Luckless Detroit remained the league’s only winless team after running into Corey Dillon of the Cincinnati Bengals. Dillon opened the scoring with a 96-yard run, the Bengals longest run in franchise history. And the Lions were never able to tame Dillon, who finished with 184 yards and three scores in his side’s 31-27 triumph.Oakland were too strong for Philadelphia in a surprisingly lacklustre affair, while Denver intercepted the New England quarterback Tom Brady four times on the way to a 31-20 win. The traditional whipping boys, Dallas and Washington, both enjoyed rare but welcome victories.
The former Scottish Claymore quarterback Clint Stoerner guided the Cowboys past Arizona, while Tony Banks threw a pair of touchdowns as Washington shocked the New York Giants 35-21 to win their second successive game after losing their first five.. National Hunt racing is an all-year-round business these days, and Tony McCoy rode his 100th winner of the season weeks ago, but somehow, wearing a T-shirt and sunglasses to a jumps meeting will never feel quite right. National Hunt racing is an all-year-round business these days, and Tony McCoy rode his 100th winner of the season weeks ago, but somehow, wearing a T-shirt and sunglasses to a jumps meeting will never feel quite right.
Only after the clocks have gone back, and the waxed jacket has been retrieved from the back of the wardrobe, does a new campaign truly begin, and when the crowds arrive at Wetherby on Saturday, the process of putting the last, miserable excuse for a National Hunt season behind us will begin in earnest.The Mackeson Gold Cup, a week after the close of the Flat at Doncaster, was once the spiritual kick-off for jumping, but thanks perhaps to a series of name-changes, it has rather lost its grip on the imagination. Instead, it is the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby which now serves to remind backers of the excitement and uncertainty which can only come from watching your money leave the ground, a thrill which they have been missing for almost seven months.And this year, they will need more reminding than ever.
The entire winter campaign builds towards three days at Cheltenham in March, and the loss of the Festival meeting, not to mention the muddy farce of the Grand National, left precious few memories to cherish while the Flat racers went about their business. Some punters may even have been turned off the winter game for good.So it is a relief to find that the Charlie Hall has attracted the sort of field which should persuade any waverers to return to the fold. The 12 names entered yesterday include a Gold Cup winner, a Whitbread winner and a Royal & SunAlliance Chase winner, along with three of last year’s best novices.Not all are certain to line up, but this should still be a far more competitive race than last year’s renewal, when See More Business, the 1999 Gold Cup winner, beat three rivals at odds of 1-3.Paul Nicholls’ chaser is among the entries again, but his stable-mate Shotgun Willy, who beat First Gold in the Aon Chase at Newbury in February, is also engaged. Nicholls will not decide until later in the week which of them will be sent to Yorkshire.Other names in the list, which even the most jaded jumps backer should recognise, include Beau, the 2000 Whitbread winner, Lord Noelie, who took the Royal & SunAlliance Chase the same season, and the fragile Legal Right, who would be racing for only the third time since his brilliant romp in the Tripleprint Gold Cup in December 1999.”He is well in himself and the plan is to run as long as the ground is soft and as long as he is all right, of course, you know what it’s like with him,” O’Neill said yesterday. “The owner would like Tony McCoy to ride, but I don’t know if he is going to be available. If not, Norman Williamson will ride, he has won on him before and he knows the horse well.”Lord Noelie is also an intended runner, but Sackville, one of the best novice chasers in Ireland last year when he won eight consecutive races including the Power Gold Cup at Fairyhouse, has an alternative engagement over two miles at Navan on Saturday.