Keys, Williams slump out in Charleston

Top seed Madison Keys and former world number-one Venus Williams were the biggest casualties on a day of upsets at the WTA Charleston clay court event in South Carolina.Keys was bundled out 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 by fellow American Shelby Rogers, who grew up in…

April 6, 2017

Asian markets sink with Wall St after Fed minutes

Asian markets turned lower Thursday, tracking a sell-off on Wall Street as investors were spooked by Federal Reserve minutes showing it is mulling a plan to tighten monetary policy by sucking cash out of the financial system.New York’s three main index…

April 6, 2017

Trump does sees Russia as ‘problem’: US envoy

President Donald Trump does consider Russia a problem, his ambassador to the United Nations and rising US administration star Nikki Haley insisted before an often-hostile New York audience.”I have hit Russia over the head more times than I can count an…

April 6, 2017

Tycoon Chung to appeal FIFA ban, slams ‘hitmen’

South Korean billionaire Chung Mong-Joon said Thursday he would appeal to the international sports tribunal over his five-year ban by FIFA, accusing its ethics committee of acting like “hitmen” for former leader Sepp Blatter.Chung, a former FIFA vice-p…

April 6, 2017

Westbrook kept waiting as Thunder down Grizzlies

Russell Westbrook inspired the Oklahoma City Thunder to a crucial victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday but was left just one rebound short of making NBA history.The 28-year-old Thunder star poured on 45 points in a scintillating display at M…

April 6, 2017

Trump to Abe: US to boost defenses against North Korea

The United States will continue to build its military defenses against North Korea, Donald Trump told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday, pledging all options are on the table.The pair spoke by phone a day after Pyongyang fired a ballistic…

April 6, 2017

Brazil doesn’t do wars — but weapons sales yes

Brazil is on the sidelines of today’s wars, but at a Rio defense fair this week the South American gentle giant eagerly sought to sell weapons to anyone else who may need to fight.Brazilian companies account for 150 of the roughly 650 brands on display…

April 6, 2017

Trump to Abe: US to boost military defense against NKorea

US President Donald Trump told Japanese leader Shinzo Abe Washington will continue to build its military capabilities to defend against a North Korean attack, the White House said.The pair spoke by phone a day after Pyongyang fired a ballistic missile …

April 6, 2017

Five dramatic Grand Nationals

The world’s most famous steeplechase The Grand National regularly throws up drama, fairytales and hard luck stories and this Saturday’s race should be no exception.

AFP Sports looks at five dramatic Grand Nationals down the years:

1956 – Devon Loch

It is not often a beaten horse is remembered more than the victor but such was the case with Devon Loch, owned by the late Queen Mother. Clear after the last, Devon Loch belly-flopped to the ground and although it rose to its feet all the momentum had gone with ESB going on to win. The Queen Mother took the blow remarkably well declaring ‘Oh, that’s racing’. Jockey Dick Francis — who went on to become a best selling thriller writer — believed the cacophony of noise had unnerved the horse.

1967 – Foinavon

A 100/1 shot whose owner Cyril Watkins stayed away….to his eternal regret. Watkins had turned down three jockeys for the ride — they wanted what was then the princely sum of £200 which said a lot about their confidence in escaping without a serious injury — and instead he paid the late John Buckingham just over £5 for the ‘honour’. In the end it paid to be slow as coming to the 23rd fence, the smallest on the course, a riderless horse opted to run across it rather than jump. That provoked mayhem with many dumping their jockeys but Buckingham managed to find a spot to squeeze over the fence and from then on he cruised to a 15-length victory. That fence is now named after him.

1973 – Crisp and Red Rum

Perhaps the greatest of all Nationals with the Australian champion Crisp setting a scorching pace and giving a breathtaking display of jumping when the fences were truly intimidating. Ridden by Richard Pitman, Crisp had a 15 length lead over Red Rum at the last but while the heart was willing the legs had gone and Brian Fletcher ate up the ground. Red Rum — who was 23 pounds lighter in the handicap — prevailed in the last few strides, with both horses ripping the 40-year-old race record to shreds by 20 seconds. Pitman blamed himself for using the whip at the wrong moment on the tortuous run in but nevertheless he recalls it with pride. “I knew that it had been the ride of my life,” he told The Independent in 2003.

1993 – The one that never was

Race starter Captain Keith Brown’s final National turned into a fiasco and made him a laughing stock. Animal rights protestors invaded the course and forced two false starts…the only problem was 30 of the jockeys didn’t realise the second time round and set off on their journey. Some — including riding great Peter Scudamore in his last chance at winning the National — realised after the first circuit the race was void but 14 carried on with Esha Ness trained by Jenny Pitman winning in a thrilling finish to the background of jeers from the crowd. Brown was exonerated afterwards but admitted 20 years later: “I was in charge. So in that regard it was my fault.”

1997 – ‘The Monday National’

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) claimed they had planted a bomb at the Aintree racecourse and the race, set for Saturday, was rescheduled to the Monday. Local residents opened their homes to those who had given up their hotel rooms and this spirit led to tabloid headlines paraphrasing Winston Churchill’s ‘We shall fight on the beaches’ wartime rallying call with ‘We’ll fight them on the Becher’s’ (one of the race’s signature fences). New Zealand-bred Lord Gyllene eased to victory by 25 lengths.

April 6, 2017

Pacquiao looks for quick win in Horn fight

Manny Pacquiao’s camp said Thursday it was keen for a quick win over Australian Jeff Horn in July to set up a higher-profile title fight with British boxer Amir Khan.The world champion, 38, will face the undefeated Horn, 29, in Brisbane on July 2, the …

April 6, 2017

Johnson’s Masters in doubt after hurting back in fall

World number one Dustin Johnson was in doubt for the Masters after injuring his lower back in a “serious” fall on the eve of the year’s first men’s major golf championship.The 32-year-old American star landed “very hard” after a fall down stairs at his…

April 6, 2017

Desperate Djokovic seeks Davis Cup reboot

Novak Djokovic spearheads Serbia’s bid to reach the Davis Cup semi-finals for the first time since 2013 and reboot a career which has stalled since his history-making French Open victory.Although Djokovic is still number two in the world the 29-year-ol…

April 6, 2017

Suu Kyi denies ethnic cleansing of Myanmar minority

Aung San Suu Kyi has denied the ethnic cleansing of Myanmar’s Muslim minority, speaking to the BBC after the UN rights council agreed to investigate allegations against the army.”I don’t think there is ethnic cleansing going on. I think ethnic cleansin…

April 6, 2017