Meaning of YEAR IN REVIEW 1997: SPORTS-AND-GAMES: EQUESTRIAN SPORTS in English

YEAR IN REVIEW 1997: SPORTS-AND-GAMES: EQUESTRIAN SPORTS

EQUESTRIAN SPORTS: Harness Racing. A historic development within the harness racing world during 1996 was the approval by the sport's administrators in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand of the use of frozen semen for breeding. No doubt inspired by outstanding reductions in race times accomplished in North America during the year by representatives of the most fashionable pacing and trotting sire lines, breeders convinced their respective authorities that it was necessary to tap directly into such blood. By the end of the year, the semen of some of the most acclaimed U.S. standardbred stallions was being advertised and booked by brood mare owners around the world. The Hambletonian, harness racing's most prestigious and lucrative event, and its filly counterpart, the Hambletonian Oaks, were also moving with the times and from 1997 would have an entirely new look. No longer would they be raced in the heats that for more than a century had been the norm in North American Grand Circuit competition. They would each become a one-mile dash for the cash, preceded a week earlier by eliminations for the final race. In the 1996 Hambletonian in early August, Continentalvictory, a daughter of siring sensation Valley Victory, overpowered favoured Lindy Lane to win the $1.2 million final. Driver Mike Lachance guided the black filly to a 1-min 52.1-sec victory in her elimination heat and then to a 1-min 52.4-sec clocking in the final to establish a world record time for two heats. Continentalvictory later won the World Trotting Derby at Du Quoin, Ill., and the Yonkers (N.Y.) Trot, and at the year's end she was voted the harness Horse of the Year. Jeremy's Gambit, a two-year-old son of No Nukes, won the $800,000 Woodrow Wilson Stakes for pacers at the Meadowlands in New Jersey in August. His trainer, Brett Pelling of New Zealand, in September also won the sport's blue-ribbon classic for three-year-old pacers, the $542,220 Little Brown Jug at Delaware, Ohio, with Armbro Operative. At the 1996 Jug meet, Jenna's Beach Boy continued his assault on world records. The four-year-old earlier in the year at the Meadowlands had paced 1 min 47.6 sec, the fastest mile ever on a one-mile (1.61-km) track and then won at Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland in 1 min 49.4 sec, the fastest race mile ever on a 5/8-mi track). In the $41,500 Senior Jug, he won by 5 1/2 lengths in 1 min 49.6 sec, a world best on a 1/2-mi oval. Before the Jug racing week was ended, however, Stand Forever, four-year-old son of Dragon's Lair, had gone a notch better, winning a $40,000 invitational in 1 min 49.4 sec. At the Solvalla track at Stockholm in May, the six-year-old French trotter Cocktail Jet outclassed seven rivals for a runaway win in the 3 million-krona Elitlopp. Driven by Jean-tienne Dubios, Cocktail Jet scored comfortably in 1 min 54.9 sec. At Perth's Gloucester Park in Western Australia in March, Young Mister Charles won the $A400,000 Inter-Dominion Championship Pacing Grand Final. Injured two weeks before the Grand Final, he came within an ace of being scratched from the series when his near foreleg blew up to almost twice its normal size. An intensive course of swimming allowed him to stage his remarkable comeback. At Addington Raceway in Christchurch, N.Z., in November, five-year-old pacing stallion Il Vicolo came off a handicap of 10 m (32.8 ft) to win the $NZ350,000 New Zealand Cup. Trained and driven by Mark Purdon, Il Vicolo paced the 3,200 m (3,500 yd) in 4 min 2.3 sec. (RONALD W. BISMAN) EQUESTRIAN SPORTS: Polo. For the first time in history, two teams that included seven members of the same family clashed in Argentina to decide the three most important high-handicap tournaments. At the Palermo fields Indios Chapaleuf II, with three Heguy brothers (Alberto, Ignacio, and Eduardo) and Alejandro Daz Alberdi, downed Indios Chapaleuf (four Heguy brothers: Bautista, Gonzalo, Horacio, Jr., and Marcos) 17-16 to win the Argentine Open. At the other two tournaments, the Hurlingham and Los Indios-Tortugas opens, the four-brother team won 17-15 and 12-10, respectively. Memo Gracida led his Outback team to the championship in the U.S. Open; Outback defeated Casa Manila in the final to give Gracida his 14th Open title. The tournament was held at the Palm Beach (Fla.) Polo Club, with 11 teams taking part. Outback, however, could not repeat its earlier triumphs against Isla Carroll and Bud Light, which overcame Gracida and his teammates in the final matches of the Gold Cup of Americas (14-10) and Challenge Cup (12-11), respectively. Bautista and Gonzalo Heguy were the playmakers of their quartet, Pony Express, when it defeated Isla Carroll 15-14 in overtime to win the Sterling Cup. In Sotogrande, Spain, Scapa of Scotland, with three players from Argentina, outclassed Santa Maria 10-9 in the final to win a major tournament. In Deauville, Fr., Labegorce won the Gold Cup for the first time. In the English high-handicap season, Ellerston White, led by Gonzalo Pieres, won the Queen's Cup; Eduardo and Ignacio Heguy's C.S. Brooks team triumphed in the Gold Cup and then defeated Ellerston White for the Prince Philip Trophy. England downed Brazil 8-4 to recover the Coronation Cup it had lost in 1995 to Argentina. (JORGE ADRIN ANDRADES) EQUESTRIAN SPORTS: Show Jumping and Dressage. The 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., dominated most of a year in which the results of Europe's premier show, at Aachen, Ger., in late June, proved an accurate forecast for the Olympics. The German team of Ludger Beerbaum (on Ratina Z), Ulrich Kirchhoff (Jus de Pommes), Lars Nieberg (For Pleasure), and Franke Sloothaak (Joly) won the Nations Cup as a prelude to their Olympic gold medal on the same four horses. In the individual competition Beerbaum triumphed at Aachen, and Kirchhoff won the Olympic gold medal. Victory in the most valuable post-Olympic event, the Hickstead Derby, went to the Belgian-based Brazilian Nelson Pessoa on Loro Piana Vivaldi. Hugo Simon of Austria on ET won the Volvo World Cup at Geneva in April. Isabell Werth and Gigolo, who were to progress to gold medal glory in the dressage at Atlanta four weeks later, were another combination that also prepared with a victory at Aachen. In the Grand Prix, Gigolo beat Durgo and Goldstern, and all three were members of the winning German team both there and in Atlanta. (ROBERT W. CARTER) EQUESTRIAN SPORTS: Steeplechasing. Imperial Call became the first Irish-trained winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 10 years, and Rough Quest, which he beat by four lengths, went on to be the first winning favourite in the Grand National since 1982. Arenice, third in France's principal jumping event two years earlier, won the Grand Steeplechase de Paris. EQUESTRIAN SPORTS: Thoroughbred Racing. Helissio, beaten only once in seven appearances in France, left no doubt that he was the thoroughbred champion of Europe in 1996, climaxing the season by winning the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe by five lengths. Pilsudski, which finished second, had previously won the Grosser Preis von Baden and later triumphed in the Breeders' Cup Turf, while Oscar Schindler, which was third, had previously gained an easy success in the Irish St. Leger. Helissio's only failure was in the Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby), in which he finished fifth behind Ragmar. Dominique Boeuf was then replaced as his jockey by Olivier Peslier, who rode him to victory over the Coronation Cup winner, Swain, in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. Peslier also rode Helissio to his triumphs in the Prix Niel and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and for the first time ended the year as France's champion jockey. Though they did not succeed in their efforts to purchase Helissio from his Spanish owner, Enrique Sarasola, Japanese breeders did buy many other leading racehorses and stallions, most notably the unbeaten Lammtarra, winner of the Derby, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in his only three appearances in 1995. Pentire, which was beaten by a neck by Lammtarra in the 1995 King George but made up by winning the 1996 edition, was also sold to a Japanese owner. At the Japan Cup in Tokyo on November 24, however, the winner was Singspiel, owned by Sheikh Muhammad al-Maktoum. Helissio tied for third. The sale of Lammtarra for $30 million, after just one season at stud in England, shocked the industry. The size of the offer was a surprise, and so was the fact that Europe's richest owner, Sheikh Muhammad, was willing to accept it. The sheikh had been rapidly expanding his Godolphin stable by buying horses that had shown ability for other owners, such as Classic Cliche, and then by taking over horses that had begun their careers in the sheikh's name but with other trainers. Said ibn Suroor was appointed trainer in 1995, but the sheikh retained tight control over every aspect of the operation. In addition to Classic Cliche, the sheikh's stars in 1996 were Mark of Esteem, winner of the Two Thousand Guineas and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and Halling, victorious in the Prix d'Ispahan and the Eclipse and International stakes. Mark of Esteem and Halling were expected to take the place of Lammtarra at stud in 1997. Suroor won the trainers' championship from Henry Cecil, the original trainer of Classic Cliche and Mark of Esteem. When Mark of Esteem won the Queen Elizabeth II at Ascot on September 28, he was the third winner in three races that day for jockey Frankie Dettori, who then went on to win the remaining four contests on one of the most competitive racing days of the year. His father was 13 times champion jockey in Italy, but Dettori had spent nearly all his racing life in England. He lost his chance for a third consecutive British rider's championship when he broke his elbow in a prerace fall in June. European racing enjoyed a revival of confidence in 1996. Demand was strong at the yearling sales, and aggregate, median, and average prices all reached record levels. The covering fees of many stallions were immediately increased. The first running of the $4 million Dubayy World Cup on March 27 proved a benefit for the three challengers from the U.S., which took the first three places. Cigar had to battle Soul of the Matter to win by half a length and claim the richest first prize in the world, $2.4 million. In Australia Octagonal beat Saintly in a series of stakes early in the year, including the AJC Australian Derby, and was voted Horse of the Year. But he struggled in the second half of 1996, while Saintly progressed to win both the richest weight-for-age event in the Southern Hemisphere, the Cox Plate, and its most celebrated, the Melbourne Cup. (ROBERT W. CARTER) FENCING The election for president of the Fdration Internationale d'Escrime (FIE, the governing body of fencing) held centre stage during the 1995-96 season. Voting took place at the FIE congress prior to the opening of the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga. Incumbent president Ren Roch of France held on by one vote over Jeno Kamuti of Hungary and thus could expect the support of the FIE for the next phase of his development proposals. These included increasing participation and media coverage in areas of the world where the sport is less developed. In the Olympics the format was new. The seeding round, in the past time-consuming and uninteresting for spectators, was abolished, and direct elimination began in the first round. Also noteworthy at the Olympics were the successful debut of women's pe and the new relay format for team events. Russia was most successful in the competition, winning individual gold medals in men's pe and sabre and team golds in sabre and men's foil. No country had more than one winner in the World Cup competition. The Olympics took the place of the world championships. (GRAHAM MORRISON) FIELD HOCKEY One of the most sweeping changes in field hockey came into effect on Aug. 4, 1996, when, as an experimental measure, the offside rule was abandoned. The purpose of the experiment was to diminish dependence on the set pieces and encourage more goals from open play, which would thereby make the game more attractive to spectators. Results in the Olympic Games at Atlanta, Ga., in July and August revealed a predominance of goals from corners, particularly in the later rounds of the men's event. Olympic supremacy remained in Europe, with The Netherlands displacing Germany as champion and Spain taking second place. Australia earned the bronze medal after besting Germany in the play-off. India and Pakistan had used an ineffective corner drill, which accounted for the failure of an Asian team to qualify for the semifinals. This had happened only once before in the Olympics, at Seoul, S.Kor., in 1988. New Zealand, the Olympic champion in 1976, took an important step toward qualifying for the next World Cup tournament in 1998 at Utrecht, Neth., by winning a 12-nation tournament at Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy, in October. Pakistan was to defend the World Cup at Utrecht against 11 teams. In women's competition Australia and South Korea proved vastly superior to the six other nations in winning the Olympic gold and silver medals, respectively, at Atlanta. The Netherlands prevailed over Great Britain in a penalty shoot-out for the bronze medal after neither team had scored at the end of regulation time. Under a new rule applicable to men and women, the holders of the World Cup would not qualify automatically for the Olympic Games at Sydney, Australia, in 2000. The privilege of doing so was now restricted to the host country and the previous Olympic champion. (SYDNEY E. FRISKIN) ICE SKATING Figure Skating. In 1996 international figure skating introduced some notable changes. Contested during the year was the first Champions Series, which consisted of five prestigious competitions and a final tournament in Paris. This, as well as the world and European championships, for the first time offered the considerable added incentive of lucrative prize money. The world championships alone awarded 144 skaters $937,500. The prizes went to the top 24 finishers in each event, ranging from $50,000 for the men's and women's winners and $75,000 for the leading pair and the leading ice dance couple to $2,500 for the 24th-place singles skaters and $3,750 for the 24th-place partnerships. Held in Edmonton, Alta., the world championships provided a worthy climax to a momentous winter. The men's competition, arguably the best ever, ended with an absorbing duel between Todd Eldredge of the U.S., the runner-up in 1995, and Ilya Kulik of Russia, the 1995 champion of Europe; each landed eight triple jumps. The nine judges split six-three in Eldredge's favour. The fast-rising U.S. skater Rudy Galindo finished third, just ahead of the defending champion, Elvis Stojko of Canada. Stojko thrilled the crowd with an awesome, still-rare quadruple toe-loop jump that he might not have risked had victory not already been out of reach. Michelle Kwan gave the U.S. a second gold medal, gaining two sixes and seven 5.9s to edge the defending champion, Chen Lu of China. Irina Slutskaya of Russia finished third. Kwan, at 15, became the third youngest champion, behind Norway's Sonja Henie (14; 1927) and Oksana Baiul of Ukraine (15; 1993). As in the men's competition, the crowd witnessed another tense rivalry, the Kwan-Chen duel also dividing the judges by a vote of six to three, with perhaps Kwan's seven triple jumps to Chen's six deciding the issue. For the first time in a women's championship, both winner and runner-up received two maximum scores of six for presentation. The pairs title was captured by Marina Yeltsova and Andrey Bushkov of Russia, who had placed third in 1994. They defeated the 1995 European champions from Germany, Mandy Wtzel and Ingo Steuer, who had led after the initial round. The Russian duo of Oksana Grichuk and Yevgeny Platov scored their third straight ice dance victory, while another Russian entry, Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov, finished second. The inaugural Champions Series confirmed the season's overall women's supremacy of Kwan, with Slutskaya placing second. Winter-long consistency was also shown by Grichuk and Platov in the ice dance as they again thwarted runners-up Krylova and Ovsiannikov. Aleksey Urmanov of Russia outpointed Stojko to win the men's title. The pairs championship went to Yevgeniya Shishkova and Vadim Naumov, ahead of their fellow Russians Yeltsova and Bushkov. Speed Skating. The season was as revolutionary for speed skaters as for their figure counterparts. Increased amounts of prize money were introduced at all major contests. In the world championships cash was earned by the top 12 men and women, ranging from $25,000 for each all-around champion (over four distances) to $1,000 for those in 12th place. A new event was successfully launched at Hamar, Nor.--world single-distance championships with separate titles for the winners over five men's and five women's distances, as in the Olympic Games. The men's champions were Hiroyasu Shimizu of Japan (500 m), Sergey Klevchenya of Russia (1,000 m), and three Dutch racers, Ids Postma (5,000 m), Jeroen Straathof (1,500 m), and Gianni Romme (10,000 m). The most successful woman was Annamarie Thomas of The Netherlands (1,000 m and 1,500 m), the other victors being Svetlana Zhurova of Russia (500 m) and two Germans, Gunda Niemann (3,000 m) and Claudia Pechstein (5,000 m). The aforementioned tournament supplemented the long-established world championships held in 1996 at Inzell, Ger. Rintje Ritsma of The Netherlands and Niemann retained their men's and women's crowns. Also, Canada's former Olympic rink at Calgary, Alta., was confirmed as the world's fastest when four new world men's records were set there by three Japanese and one Dutch skater. In the separate world sprint championships at Heerenveen, Neth., Klevchenya gained his first men's triumph, and Christine Witty of the U.S. took the women's prize won the previous two years by her celebrated compatriot Bonnie Blair. In the world short-track championships at The Hague, Marc Gagnon of Canada recaptured the men's title, his third in four years, and Chun Lee Kyung of South Korea retained the women's crown. (HOWARD BASS) FOOTBALL In June 1996 the final game of the European championships in England almost produced a repeat of 1976, when West Germany lost to Czechoslovakia in a penalty shoot-out. This time the tables were turned, however, as Germany beat the Czech Republic with a controversial goal in sudden-death overtime. The Germans had slightly more scoring opportunities in the first half but then lost Dieter Eilts to injury just before the interval. He was replaced by Marco Bode, with Christian Ziege switching from the left side to a more pivotal midfield position. The first goal was scored as a result of a disputed penalty in the 59th minute, when German sweeper Matthias Sammer brought down Karel Poborsky. On the ensuing Czech penalty kick, Patrik Berger scored with a shot under the diving body of goalkeeper Andreas Kopke. Ten minutes later German coach Berti Vogts made a second substitution that proved to be an inspired move, bringing in striker Oliver Bierhoff for the tiring midfield player Mehmet Scholl. From a 30-m (100-ft) free kick taken by Ziege, Bierhoff headed the ball in to tie the score. As overtime approached, Czech coach Dusan Uhrin substituted Vladimir Smicer for Poborsky. The replacement almost scored with a fiercely driven shot, but it was tipped around the far post by Kopke. The extra period was just five minutes old when referee Pierluigi Pairetto ignored linesman Donato Nicoletti's flag indicating offside against Stefan Kuntz. The ball was struck by Bierhoff, was deflected by Michel Hornak's foot, spun away out of the hands of goalkeeper Petr Kouba, and landed inside the goalkeeper's left-hand post. The competition as a whole lacked stand-out individual performances, and many teams that were expected to dominate disappointed their followers, especially disjointed Italy. Portugal and defending champion Denmark had fleeting success; France deteriorated; and the Dutch had problems off the field. Croatia had moments of enterprise and Spain improved noticeably, but it was the dogged, disciplined Germans who reached the final along with the determined and skillful Czechs. The latter did far better than had been expected, though the one red and 18 yellow cards against them amounted to the worst penalty count in the series. England, the most spirited in years, won the Fair Play Award. Goal scoring was at the modest level of 2.07 per game. A total of 1,268,201 watched the 31 matches. In the European Cup of Champion Clubs final at Rome on May 22, Juventus of Italy beat Ajax Amsterdam 4-2 on penalties after the game had ended 1-1 in overtime. Though a shoot-out was required for determining the winner, the Italian team deserved victory for the superior tactics it employed, pressuring Ajax at the back of the defense, where the Dutch traditionally began their attack. The Italians took the lead in the 12th minute after a mixup in the Dutch defense. Frank de Boer and goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar left the clearance to each other, which allowed Fabrizio Ravanelli to intercept and slide the ball in from an acute angle. Ajax tied the score with a free kick after 41 minutes; De Boer drove the ball through the defensive wall of players, goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi was able only to push it out, and Jari Litmanen reacted quickly to tie the game. The penalty shoot-out began badly for Ajax, as Edgar Davids had his shot saved; Sonny Silooy had his shot blocked as well. In the Cup-Winners' Cup final at Brussels on May 8, Paris St. Germain won its first European honour. It defeated Rapid Vienna, which had recently won its 30th League title. St. Germain was wasteful with attempts on goal, being restricted to just one score, when Bruno N'Gotty's shot in the 29th minute was deflected low past goalkeeper Michal Konsel's right hand. The more skillful French team continued to outplay its more defensive-minded and less ambitious opponent, and the 1-0 result did not accurately reflect the one-sided nature of the game. Bayern Munich joined Barcelona, Ajax, and Juventus as the only clubs to have won all three major European competitions when it defeated Bordeaux 5-1 on aggregate scores in the UEFA Cup. In the first leg at Munich, Ger., on May 1, captain Lothar Matthaus took a 34th-minute corner kick, and Thomas Helmer rose to head the goal. Scholl drove in the second goal after 60 minutes to give Bayern a 2-0 lead. In the return at Bordeaux, Fr., on May 15, the French, who had played a marathon 20 matches in reaching the final, attempted to take the game to the Germans but were vulnerable to the counterattack. Scholl scored after 53 minutes, and Emil Kostadinov made it 2-0 12 minutes later. A free kick by Daniel Dutuel reduced the difference to 2-1 in the 75th minute, but Jurgen Klinsmann diverted a Thomas Strunz shot with his knee to restore Bayern's two-goal advantage three minutes later. A record 170 of the International Federation of Association Football's total of 198 nations entered the 1998 World Cup, the finals of which were to be held in France. The first of an expected 639 matches was played in the spring. For the first time, there would be 32 finalists. Unfortunately, a tragedy occurred in Zambia on June 16 during a qualifying match at Lusaka; 9 people were trampled to death and 50 others injured near the end of Zambia's match with The Sudan. Nigeria became the first African country to win gold in soccer at the Olympics, defeating Argentina 3-2 in the final. Brazil took the bronze by defeating Portugal 5-0. In the women's final the U.S. achieved gold with a 2-1 victory over China before a crowd of 76,489, a world record for a women's match. Norway defeated Brazil 2-0 for the bronze. Aggregate attendance for the two competitions was 1,364,250. Despite the judgment that allowed players out of contract to move freely from one country to another in Europe, the transfer record was twice broken in the summer. First, Barcelona paid the Dutch club PSV Eindhoven 13,250,000 for Brazilian striker Luiz Ronaldo, and then, in the English premier league, Newcastle United bought striker Alan Shearer from Blackburn Rovers for 15 million. Yet Gianluca Vialli, who was once transferred for 12 million, went on a free transfer from Juventus to Chelsea (England). In September, for the first time in the 125-year history of the FA Cup in England, the world's oldest competition, a father and son played on opposing teams. Nicky Scaife, aged 21, of Bishop Auckland met his father Bobby, 41, of Pickering. Bishop Auckland won this first qualifying round 3-1. Another relatively unusual event had taken place in April when Iceland's Arnor Gudjohnson, 35, was substituted against Estonia in the 62nd minute by his son Eidur-Smari, 17. Also during the year George Weah, who played for Liberia and AC Milan, became the first person ever to be elected African, European, and World Footballer of the Year. (See BIOGRAPHIES.) Arguably the world's most successful coaches at club and international level died within a few days of each other in February--Bob Paisley of Liverpool and Helmut Schn of West Germany, respectively; also dying during the year was West German international Reinhard Libuda. (See OBITUARIES.) (JACK ROLLIN)

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