Gulf Today

COVID-19 made badminton event unpredicta­ble at Tokyo, says Lee


The six- time Stakes winner Viridine (Damien Oliver) lines up for the second consecutiv­e victory in the G3 Bletchingl­y Stakes at the Caulfield on Saturday.

In a race that provides one of the season’s final opportunit­ies for a Stakes success, trainer James Cummings has also accepted with the accomplish­ed sprinter Isaurian (Jamie Kah), who is also an entry at Rosehill in Sydney on the same day.

The Bletchingl­y provides Viridine with the opportunit­y to add another Stakes success to a record of solid consistenc­y over five seasons of racing.

As well as being the winner of the 2020 renewal of Saturday’s race, the gelding claimed a G2 success as a three-year-old in the Roman Consul Stakes at Randwick and has collected a further four Listed victories and a G1 placing.

Viridine comes to the Bletchingl­y off a sixth placing behind Red Can Man in G3 company over the Caulfield 1,200m course earlier this month, finishing off strongly ater being slow into stride. At his previous start, he finished third to Adelong in a Listed event at Randwick.

Isaurian is capable of providing a strong back-up to his stablemate on the strength of his latest fith to The Astrologis­t in a Listed sprint at Flemington on 3 July.

Prior to that, he finished third to another stable companion, Roheryn, in the Listed Falvelon Stakes at Eagle Farm last December.

A decision on where Isaurian runs will be made closer to race day, but the gelding, twice a winner at Listed level, rates well in either event.

The weekend Stakes-race contingent is completed by the former French-trained runner Ziegfield (Josh Parr) who lines up for his third Australian start in the Listed Winter Challenge at Rosehill.

The winner of three races in France, the son of New Approach produced an encouragin­g effort when third to Bandersnat­ch over 1,400m at Randwick two weeks ago.

ADAYAR BIDS TO SCRIPT HISTORY: Home-bred Adayar easily completed final preparatio­ns for an atempt to become the first Derby winner in 20 years to lit Ascot’s G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Breezing for William Buick at Moulton Paddockson Wednesday, the colt pleased Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby, who commented: “I couldn’t be happier with him. It was a straightfo­rward final piece of work, and he will go there on Saturday with no excuses.”

Appleby is acutely aware of the challenge facing Adayar, who not only bids to become just the third three-year-old colt in two decades to win Saturday’s historic feature, but one trying to re-establish the reputation of three-year-olds in the race.

Three-year-olds receive 11lb from their older rivals in the first clash of the generation­s over 1m 4f at weight-for-age, but since Galileo triumphed in 2001, three Derby winners have subsequent­ly tried and failed in the King George.

Kris Kin ( 2003) finished a respectabl­e third, but Workforce (2010) fith, and Anthony Van Dyck (2019)10th, were both disappoint­ing.

In the period 2002-20, a total of 23 threeyear-olds contested the Ascot feature for four wins — top colts Alamshar (2003) and Nathaniel (2011) were followed by the high class fillies Taghrooda (2014) and Enable (2017).

Adayar comes to Saturday’s King George off the back of an impressive win in last month’s Cazoo Derby at Epsom, in which he outstayed his rivals for a stunning four-and-a-half length victory.

“It was a very special moment,” Appleby reflected. “Another home-bred winning the Derby is a terrific achievemen­t for Godolphin team and Darley.

“It’s true that before Epsom, I thought he was shaping more as a G1 St Leger type. He’s so straighfor­ward at home, he never stood out in his work. But, having said that, we always felt he was very good.

“On Derby Day, he showed us a turn-of-foot we hadn’t seen before, and he has sharpened up a lot for that experience,” the trainer added.

Adayar has certainly made rapid progress in the past three months. His Derby triumph came ater he finished second in one of the strongest Derby trials of recent times when runner-up to Alenquer in the Sandown Classic Trial in April.

The winner went on to win at Royal Ascot, while the third Yibir won the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket and fourth Lone Eagle won a trial at Goodwood before his second in the G1 Irish Derby.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Tokyo Olympic Games will be very special due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made it difficult to predict the outcome of the badminton competitio­ns, said Malaysia’s badminton legend Lee Chong Wei on Wednesday.

Citing the experience of Malaysian athletes, Lee said that those participat­ing in Tokyo have made great efforts and gone through severe mental trauma training in isolation and undergoing constant COVID-19 tests. “This is very different from the four Olympic Games that I participat­ed in,” he said.

The Malaysian, who has won three silver medals for Malaysia at three consecutiv­e Olympic Games, added that the circumstan­ces had made the Games “very special”.

The veteran says it’s very difficult to predict the outcome of the badminton competitio­n as the form and shape of many shutlers remain unknown due to the lack of internatio­nal tournament­s since the outbreak of the pandemic.

“The last major tournament was the All England Open in March, in which many players were absent,” he said.

“For example, the Chinese badminton team hasn’t participat­ed in internatio­nal tournament­s for over a year. So whether it is Chen Long, Shi Yuqi or any other player, we simply do not know if they are in good shape or what is their latest tactics,” said Lee, referring to the two Chinese men’s singles players.

But in general, Lee sees hosts Japan and China in beter position as both teams are strong in all five discipline­s.

“All I can say is that this Olympic Games is very special, and I think anything could happen,” he said.

Lee was diagnosed with nasal cancer in 2018 and announced his retirement in 2019. Lee said he is now in good health but decided against travelling to Tokyo due to concerns over the pandemic, but he would cheer for the Malaysian Olympians and provide advice to them, hoping that they would finally complete his unfinished quest to win the first Olympic gold medal for Malaysia.

Lee said he has mostly setled down for life ater retirement, but the passion still arises whenever he watches one of his matches against Lin Dan, his nemesis from China.

“We are still in touch,” said Lee, “Since we both are retired, we could finally enjoy watching (each) others’ play.”

One of the epic batles between Lee and Lin was the men’s singles final in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games when Lin clinched his first Olympic gold.

Despite the defeat, Lee said he would never forget the experience in Beijing, and he was very impressed by the perfect organising and facilities of the Beijing Olympic Games, which make him confident that the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Beijing would be a success.

“As an overseas Chinese, I am very proud that China would host the Winter Olympics,” he said.

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The Bletchingl­y provides Viridine with the opportunit­y to add another Stakes success to a record of solid consistenc­y over five seasons of racing.
File ↑ The Bletchingl­y provides Viridine with the opportunit­y to add another Stakes success to a record of solid consistenc­y over five seasons of racing.

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