LAST weekend was a blockbuster of sport and the two performances that I took out of it were Roger Federer at Wimbledon and Nathaniel in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.
The former was made to dig deep by a gallant Andy Murray in the men’s final but in the end the Swiss man’s class saw him through.
Not being a massive tennis buff, I know this sounds fairly obvious but the turning point for me in what was a close match was when the winner broke Murray’s serve after a marathon fifth game in the third set.
It wasn’t just that he broke his serve, more that Murray’s sometimes fragile temperament was becoming increasingly evident after he took a couple of nasty falls on the rain-dampened surface.
But fair play to Murray after the match as he showed a humility and good sportsmanship that many other professionals, especially certain Premiership footballers, would do well to copy as he congratulated Federer, thanked his family and friends and the partisan crowd which made the occasion seem more like a soccer match at times.
Nathaniel was also a very game winner of the Eclipse, repelling the determined challenges of first Monterosso and Cityscape and then eventual runner-up Farrh and this was a great training performance by John Gosden who was saddling the winner for the first time this season.
He is a big horse and whether he turns up in the King George again or the Arc, he will be a tough customer to beat as he is so willing and tenacious.
This week I fancy Scream Blue Murder in Saturday’s Listed Danehill Dancer Tipperary Stakes over the mimimum trip of five furlongs after she won her maiden over that trip at Bellewstown last Friday.
I was very taken by the manner of that victory as despite the heavy ground, which connections admitted was a concern beforehand, when Wayne Lordan gave her the office she still showed very good speed to master Desert Of Dreams by four and three-quarter lengths.
I admit that this is quite a jump in class but wily trainer Tommy Stack isn’t known for tilting at windmills and she could be one to take on my mammy’s Sole Power over this distance next season.
The other day I bumped into an old friend of this column, Brendan Duke, who is having a superb run at present and has a genuine contender in Mister Benedictine for the Guinness Galway Hurdle at the beginning of next month after the horse recently completed a hat-trick.
More immediately he had been hoping that the ground would dry up for Naas on Wednesday evening for I’m Sheikra who won at the Kildare track on her racecourse debut before being defeated last time.
But just before my deadline Brendan rang and said he won’t be running her as the ground is too soft so she will now go for a fillies’ handicap on Irish Oaks day at The Curragh on Sunday, July 22.
Her last outing can be completely ignored as she was struck into and finished lame. But she is 110% again now and very fit and The Curragh trainer believes that she will go very close next time.
A pal of mine, Nick Grant, who is Racing Editor at the Press Asscociation, really knows his boxing and he thinks Danny Garcia is a sporting bet to beat Amir Khan when they fight for the American’s WBC light-welterweight title at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas on Sunday morning.
If Garcia can take him into the later rounds he might outwork Khan as he tires, making the 6-1 with us for a points win in favour of the champion quite an attractive proposition.
Saturday 1pm Tipperary Scream Blue Murder
Sunday 4am Danny Garcia to beat Amir Khan on points or decision
Sunday, July 22 Curragh 5.30pm I’m Sheikra