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Racing: Captain Chris ruled out of King George

Captain Chris, second in the King George VI Chase last year to Long Run, was on Monday declared a non-runner for Thursday's running of the mid-season showpiece. Trained by Philip Hobbs, Captain Chris misses the Boxing Day highlight after sustaining a minor injury on Monday. "Unfortunately Captain Chris banged a joint on his off-foreleg while schooling this morning and is very slightly lame on it so there is no chance of him running on Boxing Day," Hobbs told The Racing Post.

Racing: End of era as Hollywood Park closes after 75 years

Hollywood Park, once America's most famous horse racing showplace with legendary moviemakers and film stars among its patrons, closed Sunday after 75 years with a final slate of 11 races. Such equine icons as Seabiscuit, Citation, Affirmed, John Henry and Zenyatta competed at the impressive venue in suburban Inglewood, which opened on June 10, 1938.

Racing: A year to forget for Dubai ruler, Cecil loses battle

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's Godolphin Operation had what can only be described as an annus horribilis for despite some big winners their year will be remembered for being implicated in the worst doping scandal to hit the sport. The doping of 22 horses -- including the surprising 2012 St Leger winner Encke -- may have resulted in an eight year ban for the man held responsible, trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni, but it still did untold damage to the image of his employer.

New Zealand's kiwi probably started out an Aussie

In a finding likely to be a bitter blow for many New Zealanders, researchers have found the country's iconic kiwi bird probably descended from an ancestor that flew in from Australia. Palaeontologist Trevor Worthy of Adelaide's Flinders University said fossilised remains suggested the flightless bird did not evolve from the extinct giant moa, as has long been assumed. Instead, he said an ancestor of the kiwi dating back 20 million years discovered in the South Island was more closely related to another giant flightless bird, the emu, which is still common in Australia.

Israeli seeks fortune in China

HAIKOU, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- It was 2009 when Yuval Golan received the call that would change his life. Working for the Israeli embassy in the Netherlands, he was invited to his brother's wedding in Beijing. "I was always fascinated with Chinese culture and Chinese people," Golan said. "I said OK, that's a good opportunity to go to China." The 28-year-old always knew he'd settle down abroad, he just wasn't sure where.

Football: Struggling Hanover turn to psychological help

Bundesliga side Hanover 96 have turned to psychological help in a bid to halt their slide down the table and recapture some form. Hanover have dropped to 12th in the league table after winning just one of their last 10 matches including seven away defeats. "Of course, it's a mental problem when you lose seven games in a row away," said Hanover's general manager Dirk Dufner. In a bid to break into the top six to guarantee European football next season, Hanover have brought in former club employee and motivation specialist Peter Boltersdorf at the players' request.

France's Fabius doubts breakthrough at Syria talks

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius played down expectations Monday for next month's talks in Geneva on the Syrian conflict, saying he doubted they would mark a breakthrough. The "Geneva 2" meeting is slated for January 22 and aims to bring together Syria's opposition and President Bashar al-Assad's regime to try to end the country's nearly three-year civil war. "I believe that it will take place but... it is very difficult to imagine a quick positive outcome," Fabius told France Inter radio.

Nearly 400 killed in last three days in Bangui

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Sunday that nearly 400 people were killed in the last three days in violence in the Central African Republic capital Bangui, but that calm had returned. "We have counted 394 dead in the last three days. Calm has returned to Bangui even if there are still some abuses here and there," Fabius told France 3 television. French troops poured into the impoverished landlocked country on Saturday after President Francois Hollande announced he was boosting a UN-mandated French force to 1,600 soldiers.

Racing: Cirrus Des Aigles takes aim at Hong Kong jinx

French great Cirrus Des Aigles will try to break a jinx that has left him winless in Hong Kong when he headlines one of the world's richest race meetings Sunday. The seven-year-old, the world's top racehorse a year ago, will make his fifth attempt at glory at the $9.3 million Hong Kong International Races. Japanese sprint star Lord Kanaloa will make his final appearance before retirement and British trainer Richard Hannon will oversee his last race when Sky Lantern runs the Mile.

Racing: Dancing Rain sold for £4.2 million

Champion mare Dancing Rain, who is carrying a foal by star racehorse Frankel, sold at auction on Tuesday for four million guineas (£4.2 million, $6.8 million). The retired 2011 Oaks winner was sold in Newmarket, eastern England to John Ferguson, bloodstock advisor for Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed who owns the town's Godolphin stables. Frankel rated the world's all-time top racehorse has been at stud since retiring last year following 14 straight wins. "Sheikh Mohammed felt that she's a jewel," Ferguson told the BBC.
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