June 1, 2020 9:42:31 PM
Greyhounds, jockeys and snooker players were all back in action on Monday as sport began to return from its enforced shutdown.
Barnsley Federation of Racing Pigeons laid claim to being the first competitive action to get under way following the Government’s decision to ease restrictions of competitive sport but at 10.21am things moved up a notch when the first greyhound race got going at Perry Barr.
There was a packed schedule of 12 meetings up and down the country, but 6/1 shot Im Sophie took the honour in the first race of the day, holding off Peachstreet Jack and Dungarvan Hobo.
Horse racing was next up at Newcastle, where Zodiakos won the Welcome Back British Racing Handicap – the first race on these shores since March 17.
At the head of affairs right from the off, the Roger Fell-trained gelding bowled along in the mile contest under his jockey James Sullivan, who like all riders was wearing a face mask as part of the strict hygiene protocols in place.
His better-fancied stablemate Al Ozzdi came through strongly two furlongs out in the hands of Ben Curtis, but while he took a definite advantage at one stage, the 22-1 winner fought back gallantly and was a neck to the good at the line.
Sullivan said: “It’s very nice to get the first winner. I’m blowing a bit as obviously it’s the first time I’ve ridden in a race for a while. Hopefully that will have blown away the cobwebs. In this heat today, riding in the mask, it is very warm.”
New starting procedures limited the number of people present and the third race of the day took place without favourite Freedom Flyer and Ejtilaab after the pair were deemed not ready to begin the race.
The Betway Handicap ended on a desperate note, with December Second suffering a fatal injury after bringing down Financial Conduct.
Snooker joined the restart party with world number one Judd Trump breezing through on day one of the Championship League in Milton Keynes.
Trump topped Group 2 with one match still to play after whitewashing David Grace 3-0 and following up with a 3-1 win over nearest rival Elliot Slessor.
Slessor could have forced the top seed, and winner of six ranking titles already this season, to finish the job with a 3-0 win of his own over Grace. But, after producing the best break of the evening with 106, he surrendered the second frame to ensure Trump’s progress.