Sport review of 2012: Rob Huff gets his hands on trophy and Frankel becomes a legend

CHAMPION AT LAST: Rob Huff finally gets his hands on the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
CHAMPION AT LAST: Rob Huff finally gets his hands on the FIA World Touring Car Championship.

While the performances of athletes at last summer’s London Olympic Games may have grabbed many back page headlines, there were plenty of others much closer to home who enjoyed a stellar 2012.

After conquering all before him in 2011, it was a case of more of the same for the Sir Henry Cecil-trained equine superstar Frankel.

Making a winning reappearance in the Group One JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May, the son of Galileo then wowed the crowds at Royal Ascot when storming to an 11-length victory in the Group One Queen Anne Stakes, before adding his second successive Qipco Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in August.

With his status as the best miler confirmed, Frankel faced his toughest test to date when he stepped up to a mile and a quarter in the Group One Juddmonte International at York.

Any fears of not seeing out the extra trip were quickly banished with the Khalid Abdullah colt making light work of his rivals, before signing off his unbeaten career with win number 14 in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Although Frankel rightly stole the headlines on many occasions, he was not the only one from the racing world to enjoy big race success.

Bury Road handler John Gosden capped a remarkable year by landing his first ever Trainers’ Championship, along with sending out seven Group One winners, including Fallen For You’s victory in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, Nathaniel in the Coral Eclipse and The Fugue in the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.

While Gosden was champion trainer, Sheikh Mohammed and his Newmarket-based Godolphin operation picked up the Champions Owners’ crown.

Helping him pick up the prize for the first time since 2007 was Encke’s victory in the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster and Colour Vision’s hard-fought victory in the Group One Ascot Gold Cup under his out going retained rider Frankie Dettori.

Fans of both Rob Huff and Michael Caine were made to endure nail-bitting finishes to the season.

After having to make do with runners-up spot 12 months earlier in the World Touring Car Championship, Rob Huff finally got his hands on the coveted title after an impressive second half of the season fightback, which saw him take the title during the final round decider of the series in Macau in what was to be his farewell drive for Chevrolet.

As for Newmarket driver Caine, consistency proved to be the key to his and race partner Daniele Perfetti’s title triumph in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship.

Despite not winning a single race all season, the Newmarket driver – together with the Swiss racer – took the title after finishing fourth in a dramatic final round at Donington Park.

Success in motorsport was not restricted to four wheels with the Mildenhall Fen Tigers speedway team enjoying their most successful season since the club’s formation back in the 1970s after claiming the National League Grand Slam.

The West Row outfit justified their early season promise by landing the National League Pairs, Fours, National Trophy, along with retaining the National League Knockout Cup with a 93-74 aggregate win over the Dudley Heathens.

However the club’s pinnacle moment of the season came when landing the National League Play-Off final with a 91-90 aggregate win over the Heathens.

Lakenheath greyhound trainer Mark Wallis landed his fourth Greyhound Trainers’ Association Trainers’ Championship after topping the final standings with 1,215 points.

It proved to be a year to remember on the track for Wallis and his team with six Category One prizes finding their way back to Imperial Kennels.

Highlight of the season was the victory of the Blonde Snapper in the final of the Greyhound Derby final at Wimbledon in May.

Despite javelin star Goldie Sayers suffering disappointment at the Olympics after an arm injury saw her exit in the qualifying round of the competition, it was far from a year of doom and gloom for the Newmarket-born athlete.

After early season win in Morocco, the 30 year old, who carried the Olympic Torch through the Lincolnshire town of Bourne, secured her 10th straight UK title before going on to break her her own UK record of 65.75m with a throw of 66.17m at the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace.

For Newmarket Joggers member Paul Holley, 2012 will long live long in the memory after taking the inaugural running of the Highland Marathon in Perthshire.

For clubmate Martin Gear, wins came thick and fast throughout the season, with victories in the Red Lodge 5K and the inaugural 12k Run The Walks contest in Newmarket, among his impressive haul.

In addition, Gear also lowered his marathon time by more than 40 minutes when taking part in the Brighton Marathon.

Reach-based teenager Ben Snaith looks to have a bright future ahead of him after securing the national under-17 400m title in a time of 47.92 seconds.

Newmarket Cycling and Triathlon Club member Maxine Lane was another to take her form to another level after capturing the both the Braintree and Culford Sprint Triathlons, along with the Cambridge Olympic distance triathlon.

On the football front, the success story of the season came from Ely City.

Finishing second in the Ridgeons Premier Division, now the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division, behind Wroxham, the Robins gained compensation with a last gasp 3-2 victory over local rivals Soham Town Rangers in the Cambs Invitation Cup at Cambridge United’s R Costings Abbey Stadium.