Sports Shorts

‘Aintree heroine’ Rachael Blackmore has ‘changed the future’ of horse racing

News and reactions from the world of sport, including Woods’s praise for Masters champion Matsuyama

1

Horse racing

Blackmore odds-on favourite for overseas SPOTY award

Rachael Blackmore’s stirring victory upon Minella Times in Saturday’s Grand National won’t just be remembered for her being the first female jockey to win the world’s most famous steeplechase. She has also “single-handedly changed the narrative of 2021 in her sport”, says Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail

Horse racing has been rocked by a number of scandals in the last year - including the pictures on social media showing trainer Gordon Elliott sitting on a dead horse. But following her success at Cheltenham and the victory in the National, Blackmore has “changed the future and course of racing itself”, Samuel added. “Take Blackmore away and this would have been a year of outrage, of racing at a crossroads, certainly in the affections of the public.”

The “biggest prizes are yet to come” for the 31-year-old Irish jockey, says The Times. She has probably secured a “glittering financial future with the potential for sponsorship deals that could make her a millionaire”. And The Sun also reports that the “Aintree heroine” is now odds-on to win the overseas BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. 

2

Football 

Lingard: West Ham will treat each game as a ‘cup final’ 

Jesse Lingard scored twice as West Ham United beat Leicester City 3-2 in the Premier League yesterday. With just seven games remaining, the Hammers are currently in the fourth Champions League qualification place and on course to “gatecrash Europe’s elite next season”, the London Evening Standard reports. 

Lingard, who has scored eight goals in nine appearances since joining on loan from Manchester United, says the London club are now treating every game like a “cup final”. The England international told Sky Sports: “We’re in something to fight for and each week we’re playing something like a cup final and we’re doing our best to get the three points.”

The 28-year-old’s impact on loan at West Ham has caught the attention of Europe’s biggest clubs, ESPN reports. Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan and Real Madrid are all “monitoring” Lingard’s situation at Man Utd ahead of the summer transfer window.

3

Rugby union 

Scotland’s Tandy is a candidate for Lions coaching team

British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has been forced into a late rethink for his coaching team ahead of the summer tour of South Africa. 

With Ireland head coach Andy Farrell now believed to be unavailable, Scotland’s defensive mastermind Steve Tandy has emerged as a “leading candidate” to join Gatland’s staff, The Guardian reports. 

Gatland confirms his assistants tomorrow and Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is expected to be named as attack coach.

4

Formula 1 

Lewis vs. Max show heads to Imola 

After an epic battle in Formula 1’s opening grand prix of the season in Bahrain, Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will again lock horns this weekend at the Emilia-Romagna GP.

F1’s second race of the campaign will be held at the historic Imola circuit and Sky Sports predicts that Hamilton and Verstappen will “renew on-track rivalries” and the “fascinating championship picture might become that much clearer”.

Practice one (10.30am BST) and practice two (2pm) will be held on Friday. Practice three (11am) and qualifying (2pm) is on Saturday, and the race is on Sunday (2pm).  

5

Golf 

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama celebrates his victory at the 2021 Masters

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama celebrates his Masters victory at Augusta

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Woods: Matsuyama’s Masters win will ‘impact entire golf world’

It was also a historic weekend in the world of golf with Hideki Matsuyama winning the Masters and becoming Japan’s first male major champion. Matsuyama secured the green jacket with a one-shot victory over America’s Will Zalatoris at Augusta National. 

The 29-year-old was hailed for his victory by none other than Tiger Woods, a five-time Masters champion. Golf icon Woods praised Matsuyama on Twitter and said the “historical Masters win will impact the entire golf world”.

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