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Festival favourite Rachael Blackmore writes a Grand National fairytale

After a fraught few months of negative publicity, racing desperately needed Blackmore’s historic victory at AintreeNot since Lady Godiva rode naked through the streets of Coventry in the 13th century has any woman on horseback caused quite such a public stir. Her modesty covered by the green and gold silks of JP McManus, Rachael Blackmore wrote arguably the most colourful chapter yet in the storied 182-year history of the Grand National. The daughter of a farmer and schoolteacher from Tipperary with no background in racing, she became the first woman to win the world’s most iconic horse race at Aintree on Minella Times. While the horse and its trainer, Henry de Bromhead, also deserve every credit, their place as historical...

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Reguilon on for Bergwijn: how José Mourinho blew Spurs’ title charge | Jonathan Wilson

Fear has become the manager’s defining principle and at Anfield a typically defensive substitution was the unravellingNine days before Christmas was not really so very long ago, yet it feels like a different world. Manchester City had just been held to a draw at home by West Brom that left them eighth in the Premier League table. Southampton were third. And Tottenham went to the league leaders, Liverpool, knowing that a win would put them top. In the confusing period between the second and third lockdowns, it seemed possible that this slog of a season might just provide an environment in which José Mourinho’s attritional style could thrive.Yet Spurs host Manchester United on Sunday afternoon having begun the weekend in...

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Liverpool can live with Mohamed Salah’s misses but not without his hits | Sachin Nakrani

The forward was wayward in his finishing at times in the win over Aston Villa but his equaliser underlines his importanceWith 13 minutes played at Anfield, Mohamed Salah was presented with a chance to score for Liverpool after a glaring error by Tyrone Mings but, with only Emiliano Martínez to beat, he poked his shot wide.With 51 minutes played at Anfield, Mohamed Salah was presented with a chance to score for Liverpool following a pass by Georginio Wijnaldum but, despite having a reasonable amount of time and space inside the area, he dragged his shot and, via a deflection, saw it dribble out for a corner. Related: Alexander-Arnold’s late winner caps Liverpool comeback to sink Aston Villa Related: Top-four tussle:...

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Gary Player’s apartheid history is not quite as smooth as his Augusta retelling | Andy Bull

Player invited Lee Elder to play in South Africa and was praised by Nelson Mandela but admits his past is not blamelessIt has been almost 50 years since Lee Elder became the first black man to play in the Masters, and five months since Augusta National announced they were at last going to mark his achievement by inviting him to join Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as one of the tournament’s honorary starters.So long that when the moment finally came around early on Thursday morning, Elder, who is 86, wasn’t able to get up and swing a club. Instead he sat and watched as Player and Nicklaus did. It was a poignant moment, despite the way Player’s son (and caddie)...

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Talking Horses: Any Second Now can win second Grand National for Walsh

Trainer who won with Papillon in 2000 has runner who looks set to improve for marathon trip in Aintree spectacularBetting odds are mischievous beasts at the best of times, and never more so than when 40 runners go to post for the Grand National, Britain’s annual flutter on the gee-gees. For weeks, the prices have been shouting that Jonjo O’Neill’s Cloth Cap is the horse most likely to win on Saturday evening. And whispering too that in the final reckoning, the chances are he probably won’t.Overnight odds of around 5-1, in fact, suggest there is an 80-85% chance that one of the other 39 runners will beat him, but there are so many positives attached to Cloth Cap’s profile that...

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