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Exciting racing ahead for 175th Royal Regatta
Published 01/07/14

THE 175th annual Henley Royal Regatta gets under way tomorrow.

Thousands of spectators will make their way to the town for the five days of racing with hot weather expected throughout the week.

The first day of racing will see the selected schoolboy eights from St Edwardís School and St Paulís go head-to-head in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup. Both crews are at the top of their game but Bobby Thatcherís St Paulís eight will hope they can cause an upset.

The GB menís four, coached by Jurgen Grobler, who will race on home water for the only time this season.

The crew of Andrew Triggs-Hodge, George Nash, Mo Sbihi and Alex Gregory have been untouchable all season and will have their sights set on the Stewards' Challenge Cup on Saturday when they are likely to face the French national crew.

With good conditions expected, the 2011 record of six minutes, 19 seconds may be under threat.

The Double Sculls Challenge Cup sees the GB crew of John Collins and Jonny Walton open their campaign on Friday but the draw has set up the prospect of a Sunday final with one of the seasonís stand-out crews, Jeremy Azou and Stany Delayare of France.

The GB quadruple scull of Graeme Thomas, Sam Townsend, Charles Cousins and Peter Lambert are also having an outstanding season but will need to be at their best to win the Queen Mother Challenge Cup against four foreign crews.

Top of the list of their opponents is an Australian crew that includes Chris Morgan, who has won Olympic bronze and was world champion in this event in 2011.

In the Diamond Challenge Sculls for men, Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale has been in outstanding form, winning the seasonís second world cup. He could face George Bridgewater, a fellow Kiwi and Olympic medallist who is on the comeback trail.

On the other side of the draw, three-time Diamonds winner Alan Campbell and the Netherlands' Roel Brass will compete for a potential final clash with Drysdale on Sunday.

In the Princess Royal Challenge Cup for female single scullers, the Czech Republicís Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova will be up against Britainís 2013 world junior champion Jess Leyden in a much-anticipated clash.

The British menís eight must wait until Sunday to open their account in a straight final with the French eight in the Grand Challenge Cup.

This year, the French have put all their top oarsmen in the eight and a close contest is expected. The race will give the British a chance to bed in their new order, including newcomers Tom Ransley, Constantine Louloudis, Matt Gotrel and Paul Bennett.

Britainís womenís eight, which includes world pairs champion Polly Swann of Leander, will face Australiaís national crew on Saturday with the winner likely to face the Dutch national team in Sundayís final.

In the club and student events, the Visitorsí Challenge Cup for menís fours has thrown two of Imperial Collegeís composite crews together in the first round of heats on Thursday.

The three Oxford Brookes university crews that qualified for the Temple Challenge Cup for student eights avoided the same fate but their selected first crew will have a tough opener against a strong Newcastle University eight.

Newcastle University's coxed four has a great chance of going all the way in the Prince Albert Challenge Cup and open their account against the University of Bath on Thursday.

The Ladiesí Challenge Plate for intermediate menís eights has proved a tough event for British crews, though last year an emerging GB development crew was successful.

This year strong US crews from Brown University and California ďCalĒ Berkley await the Brits. The first heats will take place on Friday, with the pick of a strong field looking to be the contest between Brown and the Brookes/Taurus composite crew.

Published 01/07/14

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