Speedway: Premiership ban for Holder after Lynn controversy…

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Suspended: Chris Holder

Australian speedway star Chris Holder has been handed a 28-day ban from the SGB Premiership following King’s Lynn’s controversial meeting with Poole at the Adrian Flux Arena last Thursday.

The suspension, which doesn’t include Saturday’s Adrian Flux British SGP in Cardiff or racing in Sweden or Poland, comes after the Sydney-born racer allegedly refused to take two of his rides in the Star’s 52-40 loss to the Pirates. The home side were reportedly unhappy with the track conditions for the meeting.

Holder retired from heat four before exceeding the two minute time allowance for heats seven and 13. Race 11 saw him pick up a second place when taking a tactical ride.

The meeting also saw Holder’s fellow countryman Troy Batchelor withdraw from the meeting after two rides with a wrist injury. He then guested for Swindon in place of broken foot victim Jason Doyle the following night.

British star Robert Lambert and German racer Kai Huckenbeck also failed to make the two-minute time allowance for heat nine, after which the meeting was delayed for some time while extensive track work took place.

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King’s Lynn’s Adrian Flux Arena

Issuing a statement last Friday, angry Lynn promoter Keith Chapman hit out at his riders for their reluctance to race. Fans were also left fuming over a farcical night at the Adrian Flux Arena.

Chapman said: ‘I have put my heart and soul into this club and I take things like this personally. I am as angry and frustrated as every supporter. However, I must offer our apologies because the paying public are the lifeblood of the sport. I spoke to many fans last night and apologised to them all.

‘I was extremely disappointed with the attitude of certain riders. When you looked at the Poole guys, they were out there ready to race.

‘The race times were reasonable but clearly some riders didn’t fancy it and there was no thought for the fans.

‘I agree rider safety has to be paramount, but when the Poole riders have no problem, I have to question the attitude of certain riders in my team.’

Eventing: ‘Horse of a lifetime’ Toytown put down, aged 25…

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‘Horse of a lifetime!’: Toytown in action with Zara Tindall

Zara Tindall’s ‘horse of a lifetime’ Toytown has been put down at the age of 25 for medical reasons.

Under Tindall, Toytown won individual European eventing gold in 2005 and world gold in 2006, before he was retired from competition in 2011.

In a statement, the Queen’s grand-daughter said: ‘I’m heartbroken that I had to say goodbye to my greatest friend and horse of a lifetime, Toytown. He was the most incredible athlete with the biggest heart.

‘He made my career and I couldn’t be more grateful to him for the amazing times we had together. I will miss you forever.’

Tindall bought Toytown as a seven-year-old in 1999. Injuries to the horse prevented them from competing at the Olympic Games in 2004 and 2008.

However, the pair won both the European individual and team gold in 2005. That was followed by world individual gold and team silver the following year and European team gold in 2007.

Paying his own tribute to Toytown on Twitter, Zara’s husband Mike Tindall said:

Speedway GP: Horsens double for Magic…

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Horsens double: Maciej Janowski tops the podium (centre), with Emil Sayfutdinov (left) in second and Patryk Dudek (right) in third

Polish star Maciej Janowski has once again won the Kjægaard Danish FIM Speedway Grand Prix in Horsens.

Janowski topped the box at the CASA Arena, alongside runner-up Emil Sayfutdinov and fellow countryman Patryk Dudek.

Australian racer Jason Doyle produced a heroic performance to an extraordinary fourth place finish in order to edge ahead of Dudek at the top of the overall standings, despite undergoing surgery on a broken foot just five days earlier.

However, it was Janowski who stormed to victory and the Wrocław born racer was delighted with his performance as he moved to third in the World Championship standings on 58 points.

He said: ‘It was an amazing night. It doesn’t matter where you are, but this is the second time it has happened in Denmark. I’m so happy.

‘This was a really tough night. It’s a very small track and there’s not enough room for everyone. You need to be smart and lucky also. Everything worked well for me today – my team, everything. I am happy.

‘Points are the most important thing. That was a good kick going into the next half of the season.’

Magic also admits that his experience of the British leagues, where he won three consecutive Elite League titles with the Poole Pirates between 2013 and 2015, paid off as he mastered the tight Horsens track once again.

He said: ‘I have some experience on the small tracks from racing in Britain.

‘Sometimes I have two crashes and two points on them! But Britain was a good school for me.

‘That’s the way for a lot of young riders to learn. It’s hard to get the experience you get there anywhere else.’

The next SGP date for Janowski will be in Cardiff, when he heads to the Principality Stadium on July 22 for the Adrian Flux British SGP.

First though, he is hoping to be a part of Poland’s team for the Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup Final in Leszno on July 8.

The Poles will be the firm favourites to retain their title, won last year at Manchester’s National Speedway Stadium. However, the weight of expectation on home shale could be seen as burden for some, but not for Janowski.

He said: ‘There’s no pressure. We’ll just have fun like today and that’s the best way. If you start thinking too much about things, it’s not good for you. I’m really happy to ride speedway, I’m really enjoying it and that’s the most important thing. Everything around it … I don’t care!’

It wasn’t all plain sailing for second placed Sayfutdinov though, as the Salavat-born racer worked wonders to get to Horsens in time after a hold-up on the motorway in Germany saw him and his team stranded for two and a half hours. As a result, he was more than happy with his first podium finish since finishing third at the 2013 Italian SGP.

He said: ‘After my third race, it went really well. I won my last two heats and I was last in the semi, but I passed Lindback and Zagar.

‘I got into the final and I am really happy to be on the podium. I’d just like to say thanks to my team. We have really worked hard. With that hard work, we got to the final.

‘We scored some important points today. I’m going up in the standings and I am really happy.’

Dudek is level on 65 points with Doyle at the top of the standings, with only the Aussie’s 2016 ranking keeping the Pole out of first place. Despite this, he isn’t too concerned as he bids to keep piling up the points.

He said: ‘It doesn’t matter for me now. For me, I just want to score points through the whole series. When I have the podiums, it’s great. Sometimes I won’t. What’s most important is my score.’

He also admits that it was hard to get to grips with the tight 272-metre temporary track at the CASA Arena, having rarely raced on such small circuits.

He said: ‘The track here had tight corners and for me, that’s not normal. Tracks in Poland are so big. But that doesn’t matter. I had third place.’

The SGP series will now take a break for the Monster Energy FIM Speedway World Cup, which begins with Event 1 at King’s Lynn’s Adrian Flux Arena next Saturday. The meeting features Australia, Czech Republic, USA and hosts Great Britain.

The action will then switch to the Stena Arena in Vastervik, Sweden for Event 2. Here the Swedes will face Denmark, Russia and the winner of the qualifying round between Latvia, Germany, France and Italy in Riga.

The winners of each event will then join Poland in the Monster Energy SWC Final at the Alfred Smoczyk Stadium in Leszno on July 8, while the second and third-placed side contesting the Race Off on July 7. The winners of that meeting will take the last spot in the Final.

KJÆRGAARD DANISH SGP SCORES: Maciej Janowski 17, Emil Sayfutdinov 14, Patryk Dudek 14, Jason Doyle 15, Matej Zagar 11, Tai Woffinden 11, Antonio Lindback 8, Fredrik Lindgren 8, Kenneth Bjerre 7, Greg Hancock 7, Bartosz Zmarzlik 7, Chris Holder 7, Piotr Pawlicki 4, Peter Kildemand 3, Niels-Kristian Iversen 3, Martin Vaculik 1, Andreas Lyager Hansen DNR, Frederik Jakobsen DNR.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after 5 rounds): 1 Jason Doyle 65, 2 Patryk Dudek 65, 3 Maciej Janowski 58, 4 Fredrik Lindgren 51, 5 Tai Woffinden 48, 6 Emil Sayfutdinov 47, 7 Greg Hancock 45, 8 Martin Vaculik 45, 9 Piotr Pawlicki 43, 10 Bartosz Zmarzlik 39, 11 Matej Zagar 36, 12 Chris Holder 34, 13 Niels-Kristian Iversen 31, 14 Antonio Lindback 29, 15 Vaclav Milik 13, 16 Peter Kildemand 12, 17 Nicki Pedersen 8, 18 Maksims Bogdanovs 8, 19 Kenneth Bjerre 7, 20 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 3, 21 Nick Skorja 1.

Tennis: British player Dan Evans reveals positive drugs test…

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Positive test: British tennis player Dan Evans

British number three Dan Evans has revealed that he tested positive for cocaine in a drugs test taken in April.

27-year-old Evans, who has played for Great Britain in the Davis Cup, learned of the failed test earlier this week and said he had ‘let a lot of people down’.

According to International Tennis Federation (ITF) rules, a player can be banned for up to four years for an anti-doping violation.

Tennis’ governing body said that Evans provided the positive sample at the Barcelona Open on April 24 and he will be provisionally suspended from June 26.

Speaking about the test, Birmingham-born Evans said: ‘It’s really important you know this was taken out of competition and in a context completely unrelated to tennis.

‘I do not condone for one second to anyone that this is acceptable behaviour.

‘I have let a lot of people down – my family, my coach, my team, sponsors, British Tennis and my fans. I can only deeply apologise from the bottom of my heart.

‘This has been a sad and humbling experience.’

He last played on June 10 at Surbiton, where he retired with a calf injury, before withdrawing from events in Nottingham, London and Eastbourne.

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Evans was ranked 772nd in the world in April 2015 but had reached a career-high of 41st in March this year.

He lost all three of his matches last month, failing to make it past the first round at the French Open, Madrid Open and Rome Masters.

The governing body of British Tennis, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), has said it was ‘very disappointed’ by the news.

Performance director Simon Timson said: ‘We absolutely condemn any form of drug-taking and will support the process which needs to take place.

‘We are in touch with Dan and we will offer appropriate guidance, support and education to him on how best to address the issues he now faces.’

How long will Evans be banned?

Evans has accepted the findings and according to the ITF, his ban will begin on Monday ‘pending determination of the case’.

According to the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme guidelines, a ban of two years is possible if it can be proved that the substance was taken ‘in a context unrelated to sport performance’.

Spanish player Jose-Manuel Roman Gomez was given a four-year ban after testing positive for cocaine in 2015, while Frenchman Richard Gasquet had a two-year ban overturned in 2009 after an ITF panel accepted his claim that the substance was in his system after he kissed a woman who had taken the drug in a nightclub.

Former world number one Martina Hingis was given a two-year ban in 2008 after also testing positive for cocaine while competing at Wimbledon the previous year.

Speedway GP: Jason Doyle tops the box again in Prague…

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Czech SGP podium: Greg Hancock, Jason Doyle and Vaclav Milik

Australian speedway star Jason Doyle defied a nightmare start to top the podium for the second straight year at the Mitas Czech Republic FIM Speedway Grand Prix in Prague on Saturday (June 10).

Newcastle-born Doyle, who picked up his first Grand Prix win at the Marketa Stadium in 2016, repeated the feat with a great start to triumph in the final ahead of reigning world champion Greg Hancock, meeting wildcard Vaclav Milik and Championship leader Patryk Dudek.

Polish ace Dudek currently has a one point cushion over Doyle at the top of the World Championship standings.

The Swindon, Zielona Gora and Rospiggarna star was delighted to produce a champagne finish, despite having recorded just three points from his opening three rides for the second straight round.

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Making the start: Wildcard Vaclav Milik

Doyle said: “We just needed to score the points. I got 13 tonight and if someone had offered me that when I had three going into my fourth ride, I’d have taken it. We’ve got out of jail again.

“We did it in Daugavpils. We had a tough start and battled into the final there, and now we have done it in Prague. We should have had a podium at the last Grand Prix, but the bike broke down in the final. I guess luck was on our side here and we had a great night.

“If I finished how I started, it was not looking good. For the first three heats, I couldn’t get any speed out of the first engine.

“It was the engine I rode for all of last year in the Grand Prix and it was very fast. But we have another rocket now, I guess. I jumped on the third bike and made that work.

“I have never worked so hard to get points. My fourth ride was against a very hard line-up in Bartosz Zmarzlik, Tai Woffinden and Dudek. I knew that win got me on to six points and it made it a little easier for me to get into the semis. I didn’t have to win the last race.

“The points just weren’t coming at all. I couldn’t make a start; I couldn’t do anything right. But then it just clicked and started working with the track. It was one of those nights where we finished in the right way.”

The Aussie produced the ride of the night to force his way past the Polish duo of Dudek and Bartosz Zmarzlik to win heat 14 – the race which turned his night around.

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Fourth place: Patryk Dudek gets assistance from his mechanic

He hit the tapes in his opening ride of the night and it was something that ultimately proved to be a blessing in disguise for the Aussie ace – as he avoided a warning for jumping at the start.

Under new rules implemented this season, Doyle would have received a warning from meeting referee Craig Ackroyd, had he not touched the tapes. This would have seen him excluded from the final when he jumped the start again. Despite this though, the Australian international admitted he was pretty keen to gain an advantage from the tough outside gate.

“I knew I had to have a dig off gate four and make a really good start,” he said, “I double-clutched it just to try and get the bike pulling to the corner. I made too good a start the first time. I kept it still in the re-run and it was a very hard four laps.”

Topping the podium in Prague has brought good fortune for many riders. Eight of the last 13 winners have gone on to become world champion in the same season, however Doyle has little time for that statistic after triumphing last season, only for his campaign to end with a horrific crash in Torun.

He said: “Last year I won Prague and ended up in a hospital for nearly six weeks. It’s all statistics and it means nothing to me.”

Runner-up Hancock was delighted to regain top form with a hopping 18 points out of 21 after making his first SGP final to climb up to seventh in the overall standings.

It was also a special night for the home fans as local star and meeting wildcard Vaclav Milik stormed to a sensational third place and his first SGP final.

Next up for the SGP elite is the Kjægaard Danish SGP in Horsens on June 24.

MITAS CZECH SGP SCORES: Jason Doyle 13, Greg Hancock 18, Vaclav Milik 13, Patryk Dudek 13, Chris Holder 11, Martin Vaculik 10, Antonio Lindback 9, Peter Kildemand 8, Bartosz Zmarzlik 8, Tai Woffinden 7, Piotr Pawlicki 7, Fredrik Lindgren 6, Maciej Janowski 6, Matej Zagar 4, Niels-Kristian Iversen 3, Emil Sayfutdinov 2, Josef Franc 0, Matej Kus 0.

FIM SPEEDWAY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after 4 rounds): 1 Patryk Dudek 51, 2 Jason Doyle 50, 3 Martin Vaculik 44, 4 Fredrik Lindgren 43, 5 Maciej Janowski 41, 6 Piotr Pawlicki 39, 7 Greg Hancock 38, 8 Tai Woffinden 37, 9 Emil Sayfutdinov 33, 10 Bartosz Zmarzlik 32, 11 Niels-Kristian Iversen 28, 12 Chris Holder 27, 13 Matej Zagar 25, 14 Antonio Lindback 21, 15 Vaclav Milik 13, 16 Peter Kildemand 9, 17 Nicki Pedersen 8, 18 Maksims Bogdanovs 8, 19 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 3, 20 Nick Skorja 1.

Show Jumping: Hickstead Derby hopeful dies after heart attack…

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Guy Williams aboard Depardieu Van T Kiezelhof

British showjumper Guy Williams has paid tribute to his ‘brilliant’ horse Depardieu Van T Kiezelhof, who has died of a heart attack.

The 14-year-old gelding collapsed on the gallops a week ago last Friday (May 26), after being with Lambourn-based trainer Charlie Mann to get fit for the Hickstead Derby later this month (25 June).

Speaking to Horse & Hound magazine Williams said: ‘You try to do the best thing by them [the horse] and something like this happens,

‘I think that’s the worst thing — that he wasn’t at home when it happened.’

He also said that the 18hh Belgian gelding had ‘only been cantering in the morning, but he is a big horse.’

‘We had him checked before he left and he was fine and he’d never had any heart problems before,’ he added.

‘It could have happened at any time and I’m just grateful it didn’t happen in the ring.’

The partnership had enjoyed a number of international sucesses, the most recent win came in a four-star Grand Prix in Vejer de la Fontera in March.

‘He’s been a brilliant horse for us — we’ve had him nine or 10 years, his whole career basically,’ Guy said.

‘He’s won so much for us and Lindsay [Doran] has been such a loyal owner with him.

‘They’ve become family friends rather than just owners. They’ve been so understanding.

‘It’s hard to lose any horse, but it’s so much harder when you’ve had them so long. We’ve had him cremated.’

Non League: Ilkeston FC wound up by High Court over unpaid debt…

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Northern Premier League football club Ilkeston FC  have been wound-up by the High Court over an unpaid debt of £14,438.

The club was only formed in in 2010 following the liquidation of Ilkeston Town and had a troubled 2016/17 season as they fought financial difficulties.

They were temporarily suspended by the league before the season started for not paying creditors. Players have not been paid since December.

Chairman Nigel Harrop plans to appeal the decision, according to BBC Radio Derby.

Harrop had announced, shortly before Monday’s hearing in Liverpool, that he had struck a takeover with All Eight Sports Management.

However, his plea for more time to settle a debt owed to, office equipment hire firm, Hire Intelligence was rejected by District Judge Smedley.

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Ilkeston FC in action against Leicester City in a pre-season game

This is the second time in seven years that the Derbyshire town’s football club has been wound-up.

Former Conference North club Ilkeston Town folded in 2010 owing £50,000 to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The new club, Ilkeston FC, were admitted into the Northern Premier League Division One South for 2011/12, and have been playing at the same ground as their predecessors – the 3,029-capacity New Manor Ground.

After a play-off final win against Leek Town, the club immediately won promotion to the Premier Division and even recieved a financial boost in 2014 when Che Adams – now at Birmingham City – was sold to Sheffield United.

Despite this, debts mounted and the club was relegated in April after a turbulent season, marred by protests against Harrop’s ownership.