The Sports Matrix: Friday 16 March 2012


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The Independent Online

Buck's sets record with fourth World Hurdle victory

Big Buck's become the first horse to win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle a fourth time yesterday. He also became the only jumper to match Sir Ken's 16 consecutive wins, between 1951 and 1953.

Jockey Ruby Walsh held off the challenges of Oscar Whisky and Voler La Vedette, and won by just under two lengths.

Trainer Paul Nicholls was delighted with the win after a difficult week. "He saved us," Nicholls said. "We needed that. They have been totally out of form, apart from the Champion Hurdle. It's been a bit of a disaster. For me this means more than anything. This was our No 1 target, the one thing I wanted this week."

Colm Murphy was proud of Voler La Vedette's second-placed finish. "In truth he was always holding her, almost toying with her," the trainer admitted. "She's just unlucky to have run into a legend." Big Buck's will now try to overtake Sir Ken's record with a 17th straight win at Aintree. MORE

Brilliant Bilbao eliminate United

Manchester United were knocked out of Europe last night, losing 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao and 5-3 on aggregate. Fernando Llorente and Oscar De Marcos put the excellent hosts two goals ahead, and they could have had more before Wayne Rooney's strike. MORE

City crash out despite victory

Manchester City joined their neighbours in going out, losing on away goals to Sporting Lisbon despite winning 3-2 on the night. Sergio Aguero scored twice either side of a Mario Balotelli penalty after the visitors had gone two up before the interval. MORE

Long Run ready for Gold Cup challenge

Defending champion Long Run and the evergreen Kauto Star go head to head in the Gold Cup today. "You couldn't ask for a better place to settle it," said Long Run's trainer Nicky Henderson. "It'd be lovely to see them go down to the last together and fight it out." MORE

Ground not to blame for deaths

The British Horseracing Authority said that the state of the ground was not responsible for the five equine deaths that took place on the first two days of the festival. Tim Morris, a BHA director, said they would not "read too much" into "an isolated incident". MORE

Lampard: Blues need young and old

Frank Lampard feels the performances of Chelsea's older players in reaching the Champions League quarter-finals shows the need for a balanced squad. "You need your old boys, your experience, as well as the young ones and their enthusiasm," he said. MORE

Richards sorry for 'stolen' comments

The Premier League chairman, Sir Dave Richards, has contacted the presidents of Fifa and Uefa to apologise for claiming the governing bodies had "stolen" the game from England. The 68-year-old made the comments at a conference in Qatar. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

For all the expectation over Kauto Star's attempts to win a third Gold Cup today, there is also a touch of anxiety. The question is whether this may prove one race too far for the hero whose health has been monitored since a training fall last month. MORE

Panesar impresses again for England

Monty Panesar took 5 for 37 for England against a Sri Lanka Board XI yesterday, but insisted that Graeme Swann was still the "No 1 spinner". "We work together as partners," he said, "and I'm guided by him." MORE

Lancaster loving 'fantastic' job

Stuart Lancaster would love to continue coaching England after tomorrow's match with Ireland. "This is a fantastic job," he said. "Ask any coach in any sport and they'll all say their national team is the dream job." MORE