Right on Kew for O’Brien

South Wales Echo - - SPORTS -

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Kew Gar­dens can pro­vide Ai­dan O’Brien with a first ever vic­tory in the bet365 Feilden Stakes at New­mar­ket.

With the Grand Na­tional meet­ing at Ain­tree now out of the way, Flat rac­ing can again take cen­tre stage and this Listed con­test is the main at­trac­tion on the open­ing af­ter­noon of the Craven meet­ing at Head­quar­ters.

Kew Gar­dens was not far off be­ing top-class as a ju­ve­nile last sea­son, run­ning with credit be­hind es­teemed sta­ble com­pan­ions Nel­son and Saxon War­rior on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions.

The Galileo colt en­joyed his day in the sun when win­ning the Zet­land Stakes at this track in Oc­to­ber and while O’Brien’s run­ners in­vari­ably im­prove for their first out­ing of the cam­paign, Kew Gar­dens would surely not be mak­ing the trip across the Ir­ish Sea un­less he was ready enough to do him­self jus­tice.

Purser is very dif­fi­cult to op­pose in the Bri­tish EBF bet365 Con­di­tions Stakes.

John Gos­den’s charge was favourite for the Au­tumn Stakes in Oc­to­ber, fol­low­ing a de­mo­li­tion job at Ling­field on his pre­vi­ous start, and while he came up short, he was far from dis­graced in fin­ish­ing third.

He blew the cob­webs away with a de­cent ef­fort be­hind Ken­tucky Derby con­tender Gronkowski on the all­weather at New­cas­tle on Good Fri­day and al­though he must con­cede weight all round for his lat­est as­sign­ment, he should be up to the task.

His­tory Writer is of in­ter­est in the sec­ond divi­sion in the Alex Scott Maiden Stakes.

The son of Can­ford Cliffs shaped with im­mense prom­ise on his race­course in­tro­duc­tion at Sandown last Septem­ber, far­ing the best of the new­com­ers in fin­ish­ing third.

The form was sub­se­quently boosted by the fourth, Emaraaty, who won next time be­fore go­ing on to con­test the De­whurst.

His­tory Writer has not been seen since that ini­tial ef­fort and clearly his fit­ness has to be taken on trust.

How­ever, his 2000 Guineas en­gage­ment sug­gests he is held in high re­gard and he will have to be win­ning this, and win­ning well, if he is go­ing to be a re­al­is­tic con­tender for the sea­son’s open­ing Clas­sic early next month.

Veteran sprinter Move In Time gets the nod in the con­clud­ing Quy Mill Ho­tel & Spa Hand­i­cap.

It is over three years since the 10-year-old claimed Group One glory in the Prix de l’Ab­baye and he is clearly not the force of old.

That said, his mark has fallen ac­cord­ingly and his close-up third on his first start of 2018 at New­cas­tle last month sug­gested he is not done with just yet.

That was just his sec­ond start since join­ing Paul Mid­g­ley from Bryan Smart’s yard and it could be that the change of scenery has given him a new lease of life.

Achill Road Boy won nicely at Carlisle less than three weeks ago and can strike again over the same course and dis­tance in the 188Bet Hand­i­cap Chase.

Jump­ing fare also comes from Ex­eter, where Wizards Bridge is fan­cied to com­plete his hat-trick for Colin Tiz­zard in the Pry­dis Hand­i­cap Chase. WALES’ most suc­cess­ful Com­mon­wealth Games to date will pro­vide a spring­board for ath­letes to suc­ceed at Olympic and Par­a­lympic level, says the team’s chef de mis­sion, Ni­cola Phillips.

Team Wales won 36 medals – in­clud­ing 10 golds – to match their record medal haul and golds won at pre­vi­ous Games.

Phillips told BBC Wales Sport she be­lieves this achieve­ment is just a be­gin­ning for many younger ath­letes.

“The fu­ture looks very bright,” she said.

“When you look at the num­ber of teenagers we had in the squad, those teenagers were fear­less. They weren’t put off by be­ing in a field of world champions or world record hold­ers.

“If they keep on with the per­sonal bests, the Welsh records we had, there’s no rea­son why they can’t con­tinue to com­pete with the best in the world in the way they have here.”

Wales’ his­toric 10 golds came across seven dif­fer­ent sports.

Lau­ren Price be­came the first Welsh woman to win a box­ing gold – while both Eli­nor Barker and Hol­lie Arnold added Com­mon­wealth golds to their Olympic/Par­a­lympic and world ti­tles.

The youngest medal win­ner was 17-year-old gym­nast Latalia Be­van and the old­est was lawn bowls bronze medal­list Gil­bert Miles – who turns 73 this year.

“Our gen­uine tar­get was to get as many per­sonal bests as pos­si­ble,” Phillips con­tin­ued.

“That’s the only thing the ath­letes can con­trol. That was some­thing we al­ways hoped would trans­late into medals.

“I’ve been to many Com­mon­wealth Games and Wales al­ways has a good team spirit.

“But we’re get­ting com­ments about our ath­letes’ sports­man­ship, the way they en­gage with the pub­lic and vol­un­teers. I’m as proud of that as I am about their per­for­mances.”

At the pre­vi­ous two over­seas Games – Mel­bourne 2006 and Delhi 2010 – Wales won 19 medals and three golds.

They sent a much big­ger team to Glas­gow 2014 and won 36 medals, but only five golds.

Phillips says the huge im­prove­ment in 2018 is thanks to a fo­cus on sports sci­ence and youth de­vel­op­ment by in­di­vid­ual sports back in Wales.

“Over the years - since those per­for­mances of 19 medals - we now know much more about how to pre­pare bet­ter,” she con­tin­ued.

“The sci­ence has helped us. Per­for­mance di­rec­tors and coaches are tak­ing on board the work be­ing done in uni­ver­si­ties and trans­lat­ing that into coach­ing prac­tice.

“What we did is cre­ate the en­vi­ron­ment in which the team could sup­port each other and feel com­fort­able.”

Mean­while UK Sport chief ex­ec­u­tive Liz Ni­choll hopes Eng­land’s net­ball suc­cess at the Com­mon­wealth Games will boost par­tic­i­pa­tion lev­els.

Tracey Neville’s side won a dra­matic gold medal as He­len Housby’s last­gasp goal earned a 52-51 win over favourites Aus­tralia.

Three Com­mon­wealth bronze medals were Eng­land’s pre­vi­ous best per­for­mance in the sport.

Speak­ing on BBC Break­fast, Ni­choll said: “It’s a sport that’s been grow­ing and do­ing in­cred­i­bly well but this is just a huge mo­ment.

“This is a mas­sive show­case to in­spire young women to get in­volved in the sport.”

Net­ball is funded by Sport Eng­land rather than UK Sport, and Ni­choll ex­plained her or­gan­i­sa­tion’s com­mit­ment to Olympic and Par­a­lympic sports.

“UK Sport funds UK GB level ath­letes,” she added.

“Olympic and Par­a­lympic fo­cus net­ball is not an Olympic sport, it’s an Eng­land sport and if we put money into Eng­land net­ball we’d have to fund Scot­tish net­ball and Welsh net­ball and North­ern Ire­land net­ball.

“The Na­tional Lot­tery fund­ing is the fuel that sup­ports the whole of the UK sport­ing sys­tem.

“The home na­tions re­ceived that in­vest­ment and in­vested in in­creas­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion and de­vel­op­ing tal­ent, and our unique role is (to en­sure) that de­liv­ers at Olympic and Par­a­lympic level.”

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