Champion sprinter POTCHEEN should defy topweight once again and win today’s grade-one feature over 1200 metres for the None Such Sprint Trophy at Caymanas Park. The $1.2 million race is run annually in honour of the legendary native-bred sprinter None Such, who was Horse of the Year in 1967. Significantly, None Such won more than 20 races in an illustrious career and was ridden to victory on many occasions by Hall of Famer Kenneth Mattis, who died in October last year at age 78. Fittingly, the Kenneth Mattis OD Memorial Trophy over 2000 metres for overnight allowance horses will be run as the supporting feature on the card, this attracting seven starters, including top contenders ROYAL VIBES, MIRACLE STAR and BOLD AVIATOR. POTCHEEN, who shoulders topweight of 57.0kg with customary rider Omar Walker aboard, is out for the first time since winning the Lotto Sprint Trophy over 1100 metres on May 23, a race in which he closed rapidly on the rails to beat the fleet-footed FORTUNEONEHUNDRED by a neck in the fairly good time of 1:06.0. In that race, the Harry Parsard-trained POTCHEEN had stable-companion UPPA TUNE behind in fifth, while further behind were PETE’SWILDONE and the 2013 derby winner, PERFECT NEIGHBOUR. All three renew rivalry with POTCHEEN on slightly improved terms at the weights, and with UPPA TUNE and the Wayne DaCosta-trained PERFECT NEIGHBOUR having looked razor-sharp at exercise, it could be closer. Both UPPA TUNE and PERFECT NEGHBOUR have won their subsequent races, the Parsard-trained UPPA TUNE capturing the Reggae Trophy over the straight on July 11, and PERFECT NEIGHBOUR the Prime Minister’s Stakes over 2000 metres on August 6. UPPA TUNE, in particular, represents the genuine speed in this small field, and with Paul ‘Country’ Francis retaining the ride aboard the versatile American horse, he will have to be caught. However, a well-prepared POTCHEEN won’t be far off turning for home, and his now-famous stretch run should prove too much for UPPA TUNE in deep stretch. Other firm fancies on the card are TARANIS (Ellis up) to go one better in the second race over 1820 metres, FORCE DE JOUR to repeat in the third over the straight, down-in-class INFANTRY OFFICER in the sixth, DOOLAHIN in the eighth, and ROYAL VIBES in the Kenneth Mattis OD Memorial Trophy.
The young Edmonton soccer player has been picked for Canada’s U-20 team at the tender age of 15. His journey from Liberia on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and is nothing short of remarkable.Alphonso Davies grew up watching his brother and father play soccer and felt the itch to participate.“Watching them when I was growing up, I really wanted to play,” he said.He began training with the St. Nicholas Soccer Academy and it was clear to his former coach that he was special.“He’s got unbelievable skill and speed,” soccer academy director Marco Bossio said.“Right off the bat, he was something special for sure. He was remarkable with his feet. He can shoot from a distance. He’s a phenomenal player.”Alphonso trained with the soccer academy for three years from Grade 7 to Grade 9 then was recruited to play with the Vancouver Whitecaps USL team. He has been playing with them for six months.“It’s a very good experience. Me coming in and trying to fit in, it’s going to be difficult, but I’m glad that I’m getting it done,” he said.There are several other players on the team who are around Alphonso’s age. The majority, are older than him but Alphonso said that isn’t nerve-racking.“Once you’re on the field, everybody is the same age. If you have the ability to play, you’re all equal to play,” he said.“You just gotta dig deep, gotta believe in yourself.”And he turned out to be right: one day when Alphonso was training, the team’s technical director informed him he had made the U-20 team.“It was a big surprise to me,” he said.Bossio said the selection of a 15-year-old for the team, where most players are closer to 18 and 19 years old, is significant.“The U-20 national team has selected the top talent in Canada. They chose Alphonso, even though he’s 15. They wanted to give him that experience with the U-20 program. That’s very, very rare and very special,” he said.“At the rate that he’s going, the sky’s the limit.”Alphonso’s soccer experience is remarkable on its own but even more so when his personal story comes to light.The soccer player was born in Liberia as the country was in the midst of a civil war.“I was really young. I can’t remember anything,” he said.“We managed to get out. We went to Ghana in a refugee camp. Then…we managed to get out of there, get to Toronto and come to Edmonton.”Alphonso can’t remember many details but said it was a trying period for his family.“It was a really tough journey. We went through a lot,” he said.Upon arriving in Edmonton, Alphonso said his family wanted to settle into a comfortable life.“We all just thought ‘move here, go to school, get an education’ but I started playing soccer and I started to develop a love for the game,” he said.Alphonso’s talent for the game is clear but he said his mother still wants him to focus on getting his education.“They’re really excited for me. They’re really happy. But my mom is telling me education is first. You don’t know — soccer can end tomorrow, it can end today,” he said.But Alphonso’s his sights are set on something big.“If I keep performing and keep putting in the work, I can really see myself excelling to the next level,” he said.“My goal is to play the highest that I can play [like] national team or overseas.” (Source: http://globalnews.ca)Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)