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SWINDON SPORT TOP 100, 2013: The top 10
5:30am Tuesday 31st December 2013 in Sport
#10 - AARON NELL
THE 24-year-old forward is quite simply Swindon Wildcats’ best homegrown player in recent years and 2012/13 was the season he came into his own as he captained the Link Centre side.
Nell was the top goalscorer in the English Premier League - effectively UK hockey’s second tier – registering 60 times in 54 appearances with a further 55 assists to his name.
That meant he smashed through the 100-point barrier and ended up on 115, going some considerable way to earning him his first Great Britain cap.
AARON NELL REPRESENTED GREAT BRITAIN
After hitting the century mark, Nell said: “It was nice to get it done and it was nice that Jonas (Hoog) made the pass for me.
“I really enjoy playing with Jonas, I wouldn’t pick anyone else in the league to play alongside.
“I’ll probably never get 100 points again in my life and it’s something I will look at in time.”
The scorer of a hat-trick in the first leg of the play-off quarter-final against Basingstoke, Nell switched to Elite League side Sheffield Steelers in the summer but found his ice time limited, so elected to move back to Swindon last week on a two-way deal.
#9 - JONAS HOOG
SWEDISH star Hoog has been an extremely popular figure since arriving on these shores midway through the 2010/11 season.
The forward did his reputation amongst Swindon Wildcats fans no harm at all in 2012/13 as he finished as the EPL’s top points scorer for the second campaign in a row.
Scoring 39 goals in 54 games, it was Hoog’s mind-bending 81 assists that catapulted him five points ahead of linemate Aaron Nell in the points-scoring charts with 120.
JONAS HOOG SOMEHOW BROKE THE 100 POINTS BARRIER IN A SINGLE SEASON
After reaching his century against Telford, Hoog said: “It’s always fun to get a lot of points but it’s more important that we got the win.
“It’s probably the first and the last time I will do 100 points so of course it’s pretty cool, but it’s something I will think about more after the season.”
Hoog re-signed at Swindon in the summer after missing out on a deal in his homeland and has continued to impress in this campaign, averaging well over a point a game so far.
His experience saw him rewarded with the assistant captain’s role and he is a respected member of the Wildcats setup.
#8 - ALAN KING
THE Barbury Castle trainer celebrated 47 winners in 2013 and totalled £396,280 in prize money.
At the Cheltenham Festival, King had plenty to celebrate.
A 1-2 in the Coral Cup was the pinnacle of the Festival as 33/1 shot Medinas, ridden by Swindon’s Wayne Hutchinson, took the title from stablemate Meister Eckhart.
Godsmejudge, Smad Place and Manyriverstocross gave King place finishes in the National Hunt Chase, World Hurdle and County Handicap respectively.
ALAN KING'S GODSMEJUDGE WON THE SCOTTISH NATIONAL
King carried his Cheltenham Festival form into the Aintree Festival in Liverpool with L’Unique winning the Juvenile Hurdle.
Smad Place also grabbed another place for King in the Aintree Liverpool Hurdle.
King had no joy in the Aintree Grand National but back in his homeland in Scotland he grabbed an emotional victory in the Scottish Grand National.
It was jockey Hutchinson again delivering for King as Godsmejudge produced a magical jumping display to win at 12/1.
#7 - NICKY HENDERSON
LAMBOURN-based Henderson had yet another supreme year, as he became the Cheltenham Festival’s most decorated trainer.
Henderson went through the 50-winner barrier thanks to his Gold Cup success with Bobs Worth back in March, and there were also victories for Simonsig in the Arkle, Rajdhani Express in the Centenary and the indefatigable Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
He may have been pipped to the post by Willie Mullins in the race for the top trainer of this year’s festival, but Henderson still made a major impact.
NICKY HENDERSON IS NOW THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL'S MOST DECORATED TRAINER
On Bobs Worth’s victory, Henderson sad: “It is dreams, isn't it? Barry Geraghty gave that a lovely pace. It has been a long wait as neither horse has run for a long old time. He is such an honest horse, he always gallops up the hill.”
Henderson maintained an impressive 25 per cent win ratio over 2013, with in excess of 150 winners.
Henderson’s star horse Sprinter Sacre also furthered his claim as the most exciting horse in the country during 2013, although he was pulled up on Friday at Kempton.
#6 - ANDREW NICHOLSON
NEW Zealander Nicholson completed a career-best year at the ripe old age of 52.
The Marlborough-based eventer dominated the sport, retaining his world number one ranking and claiming numerous titles on some of equestrian’s biggest stages, including Luhmuhlen and Pau.
ANDREW NICHOLSON STAYED AS WORLD NUMBER ONE ALL YEAR
Nicholson has now held the HSBC rankings lead for 19 consecutive months and also won the HSBC FEI Classic. Pau winner Nereo was crowned eventing horse of the year by the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses, while Nicholson also had joy onboard Mr Cruise Control, Avebury, Calico Joe and Quimbo.
On being handed a second consecutive $50,000 year-end bonus for topping the rankings, Nicholson said: “This is a great honour, and it doesn’t get more special than this.
“The competition is a lot fiercer now right from the beginning of the season because of the focus on world ranking points. We’ve pulled it off again, and I’m now focusing on the 2014 eventing season, the World Equestrian Games and of course the Olympics in Rio.”
#5 - WAYNE HUTCHINSON
THE Swindon jockey enjoyed his best year for a long while, with victory in the Scottish Grand National a particular highlight.
Hutchinson made the most of his chance to ride Alan King’s Godsmejudge at Ayr in April, guiding the seven-year-old home first to ensure the youngest winner of the race in more than a decade.
“The horse was fantastic, he jumped great and got into a fantastic rhythm,” Hutchinson said.
SCOTTISH NATIONAL WINNER WAYNE HUTCHINSON
“He didn’t enjoy the hustle and bustle for the first four fences but he found a bit of space and found his gear and gave a fantastic ride.
“Full credit to the boss (King) - the horses have been in fantastic form and I’ve just been lucky enough to be sat on top of him.”
Hutchinson had a winning ride at the Cheltenham Festival on Medinas in the Coral Cup and came home third onboard Smad Place in the World Hurdle.
Hutchinson finished the 2012/13 season with 40 winners in. He has taken that form into the new campaign in sensational style and has already ridden 34 horses to victory thus far in 2013/14.
#4 - LAURA HALFORD
CRICKLADE’S rhythmic gymnastics star served notice of her considerable potential ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games by securing her first British senior title.
The teenager, mentored by respected coach Deb Hows at Esprit, had already won the Welsh equivalent a week before tackling the British Rhythmic Championships in June.
Halford put in superb performances with ball, clubs, hoop and rope to triumph over clubmate Steph Sherlock at Fenton Manor in Stoke-on-Trent.
LAURA HALFORD - THE NEXT BIG THING IN RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICS
The victory understandably left her delighted and now she is targeting a spot in Glasgow next year.
After winning the British title, she admitted: “Going into these championships I felt a bit of pressure was on me.
“These are all new routines this year with the new code of points and as I knew that Frankie Jones (six-time British champion) wouldn’t be competing that added a bit more expectation on me.
“I’m really proud to have won as it’s something I’ve always dreamt about.
“This result is important looking ahead to next year’s Commonwealth Games which are a big target for me.”
#3 - JAZZ CARLIN
FOR freestyle flyer Carlin, 2013 was a year to rebuild confidence after illness wrecked her chances of qualification for London 2012.
And the Swindonian emphatically achieved that, securing a notable haul of titles in the process.
Initially winning triple gold at the British Gas International Meet, she followed it up with her first-ever British Championship titles as she triumphed in the 400m, 800m and 1500m in Sheffield.
Desperately unfortunate to miss out on a first World Championship medal in the 400m at Barcelona in the summer, Carlin went on to lower Welsh records at the European Short Course Championships at the end of the year.
JAZZ CARLIN HAD A PHENOMENAL YEAR IN THE POOL
She remains a leading medal contender heading into the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Carlin said: “This year was about building me back up after the disappointment of 2012, which was a really tough year, and I just wanted to enjoy swimming and racing again.
“From that perspective, it’s been great because I did that. Obviously I really wanted to be on the podium at the World Championships and to miss out by so little was heartbreaking.
“But that’s alright because I’ve got more motivation for next year and Glasgow is a big target for me and that’s where all the work is going towards.”
#2 - KELVIN YOUNG
YOUNG’S success in the ring gave Swindon its first ever IBO Inter-Continental champion in December.
The Penhill brawler saw off the challenge of Bulgarian Alexey Ribchev under the glare of the Oasis Leisure Centre lights, with Young winning on a unanimous decision from the judges following a gruelling 10-round contest.
Young said of his victory: “It was a tough old fight for me because he has a winning record and he travels Europe to fight the best, and he came here to win the belt even though he only had a few weeks’ notice.
KELVIN YOUNG WAS CROWNED IBO INTER-CONTINENTAL SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION
“He thought he would come here to knock me out but I stuck to the plan given to me by Rich (Farnan, trainer) and I stuck it out well and got the win.
“I was nearly in tears when they said who the winner was, it was really emotional. I can’t explain how much it means to me and I don’t think it will really sink in for a while to be honest.
“I knew he was tough and strong but I thought he would slow down a lot quicker than he did, but he was a very tough boy.”
Earlier in the year, Young avenged his May defeat to Sam Couzens in Gloucester by bouncing back to beat the same opponent and earn the BBBofC Southern Area super middleweight title in September.
#1 - DAVID HOWELL
IN 2013 one of Swindon’s most popular sportsmen reminded the world of his supreme talent.
The Broome Manor pro enjoyed his best season in years with the crowning glory coming at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews at the end of the September.
The Broome Manor pro defeated Peter Uihlein at the second extra hole of a play-off to record his first European Tour victory in seven years, catapulting him back into both into the world's top 100 and the Ryder Cup reckoning.
Following his victory, he said: “I have never played in an Open Championship (at St Andrews) but to win a golf tournament as a professional at the Home of Golf is quite amazing and I am really thrilled.
DAVID HOWELL IS THE ADVER'S NUMBER ONE SPORTING STAR OF 2013
“I was really nervous all week and strangely less nervous today - I can’t explain that at all. I stayed calm and smooth under pressure and that was really pleasing.
“It’s been a long, long road from the depths of despair. I have had a lot of support from people around me and this is as much for them as it is for me.”
Howell later triumphed in the Royal Cup with Europe against Asia, winning his singles match and winning and halving two foursomes contests alongside Marc Warren.
The 38-year-old had nine top-20 finishes on the European Tour, with top-10 efforts at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, the Tshwane Open, the Trophee Hassan II, the French Open and of course at Gleneagles.
He amassed winnings of more than €1million, somehow found the time to prepare for the birth of twins with wife Emily and enlightened Sky Sports viewers with his enthusiastic punditry.
In June, Howell also qualified for the US Open, where he came tied 65th at Merion with a 72-hole score of 22-over-par.
He said: “I have been playing some great golf again over the past year. I have been in the mix on a few Sundays but not closed a tournament out yet. I know I am not that far away.
“Getting into the US Open again is brilliant. The last time I played in it two years ago, I was injured and not playing well at all. Now it’s an opportunity.”
Having entered 30 European Tour and Major tournaments during the calendar year of 2013, Howell only failed to make the cut on five occasions.
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