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The Handsome Eight and another Royal disappointment

Steven Lynch June 6, 2011
The Queen has never had a Derby winner © PA Photos

How many Classic horse races had the Queen won before the 2011 Derby? asked Simon Harris

Carlton House, the favourite for the 2011 Derby, stood to become the first winner of the race owned by the reigning monarch since 1909, when King Edward VII's Minoru won at Epsom, after also finishing first in the 2000 Guineas. The Queen had thus not had any previous Derby winners, but she had had success in all four of the other English Classics: her horses won The Oaks in 1957 (Carrozza) and 1977 (Dunfermline), the 2000 Guineas in 1958 (Pall Mall), the 1000 Guineas in 1974 (Highclere) and the St Leger in 1977 (Dunfermline again).

Who or what were the "Handsome Eight"? asked Keith Read

The "Handsome Eight" were a group of tennis players who turned professional at around the time the game was going open (allowing professionals to compete against amateurs) in 1968. They signed for the fledgling World Championship Tennis organisation, which went on to run several tournaments in the early years of the Open era. The Eight were John Newcombe (the 1967 Wimbledon champion) and Tony Roche from Australia, the Americans Butch Buchholz and Dennis Ralston, the Frenchman Pierre Barthes, Cliff Drysdale from South Africa, Niki Pilic from Yugoslavia and Britain's Roger Taylor. Roche, who hailed from a farming village in country New South Wales, had a rather craggy countenance, which led to the troupe being mischievously branded in some quarters as "The Handsome Seven and Tony Roche".

Has anyone played more matches for Manchester United than Ryan Giggs? asked Chris Storey

Ryan Giggs leads the way with 876 first-team appearances for Manchester United, 613 of them in the League and 140 in European club competitions since his debut in 1991. About four years ago he overhauled the previous record-holder, Bobby Charlton, who made 758 appearances, 606 of them in the League (Giggs passed that record earlier this season), between 1956 and 1973. Third on the list is a contemporary of Charlton's, defender Bill Foulkes, who played 688 first-team games between 1952 and 1970. Just behind him is the just-retired Paul Scholes, who finished with 676 appearances. Gary Neville is next with 602.

How many people have done the 5000/10,000-metre double at the same Olympics? asked Ben Storton

This particular double has now been achieved on eight occasions in the Olympic Games. Both the 5000 and 10,000 metres were added to the Olympic programme in Stockholm in 1912. Hannes Kolehmainen, the first of the "Flying Finns", did the double there at the first possible opportunity, but despite several near-misses no-one repeated the feat until 1952, when the great Czech distance runner Emil Zatopek won both, and took the marathon gold too for good measure. At the next Games, at Melbourne in 1956, the Russian Vladimir Kuts completed the 5000/10,000m double. He was followed by Lasse Viren, another Finn, who amazingly did the double in both 1972 and 1976, then in 1980 Miruts Yifter - "Yifter the Shifter" from Ethiopia - won both in Moscow. It was not managed again until 2008, when Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele won both in Beijing. The only woman to do it (it has only been possible since 1996, when the 5000m was added to the ladies' programme) is Tirunesh Dibaba, another Ethiopian, in 2008.

Which boxer was disqualified from the Olympics for "not fighting", but went on to win the world heavyweight title? asked Pawan Mathur via Facebook

This was the Swede Ingemar Johansson, who was disqualified at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki for backing away from his opponent, the eventual heavyweight gold medallist "Big Ed" Sanders from the United States. Johansson claimed he was trying to tire Sanders out - an early version of Muhammad Ali's tactics, perhaps - but the disqualification stood. Sanders, sadly, died just two years later after one of his early professional fights, but Johansson went on to win the world heavyweight title, knocking out the holder Floyd Patterson in the fifth at the Yankee Stadium in New York in June 1959: Patterson was on the canvas seven times in the third round (Johansson's right hand was popularly known as the "Hammer of Thor", although he apparently called it "thunder and lightning" himself). But Patterson reclaimed the title in the rematch, in New York a year later, and beat Johansson again in Florida in March 1961 (it was the first time the same two boxers had contested three successive world heavyweight title fights). Johansson went on to reclaim the European heavyweight title, before retiring in 1963. He died in January 2009, aged 76.

With Luke Donald going top of the world golf rankings, we've had three No. 1s already this year. What's the record? asked David Prince

Luke Donald's achievement - sealed in dramatic fashion when he beat the incumbent No. 1 Lee Westwood in a playoff to win last week's PGA Championship at Wentworth - did indeed make him the third golfer to top the official world rankings this year (Martin Kaymer started the year on top). The most volatile year for the rankings, which started in 1986, was 1997, when four different golfers topped the list: Greg Norman, Tom Lehman (for the only week of his career), Tiger Woods and Ernie Els - the top spot changed hands seven times in all between this quartet. There were also three No. 1s in 1986 (Bernhard Langer, Severiano Ballesteros and Greg Norman), 1992 (Ian Woosnam, Fred Couples and Nick Faldo), 1994 (Faldo, Norman and Nick Price), and 1998 (Norman, Woods and Els).

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