he’s really flourished, his work has been really nice this spring and he’s been working with the likes of Johan and Certain Lad.

“He’s going to be a nice horse to go for those big mile handicaps and take Johan’s place, who knows. I’d love to leave him now for the Royal Hunt Cup, but we will have to see how much he goes up (in the ratings) and see.

“He’s the type of horse who suits these big handicaps as he travels so well and he’s got a fantastic cruising speed. I think when you look at winners of Hunt Cups and Lincolns then you have to have a good cruising speed to hold your position early. Hopefully he can go from strength to strength.”

Macdermott struck a potentially decisive blow for Willie Mullins in the jumps trainers’ championship race by securing a thrilling success in the Coral Scottish Grand National.

The unexposed novice – an 18-1 chance having been ante-post favourite at one stage – edged out Surrey Quest in a memorable late battle to become the first six-year-old to claim this prize since Earth Summit 30 years ago.

Mullins suffered a double setback early on, as Mr Incredible pulled himself up before the first fence and then We’llhavewan fell at that obstacle, but he still had more ammunition, four in fact – and that proved enough.

Sara Bradstock’s Mr Vango was the gamble of the race, being backed into favourite near the off, and he settled down as the front-runner under Ben Jones, with Whistleinthedark and Klarc Kent keeping him company.

The eight-year-old Mr Vango was still in front heading out for the final circuit, but he was passed on the turn for home, as Macdermott and Surrey Quest kicked on.

The advantage swung one way and then the other during a ding-dong battle between that pair up the run-in, but it was Macdermott who just got the nod when it mattered most.

Git Maker stayed on for third, while Mullins picked up more valuable prize-money via fourth-placed Klarc Kent at 50-1.

Esquire produced a professional performance to prevail in the Watership Down Stud Too Darn Hot Greenham Stakes at Newbury for David O’Meara and Danny Tudhope.

However, connections of 2000 Guineas hotpot City Of Troy will not be losing any sleep over this result, as the gelding is not qualified to run in the Classics.

Tudhope sent the 16-1 winner on two furlongs from home and he quickly established a nice lead.

El Bodon, Zoum Zoum, Son and Alaskan Gold all tried hard to cut back the deficit but ultimately had to settle for a bunched finish for the minor placings.

Tudhope simply had to keep Esquire going along at the same pace up the rail to finish a length and a quarter clear of the chasing pack.

Favour And Fortune bravely fended off a whole host of rivals from title-chasing yards to claim victory in the Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle.

Alan King’s six-year-old swept past the Paul Nicholls-trained front-runner Rubaud but was then pressed hard by Bialystok, from the Willie Mullins Irish raiding party.

However, Favour And Fortune – who was sixth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham – kept on finding more for jockey Tom Cannon and his willing spirit got its just reward, as he rallied to score by half a length at 5-1.

Bialystok was a touch unlucky in second, having been denied a clear passage after coming through to challenge at the final flight.

Cracking Rhapsody finished third, while Afadil was fourth for Nicholls and Dan Skelton’s L’Eau Du Sud plugged on for fifth.

L’Eau Du Sud was sent off favourite, having finished second in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury and the County Hurdle at Cheltenham, but he had been unfortunate to be penalised a total of 9lb for those runner-up efforts and that just took its toll.

Folgaria provided Marco Botti with an emotional success in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes at Newbury.

The Newmarket-based Italian trainer has had a tough time coming to terms with the tragic death of compatriot Stefano Cherchi following a fall in Australia.

However, this filly did her bit to help lift spirits when digging deep under Hollie Doyle to shade the Grade Three (Fred Darling) prize at 5-1.

Regal Jubilee looked set to prove a tough nut to crack after taking over from Star Music at the head of affairs and John and Thady Gosden’s charge battled on gamely, while Elmalka made good late progress.

But Folgaria, who claimed five consecutive victories in Italy as a juvenile last term when trained by Botti’s brother in her homeland, quickened up well to get to the front and then would not be denied in the closing stages, getting home by a neck from the rallying Regal Jubilee.

Hamish picked up from where he left off last season by claiming top honours in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes at Newbury.

The William Haggas-trained veteran was unbeaten in 2023, securing four straight victories at Group Three level.

Now an eight-year-old, the Motivator gelding was at it again when coming from last to first to edge out Al Qareem and Salt Bay in a tight finish, in a race registered as the John Porter.

Al Qareem set the early pace, but Kieran Shoemark brought St Leger runner-up Arrest through to challenge after starting slowly and steering a wide course.

The latter looked in need of the outing as he just faded late on, while 5-2 favourite Hamish pushed on with a decisive move at the furlong pole.

Al Qareem kept on gamely to keep the winner up to his work and Salt Bay belied his big odds with a late surge, but Hamish was always doing just enough to prevail by a neck and a nose.

The excitement for the inaugural Jamaica Athletics Invitational on May 11 continues to build as standout Ivory Coast sprinter Marie-José Ta Lou has been confirmed to join the star-studded lineup for this prestigious event in Kingston.

Alongside Ta Lou, other renowned athletes such as Christian Coleman, Antonio Watson, and Akeem Blake will grace the track, promising a thrilling mix of elite track and field competition and entertainment. Marvin Anderson, the Athletes Liaison, is curating an impressive list of participants that he believes will meet the high expectations for this exciting sporting event.

The Jamaica Athletics Invitational will feature a lineup of 10 track events and four field events, showcasing the talents of top athletes from around the globe. Fans can anticipate high-stakes competition and exceptional performances as athletes vie for victory on the track and in the field.

Tickets for this highly anticipated event will go on sale online starting April 22. Attendees will have the option to choose from two categories of grandstand tickets priced at $3,000 and $2,500, while entry to the bleachers will be free of charge.

The stage is set for an electrifying evening of athletics at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational, and fans are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to witness world-class athletes in action at the National Stadium in Kingston.

 

Roshawn Clarke, the World U20 400m hurdles record holder, is brimming with confidence as he gears up for the Velocity Fest meeting at the Ashenheim Stadium at Jamaica College in Kingston this Saturday. Clarke, who shattered Winthrop Graham’s 30-year-old national record of 47.60 with a remarkable time of 47.34 at the 2023 World Athletics Championships, is eyeing a podium finish at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

The 19-year-old sprinter is excited to demonstrate his current form and fitness, hinting at potentially running either the 400m or the 200m at the Velocity Fest meeting. Clarke's recent performances have been promising, with a strong 400m season opener of 46.05 on February 10 and an identical time two weeks later. He has also run a nippy 20.69 over 200m in mid-March.

"I’m running fast. I ran my first race with a personal best as a season-opener. I repeated that exact time again so I am pretty confident, I am being consistent," Clarke shared during launch of the Racers Grand Prix on Tuesday. "I am running the 400m or the 200m this Saturday so I am just going there to enjoy myself and better my season’s best."

Clarke, who will turn 20 on July 1, is determined to lower his national record and challenge the world's top athletes like world-record holder and three-time world champion Karsten Warholm of Norway, the USA’s Rai Benjamin and Brazil’s Alison dos Santos, the 2022 champion. These formidable competitors have all clocked times under 47 seconds in the 400m hurdles.

"In Paris, the big three won’t go any slower than 46 so I am stronger now," Clarke explained. "My speed is very much improved right now, probably if I contest the 200m this weekend I will probably shock myself, again and my coach with how fast I am in training."

With high expectations for himself and a focus on execution, Clarke is poised to make waves and as he fine-tunes his skills at the Velocity Fest meeting, fans and competitors alike eagerly anticipate his performance and potential for achieving new personal milestones. 

Editor's Note: It was erroneously reported that the Velocity Fest meeting on Saturday, April 20 would be held at the National Stadium in Kingston but it, in fact, will be held at the Ashenheim Stadium at Jamaica College.

Reigning champions Guyana Harpy Eagles strengthened their position to retain the West Indies Championship title, as they downed Combined Campuses & Colleges Marooners by eight wickets in their final round encounter at Frank Worrell Field, in Trinidad and Tobago, on Friday.

Set 180 for victory, Harpy Eagles, through half-centuries from Raymond Perez (79 not out) and captain Tevin Imlach (50), as well as 42 from Tagenarine Chanderpaul, got across the line with minimum fuss, to successfully wrap up what started out as a slow campaign.

Scores: Combined Campuses and Colleges Marooners 200 (Demario Richards 43, Romario Greaves 36, Avinash Mahabirsingh 23, Amari Goodridge 22, Jediah Blades 22 not out, Jarion Hoyte 21; Nial Smith 3-45, Veerasammy Permaul 3-51, Gudakesh Motie 2-40, Isai Thorne 2-45) and 203 (Shamarh Brooks 59, Odaine McCatty 56, Jario Hoyte 22; Kevin Sinclair 2-29, Niall Smith 2-35, Gudakesh Motie 2-42, Veerasammy Permaul 2-44).

Guyana Harpy Eagles 223 all out (Raymond Perez 62, Tevin Imlach 55, Kevin Sinclair 37, Kevlon Anderson 27; Avinash Mahabirsingh 17.4-2-51-8) and 182 for two (Raymond Perez 79 not out, Tevin Imlach 50, Tagenarine Chanderpaul 42).

Resuming on 165-7, the Marooners only added 38 runs to their overnight total, with captain Shamarh Brooks (59), adding only five to his 54 from overnight, before being removed by Niall Smith. Jarion Hoyte (22) and Jediah Blades (11) offered little resistance before the innings inevitably ended.

Kevin Sinclair (2-29), Smith (2-35), Gudakesh Motie (2-42), and Veerasammy Permaul (2-44), shared the wickets.

With the bowlers’ job done, the batsmen responded with much gusto, as Chanderpaul and Perez laid the foundation for the chase with a solid opening stand. Chanderpaul had three fours and a solitary six in his 62-ball knock, before his departure brought Imlach to the middle.

The captain, along with Perez took the Marooners bowlers to task in another tidy partnership that ensured they ended the campaign on a high. Imlach’s 51-ball 50 included six fours and a lone six, while Perez’s unbeaten 79 off 92 balls had five fours and two sixes.

With their job done, Harpy Eagles, who started the round in third position on 87.2 points, will have to await the outcome of the other contests involving leaders Windward Islands Volcanoes and second-placed Barbados Pride.

The 12 match points before bonus has pushed Harpy Eagles up to 99.2 points, and ahead of Windward Islands Volcanoes (90 points), who require a daunting 304 runs to top Leeward Islands Hurricanes, while Barbados Pride (87.6 points), lead CWI Academy by 21 runs, heading into Saturday’s final day.

Elsewhere, At the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua, Barbados Pride, with five second innings wickets intact, will seek to build on their lead and possibly bowl down CWI Academy to stand at chance of claiming top spot.

Scores: Barbados Pride 155 (Jonathan Drakes 35, Kevin Wickham 27, Shian Brathwaite 26, Demetrius Richards 21 not out; Johann Layne 3-23, McKenny Clarke 3-26, Joshua Bishop 2-25, Ramon Simmonds 2-43) and 228-5 (Kraigg Brathwaite 90, Raymon Reifer 43 not out, Kevin Wickham 35, Shian Brathwaite 21; Joshua Bishop 3-43).

CWI Academy 243 (Ackeem Auguste 76, Carlon Tuckett-Bowen 49, Johan Layne 38, McKenny Clarke 30; Akeem Jordan 4-76, Raymon Reifer 2-32, Jair McAllister 2-40, Shaquille Cumberbatch 2-75).

At Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad and Tobago, Windward Islands Volcanoes has nine second innings wickets in hand to try and get the remaining 304 runs to deny Leeward Islands Hurricanes (84.6 points) a fifth win of the campaign.

Scores: Leeward Islands Hurricanes 300 (Mikyle Louis 100, Jewel Andrew 68, Jeremiah Louis 43, Jahmar Hamilton 34; Ryan John 3-67, Gilon Tyson 2-33, Daren Cyrus 2-70) and 294 (Keacy Carty 65, Mikyle Louis 33, Kieran Powell 31, Justin Greaves 27, Jewel Andrew 26, Jahmar Hamilton 23, Oshane Thomas 21, Colin Archibald 20; Kavem Hodge 3-60, Gilon Tyson 3-91, Shamar Springer 2-32, Darel Cyrus 2-84).

Windward Islands Volcanoes 179 (Johann Jeremiah 41, Shamar Springer 33, Kavem Hodge 29, Stephan Pascal 25; Daniel Doram 16-5-34-6, Hayden Walsh Jr 3-21) and 112-1(Stephan Pascal 60 not out, Johann Jeremiah 23 not out).

Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago Red Force, who started the round in fourth position on 72.8 points, wrapped up a convincing innings and 125-run win over Jamaica Scorpions, but are unlikely to upstage any of the top three in the race for the title.

Bryan Charles finished with 13 wickets in the match as the Trinidad & Tobago Red Force ended their 2024 West Indies Championship season with an innings and 125 run thrashing of the Jamaica Scorpions on day three at Sabina Park.

The Scorpions entered Friday 159-9 in their first innings, trailing the Red Force by 273 runs. The final pair of Jeavor Royal and Andrae Dennis further 30 before being bowled out in the 64th over of the innings.

The Red Force then asked the hosts to follow on before dismissing them for 118 in just 44.4 overs to complete a dominant win.

Opener Javaughn Buchanan was the only Scorpions batsman to offer any kind of resistance with a 95-ball 33 as Bryan Charles was, once again, the pick of the Red Force bowling, ripping through the Jamaican batting on his way to figures of 7-43 from 13.4 overs to finish with a match haul of 13-125.

Debutant Navin Bidaisee took 2-20 from six overs in support.

Full Scores: Trinidad & Tobago Red Force 432 all out in 122 overs (Joshua Da Silva 106, Terrance Hinds 79, Amir Jangoo 51, Kjorn Ottley 45, Khary Pierre 43, Jeavor Royal 3-113, Ojay Shields 2-61, Peat Salmon 2-83)

Jamaica Scorpions 189 all out in 63.4 overs (Kirk McKenzie 57, Jeavor Royal 46, Bryan Charles 6-82, Khary Pierre 3-57) & 118 all out in 44.4 overs (Javaughn Buchanan 33, Bryan Charles 7-43, Navin Bidaisee 2-20).

 

 

Dan Skelton edged back to the top of the table for the British jumps trainers’ championship after a crucial treble at Ayr.

The Alcester trainer was a little shy of £31,000 adrift of Irish champion Willie Mullins on the leaderboard ahead of the meeting, the first day of the valuable Coral Scottish Grand National fixture which could prove so pivotal in the destination of the title, in which Paul Nicholls will also have a big say.

Shakeyatailfeather finished second in the Abbott Risk Consulting Mares’ Maiden Hurdle and Catch Him Derry landed the Get Home Safe With Thistle Cabs Handicap Hurdle as the 5-6 favourite to kick off Skelton’s afternoon, after which Punta Del Este outran odds of 25-1 to take the feature Coral “We’re Here For It” Handicap Hurdle, which was worth £16,338 to the winner.

Theformismighty finished fourth in the same race to add another £1,884 to the total, with Presenting Nelly duly providing another victory at 5-1 in division two of the GS Group ‘Hands & Heels’ Handicap Hurdle that brought the day to a close.

For that win she pocketed £5,281, putting Skelton back in front by just under £5,000 heading into Saturday, where he has 10 entries across Ayr and Bangor and when Mullins will play his hand with three horses in the Scottish Champion Hurdle and six in the Scottish Grand National.

Speaking to Racing TV after Punta Del Este’s win, Skelton said: “I’m sure all the mathematicians will be calculating it all, but tomorrow’s the important day for the championship.

“The three of us are in the Scottish Grand National and in all the races really, tomorrow will be a big day.

“It’s a privilege to have the owners come up here and be looked after Ayr, the track is always in as good condition as it can be and given the winter we’ve had I think they’ve done a great job with that.

“Every course has its unique atmosphere and the Scottish Grand National is unique indeed.

“L’Eau Du Sud is the obvious one for the Scottish Champion Hurdle, he’s the favourite for the race after a very good run at Cheltenham.

Nicholls, meanwhile, claimed his share of the prize-money on offer to keep himself competitive ahead of the two big weekends to come, with the season drawing to a close at Sandown in a week’s time.

Nicholls was in fact the first trainer to strike a blow at Ayr as Outlaw Peter won the Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase under Harry Cobden as the 7-2 joint-favourite.

Nicholls also took home some of place money on offer, with Beau Balko finishing third in the Seko Logistics Scotland Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase and Don’t Tell Su the runner-up of the GS Group “Hands & Heels” Handicap Hurdle.

Dominic Ffrench Davis would love a crack at the Chester Cup with Prince Alex having seen him make a winning return to action in the Compton Beauchamp Estates Ltd Silver Bar Handicap at Newbury.

With last year’s Chester hero Metier and another leading fancy in Spartan Army behind him, Ffrench Davis has every right to be thinking that way, if the seven-year-old makes the cut.

He has been well travelled in the Amo Racing colours, being with Ralph Beckett initially before moving to Michael Bell, then Johnny Murtagh and Tom Dascombe and then Lambourn.

Yet despite his advancing years, the 10-1 chance – fourth in this race 12 months ago – looked a rejuvenated character in fending off Robert Johnson by a length and three-quarters.

“It was a super performance and he’s been moving very well at home,” said French Davis.

“He wintered with us, he’s a seven-year-old now and I think he probably had a few aches and pains. We gave him a good break over the winter and he’s come back a better horse and is moving beautifully. He used to hang a bit and he doesn’t hang at all now.

“I think he’s feeling well in himself now and has slipped to a rating that he’s always been a bit better than. This was a bit of a warm up for the Chester Cup and it was also to see if he stayed the two miles.

“I didn’t have him last year and I had a horse in this race finish second and I was watching this one thinking ‘oooh he’s cantering’ and he didn’t finish off his race. But he was probably feeling a few aches and pains and when we got him in Lambourn at the end of last season he ran two very solid races.

“I thought starting off I best give him another go at two miles and both times we ran him he looked like he wanted it. We decided to aim at these staying races and he’s in a great frame of mind. He’s improved no end in the last couple of weeks and he’s not quite there in his coat so he is going to improve again.

“Let’s hope there is a little bit of soft at Chester and we can have a crack. It’s a great prize and he switches off lovely. If the ground is suitable, let’s have a go.”

Unfortunately the news for Ffrench Davis’ 1000 Guineas hope Persian Dreamer is not so positive and she is now unlikely to make the fillies’ Classic.

“She’s had a little minor setback in pre-training and we’re giving her time to get over that and we’re not sure when we will have her back in full training,” he said.

“I think it is likely she will miss the Guineas and she’s in Ireland just trying to get over her setback.

“It’s disappointing and we might not get our ground anyway in the Guineas, she is a filly who loves to get her toe in and she might not get the ground at Newmarket to run her there.”

The Jamaica Football Federation is continuing its commitment to developing youth football in the country with the formation of a new Under-17 tournament to be contested by Jamaica Premier League clubs, JFF president Michael Ricketts announced Thursday.

The competition, tentatively set to commence on May 5, will not be mandatory for clubs to participate in as this is its inaugural year.

“We would want to encourage as many of the Premier League clubs to participate in this Under-17 competition. As it is now, most of the clubs will be participating,” Ricketts said.

“We thought that it was very important that we capture those that are probably on the verge of getting out of high school and have them in a formal setting so that they can make a transition from U-17s to U20s and, ultimately, the senior set up,” he added.

This is also a timely move because, as of 2025, the FIFA Under-17 World Cup will be held annually instead of every four years as was customary.

“We want to insert some energy and some vibe to ensure that as best as possible, we must be competitive and very relevant at age 17 and under so that we can actively participate and add some level of competitiveness at the World Cup which, as of next year, will be held every year,” Ricketts said.

Jamaica got to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in New Zealand in 1999 and Mexico in 2011.

 

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