Weekend in pictures: Cheltenham a Trial for Festival hopes, FA Cup action
Jamie Clark | January 31, 2016
Cheltenham Festival Trials Day drama
Willie Mullins’ dominance in the run-up to the Cheltenham Festival may have ground to a halt, with many of his Irish raiders faltering around Prestbury Park and on a cracking card at Doncaster.
Smad Place steps up in Cotswold Chase
With red-hot favourite Djakadam suffering a dramatic fall, Alan King’s Hennessy Gold Cup winner Smad Place took full advantage to thrash 2015 Grand National winner Many Clouds by 12 lengths in the old Cotswold Chase.
This race is widely considered to be an acid test trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the blue ribbon event in National Hunt chasing and centrepiece of the Festival at Presbury Park.
Thistlecrack tears up Cleeve Hurdle
Speaking of 12-length winners, Colin Tizzard stable star Thistlecrack once again underlined his World Hurdle credentials, pulling clear in the home straight to take Cheltenham Festival Trials Day’s other feature contest, the Cleeve Hurdle.
King completes big race double at Donny
Ziga Boy took Doncaster’s prestigious Sky Bet Chase to ensure trainer King made it two high-profile wins on the same day around two racecourses. Is his yard coming into form with the Cheltenham Festival just six weeks away?
FA Cup fourth round thrills and spills
With 16 ties being played over the weekend, the world’s oldest knockout football competition provided goals galore and magnificent matches yet again.
Derby defeat a Mata of fact
Although he didn’t score with this fantastic flying header, Juan Mata did wrap things up as Manchester United became the first side to negotiate round four, beating Championship club Derby County 3-1 at Pride Park on Friday night.
Groves makes strong ring return
George Groves made a successful return to the ring on Saturday night in London, stopping Italian opponent Andrea Di Luisa inside five rounds and continuing on his path towards a fourth super-middleweight world title shot.
Spurs surge into last 16
That is one deflated goalie, as Nacer Chadli’s brace helps Tottenham past Colchester United in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off. Spurs ran out rampant 4-1 winners in Essex.
Match ball for Iheanacho
Nigerian forward Kelechi Iheanacho hit a hat-trick as Manchester City battered fourth round hosts Aston Villa. FA Cup trebles were the order of Saturday, with Arsenal-owned attacker Chuba Akpom also producing a stunning solo display for Hull City against Bury.
Barkley buries Carlisle
Ross Barkley throws himself into a battle for the ball in the photo above, capping off an all-round display in which the England international helped Everton bury their midweek woe by smashing three with no reply past FA Cup opponents Carlisle United. The midfielder found the net yet again, dispatching with the help of a deflection.
And the Oscar goes to…
Oscar slides in to score his first of three goals above, with the hat-trick hero helping Chelsea trounce MK Dons 5-1 in the fourth round of the FA Cup. The Brazilian in particular was inspired, notching three in a row before Eden Hazard and Bertrand Traore polished of proceedings in the second-half.
Mixed fortunes for Murrays at 2016 Australian open
Following a fortnight of tennis Grand Slam action Down Under, the weekend saw three fantastic finals involving Andy Murray in the men’s singles, brother Jamie in the doubles, as well as a shock result in the women’s singles.
Serena misses out on matching Graf
Despite Angelique Kerber winning her first ever Grand Slam, all the focus was on American great Serena Williams who narrowly missed out on equalling Steffi Graf’s major singles title total of 22, after losing 4-6 6-3 4-6.
Murray senior lands maiden Aus Open crown
Jamie Murray has done what his younger brother Andy still hasn’t been able to achieve – Grand Slam success at the Australian Open. Along with partner Bruno Soares, the Scot won the men’s doubles event, to add to his Wimbledon mixed doubles crown.
Murray suffers heartbreak Down Under yet again
Novak Djokovic saw off Andy Murray in straight sets to win his sixth Australian Open title, and fourth at the expense of the Scot in the final. However, Murray’s wife Kim is soon expecting a child, so it’s not all that bad.