Any fan of Elizabeth Taylor, or really anyone whose mother made them watch the young Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet, will be aware of the England's Grand National. The Grand National 2017, held at Aintree in Merseyside, is both the title race, and a three day festival of horse racing which captures England's attention, at least those interesting enough to love horse racing. Security is tight for this year's 170 year old event, a nod to the sad state of today's world. One of the roles of sport, of course, is to lift our spirits and bring us together. The grand spectacle should uplift the 150,000 expected for the duration. 40 horses will be in the running for the Grand National Race, with all horses, so far, having favorable odds. At present there are two long shots at 100 to 1, "La Vaticane" and "Cocktails at Dawn." Four horses stand in reserve, ready to compete if any of the 40 drops out.
County Cricket returns to England today, as the 2017 Specsavers Championship gets under way. Eight teams are chasing glory, this season, in Division One, and 10 teams are competing for the two promotion spots in Division Two. All of this intermingled with international competition, including an unusual night test in August against the West Indies. Lancashire's rising star this season is already known to our readers. Haseed Hameed debuted with India, in Test competition this last Winter. Lancashire faces no Test matches until midsummer.
A challenge this year is a Twenty20 competition starting up outside of the County milieu, but as even the venerable Times of London acknowledges, the big money comes from Twenty20, not a five day test. Again, readers of this space will recall that an over, in Cricket, is a series of six pitches. While one match of Test Cricket lasts through five days, Twenty20 means that in those games, each side gets only 20 overs, and so an entire game may take two to three hours, and be filled with competitive action. It seems that Yorkshire will again be a powerhouse this year in the County Championship, while the three counties which have never won a championship, Gloucester, Northants, and Somerset, will likely remain uncoronated again this year.
The Davis Cup, the "World Cup of Tennis," currently being contested at Rouen in France, has shown a rather evenly matched competition so far, with France and Great Britain playing so evenly matched, that they may end this weekend in a tie. No chance for a soccer style "shoot out" for tennis. Even GB's Andy Murray has not been able to spook the French. Watch for an update in this space tomorrow.
In professional golf, in the Masters in Augusta, Georgia, previous winner and early favorite, Jordan Spieth, has laid a proverbial egg in early rounds, and has been left behind. Charley Hoffman’s massive lead at the 2017 Masters evaporated over the course of six holes in Round two, and as the leaderboard opened up, the playing conditions improved. By the end of Friday, some of golf’s fan favorites made a run to get into contention heading into the weekend. In today's round 3, Hoffman is trying to be the next in a line of surprise first-time winners, but Friday also saw Sergio Garcia fire a 69 after going bogey-free in Round 1 to claim a share of the lead. Garcia’s place in this championship hunt is just one of a few storylines that has the potential to define this weekend's rounds of the 2017 Masters.
Sometimes the interest in sports is what they don't tell you... Games, records, are rewritten, champions from years before are removed and recast. Such is the way of the missed call. In Wednesday's soccer match between Newcastle United and Burton Albion, in England, a bad call was made by a referee, and a penalty kick, missed, was awarded to Burton Albion. Newcastle scored a goal in the second half, winning the match by one. They have been informed that, had they lost or the game ended in a tie, they could have demanded a replay, starting at the 29th minute. They still could, if they wanted to vacate the win. When a game is done a game is done. Can we please stop rewriting history?