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The stellar explosion is the closest to be spotted since 1987 and will provide a 'galactic yardstick' for astronomers judging distances across the universe

Halling can do the double

The stage at Sandown is set today for the 99th running of one of the oldest all-aged championships in the calendar, named after one of the Titans of the Turf. The Eclipse Stakes brings the best of the middle- distance generations together for the first time in Britain during the season, and if today's race may lack the absolute quality of some previous renewals - notably the 1903 running, when four-year-old Ard Patrick, the previous year's Derby hero, beat his contemporary Sceptre, who had taken the other four Classics, with the three-year-old Rock Sand, who went on to complete the Triple Crown, back in third - it remains a fascinating contest.

All that glisters

Modernists prefer the simplicity of silver. Photographs by Julia Cody

In the eye of a media revolution

TTHE MONDAY INTERVIEW: MICHAEL GRADE: As takeover fever engulfs commercial TV will Michael Grade, and Channel 4, remain in the public service?

Calm Casey seeks a place in the sun

Ken Jones encounters Rough Quest's trainer who is geared up for the National

Cigar too hot for his Soul mate

RACING: A dazzling performance in Dubai wins the world's richest race, but today the attention turns to the jumps at Aintree

Cigar to blaze a trail for Sheikh's playground

RACING: The richest race ever can advertise the ability of `the world champion' and the delights of Dubai as a sporting centre

Rise in heavy drinking set to defeat targets

General Household Survey: A nation's lifestyle and habits revealed

Racing: Cigar glows in the desert

COMMENTARY

Cigar on a slow burn

CIGAR, the American-trained favourite for this week's Dubai World Cup, has his first full workout on the Nad Al Sheba racecourse tonight, just days before Wednesday evening's $4m desert showpiece. The five-year- old's trainer, Bill Mott, arrived on Friday in time to conduct his first session with the horse yesterday morning, but unseasonal weather in the Gulf put a halt to any serious action on the rain-soaked track.

first encounters sorel and sorel: When Frederic Chopin met George Sand

Illustration by Edward Sorel Text by Nancy Caldwell Sorel Next week: Charles de Gaulle met Franklin D Roosevelt

Cigar on the mend

Cigar, who is making excellent progress after bruising a foot last month, is on course for the Dubai World Cup on 27 March.

Give the man a cigar

Novelist Paul Auster has had his first taste of film production with Smoke. This `least cinematic of writers' spoke to Chris Peachment about what it takes to `visualise' a story

Cigar's heat subsides to allow training

Cigar's trainer, Bill Mott, believes that America's Horse of 1995 will be able to resume training tomorrow after bruising his off-fore foot in Florida last week.

Bailey steers Cigar to 13th consecutive victory

Cigar extended his winning sequence to 13 with a comfortable win in the Grade One Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park, Florida, on Saturday. The topweight, making his first appearance of 1996, settled in third place behind Flying Chevron and Star Standard before rider Jerry Bailey made his move entering the turn for home.

Cigar smoulders in build up to Dubai treasure hunt

Cigar, unbeaten in 10 races last year and the hot favourite for next month's Dubai World Cup, reappears at Gulfstream Park, Florida, today.
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In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

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After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
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Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

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The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
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Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
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First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
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US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

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When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible