The horses have come out in full force for tomorrow’s 12-race programme at Caymanas Park, featuring the season’s first grade one-trophy race, the Eileen Cliggott Memorial Trophy and the Long Shot Trophy for $180,000 claimers, both over 1300 metres.Both the Pick-9 and Super-6 start anew after they were cornered last Saturday, the Pick-9 offering the guaranteed minimum of $1 million and both Super-6s minimum payouts of $750,00. The Pick-9 will embrace races four to 12, the first Super-6 from race one to six, the late Super-6 from race seven to 12.Seven starters have been declared to contest the opening race over 1820 metres (restricted allowance 3), including co-favourites BALLON D’OR and MIND SET, to be ridden by champion jockey Shane Ellis and four-time champion Omar Walker, respectively.Both are well suited to the distance, and along with recent winner TURBO MACHINE CAT, should ensure keen competition. MIND SET from the stables of 15-time champion trainer Wayne DaCosta has the most appealing form, having finished two lengths second to DREAMCOMETRUE over 1500 metres on January 9. The Anthony Nunes-trained BALLON D’OR caught the eye when running on well for third to stable-companion SOUTHERN CRUISE over 1400 metres on January 30 and will only go down fighting. MIND SET, however, has greater pace and will get first run and thus gets the nod.MAIDEN CONDITION RACENext on the programme is a 4-y-o and up maiden condition race in which SLEW DI CLOCK under top apprentice Linton Steadman, LAZZA with apprentice Hakeem Pottinger, and the lightly-aced EL SALADO with in-form apprentice Bebeto Harvey, should have the finish to themselves in a 10-strong field.EL SALADO, a 4-y-o bay colt by Deputy Glitters out of Muchacha Favourita from the stables of Randolph Scott, has shown promise in two races last year, and although sidelined for nearly 11 months, has looked sharp enough at exercise to return on a winning note against such moderate opposition.LAZZA has good pace and could use it to best advantage, while SLEW DI CLOCK finished second to CRUCIAL VALOUR over this trip on December 23 and could go one better.SILVER CLOUD, who went under in a driving finish as the favourite to the rank outsider ABBEY ROAD over 1400 metres recently, is programmed to recoup losses in the third race over 1600 metres in which the free-running filly BUBBLING KITTEN and the late-kicking ORIGINAL TRAIN are twin dangers in a quality field of six.ITALIANO, who has won two of his last four races, steps down in class (claiming $450,000 – $400,000) for the fourth race over 1200 metres and now back with his old connections (claimed), including jockey Omar Walker, represents a five-star banker in a nine-strong field. The grey gelding won back-to-back races for popular owner O’Shaun Connection and trainer Neive Graham some weeks ago but was subsequently claimed. He was reclaimed by Graham last Saturday after finishing third to DWAYNE STAR on a $500,000 tag and cannot be opposed on a $450,000 tag.The last two races in the first Super-6 should be won by the speedy BIG DATA under Aaron Chatrie and SPORTING CLAY with three-time champion Dane Nelson in division one of the Long Shot Trophy. Their respective dangers are MISTER BONES and PRINCE O’SHAUN.FIRST SUPER-6 FANCIES(1) MND SET/BALLON D’OR(2) SLEW DI CLOCK/ELSALADO(3) SILVER CLOUD/ORIGINAL TRAIN(4) ITALIANO(5) BIG DATA/MISTER BONES(6) SPORTING CLAY/PRINCE O’SHAUN
MOST READ “Everyone in the world of football expects Korea not to lose. The players are focused and have been training very well. We’ll see what we can do. We are very optimistic.”It will be a moment to savor for everyone involved in the team from captain Phil Younghusband down to the 22 other players in the squad as they finally get their reward for the hard work and sacrifice they put in just to thrust Philippine football into the continent’s elite.As the lowest ranked team in Group C with China and Kyrgyzstan, the Azkals have no illusion that the tournament will be a trouble-free coming-out party. And with the Koreans as their first assignment, they cannot expect any favors from the 1956 and 1960 champions.“It will be tough and they’re obviously the favorites in our group and favorites for the competition,” said Younghusband.“When the draw was made I was happy that we’ve got one of the big teams. It will be a great experience for the team. It will sort of put in perspective and give us a gauge of where we really are as a team and how far we really need to go to compete with teams in Asia.”ADVERTISEMENT Tom Brady most dominant player in AFC championship history Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title Pacquiao: Into the homestretch The Azkals can also draw inspiration from what the Koreans achieved in the Fifa World Cup last year when they stunned 2014 champion Germany, 2-0, in the group stage.Portuguese coach Paolo Bento will be without Tottenham striker Son Heung-min but youngsters Kim Min-jae and Hwang In-beom and Lee Jae-sung pose a heavy scoring threat for the Koreans.It will be the fist competitive meeting between the countries since Koreans’ 5-0 demolition of the Azkals in the 1978 Asian Cup preliminary in Manila.“I think it will be a good game,” said Younghusband.“It will be tough. We’ll need a bit of luck. I think if we can keep it close. We can keep it competitive. You will never know. There’s been some big shocks in football. When you step on that field, give everything we’ve got, who knows what could happen in that game, but it will be tough.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Philippine Army to acquire MANPADS, self-propelled howitzers Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. When the Azkals step on the pitch at Al Maktoum Stadium for the showdown against continental giant South Korea at 5:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. in the Philippines), they will mark another milestone for a country where the sport has been an afterthought.Azkals coach Sven Goran Eriksson has instilled a strong belief in his side, that with some luck, they could get a result against a country that regularly plays in the World Cup.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSJapeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for GinebraSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back Chriss“We have a lot of respect against Korea, but we should not be afraid [against them],” said Eriksson, who took England to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2002 and 2006.“We should go out and play our type of football. Of course Korea will play. They are a strong opponent. But we cannot just defend.” View comments In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Japeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for Ginebra Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil Coach Sven Goran Eriksson gather the PH Azkals during a break in practice ahead of their debut Asian Cup match on Monday against South Korea.—mfalkesgaard InstagramDUBAI—It doesn’t get any bigger than this for the Philippine Azkals.Long regarded as one of the continent’s weakest teams, the Azkals finally take a bow in Asian football’s grandest stage as they begin their AFC Asian Cup campaign on Monday night in this bustling Emirate city where close to 700,000 Filipinos reside.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines?