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Ryder records and tennis tidbits

Steven Lynch October 15, 2012
Europe's Ryder Cup team recovered from 10-4 down © Getty Images

I've just about recovered from the Ryder Cup. Has either team ever won before from such an unpromising position? asked Tom Mitchell

Yes, the fact that Europe managed to win the Ryder Cup after being 10-6 down going into the last-day singles is only just sinking in here, too! Actually the United States pulled off a similar comeback in 1999, when they went into the singles at Brookline also trailing 10-6, before winning the first six matches on the final day and running out triumphant by the same margin - 14½ to 13½ - as Europe this time. But I'm bound to say that Europe's performance in 2012 was probably superior, as they were the visiting team. And this time they were actually 10-4 down at one stage, before rallying to win the last two fourballs on the second day to narrow the gap going into the third.

After watching Camelot fail to land the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, I wondered how many English Derby winners had won it? asked Nick Staples

The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, which was inaugurated in 1920, has been won on only six occasions by a horse which had previously won the Epsom Derby. The first to achieve this notable double was the French horse Sea Bird II in 1965, and that was followed by Mill Reef in 1971, Lammtarra in 1995, Sinndar in 2000, Sea the Stars in 2010, and Workforce in 2011. Camelot joins a long list of "super horses" that couldn't quite pull off the double, probably the most famous being Nijinsky, which won three English Classics in 1970 but was edged out in that year's Arc by Sassafras.

Which is the only club never to have been relegated from the Bundesliga? asked Chris Fellows

It might come as a bit of a surprise to many to learn that the Bundesliga - the German football league - was only constituted in its current form in 1963. Previously there were regional leagues which led to playoffs to decide the national champions. And the team which has been ever-present is another surprise: it's not Bayern Munich, the seemingly eternal German champions (they have won 21 times since 1969), but SV Hamburg (three titles between 1979 and 1983, with Kevin Keegan helping them to the first one; they also won the European Cup in '83). Hamburg is one of Germany's oldest football clubs, which explains its nickname "The Dinosaur".

Novak Djokovic recently won the China Open for the third time. What's the record for winning the same tennis tournament most often? asked Martin Howard

The men's grand slam record in the Open era (since professionals were permitted to play in 1968) is seven wins, by Pete Sampras and Roger Federer at Wimbledon and Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. If you take all tour events into account then the answer is eight - by Guillermo Vilas at the tournament in his native Buenos Aires in the 1970s, and by Nadal at the Monte Carlo Open, where he has won every year since 2005. In the women's game Martina Navratilova won in Chicago on 12 occasions, and 11 times at Eastbourne: she also holds the grand slam record with nine Wimbledon titles. Margaret Court won the Australian Championships - later the Australian Open - 11 times, seven of those before tennis went open in 1968.

How many fights did Muhammad Ali have in England? asked Mike McNamara

Only three of Muhammad Ali's 61 professional fights were in England. Two of them were against Henry Cooper, including the famous one at Wembley in June 1963 when Ali (then known as Cassius Clay, and not yet world champion) was floored by 'Enry's 'Ammer - Cooper's left hook - at the end of the fourth round. Helped by a delay when his glove was found to be damaged, Ali recovered in time for the next round, during which he ended the fight. They met again at Highbury in May 1966, by which time Ali had won the title. There were no such dramatics this time, as Cooper was stopped in the sixth. Three months later Ali fought Brian London at Earls Court, and knocked him out in the third round. Ali did have one further fight in Ireland, a non-title bout against the American Alvin "Blue" Lewis in Dublin in 1972. Ali fought two other Britons - Joe Bugner (twice) and Richard Dunn - but those took place overseas: he beat Bugner on points in Las Vegas in 1972, and outpointed him again in Kuala Lumpur in 1975 (by which time he had regained the world title), then KO'd Dunn in the fifth in Munich in 1976.

Is it true that after the legendary Peter O'Sullevan commentated on his last race, a horse owned by him then won the next one? asked George Chalmers

Rather pleasingly, this is true. Sir Peter O'Sullevan, the voice of horse racing on the BBC for half a century, announced his retirement from the microphone in 1997. The last race for which he did the commentary was that year's Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, which was won by Suny Bay. The next race, the Fulke Walwyn Chase, was won by O'Sullevan's horse, the appropriately named Sounds Fyne. In the emotion of that final day, Sir Peter forgot to back his horse, which romped home at 12/1: "I didn't have a shilling on, but then who cares," he said. "The amazing thing is that he won."

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