Race-by-race preview and tips for Gosford on Thursday

Form has been done for a good track.

Race 1 – 1:25PM SHARON SAMWAYS MEMORIAL CLASS 2 HANDICAP (1600 METRES)

4. Zavance is a filly that should come into her own out to the mile. The Peter and Paul Snowden-trained three-year-old, a half-sister to the stable’s group-winning mare Nancy, is still in her first preparation. Last start she reeled in her rivals at Wyong to win over 1350m. The start prior to that she was no match for 1. Oakfield Captain. That was over 1300m. She’ll get her chance to turn the tables over more ground here. She has drawn widest in the small field but there looks to be plenty of speed engaged, so Kerrin McEvoy will be afforded the opportunity to take hold and rush home over the top.

Share plan: Brenton Avdulla has a good association with Tactical Advantage, and the pair unite again for the Takeover Target Stakes.Credit:AAP

Dangers: 2. Judge Judi has only had the one outing for Kim Waugh after moving   from Bjorn Baker. Like the fight she showed at Kembla to go down narrowly to Myprayer. The mare is untried past 1400m. That’s the query, especially just second up. Speaking of queries at the mile, Oakfield Captain hasn’t made much of an impression in his two runs over the trip, one of which was last start. 5. Uber Lux rates a mention having won over the Gosford 1600m before. She’ll be at her top now third up but needs to find a few lengths on her last start fifth at Kembla Grange.

How to play it: Zavance WIN

Race 2 – 2:00PM SIGNARAMA ERINA/GOSFORD METRO & PROV MAIDEN PLATE (1200 METRES)

10. Press Box has had five chances to break her maiden already but this is the first time she has raced outside of city company. The other thing worth noting about the full sister to Press Statement, also trained by Chris Waller, is both of her best runs do date have been first up. On debut back in May she was just missed to stablemate Ms Rodarte where there was a sizeable gap back to third, while fresh in her second campaign she flashed late to just miss again after a chequered run in the straight. She tackles the older mares here but from the cosy draw, and off a nice trial at Rosehill, she won’t get a better chance to break through.

Dangers: Had Intrepidus pegged as the danger so the confidence levels increase further with that galloper scratched. Kris Lees looks to have opted for Taree on Monday, where he’ll be very hard to beat. Lees will still be represented in the race by 3. Lifetime Quest. He did more than enough on debut at Scone. 8. Foxpack was heavily backed on debut on Randwick’s Kensington track but only plugged away to hold fourth having parked outside of the leader. This is easier and she’ll be better for the experience.

How to play it: Press Box WIN

Race 3 – 2:35PM TOOHEYS 3YO MAIDEN HANDICAP (1600 METRES)

Strong claims: In-form apprentice Robbie Dolan has a good book of rides at Gosford, including Easy Eddie.Credit:AAP

9. Monterey Lad strikes the most winnable race in his career at Gosford. The Benfica gelding trained by John Thompson will relish the mile. Everything he has done to date has suggested he has wanted this trip. His two runs back this campaign will have him primed for 1600m third up. Fresh he worked home nicely at Nowra over 1100m before savaging the line late at Canberra over 1300m. The tempo of this race should allow him to settle just off midfield before Robbie Dolan, an apprentice in hot form, lets him rip down the middle of the track. He’s the horse to beat in a tricky race.

Dangers: 8. I’m Kate had no luck at all at Gosford last time out. Just as she was starting to make her run up the fence after settling in behind the leaders, the gate was closed and she lost all of her momentum. The daughter of Savabeel tried to pick herself up again but it was all in vain. Her debut run had merit too as although she was beaten out of sight by Cossetot and Musume, both of those horses won their subsequent start,  Cossetot in town. 6. Chief Command just needs to find the front to be winning a race shortly. That could be here. He wasn’t suited last start in the same race as I’m Kate, tucking in behind the speed. He is too one-paced.

How to play it: Monterey Lad WIN

Race 4 – 3:10PM PRESTIGE WEDDING & EVENT HIRE CLASS 1 HANDICAP (1100 METRES)

8. Hildalgo was impressive in leading all the way at Scone last start. The three-year-old found the front without too much trouble, travelled sweetly turning for him and scooted clear to win by near three lengths. The race was run in faster time than the BM58 on the same day over 1100m won by Albert’s No Pussy. Kerrin McEvoy rides and should be able to cross to the lead with 11. Partners and 10. Miss Powerbelle drawn on his outside. They’d need to really burn for McEvoy to hand up. David Atkins picked up this horse from South Australia, where he didn’t fire in one run for Richard Jolly. Follow him in NSW though as he’ll work his way through the grades.

Dangers: Miss Powerbelle beat Hildago two runs back showing too much speed over 1000m for Hildago but he closed strongly. Confident he can turn the tables. Miss Powerbelle has since run second to Battle Anthem. There is no shame in that. She’ll be thereabouts again with any early luck. 4. Laburnum was backed as if unbeatable first up in town, jumping $1.75 but never looked likely, running fourth. She looked to want further so the query here is only getting an extra 100m and the likelihood of settling last from the wide draw. 1. Al Mah Haha has found a new home with Tash Burleigh and trialled very strongly ahead of his return.

How to play it: Hildalgo EACH WAY

Race 5 – 3:45PM DE BORTOLI WINES TAKEOVER TARGET STAKES (1200 METRES)

2. Tactical Advantage has been up since July but his runs have been spaced and he is showing no signs of his form tapering off. Don’t let the sixth at Doomben last start make you think otherwise as he was beaten by the gate. The five-year-old has won three of his seven starts for Kris Lees with big weights, a wet track and the aforementioned wide draw the excuses for his defeats. None of those are applicable here. Brenton Avdulla, who has a good association with the horse, will park him in behind the speed from the middle draw. He is a horse that travels so sweetly when on song so here’s hoping Avdulla is swinging off him turning for home.

Dangers: 3. Easy Eddie has never raced in better form. The Joe Pride-trained gelding has won two on the bounce and deserves his shot at Listed level. The same can be said for apprentice Robbie Dolan, who has been rewarded for his efforts on this horse, keeping the ride. Tactical Advantage gave Easy Eddie windburn mid last year on the one occasions they met. 6. Demerara finished hard to run second at Doomben last start behind Manicure, while much can be same for stablemate 5. Isaurian, but he ran third in the same race as Tactical Advantage.

How to play it: Tactical Advantage WIN

Race 6 – 4:20PM GOSFORD QUARRIES GOSFORD GOLD CUP (2100 METRES)

2. Singing won this race last year. Not only did he won it, he trounced his rivals, gapping Red Excitement in a distant second. The difference this time around is that he is not deep into a preparation, tackling it fifth up. Instead, he is first up off a 38-week spell. Add to that the 59kg impost as opposed to the 55.5kg he carried last year.

There is no denying he is up against it but the temptation lies in the price. He was $2.90 favourite for the race last year, but this year has opened double-figure odds. The nine-year-old has looked right on his game in two trials. The late money trail will likely tell the story. Imagine he rolls across to offset the wide draw.

Dangers: Thought 9. Roman Son was entitled to hit the line harder than what he did last time out when finally clear in the Summer Cup at Randwick. He keeps flopping out of the barriers at the start too. Can poke a few holes in him as the early race favourite. 4. Satono Rasen was ridden aggressively to lead in the same race as Roman Son and the change in tactics sparked the seven-year-old back into action. He won’t get that same run here though with 1. Fabrizio running along and 5. Prioritise holding the fence from barrier 1. 6. Sir Plush has to be a risk out to 2100m.

How to play it: Singing WIN

Race 7 – 4:55PM TAB.COM.AU MALCOLM CUSICK STAKES – CLASS 4 HANDICAP (1200 METRES)

Five of the nine runners here come out of the same race won by 1. It’s So Obvious. Given she was first up off a 34-week break, they’re up against it beating her now she has had that run. The six-year-old mare worked hard mid-race to sit outside of the leader too. Punters Intelligence reveals she ran 10.82s between the 800-600m. That’s three lengths quicker than the second-placed 3. Bombarding. Given he was hard fit, it’s hard to make a case that he can turn the tables, despite the narrow margin. Drawn 2, Robbie Dolan won’t have to spend as much petrol to find a spot as he did first up. All of her wins have been over the sprint trips too. She’s going to take plenty of beating on her home patch.

Dangers: It’s been rocks or diamonds for 2. Skyray this campaign. It started off on the right foot at Hawkesbury and he showed another glimpse of his best at Warwick Farm two runs back, however not much has gone right in the other three runs. The latest of those was on the Kensington track and the three-year-old pulled up lame. Forgive that effort. He is better than a Class 4 galloper, there is no doubting that. 6. Dunatun was too bad to be true at Rosehill last start after attracting betting support. His second to Baller the start prior is certainly good enough to give this a shake.

How to play it: It’s So Obvious WIN

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Race-by-race tips and preview for Coffs Harbour on Sunday

Rail in the True Position and Good 4 track condition will provide a slight on pace bias.

Race 1 2YO MAIDEN SW (800m)

The 2 Year Old’s will go very quick here over the 800m, Marc Quinn trained filly 12. Sylvias Memory debuts off two very impressive trial wins at Randwick & Coffs Harbour, in the latest trial over 800m she jumped straight to the front and was never tested to the line winning by over 4 lengths.

Dangers: Locally trained 6. In A Step ran well at big odds at her first career start at the track and distance jumping straight to the lead and getting run down late, with the race experience and improvement from that run she will be fighting out the finish.

How to play it: Sylvias Mother to WIN and 12 & 6 Quinella

The track at Coffs Harbour has been rated a Good 4.Credit:AAP

Race 2 3YO+ MAIDEN SW (1000m)

The Kris Lee’s trained 3. Paulo looks primed to break its maiden here over 1000m, was slowly away over 800m at the track last start and made up many lengths late to finish within a length of the winner, out to 1000m here looks ideal and from barrier 6 should get a lovely run just off the speed.

Dangers: 15. Miss Bang looks a much-improved galloper following its trial over 1010m at Murwillumbah where she jumped quick from the gates and cruised to the line under a hold. 6. Bills Gift will improve sharply off its first up run at the track over 800m where she was hitting the line well late.

How to play it: Paulo to WIN

Race 3 MAIDEN HCP (1300m)

Hinchinbrook filly 7. Materiality debuted over 1100m at Coffs Harbour hitting the line well after hitting a flat spot at the top of the straight, the step up to 1300m here looks ideal and from barrier 2 should get a lovely run just off the speed.

Dangers: 4. Zouki has been running well this preparation without winning, last start was held up most of the straight before getting out late running through the line over 1400m, step back in distance looks ideal and gets a great run behind the speed. 2. Atyaaf put in an improved run over 1205m at Lismore last start making up many lengths late and the step up in distance suits.

How to play it: Materiality to WIN

Race 4 F & M BM58 HCP (1300m)

A big field of fillies and mares over the 1300m with many chances, have settled on 3. Ruby Two Shoes at each way odds who comes here off nice win at Inverall over 1200m where the mare had to sustain a wide sprint from the 400m finishing powerfully over the top of the field, there is plenty of early speed in the race and she will be able to settle midfield and be saved for one run at them late.

Dangers: Lightly raced Newcastle trained 4. Londinium could be a big improver here second up staying at the 1300m, has won second up and with improvement from the run should be running on late. The local 14. Danishki ran well first up at the track and distance last start sitting up on the pace and should have the speed to come across from the wide barrier and give a good sight.

How to play it: Ruby Two Shoes EACH WAY

Race 5 E & G BM58 (1300m)

Big Field of entires and gelding to tackle the 1300m here, hard to go past 2. San Marco who looks perfectly placed here up in distance off two good runs at the track over the 1000m, hit a flat spot last start at the top of the straight but once balanced up hit the line very well late.

Dangers: 1. Curley Mac gets back to a preferred distance after settling too far back in the field last start over 1205m and recording some quick late sectionals late, settles closer to the speed here. 13. Grenache one at odds that could run a race stepping up in distance.

How to play it: San Marco to WIN

Race 6 OPEN HCP (1200m)

Grafton trained 9. Tarbert steps up to Open grade for the first time and should handle it well coming off three very consistent runs including last start at the track over 1300m where he just couldn’t reel in the leader off a slow tempo, back to 1200m is ideal and from barrier 6 should be able to find a nice position just off the speed and finish over the top of them late.

Dangers: 1. Jexerlent looks to peak here third up off a spell after two consistent runs at Newcastle and Wyong. Paul Smith trained Ferniehirst has shown potential throughout its career and if the mare is close to her best she will be running well first up here.

How to play it: Tarbert to WIN

Race 7 BM58 HCP (1600m)

6yo gelding 1. Call The Captain returned to form last start at Ballina leading over 1410m and with general improvement from that run should run out a strong 1600m here, there is a lack of early speed in the race and from barrier 10 should be able to cross the field easily and control the tempo and be hard to run down.

Dangers: 5. Spirit Of Husson is ultra-fit leading into this and stays at the 1600m, will be up on the speed and fighting out the finish, Gold Coast-trained 2. Prince Of Husson steps up to an ideal trip here and was hitting the line well last start late at Lismore after losing a plate during the run.

How to play it: Call The Captain EACH WAY

BEST BETS: Race 3 – 7. Materiality & Race 6 – Tarbert
BEST EACH WAY: Race 7 – 1. Call The Captain

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Michael van Gerwen vs Michael Smith: World Championship final preview

Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith will contest the 2019 World Championship final on New Year’s Day, in a repeat of this year’s Premier League showpiece.

Van Gerwen is bidding to become just the second player in history to win three PDC World Championship titles, whilst Smith is aiming to win his first major televised tournament.

‘The Green Machine’ sealed a place in his fourth World Championship final after storming to a 6-1 victory over fellow two-time world champion Gary Anderson in Sunday’s semi-finals.

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Van Gerwen won a tight opening set, before winning 13 of the next 14 legs to breeze into a 5-0 lead.

Anderson avoided the whitewash by claiming the sixth set, but the Dutchman responded by sealing victory in set seven; averaging 104.76, crashing in 11 maximums and converting 50 per cent of his attempts at double.

The Dutchman has dropped just five sets throughout the tournament, having lost a solitary set in the five matches he has played.

He kicked off his campaign with convincing 3-1 and 4-1 wins over Alan Tabern and Max Hopp respectively, before averaging over 108 in demolishing Adrian Lewis to reach the quarter-finals.

‘Mighty Mike’ then cruised past debutant Ryan Joyce 5-1 in the quarter-finals, before dismantling ‘The Flying Scotsman’ in a brutal semi-final display.

Van Gerwen has already scooped 19 titles in a trophy-laden season, but he will be desperate to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy on New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, Smith is into his third televised final of the season, following on from final appearances in the Premier League and World Series Finals.

‘Bully Boy’ was beaten by Van Gerwen in May’s Premier League final, before he spurned five darts to defeat James Wade in a dramatic World Series finale in November.

The 10th seed was highly fancied to progress through the bottom half of the draw and he has negotiated the task with real maturity, going from strength-to-strength in terms of performances.

He defeated Ron Meulenkamp 3-1 in his opener, before recovering from 2-1 down to defeat John Henderson to reach the last 16.

The Premier League finalist then eased past Ryan Searle 4-1 to reach the last eight, before beating Rob Cross’ conqueror Luke Humphries 5-1; averaging 103 in the process.

However, his performance against Nathan Aspinall was impressive. He averaged 105.22, converted five ton-plus finishes and crashed in 17 maximums- a record for a World Championship semi-final.

Nevertheless, the St Helen’s star may have to produce a similar type of performance to topple MVG, who notoriously produces his best form against Smith.

The Dutchman thrashed Smith 11-4 in this year’s Premier League final with a blistering 112.37 average, whilst he also posted a world record 123.40 average in a 7-1 victory over Smith in the 2016 Premier League.

Van Gerwen has won 25 of their previous 31 meetings, but the Englishman has recorded two wins over the world No 1 this year, including the semi-finals of the Shanghai Darts Masters, which Smith went on to win.

You can follow every dart from every session of the World Darts Championships on Sky Sports Darts, check out the full schedule here. You can also stay up to date with all the action behind the scenes by following us @SkySportsDarts and get all the latest news, previews and interviews by heading to www.skysports.com/darts

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Nathan Aspinall, Luke Humphries and Ryan Joyce take aim at World Championship semi-final place

They are three of the more unlikely quarter-finalists but, on Saturday, Nathan Aspinall, Luke Humphries and Ryan Joyce have a chance to keep their fairy-tale weeks progressing at Alexandra Palace.

In a World Championship stacked with shocks, it is perhaps no surprise that three of the giant-killers are still standing when the quarter-finals take place on the final Saturday of the tournament.

The lowest ranked of that trio, Humphries, put the seal on it when he ended the reign of champion Rob Cross on Friday night and it is fitting that Voltage is the man to make way, for it was his remarkable debut triumph that has given the unlikely trio the chance to dream.

“People don’t think I can win this, but I take a lot of inspiration from Rob and I can win this and I want to win this,” ‘Cool Hand’ Humphries told Dave Clark in the Sky Sports studio after his 4-2 victory.

“Rob is an inspiration. People like me, Nathan and Ryan can all believe we can win because we have seen someone do it, we know it’s possible now.

“If you want to be world champion then when you are 2-0 down you don’t give up – it’s all about the fight.”

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Humphries is perhaps the standard-bearer here. Unknown to the wider audience, the 23-year-old topped the 2018 Development Tour standings for the second year in a row as he continued his education.

An Order of Merit ranking of 90 will rise to at least 55 when the tournament finishes and he is joined by fellow unseeded stars Aspinall and Joyce in the last eight.

Aspinall will take on Brendan Dolan and Joyce faces the ominous task of playing Michael van Gerwen and, like Humphries, it is a time to believe for both men.

“Getting to the quarter-final is a dream come true,” Aspinall told Sky Sports. “There’s plenty more in the tank. I’ve not played my best stuff yet.

World Darts Championship – Quarter-Final Draw

“I’m just trying to enjoy every minute. I’m going up there, trying to have a smile on my face. Yesterday [against Devon Petersen], I wasn’t too happy with how I was playing, but when I started playing well, the smile came back and I’m just enjoying every minute of it.

“It’s been a whirlwind. I don’t want it to end.”

  • The underdogs that rocked the Worlds

Aspinall has thrived on the big stage, and feels that the greater depth within the PDC means there are more and more contenders – Cross, Peter Wright, Daryl Gurney, Gerwyn Price, Mensur Suljovic and Raymond van Barneveld have all fallen early this year.

“The depth in the PDC is phenomenal,” he said. “Whether you’re one or 128, we’re all quality players. I’ve put myself into an opportunity where I’ve got a really good chance of moving into the semis.

“There’s no reason why I can’t go on and lift the title. I’ve still got a lot of hard work to do. My performances have got to improve. But I’m still in the tournament. I’ve got as much chance as everyone else who’s still in it.

“I’m not a giver-upper, I’m a fighter. Until that final double is hit and I’m out of the tournament, I’m still in it.”

Ranked 73rd and 74th in the Order of Merit coming into the tournament, Aspinall and Joyce have already guaranteed themselves the best payday of their careers (losing quarter-finalists receive £50,000) and Humphries joined the list with his victory over Cross.

For those that sit in the lower reaches of the money lists, the festivities are life-changing and the trio have been remarkable in how they have taken to their time in the spotlight.

Joyce added the scalp of James Wade to that of Simon Whitlock and is in a similar mood to Aspinall.

“It was certainly the best win of my career,” reflected ‘Relentless’. “I love to play well. There’s so many people watching. You get a bit embarrassed when you hit a bad shot.

“What an opportunity to play the best player in the world,” he added. “That’ll give me an indication of where my game is at. It’ll be a fabulous experience for me.”

All three men are relishing the opportunity that has come their way and the Ally Pally crowd roar them on with their love of an underdog apparent. It is all a very long way from the sparsely-populated leisure centres of the Pro Tour where both have had their moments.

“It feels like a lot more pressure,” Joyce noted. “I feel a lot more nervous before games on the stage than I do on the floor. My averages are lower. I assume that’s down to pressure. I hope it is! I hope it’s not a problem with my throw.

“When it comes to the key moments, big games, big legs in a big set, something happens that I’m able to switch off and focus. So I think I’m happy in that respect that I can do that.”

🎯🎙PODCAST LIVE🎙🎯 @MichaelBridge_ is back and we should have Ryan Joyce with us too….

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‘The Asp’ is also loving life at the biggest tournament of the lot. Where other inexperienced stars shrink on the big stage with the eyes of the world tuning in along with 3,500 fans at Ally Pally roaring on, Aspinall is rising to the occasion.

“I believe in my own ability and what I can do,” explained the 27-year-old. “The European Tour events have helped me so much to adapt to the stage game.

“The game against Gerwyn Price was unreal. It wasn’t the best of games, but the way the crowd were [amazing]. I used to go to the Premier League as a fan, and that’s the only way I can describe it. It was so loud. Win or lose that game, I would have loved it, it was brilliant.

“The crowd are brilliant, the atmosphere is just amazing. Anyone, who does any kind of sport, to reach the pinnacle of darts being played on the World Championship stage, that I can achieve that by qualifying, let alone getting to the quarter-final, I’m just loving, keeping going. Every morning I wake up and I know I’m playing, I just can’t wait, I’m so excited.”

All three men will be eager to continue their runs through the tournament and given its unpredictable nature who would rule any of them out.

You can follow every dart from every session of the World Darts Championships on Sky Sports Darts, check out the full schedule here. You can also stay up to date with all the action behind the scenes by following us @SkySportsDarts.

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Friday at the World Darts Championship

James Wade, Michael Smith and Rob Cross headline Friday’s fourth-round action at Alexandra Palace, as the World Darts Championship quarter-final line-up will be confirmed.

Here’s what’s on the menu for Friday at the World Darts Championship…

Nathan Aspinall v Devon Petersen (R4)

Nathan Aspinall showed his second-round shock win against Gerwyn Price was no fluke with a resounding 4-1 victory over Kyle Anderson. ‘The Asp’ will now begin to dream, knowing that he has the game to reach a semi-final given that the quarter is void of any top seeds.

Meanwhile, Devon Petersen has been doing enough to get over the line in wins over Wayne Jones, Ian White and Steve West. The South African star has been to the last 16 once before, losing 4-0 to James Wade in 2014. Similar to Aspinall, the opponents left in the quarter will hold no fear for ‘The African Warrior’.

Both players have thrived off their underdog status up to this point, but it may come down to who reacts better to expectation from this point forward. There’s a golden opportunity available for the winner.

Benito Van de Pas v Brendan Dolan (R4)

Benito Van de Pas overcame Toni Alcinas on Thursday evening, with a 4-2 win over the Spaniard. The 30th seed is yet to hit top form in the tournament, but will be hopeful of making it fourth time lucky in the round of 16 at the Ally Pally.

‘The History Maker’ has been one of the more impressive players on the bottom half of the draw thus far in the competition, accounting for seeds Joe Cullen and Mervyn King, and will be eager to kick on given that he has never been this deep into the World Championship.

Ryan Joyce v James Wade (R4)

Ryan Joyce has been one of the surprise packages thus far in the tournament, impressing in wins over Anastasia Dobromyslova, Simon Whitlock and Alan Norris. ‘Relentless’ will be eyeing up another big scalp when he takes on ninth seed James Wade in the last game of Friday’s afternoon session.

‘The Machine’ was able to ignore his critics in his third-round win over Keegan Brown, but will be eager to put in a big performance against Joyce after being made sweat in the previous two rounds.

Will Wade find his form which saw him claim back-to-back televised titles two months ago?

Ryan Searle v Michael Smith (R4)

Ryan Searle has impressed when faced with clutch darts in wins over Steve Burton, Mensur Suljovic and Willie O’Connor, but will need to raise his game to stand up to the Bully Boy.

Many are tipping Smith to reach the final from the bottom half of the draw, and the Premier League finalist showed exactly why with his third-round win over John Henderson. Smith was asked serious questions by the Scotsman, but passed with flying colours as he ran out a 4-2 winner with a three-dart average of 100.47.

Smith is a hot favourite to reach the last eight, but there has been no shortage of shocks so far in the tournament, and he’ll be eager not to join that list.

Jamie Lewis v Dave Chisnall (R4)

Last year’s semi-finalist Jamie Lewis resoundingly recaptured his form with a third-round upset win over Daryl Gurney, and the Welshman looks at home on the Ally Pally stage.

He takes on 12th seed Dave Chisnall in a mouth-watering last 16 tie, with Chizzy catching the eye in a 4-0 win over Kim Huybrechts.

Both have been to quarter-finals in recent times, but there’s only one last-eight spot up for grabs when they meet on Friday evening.

Rob Cross v Luke Humphries (R4)

The reigning champion is displaying the kind of form that saw him shock the world 12 months ago, but needs to keep that standard up if he is to reach the last eight. ‘Voltage’ has hit averages of 102.93 and 101.72 in his games up to this point, and knows there are few players who can live with him if he throws his best darts.

Not many fancied Luke Humphries to make it this far into the tournament, but upset wins over Stephen Bunting and Dimitri van den Bergh have made an impression.

Nonetheless, Humphries will need to raise his game if he is to challenge the second seed.

You can follow every dart from every session of the World Darts Championships on Sky Sports Darts – check out the full schedule here. You can also stay up to date with all the action behind the scenes by following us @SkySportsDarts

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Top 10 Gaelic football moments of 2018

With time ticking on 2018, we look back on the Gaelic football year that was, and pick out the top 10 moments we’ve witnessed in the last 12 months.

10. Kieran Molloy’s hectic schedule

The young half-back had a unique Saturday afternoon in February, when lining up for club side Corofin in the All-Ireland semi-final in Tullamore. It was thought that such a commitment would rule him out of the Sigerson Cup final, after he had helped NUIG reach the decider against UCD. However, following Corofin’s win over Moorefield, Molloy quickly made his way to Dublin to come on as a second-half substitute for the Galway college’s final loss.

Although Molloy’s schedule raised a serious question surrounding fixtures, it was nonetheless a memorable situation.

9. Seán Cox fundraiser

Some considerable time after the searing heat and liquid football of high summer, there was a touching show of solidarity in Navan earlier in December as the GAA community turned out in their thousands to support one of their own.

All-Ireland champions Dublin faced Leinster rivals Meath at Páirc Tailteann to raise funds for Liverpool fan Seán Cox, the Dunboyne man who suffered life-altering injuries in an incident before a Champions League tie at Anfield in April.

8. Waterford stun Wexford

While the Déise were far from aiming for Munster or All-Ireland titles, this was a major achievement for the side who recorded their first qualifier win since 2011.

The scenes at full-time summed up what it meant to Tom McGlinchey’s men, as they stunned their southeast neighbours.

7. Fermanagh shock Monaghan

With Donegal on the opposite side of the draw and Tyrone already vanquished in the quarter-final, many believed that Monaghan only had to turn up in the Ulster semi-final to reach the decider. Given that they were caught on the hop at the semi-final stage 12 months previous, it was anticipated that Malachy O’Rourke’s side would sweep Fermanagh aside.

However, Rory Gallagher’s plucky underdogs hung in there throughout, and timed their run to perfection as a late Eoin Donnelly goal sent them into the provincial decider.

6. Farney end 30-year wait

Quarter-finals seemed to be a glass ceiling for the Farney County in recent times, as four losses this decade meant they were unable to reach a first All-Ireland semi-final since 1988.

However, the dawn of the Super 8s brought a new opportunity, and an opening win over Kildare laid a platform for the Ulster side. Although their hopes were dented by a late Kerry goal in Clones (which features later on this list), they regrouped to double-score a fancied Galway side the following weekend to top the group and qualify for the final four.

5. Carlow rise to beat Kildare

Perhaps the shock of the summer came when Carlow faced off against Kildare in the Leinster quarter-final. With so much stock placed in League standings, it was expected that the Lilywhites, who had played in Division 1 that spring, would sweep the Division 4 outfit aside.

That proved to be far from the case, as Turlough O’Brien’s side put in a thoroughly efficient display to send Kildare hurtling towards the qualifiers.

4. That Corofin goal

The All-Ireland club champions were fully deserving winners of the Andy Merrigan Cup as they routed Nemo Rangers with free-flowing football.

Nothing encapsulated that more than Michael Farragher’s first-half strike, where a run of majestic hand-passes tore through the Corkonians’ defence, which paved the way for a comprehensive 2-19 to 0-10 win.

3. Mullinalaghta defy the odds

A late contender for moment of the year, Mullinalaghta’s giant-killing of Kilmacud Crokes in the Leinster club final had to make the list. The Longford ‘half-parish’ overcame the odds to stun the favourites with a late comeback to seal the most unlikely of provincial titles.

Drawing from a catchment area of just 400 people, St Columba’s are certainly the underdog story of 2018.

2. David Clifford comes of age

With Kerry trailing by three points and facing championship elimination against Monaghan in Clones, it was last chance saloon with Kieran Donaghy placed at the edge of the square. A high ball was sent into the Monaghan goalmouth, broken down by Donaghy and it fell into the hands of young star David Clifford.

The obvious temptation would have been blasting it as hard as he could, but with a mountain of Monaghan bodies between him and the goal, the Fossa star instead elected to take a step inside and gently pick his spot in the opposite corner.

An inspired score and Kerry lived to fight another day. The Donaghy-Clifford combination also heralded a changing of the guard for Kerry football.

1. Newbridge or Nowhere

With the controversies surrounding the venue for the tie, there was a sense of apprehension throughout the week in the lead-up to the showdown. It all spilled over onto a sweltering July Saturday evening in Newbridge, with a hum around the town from early in the day.

A packed stadium, buzzing atmosphere, and a massive shock to boot. The week-long build-up put huge pressure on the match itself to deliver, and it did just that.


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Race-by-race tips and preview for Mudgee on Friday

RACE 1 – 1.43PM: ROBERT OATLEY 3YO MAIDEN SHOWCASE PLATE (1100m)

Competitive maiden with many first starters, out of the raced brigade the Bjorn Baker-trained 2. Perigord looks the one to beat, coming off a nice debut at Kembla over 1000m where the colt jumped quick to lead and condition told late, with that run under its belt and the general improvement between runs he should be hard to run down.

Big day out: the Mudgee Cup is the feature on an eight-race card.

Dangers: Gold Coast trained 7. Mornay was good in a recent trial at Newcastle sitting behind the speed and cruising to the line hard held over 800m making up good ground late.
How to play it: Perigord to win.

RACE 2 – 2.18PM: MONTROSE BLACK BENCHMARK 66 SHOWCASE HANDICAP (1400m)

Very even field here over the 1400m with many chances, the Dar Lunn-trained 2. Zoutenant drops in grade and looks well placed here, has been consistent in his last two runs at Dubbo and Narromine and steps back to his preferred 1400m, should be able to sit outside the lead and will run the trip out strong.
Dangers: 4. Prima Stella worked too hard last start early at Wyong and dropped out in the straight, will be able to get to the front here without doing any work.
How to play it: Zoutenant to win.

RACE 3 – 2.53PM: FOUR IN HAND MAIDEN SHOWCASE PLATE (1500m)

Cameron Crockett-trained 5. The Warlord looks to peak here third-up from a spell after two solid runs at Quirindi and Narromine and steps up to the 1500m here which suits, gets an uncontested lead from barrier 2 and with the lack of early speed should be able to pinch some easy sectionals.
Dangers: Locally trained 7. We Can’t Be Beaten hit the line well over the unsuitable 1280m last start at Orange, up in distance here and second up suit, the in-form Greg Ryan retains the ride and should be able to find a nice position one off the rail midfield.
How to play it: The Warlord to win.

RACE 4 – 3.28PM: MONTROSE STONY CREEK COUNTRY MAIDEN SHOWCASE PLATE (1200m)

Andrew Banks keeps the ride on the Connie Greig-trained 12. Southern Strategy in a very open maiden, was a good effort at Newcastle last start where he had to work hard early to sit outside the lead and got grabbed right on the line with a big gap to third, will cross them to lead and give a good sight at odds.
Dangers: 7. Concours was good on debut at big odds at Gundagai showing nice early pace and sticking on well over 1100m after getting bumped badly in the straight, gets a beautiful run from barrier 1 behind the speed. Locally-trained 5. Trojan has finished within a length of the winner in his last three starts and will run well again.
How to play it: Southern Strategy each-way.

RACE 5 – 4.03PM: CHAMPAGNE PIPER-HEIDSIECK CLASS 1 SHOWCASE HANDICAP (1400m)

Trainer Nathan Doyle’s last-start winner 10. Delchuzy steps up in grade here after being heavily backed first-up at Dubbo and leading all the way over Philadora which has run well since. There was a big gap to third and a bit of early speed in the race here so will need a clean getaway but if he can find the front again will be hard to run down.
How to play it: Delchuzy to win

RACE 6 – 4.40PM: CRAIGMOOR BENCHMARK 58 SHOWCASE HANDICAP (1100m)

Big field to take on the sprint distance of 1100m here, the lightly trained 5.Yalanji was heavily backed last start at Canberra and got the job done with ease finishing powerfully late over 1000m recording some quick sectionals over the last 600m, will look to be prominent from the inside barrier .
Dangers: The local 3. Andy’s A Star looks the main danger after sitting wide midfield over 1300m at Narromine, with the drop in distance they will look to be positive from the wide draw.
How to play it: Yalanji to win, quinella 5 and 3.

RACE 7 – 5.15PM: 2018 ROBERT OATLEY VINEYARDS MUDGEE CUP SHOWCASE (1900m)

Once again a very open race for this year’s edition of the Mudgee Cup. Luke Pepper-trained 9. Appoint Percy comes here off the back of two wins at Canberra and drops 6.5kg from that run which is ideal, from barrier 4 will get a perfect run behind the speed and will run the 1600m right out.
Dangers: 4. Tahsin should be competitive here dropping back from city class races, was wide last start at Rosehill and looks to get a more economical run from barrier 1.
How to play it: Appoint Percy each-way.

RACE 8 – 5.55PM: WILD OATES MUDGEE CUP DAY SPRINT SHOWCASE (1200m)

10. Ori On Fire looks primed first-up off two very good trials, will be right on the speed, has a strong record fresh and has recorded two wins from three starts at the track.
Dangers: Big drop in grade for 2. Powerline, has been ultra-consistent this preparation and will be fighting out the finish with the in-form Andrew Gibbons on board.
How to play it: Ori On Fire to win.

Supplied by Racing NSW.

Full form and race replays at racingnsw.com.au

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