20/1 'RIP ORF' !

No, that's not a typo or spelling mistake! Last Saturday, in the prestigious 'Victoria Cup' horse race at Ascot a horse named 'Rip Orf' won, at odds of 20/1!  The Victoria Cup Heritage Handicap  is a flat race run over 7 furlongs. Despite the rain, there were 27 horses racing.

The 5-1 Favourite was 'Keyser Soze', ridden by former Champion Jockey Jamie Spencer. All the horses got off in a clean break, with Keyser Soze located in a prime position. Then the jockeys split the horses, half racing on the right of the course, the other half on the left. With 2 furlongs to go, 'Zhui Feng' led, with 'Burnt Sugar' tracking the leader. Then suddenly, swooping out of nowhere 'Rip Orf' raced straight through the centre of the pack , ridden by top female jockey Hayley Turner OBE to win in impressive and emphatic style. It was a perfectly timed run . Hayley had just returned from taking some time out to train in France, and it looked like it had really paid off. After the race she grinned: 'it was amazing', and was absolutely buzzing with her glorious  victory. It was her biggest win  since returning to the UK.

So, I hope some of you got Rip Orf (but not  ripped off) for a nice, juicy win! 

Hayley Turner rode 'Rip Orf'

In the Final of 'The Madrid Open' Tennis Tournament, with both the great Rafael Nadal and UK's Number One Kyle Edmund out of the contest after the Semi Finals, two exciting young talents emerged to play against each other, Germany's Alex (Sasha) Zverev and Austria's Dominic Thiem.  On paper, this looked like the clash of the big hitters, and the Bookies had each ranked equally  around odds of Evens. Of their past 6 encounters, Thiem leads by 4  wins to 2.  He served first, but immediately made some unforced errors and served a double fault, handing Sasha a break of serve on a plate. The German was watched by his father, Alexander Zverev, Senior, and fellow German three times Wimbledon Champion Boris Becker. Sasha held serve well, serving at high speeds, and deep into the tennis court. He hit big, powerful cross court winners, and looked 'in the zone.' Thiem responded with bigger serves, and by thrashing turbocharged forehand volley winners past Sasha. The German soon led 5-3 . The Austrian fired cross court winners into the corners of the court, but couldn't prevent Sasha winning the opening set 6-4. In the second set, as in the first, Sasha broke Thiem's serve straight away. Thiem couldn't display any of the flashes of brilliance which helped him beat Rafa . Sasha smashed out outstandingly angled winners past the Austrian to lead 3-2. Thiem blasted back a few stunning  winners, but couldn't break Sasha's serve.' Then Sasha brought out the 'big guns' - his third tennis racket of the match!  He had been hitting serves and returns with such force that he had broken the strings on two other rackets! He was now just 2 games away from winning the Championship. Thiem served to stay in the match, and stepped in to play an elegant backhand winner. Sasha served for the match and Championship, winning both. 'Sehr gut' (very good)! 

Meanwhile, over in Rome, the UK's Number One Women's Player Jo Konta was competing in the First  Round of 'The Italian Open'. She has been struggling with her form since the end of 2017, and is still acclimatising to being trained by her new Coach Michael Joyce.

Her opponent was talented  Magdalena Rybarikova from Slovakia. Jo got off to an ideal start by taking the first game to Love. She used powerful volleys and good footwork to attack Rybarikova from all angles. Although the Brit set up two break points, the Slovakian defended both successfully to hold serve. Jo bounced high speed returns off the clay court to hold serve. She had another break point chance, but again the Slovakian held serve with good offensive base line tactics after several deuces. Jo served 2 aces. Rybarikova served her first ace: her Game  style is to hit big, athletic sweeping shots from the base line mixed up with quick-fire volleys. She broke Jo's serve in the 7th game, but Jo immediately broke back! The score  was now 4-4. Game on! Then the Slovakian made mistakes , missing shots, and Jo won the first set 6-4. The Brit started off confidently in the second set, playing forceful, double handed backhand winners, and smart tennis  moves to break serve  again and lead 2-0. However, she then made a few unforced errors herself, hitting balls long, and had her own  serve broken. But, as ever, Jo fought back, and with persistence and skill broke serve again . 'Hanging tough' she served for the match and won. Not Jo's best performance, but as we all know 'it's the winning that counts.'

Just a brief  update on Saturday's 'Eurovision Song Contest'. Where else could you see a £60K dress erupting like a volcano while its wearer sung opera? Or a vampire- looking singer exiting a coffin embedded in a giant piano?!  Yep, it can only be Eurovision! Additionally, the UK's entry sung by pink haired SuRie was dramatic for the wrong reason when a man invaded the stage while she was performing, and grabbed her microphone!  Poor SuRie carried on performing, and was offered the opportunity to perform again, which she declined. 

In spite of a  still 'supertrooper' effort, SuRie only came 24th out of the 26 entries. Still, this was better than the host nation, Portugal , which finished last!  The winner was Israel's Netta .

Not attending The Royal Wedding? Well you're in good company as Meghan's father isn't either, after some controversial press photos.



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