Sport in brief

The Guardian Weekly - - Sport -

• Tiger Roll, the small­est horse in the field, held off a late surge from Pleas­ant Com­pany in one of the clos­est ever fin­ishes in Britain’s Grand Na­tional at Ain­tree. A three­time Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val win­ner, Tiger Roll was well backed at 10-1 com­ing into the his­toric race, which is watched by an es­ti­mated global tele­vi­sion au­di­ence of 600 mil­lion, and al­ways looked likely to chal­lenge. He surged ahead on the home straight of the four-and-a-half mile course and looked set for a com­fort­able win. But David Mullins chased him down on Pleas­ant Com­pany and Tiger Roll re­quired all his courage to hold off the stir­ring chal­lenge from the 25-1 shot. The eight-year-old win­ner is owned by Ir­ish busi­ness­man Michael O’Leary, the chiefex­ec­u­tive of Ryanair, and trained by Gor­don El­liott. The win­ning jockey, Ire­land’s 38-year-old Davy Rus­sell, said he was de­lighted to have fi­nally won the race at his 14th at­tempt.

No driver, it seems, is go­ing to have an easy ride in For­mula One this sea­son but, if the roller­coaster of the Chi­nese Grand Prix is re­peated, the sport will be all the bet­ter for it. For Red Bull’s Daniel Ric­cia­rdo, who won the race, it was the cli­max of an emo­tional and chal­leng­ing two weeks. From ques­tion­ing his F1 fu­ture af­ter re­tir­ing on lap two of the last round in Bahrain, the Aus­tralian emerged triumphant and eu­phoric, hav­ing made his mark in the race of the sea­son so far in em­phatic style. Ric­cia­rdo’s over­tak­ing was su­perla­tive but be­hind him there was a dif­fer­ent pic­ture, with Mercedes’s Lewis Hamil­ton and Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel left lick­ing their wounds af­ter fin­ish­ing in fourth and eighth re­spec­tively. Hamil­ton was re­lieved that rather than drop­ping points to the Ger­man he has nar­rowed the gap in the ti­tle bat­tle from 17 to nine points but the first half of the race proved that his team have been put on the back foot by Fer­rari, who have the quicker car. Valt­teri Bot­tas was sec­ond for Mercedes and is now five points be­hind Hamil­ton.

• Paris Saint-Ger­main re­claimed the French Ligue 1 cham­pi­onship in style with a 7-1 thrash­ing of last year’s champions, Monaco. The re­sult sent them 17 points clear of their sec­ond­placed op­po­nents with five matches re­main­ing. Unai Emery has now com­pleted a do­mes­tic dou­ble af­ter PSG’s Coupe de la Ligue tri­umph last month, though the Span­ish man­ager’s fu­ture is the sub­ject of in­tense spec­u­la­tion. PSG have scored 103 goals in this league cam­paign so far, win­ning 28 of their 33 games. In Italy, Ju­ven­tus de­feated Sam­p­do­ria 3-0 in Turin to go six points clear at the top of Se­rie A, while in Eng­land’s sec­ond-tier Cham­pi­onship, Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers cel­e­brated their re­turn to the Premier League next sea­son af­ter a 2-0 win over lo­cal ri­vals Birm­ing­ham City.

Close … Tiger Roll and Pleas­ant Com­pany

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