The Tullow Tank was a top-class novice hurdler last season for the now-banned Philip Fenton and while the steroid scandal was still ongoing owner Barry Connell thought it prudent he should not run at Cheltenham. He was moved to the late Dessie Hughes and is now in the care of Hughes’ daughter, Sandra. Having won on his chasing debut impressively at Fairyhouse he has been below-par the last twice but has been pleasing Hughes at home recently. “I’m happy with him again now and he’ll run at the weekend,” she said. Press Association Formerly known as the Dr P.J. Moriarty, the Grade One has a rich history and has been a constant source of Cheltenham Festival winners down the years. It’s most recent top-class graduate was Lord Windermere, who finished a half-length third to Boston Bob two years ago before winning the RSA Chase at Cheltenham and following up in the Gold Cup last year. The Tullow Tank will bid to redeem his reputation in Sunday’s Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
The Hammers boss is out of contract at the end of the season but has already said he is happy to wait until then to open talks over extending his four-year tenure at Upton Park. Allardyce has never enjoyed a cosy relationship with much of the club’s fan-base but has won over a number of doubters with a change in style which saw West Ham start the season well. “They are not used to the level of football we play on a regular basis, this level of demand both physically and mentally “They haven’t experienced a Christmas period like we have, normally they are having a mid-season break and they don’t play the games we play over Christmas. “It takes effect on everybody, players used to Premier League, but these lads are finding it tougher and harder to get to the same level as at start of season.” Allardyce, whose side face London rivals Tottenham on Sunday, has added the signing of free agent Nene in an attempt to cushion the blow of losing Carroll. The former Paris St Germain forward was available outside of the transfer window after leaving Qatari side Al-Gharafa in January but the 33-year-old will not feature at White Hart Lane this weekend. “He won’t be available to play because he isn’t match fit yet,” said Allardyce. “He’s a naturally fit player and he’s not far away, I think 10 days to two weeks before he’s ready. We’ll monitor his progress, he could be ready for the Crystal Palace game, we’ll have to wait and see. It’s nice to have him here with the CV he’s got and we’re looking forward to working to with him and hopefully he can rekindle some of the qualities we have seen in the past. “We’ve lost our goalscoring touch at the moment and we’ve struggled to put our chances in the back of the net. We had been fluent in that area at the start of the season. “Obviously that is key to any team doing well and I think that is why we have drawn some games we should have won. Hopefully we find that touch on Sunday, against Tottenham our big rivals in a big London derby.” A slight drop off in results since Christmas, coupled with a 4-0 thrashing at West Brom in the FA Cup fifth round last weekend, has seen another groundswell of suggestions that he could be replaced – but the 60-year-old is unmoved having seen it all before. “The same way I deal with most things in the game, I don’t listen to it,” Allardyce replied when asked how he deals with speculation surrounding his job. “It is not my desire to listen to praise or criticism. I like to be professional and work with the people within the football club to try and get the best out of them. I hear things but I don’t take any notice of it. “There was speculation last season same as this season, I think there always will be. It seems to me it occurs if and when you get a bad result.” After an impressive goalscoring record earlier in the season, Allardyce has become increasingly alarmed by his side’s inability to find the back of the net more recently. Cheikhou Kouyate’s volley in the draw with Manchester United is the only goal West Ham have scored in their last four games in all competitions and, with club-record signing Andy Carroll ruled out until next season due to knee surgery, Allardyce has lost a key component to his attacking line-up. Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho were paired in attack at West Brom but Allardyce believes their lack of experience in English football is the main factor in their goals drying up. “It is their first season, he explained. Sam Allardyce insists he is turning a blind eye to any speculation over his future at West Ham and is remaining calm about his contract situation. Press Association
Heffernan said: “It was easy to like him and he was pretty professional, although he was a little green under pressure.” Dermot Weld’s 6-5 favourite Sight Hound got off the mark after two seconds with an emphatic success in the www.listowelraces.ie Median Auction Maiden, leading a furlong and a half out under Pat Smullen and quickly asserting to score by two lengths. Jim Bolger looked to have found a fine opportunity for Knocknagree in the Croom House Stud EBF Fillies Maiden and so it proved, Kevin Manning keeping the evens favourite up to her work to win by three and a quarter lengths after leading for most of the way. The trainer’s travelling head man Ger Flynn said: “The ground was gluey and horrible for her, but it’s nice to get a winning bracket. She reared up in the gates, too, but still won, and was entitled to win on her previous form. H opefully she will look for black-type at some stage.” Ecoeye (16-1) didn’t have the easiest of passages but won cosily in the end under Connor King in the George Fitzmaurice Handicap, while Fran Berry led all the way and kept Bay Hill (6-1) going to take the St John’s Literary Centre Handicap. Wicklow Brave claimed the County Hurdle at Cheltenham in March by eight lengths and has now gone two races unbeaten since his transfer to Flat racing. The Queen Alexandra Stakes at the Royal meeting – a race his trainer won last season with Pique Sous – could now be a potential big-race summer target. Patrick Mullins said: “He did it very easy and did what we expected. His pedigree suggests he’d be a high-quality Flat horse. “If I had my way he’d run in the GPT (amateur handicap) at Galway – but dad might have bigger plans! I imagine he might run in Royal Ascot instead.” Things didn’t work out for the Mullins team when favourite Laviniad could not catch Gary Phillips on the Victor Clifford-trained runaway leader Hurricane Twister (33-1) in the Follow Listowel Races On Facebook Handicap, going down by half a length. Phillips, who partnered the eight-year-old to two all-the-way wins in 2012, said: “That’s the way he did it in 2012 and the plan today was to steal a big lead early on. I knew when we were four or five lengths clear turning in the others would struggle to catch me, and thankfully he held on. I was glad to see the line.” Aidan O’Brien introduced a potentially smart juvenile in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden as Deauville ran out a ready winner. The son of Galileo, sent off the 6-4 favourite, was always handy under Seamie Heffernan and led on the home turn before running on strongly down the straight to beat off the challenge of the experienced Hoppala by two lengths. Press Association Cheltenham Festival winner Wicklow Brave teed up a possible return to England for the Royal Ascot meeting after winning on the Flat at Listowel. The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old was sent on his way the 1-5 favourite for the five-runner Bryan McMahon Race for amateur riders over a mile and three-quarters, and never gave his supporters a moment’s worry. Patrick Mullins’ partner was keen to get on with it early on, but was always travelling like a winner and eased into the lead passing the two-furlong pole, from where he coasted to victory by five and a half lengths from long-time leader Cardinal Palace.
Press Association The Londoner has already been linked with a move to Major League Soccer in the United States but says he is open-minded about the next stage of his career. “I don’t know whether it might be a loan or a permanent move and I don’t know where it could be to, whether it’s another Premier League club, a Championship club or abroad somewhere,” Britton said. “But I have to look at things the way they are now, and as it stands the manager feels it will be difficult for me to play. “I am not someone who will be happy to play every couple of months or whatever and then pick up my money. “So I will just see what options are out there. If there are any, I will talk to the manager and the chairman and we will see what everyone thinks.” Swansea veteran Leon Britton admits he may be forced to leave the club this summer in search of regular first-team football. Britton has made nearly 500 appearances for the Welsh club in three different spells, but the 32-year-old was restricted to only seven Barclays Premier League starts last season after falling victim to a combination of injury, illness and extra competition for midfield places. And now Britton has revealed after talks with manager Garry Monk that his prospects for first-team opportunities next season appear just as limited. “I spoke to the manager just before the end of the season and we talked about the frustrating season I’d had,” Britton told the South Wales Evening Post. “I started off with an injury, then I picked up a few niggles and some illness which meant I had to pull out of games which I was supposed to play in. “Jack Cork has come into the club and he has done brilliantly. I’m not complaining because there are other players who haven’t played as much as they would have wanted. “When I spoke to the manager, he said that he sees things being very much the same next season, if not (worse) with me being out of the squad completely because he is trying to push young lads like Jay (Fulton) and Matt (Grimes) through. “They are the future of the club, I understand that. “But if they take my place in the squad, I am going to be training all week and then running round the training ground on my own on a Saturday, and that’s not what I want at my age. “I said to the manager that I can’t do another season not playing.” Britton, who first joined Swansea from West Ham as a 20-year-old and has played for the club in all four divisions, has another two years left on his contract at the Liberty Stadium.
Press Association Remarkably an eighth winner of the week and the third on the afternoon for the jockey, Aidan O’Brien’s charge was enjoying a significant drop in class having had his last three runs in the Craven Stakes, the French 2000 Guineas and the French Derby. The War Front colt (10-1) was held up for a late run in the smaller group racing on the far side of the track and Moore timed his run to perfection, getting up to beat Udododontu by a neck. War Envoy powered home to land the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot under Ryan Moore. Sacrificial fared best of those that raced against the stands rail in third, with Carry On Deryck fourth. Moore, who had a luckless run in the Gold Cup on Kingfisher, said: “It was a bit tricky. I was hoping they wouldn’t split as uneven as that and there wasn’t as many horses as I would have liked (on the far side). “They got well strung out, but fortunately we had the speed on our side, they got racing a long way out and I just kept waiting and fortunately didn’t find traffic this time. “He’s a miler and loves fast ground and loves a strong pace. When he’s running in those Group races it doesn’t always unfold that way, but he’s got plenty of ability.” O’Brien said: “I’m delighted. We probably did all the wrong things with him, running him in soft ground and over a mile and quarter. It took us a good while to learn what way to ride him. “Obviously a mile on fast ground and taking our time on him (suits) and Ryan gave him an absolute peach of a ride. “What can I say about Ryan? He’s a marvellous jockey, probably the greatest jockey I’ve ever seen. He’s a total professional and fully committed. He has great feel about a horse and great feel about a race. “He’s an absolute gentleman to work with and always has been. We’ve worked with him very closely for the last three years and we’re privileged he’s riding for us.”
The 29-year-old, a free agent after leaving relegated Hull at the end of last season, will sign a three-year contract with the option of a fourth. Royals boss Steve Clarke told the club’s website: ” Stephen is an unassuming player but has always caught my eye and, when I knew he was available, I targeted him quite early in the summer. “His performances are always of a good standard and he is a talented, industrious, aggressive midfielder who can be influential in games. “Obviously he has just experienced relegation at Hull City and is desperate to get back to the Premier League as quickly as possible, which can only be good for us. He has previous experience of playing in the Championship and was an important member of the Hull City team that gained promotion. “Stephen is also a good character who will have a positive effect in our changing room and, just as importantly, on our younger players here at Reading.” Quinn joined Hull from Sheffield United in 2012 and made 97 appearances – including the FA Cup final defeat by Arsenal last year – and scored five goals. Republic of Ireland midfielder Stephen Quinn has agreed a move to Reading. Press Association
Sweden international Olsson has resumed light training following an operation after Norwich’s Sky Bet Championship play-off win over Middlesbrough, but is not scheduled to be involved in the new season opener against Crystal Palace on August 8. Neil has spoken of his desire to provide competition in every position, having recently deployed midfielder Bradley Johnson as emergency defensive cover, but has been left frustrated at not being able to get transfer targets to the Norfolk club, Hull boss Steven Bruce confirmed Norwich have yet to improve on their latest £6million offer for Brady, the 22-year-old Republic of Ireland international having been involved in the friendly at Chesterfield on Wednesday night. Norwich are currently away on a training camp in Austria, where Neil hopes to be able to fine-tune his preparations before stepping things up with fixtures against West Ham and Brentford back at Carrow Road. “Martin is doing really well. He has been joining in and doing all the running with the rest of the boys. He is getting his fitness up and we are hoping he is going to be fit sooner rather than later,” Neil said in the Eastern Daily Press. “I don’t want to put a timescale on it, in terms of the start of the season, because I don’t think he is going to get any games in between now and then. I don’t think he’ll make the first game (against Crystal Palace), however, it shouldn’t be too long after that.” Bruce, meanwhile, suggested Norwich would have to improve their offer on Brady closer to the club’s £8m valuation to progress the transfer. “As we stand at the minute it seems like a bit of a stalemate,” Bruce told the Hull Daily Mail. “They have put in a bid 10 days ago which was rejected and I hope they don’t make another one. “We have made a stance on it and made ourselves pretty clear. Unless they meet the valuation that the owners want then he will remain a Hull City player. It is as simple as that. “You are never going to question Robbie’s attitude. He is a really good young player. We all know that and we all desperately hope he will stay.” Press Association Norwich manager Alex Neil is hopeful full-back Martin Olsson will not miss too much of the start of the Barclays Premier League campaign after shoulder surgery, but looks to have reached stalemate with Hull over the pursuit of Robbie Brady.
A statement from the FA read: “A claim of wrongful dismissal submitted by West Ham United in relation to Adrian has been unsuccessful following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing earlier today. “The goalkeeper was dismissed for serious foul play during the game against Leicester City on Saturday (August 15, 2015). “Therefore, the player’s three-match suspension, which is the standard penalty for this offence, remains with immediate effect. “For a club to be successful with a claim of wrongful dismissal, it must prove to an Independent Regulatory Commission via written and/or video evidence that the match referee made an obvious error.” West Ham boss Slaven Bilic said on Saturday that the challenge “could have been seen as a red (card)” but “it’s obvious he didn’t mean it to kick Vardy… it wasn’t intentional.” Adrian took to Twitter to say his actions did not warrant a sending off from referee Anthony Taylor. But the pleas were dismissed and it now appears summer signing Darren Randolph will come in for Saturday’s match at home to Bournemouth. However, there may yet be competition in the form of ex-England goalkeeper Robert Green, who is reportedly close to returning to his former club from QPR. The goalkeeper will miss the matches with Bournemouth, Liverpool and Newcastle after a wrongful dismissal claim was rejected, the Football Association has announced. Adrian was sent off late in last weekend’s 2-1 loss for a challenge on Jamie Vardy after he went up for a corner. West Ham have lost their appeal over the sending-off of goalkeeper Adrian against Leicester and his three-match ban starts immediately. Press Association
“It’s always been my dream to be a footballer in the Premier League, and I’m happy to be here and do that. “The Premier League is well known for being a very physical league. It’s a bit different to France. It’s not something that concerns me, although maybe I’ll have to take a bit of time to get used to it. Once I do, I’ll be fine.” Steve McClaren’s men head for Old Trafford having allowed the positives from an encouraging opening-day display against Southampton to dissipate with a poor performance in defeat at Swansea last weekend, and the head coach will be looking for a significant response. Thauvin has been at his new club for just a matter of days, but he insists he is ready to play. He said: “Of course, it’s a magnificent stadium, a magnificent ground and they are a massive team too in the Premier League, so it’s always an honour and a pleasure to be able to play in such places. “I did pre-season at Marseille, played in all the friendly games – I even started the season out there, so if the coach needs me, I am there.” Newcastle had chased France Under-21 Thauvin for more than two years, although he revealed there was a time when he might have ended up at Arsenal instead. He said: “Two or three seasons ago, Arsene Wenger perhaps made an approach with Arsenal, but apart from Arsenal, Newcastle are the only other club who have made an approach for me in the past.” Newcastle’s new signing Florian Thauvin has shrugged off his £13million price-tag as he prepares for the challenge of proving himself in the Barclays Premier League. The 22-year-old winger, who completed his move from Marseille to Tyneside on Wednesday, could be thrown in at the deep end at Manchester United on Saturday, but is relishing the task of justifying the Magpies’ investment in him. Thauvin said: “It’s not a problem for me to have such a high price-tag. I’m a footballer, and that’s my passion and my job. Press Association
Press Association The Pumas admit they will treat Sexton like any other fly-half, and insist the Leinster star must be fully fit if head coach Joe Schmidt has enough faith to name him in the starting line-up. “They are a team that we respect a lot but they have weak points and we’re going to attack them through those,” said Argentina boss Hourcade. “If he plays it’s because he’s okay. “And we prepare the game thinking it’s the best team of Ireland, and that’s with Sexton 100 per cent. “I don’t want to have any surprises. “We have a gameplan and we are maybe thinking about Ireland and not about a player who perhaps is not 100 per cent. “We consider Sexton is 100 per cent fit, so it would be perhaps a mistake to go and try to find him. “He can surprise you, because he’s a good player. “We cannot just focus on him, thinking that he’s not fit.” Argentina have restored 10 players after their straightforward victory over Namibia last weekend and are at full strength barring the banned Marcelo Bosch to face Ireland. Toulon back-rower Fernandez Lobbe backed Hourcade’s assertion that Argentina will not focus all their energies on simply trying to take Sexton out of the equation this weekend. Sexton’s fitness was touch-and-go all week, but Ireland have still selected the influential outside-half from the off and are fully confident about his fitness. Lobbe believes Ireland boss Schmidt is not a man to take unnecessary risks on the fitness of his top players. “I think with the great coach Ireland has at the moment, if he trusts Sexton is able to play at 10, it’s because he is 10 out of 10 or 9 out of 10,” said Fernandez Lobbe. “He wouldn’t play Sexton in such an important game thinking that he won’t be able to fulfill the 80 minutes. “For us, of course, we are going to focus on Sexton a lot, not because he has an injury but because he is the main player on their attack. “He either plays quick, slow, kicks, plays with the dummy, he’s a very, very good player. “He’s done it a lot of times before. He knows how to play this type of game. “As 15 players, we need to be aggressive on defence, whoever gets the ball.” The Pumas’ head coach Daniel Hourcade and former captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe both rejected the all-out assault on linchpin Sexton that France launched last week. Sexton hobbled out of Ireland’s 24-9 victory over France in Cardiff last Sunday and can expect more physical threat from Argentina at the Millennium Stadium this weekend. Argentina have refused to hunt down Johnny Sexton in Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final despite Ireland’s fly-half suffering lingering groin trouble.