Emma Lavelle expects De Rasher Counter will relish the Randox Grand National challenge when he tackles the Aintree feature on Saturday.
The 10-year-old won the Ladbrokes Trophy in 2019 but was limited to just one hurdles start last term after sustaining a tendon injury, eventually returning after 489 days on the sidelines at Newbury in February.
De Rasher Counter finished fourth in the Denman Chase at the Berkshire venue and Lavelle believes it was the perfect warm up ahead of realising his long-term target with a Grand National start.
She said: “He’s great, absolutely super. He’s had a great prep and he’s been away and had a nice gallop and we’ve schooled away from home with him so we couldn’t be happier.
“He had a tendon injury and the funny thing is the National has always been a race that we thought would suit him and it meant we could give him lots of time to get over the tendon injury and we did a lot of roadwork at the start of the year.
“Adam Wedge had him up and down hills at home in Wales and then he came back to us. The Denman Chase was the perfect prep run for him and that fitted the qualifications. That got him back and gave us a lovely amount of time afterwards to hopefully get him spot on for Aintree.
“It was beautiful ground at Newbury and it was our Gold Cup horses having a run against each other. De Rasher Counter travelled with them and jumped brilliantly and was still there to the back of the second last when he took a bit of a blow. That was great and then Tom (Bellamy) looked after him after that. He finished fourth and we were delighted with him.
“He’s on the same mark that he was on when he won a Ladbrokes Trophy with 149. Every horse has got to take to the fences and get some luck in-running, but we’d be very happy with how everything has gone to this point. He’s got as good a chance as any really.”
Lavelle also has Classic Chase winner Eclair Surf entered, with his form having been given another boost on Saturday when Win My Wings, who beat him just under two lengths in the Eider Chase, bolted up in the Scottish National.
Eclair Surf is currently number 47 in the weights and Lavelle knows he will need a huge slice of luck to make the cut for the 40-runner Aintree highlight
She added: “He’s eight years old so there’s no doubt that he definitely has time on his side as far as the Grand National is concerned. What it does show you though is how tough it is to even get a run in the race, as he’s rated 143.
“With that in mind, you sort of feel that if we do get in we’ll take our chance and if we don’t then hopefully we’ll have a crack next year.”
Harry Cobden’s intended National mount Highland Hunter was ruled out by Paul Nicholls in the week, leaving him to team up with the Colin Tizzard-trained Lostintranslation.
The 10-year-old won the Grade One Betfair Chase in 2019 before finishing a close-up third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following spring, but he failed to sparkle at all last term and after winning at Ascot on his reappearance back in November, he has seemingly lost his way again since.
Cobden was impressed with a recent schooling session over National-style fences earlier in the week and is hoping Lostintranslation can recapture something like his best form on Merseyside.
He said: “It is a shame that Highland Hunter got his injury as I thought he would have had a good chance. He stays and jumps well and I thought he had a nice weight as well.
“Lostintranslation has had a few problems in the past, but if you look back he has often come good later on in the season. He has won a Grade One at Aintree before as a novice chaser and I think he is more of a spring horse.
“On his day he is high class and there are plenty of others in there I would put behind him if I was going to get a spare ride in the race.
“I thought he ran OK at Cheltenham last time (eighth in the Ultima Handicap Chase). He probably didn’t run quite to his best but he had plenty of weight in that race. Joe (Tizzard, son and assistant trainer) seems to think he has improved since then so fingers crossed he has.
“We went down to David Pipe’s on Wednesday and gave him a little school over the Aintree-style fences. He jumped those nicely which was ideal so I’m looking forward to it now.”
Chelsea FC: Brilliant Badiashile leading way for new signings as Thiago Silva partnership blossoms
His promising early form at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will hope, hint at better times to come through their new signings.
The arrival of French centre-back Badiashile at the start of last month kick-started a record January spending spree of more than £300m.
After Chelsea were sent spiralling into crisis with defeats by Manchester City and Fulham, Badiashile made his debut in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
After the Blues claimed a further two clean sheets in 0-0 draws away at Liverpool and at home to Fulham, he is building an impressive partnership with Thiago Silva.
Badiashile was one of five new signings to feature in Friday’s 0-0 draw with Fulham. He started alongside £106.8m Enzo Fernandez, who started well but faded over 90 minutes, £89.5m Mykhailo Mudryk, who struggled over 45 minutes while carrying a cold, and £30m Noni Madueke, who was bright after being brought on at half-time.
“What a waste of money” was the regular chant from the Fulham fans in the away end.
That felt harsh in Badiashile’s case. With his size and speed, he looks like a perfect partner for 38-year-old veteran Silva.
In addition, he showed the ability to play brilliantly out of Fulham’s well-drilled press and he coped in his duels against Aleksandar Mitrovic.
There is still adaption to be done, as Graham Potter barked instructions about his positioning in relation to Silva.
However, using French to communicate with the former Paris Saint-Germain captain, Badiashile has helped steady the ship in the absence of the injured Wesley Fofana, and with Kalidou Koulibaly out of form.
While still only averaging just 1.05 goals per game in the Premier League, Chelsea will draw more than they win unless their new midfielders and forwards step up.
Arriving in the weeks after Badiashile, the likes of Fernandez, Joao Felix, Mudryk and Madueke have not had as much time to adapt to their surroundings.
With Chelsea still in 10th place and increasingly falling behind in the race to qualify for Europe, they must follow Badiashile’s lead and hit the ground running before time runs out.
Reporter’s notebook: Jesse Marsch’s Leeds side showed encouraging signs at times but lack of points cost him his job | Football News
Jesse Marsch was approaching his one-year anniversary as Leeds United head coach before the decision was taken on Monday to relieve him of his duties.
The defeat to Nottingham Forest a day earlier had been the final straw for the Leeds board, who were all aligned in the view that a change was necessary after almost three months without a Premier League win.
The recent statistics paint a grim picture for Leeds. Seven Premier League games without a win and just two wins in the last 17 league games. And against Forest, although they dominated in the first half and created the better chances, a worrying pattern had started to develop which had become a huge concern for fans. Leeds were producing performances with lots of positives, but not enough points.
There is little doubt that a large proportion of the fan base had lost patience with Marsch, and they made their frustrations clear at the full-time whistle on Sunday with calls for a change of head coach.
What is very evident is that Leeds have not kicked on this season. At times there have been really promising signs, but the fans and the board at Leeds wanted more. Marsch will feel that with time he could have delivered more, but he was also realistic enough to know that he was walking a tightrope.
I got to know Jesse well during his 12 months at Elland Road and it was abundantly clear he cared passionately about the club. He understood what it meant to be head coach of Leeds United and what the club meant to the city and the fans. And he has to be given great credit for keeping Leeds in the Premier League last season.
Although it hasn’t worked out for Marsch this season, there is a strong argument to suggest that the next Leeds boss will be in a great position to move the club forward.
Patrick Bamford and Luis Sinisterra are now fit, and the January additions should make the starting line-up stronger. The club has also invested heavily in young players and one of those, Willy Gnonto, has emerged as one of the shining lights of the season.
Those factors have created an expectation that Leeds are better than their current league position, and that means a reluctance to accept another season fighting to avoid the drop. It also means that there are reasons to be optimistic about the future.
The process of finding a replacement for Marsch is already underway and Leeds hope to make a swift appointment. A move for Marcelo Bielsa is highly unlikely, but West Brom boss Carlos Corberan, who worked under Bielsa, is a candidate, while Ange Postecoglou at Celtic has also been linked.
It is also worth noting Leeds have a track record of leftfield appointments, so as they work through their list of targets, there is a good chance that a candidate emerges that could surprise everybody.
In the meantime, Michael Skubala, Paco Gallardo and Chris Armas will take training at Thorp Arch, and will be in the dugout for Wednesday’s Premier League fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
February 8: Manchester United (A) – kick-off 8pm
February 12: Manchester United (H) – kick-off 2pm, live on Sky Sports
February 18: Everton (A) – kick-off 3pm
February 25: Southampton (H) – kick-off 3pm
March 4: Chelsea (A) – kick-off 3pm
March 11: Brighton (H) – kick-off 3pm
March 18: Wolves (A) – kick-off 3pm
Tom Brady in his underwear is taking over Twitter
It’s Super Bowl week, and if you thought Tom Brady was going to let this week go by without being all up in your timeline…well. Just a week after announcing he’s retiring from football (you’ll never convince me he didn’t play an extra year just to stick it to Adam Schefter), Tom Brady has dropped his first thirst trap on Twitter. Or, attempted thirst trap. Actually, IS this a thirst trap?
As will many things Tom Brady, the attempt to be cool and edgy just winds up being sterile, boring, and kinda sad. A beige man in a beige room in beige underwear with a “pleass clap” look on his face.
And because OF COURSE:
Yes, Tom. We all knew the plug as coming. I’m not sure what color “heather crimson” is supposed to be, but I believe this is what we used to call “puce,” which… meh. The fact that there is something called the “Brady Boxer Brief” is enough to make me want to stick my head in the oven, because you know there are guys in New England burning up the internet right now to wear the same undies as their hero. And even more so because no amount of refusing to mask during COVID, vouching for Antonio Brown, stumping for Donald Trump, or getting a PPP loan during a nationwide pandemic is enough to get people to stop buying what this guy is selling. He’s even gotten to Jane Fonda, for crying out loud.
Of course, this entire thing was set up by Brady’s own brand:
So…whatever. It’s Super Bowl week and everyone is talking about Tom Brady, which is exactly how he wants it to be.
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