Newly crowned champion trainer Wayne DaCosta continued his dominance of the major trophy races in recent months when POKER STAR won the St Catherine Cup open allowance feature over 1100 metres at Caymanas Park yesterday to confirm his status as the country’s top sprinter.Installed a 4-5 favourite, with Robert Halledeen aboard, POKER STAR, coming from the number-one post position under topweight of 57.0kg, chased the fleet-footed BUZZ NIGHTMARE in the backstretch before getting the inside run and the lead when ‘BUZZ’ drifted out entering the straight.Under a bustling ride from Halledeen, the four-year-old bay gelding by Liquidity out of Buyabook kept on strongly in front to stave off the ever-present CAMPESINO (7-5) under new champion Shane Ellis on the inside by a length, covering the distance in the good time of 1:05.2 behind splits of 22.4 and 45.1 on a slow surface.Owned by Alexander Haber and bred by Y.S. (1955) Limited, POKER STAR, according to DaCosta, has come on a ton after disappointing over longer distances during the 2015 classic campaign but really wanted to sprint.”This is a horse who won twice over 1300 metres in 1:17.2, and having won the Glen Mills Caribbean Sprint championship behind a fast time in his previous race on November 14, knew he was ready for all comers in the sprint department … . His next race could be in February, and we will take it from there,” said the 15-time champion trainer, who saddled three winners on the 10-race programme.The others were 3-5 favourite CRUISING MOTION (Halledeen up) in the second race for maiden three-year-olds, and BIG GEORGE, a 1-5 favourite in the very next race over 1200 metres, with former champion Omar Walker aboard.Walker, who also won the opening race for high claimers aboard 9-5 favourite ITALIANO for trainer Neive Graham to complete a double, shared the riding honours with Halledeen on a day when POKER STAR was one of five winning favourites. The lightly raced MEDICAL INSTINCT at 20-1 in the sixth race for maiden five-year-olds and up provided the day’s major upset.
Venom on top in domino competition’s first roundVenom finished on top in the first round of the inaugural Orville Higgins/Caribbean Classic five-team franchises cross the table domino competition, which took place at Classic home ground, Portmore Drive.Venom finished on 63 points, five clear of Warriors in second, followed by Destroyers 51, Legend 49 and Punisher, who ended on 11 points, but failed to make it to the second round. All teams played eight matches each.The second phase of the competition gets under way tomorrow and will see the four teams that advanced playing each other twice, in a round robin format.At the conclusion, the top two teams play each other in the first preliminary round match, with the winner going straight to the final, while the loser goes to the second preliminary round. The third and fourth place teams play each other to decide who will take on the loser from the first preliminary round match. The winner of the second preliminary round match will move on to the final, where the winner will be crowned kingpins of cross the table dominoes.The competition will see the biggest monetary payout ever offered locally, with the winning team walking away with $600,000 and the second place team $400,000, while the team finishing third will receive $200,000.Mandeville hosts Street Gun contestThe Manchester Rifle and Pistol Club will host the first leg of the Jamaica National Street Gun Championships tomorrow at its Lincoln range, near Spur Tree. Starting time is 10 a.m., although the range will be opened at 8:30 a.m. to accommodate practice.The Street Gun contest is a popular shooting competition as it is categorised as a ‘minor affair’, meaning the firearm required is the regular carry-on weapon by ordinary licensed firearm holders. No rigs are attached, hence all competitors, including the established professionals, compete with the same disadvantages.Additional excitement is also created by the nature of the stages. There will be eight requiring only 100 rounds. The stages will be created to resemble practical scenarios and will test the shooter’s skill and ability to respond quickly.The organisers have promised trophies for first and second positions in each division. Food and refreshments will also be free.Tight battle for Manchester Major League semisWith just one round to complete, it remains anybody’s bet the three other teams that will join Hillstars in the semi-finals of Manchester Football Association (MFA) Magnum/Captain’s Bakery Major League competition.Hillstars are the unassailable leaders from Group One with 35 points and also the overall leaders in the 12-team slate. They are two points clear of their nearest challenger in Group One, but maintaining the overall lead is significant as the MFA awards a tidy sum to the team which accumulates the most points at the completion of the preliminary rounds, which includes return legs in group play, as well as cross zone matches.In the overall standings, Hillstars hold a slim lead over Ricam Academy (33) and Alligator Pond (32). Downs (31) are out of that contest, but are still in the pecking for a semi-final spot.Ricam, Alligator Pond and Downs are in a tight race to claim two semi-final slots from Zone Two. All three are therefore faced with must win scenarios.Meanwhile, Mile Gully (23) and Georges Valley (21) have the best chance of joining Hillstars from Group One. Either team must also win their final match and hope the other loses.In the penultimate round of matches played earlier this week, Georges Valley scored goals in the fourth and fifth minutes to defeat Greenvale United 2-1, Hillstars outscored Mile Gully 3-1, while in the biggest surprise of the day, Alligator Pond beat Downs in their own backyard 3-1.Clarendon netball season begins quarter-final chargeFormer National Premier League campaigners, Sporting Central Academy, as well as defending champions Jamalco, headline the qualifiers for the quarter-finals of the Captain’s Bakery-sponsored Clarendon Major League.Sporting Central qualified unbeaten from Zone Three with 20 points from six wins and two draws. They lead two other qualifiers from this group, namely Moores and Original Hazard, which both finished on 11 points. The latter qualified as one of two best third-placed teams, since there were three zones with two automatic qualifiers.Jamalco topped Group Two ahead of New Bowens. The champions mined 22 points from six wins and a draw. They scored 20 goals and conceded just once.Zone I, which featured the closest of the preliminarybattles, is headed by Kemps Hill (15), York Town (13) and Comfort (12).Starz Academy gain Manchester Division One leadStarz Academy have taken over the lead of the Jamalco-sponsored Manchester Division One. Starz Academy leapfrogged Technical Strikers after shutting out Mandeville United 3-0 earlier this week. They now have 10 points, one more than Technical Strikers, who have played one game less.Los Perfectos, who are making a return to the Manchester league after an absence of 10 years, are in third position with eight points from four games. Their second win of the season came on Tuesday, after a 2-0 effort against 360 degrees Youth Football Academy.Fourth on goal difference are Plowden, who walloped Epping Forest 4-0. They lead five other teams who have mined four points. Fourth is narrowly held on goal difference by Trinity, who have four points. In fact, the latter leads a quartet of teams who have also mined four points.Black Star, St Bess FC lead semi-final charge in St ElizabethWith just two rounds to complete the preliminary phase of the St Elizabeth Magnum Major League, defending champions Black Star sit pretty on top of the standings. In fact, their total of 43 points cannot be surpassed.Last Sunday, they celebrated their quarter-final berth with a 2-1 win over form team St Bess FC. On Wednesday, they added the scalp of Tafari Lions with a 1-0 win.Despite the loss to Black Star, St Bess FC (32) are still poised for a semi-final berth in their first year at Major League, after rebounding with a crucial 1-0 win over Holland Police Youth Club (28) who are also eager to make the semi-final cut.Other teams in the reckoning for semi-finals are Real Treasure Beach (26) and Appleton and Super Action. However, the latter two must win their remaining two games and hope for adverse results from the front-runners.Spit Fyah on topSpit Fyah domino team has carved out a four-point lead atop the standings of the City of Kingston Cooperative Credit Union Portmore Domino League after the ninth round of matches last Sunday.Spit Fyah (33 points) won their eighth match of the season, as they outclassed third place Right Stuff (29) 300-274. Spit Fyah’s nearest rivals, Exceptional International, cut down Soursop Tree 300-281. Exceptional International lead Right Stuff with a better points average.In other games, Waterhouse United got past Highlight Strikers 300-289, eighth-placed Eradication humbled Ken’s Wildflower 300-280, Fort International blew away Chedwin Strikers 300-266, Spring Village scolded Correctional Services300-268, while Garveymeade whipped Felluchie Strikers 300-258.Games on tomorrow (Home teams named first): Masterpiece vs Ken’s Wildflower; Exceptional International vs Highlight Strikers, Passagefort United vs Garveymeade, Spring Village vs Soursop Tree, Right Stuff vs Naggo Head, Chedwin Strikers vs Correctional Services, Spit Fyah vs Memory Lane, Felluchie Strikers vs Eradication and Waterhouse United vs Fort International.Cumberland, Racing replay for KO crownThe final of the York Pharmacy-sponsored Portmore Division Two knockout football competition between Cumberland and Racing United was rained out at the Cedar Grove Sports Complex last Sunday. A new date for this match will be announced shortly by the organisers.In semi-final action recently, Cumberland defeated Cedar Grove 2-1, while Racing’s win over Braeton United was a no-contest as the Gregory Park-based club ran out 4-1 winners over Braeton, the side that took home the midseason crown.Church cricket begins March 19The Power of Faith Ministries (PFM) Twenty20 Church Cricket League commences on Saturday, March 19, with adouble-header at Bridgeport Sports ground.Defending champions Power of Faith International will start against their brother team Power of Faith Development at 10 a.m., while at 2 p.m., Faith Temple New Testament will oppose Portmore Gospel Assembly.The league will be staged on a round robin format and the two top teams will advance to the final.”There is also a new development this year as an over-50 match is being planned during the course of the competition,” said Mark Williamson, coordinator of the competition.The competition is used as a tool to bring fellowship among churches and to seek souls for the Kingdom of Heaven. tomorrowThe 2016 Clarendon Netball Association (CNA) season begins tomorrow at the Mineral Heights Sports Complex, with the start of the Jamalco Open League.As usual, the first day of competition will feature an opening rally of the 21 teams that have been registered. The opening ceremony, which begins at 1:30 p.m., will feature newly elected President of Netball Jamaica, Dr. Paula Daley-Morris, as guest speaker.Long-standing chief organiser, Winston Nevers told The Gleaner all is in place for asuccessful start.He said: “The people always look forward to the Jamalco League as you know that when Jamalco is involved the sponsorship is sure and things will be in place.”The competition is in its 17th year.Sporting Central, Jamalco head read more