Team Lakay staying ready amid pandemic

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/

MANILA, Philippines—Team Lakay, Benguet’s famed mixed martial arts stable, is taking a wait-and-see approach amid the coronavirus pandemic.

That means its pro members are expected to continue training in their respective homes while Luzon is placed under an “enhanced community quarantine,” as they wait for developments from ONE Championship, where a glut of its members is competing.

“We’re in constant communication with the promotion, frequently checking for updates,” coach Mark Sangiao told the Inquirer in Filipino on Sunday.

“I know that they’re examining all possible options to hurdle these obstacles we are all facing, so we’re also doing our part on staying ready,” he added.

Sangiao said he has restricted entry to the team’s new gym in La Trinidad last since March 17, with only the team’s pro athletes having access to the facility.

Benguet is also operating under stricter curfew windows and quarantine measures, according to Sangiao, with shopping for essential goods only allowed from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Reigning strawweight kingpin Joshua Pacio, and former champions Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, and Geje Eustaquio have been documenting their training sessions while in isolation.

“Right now, we’re employing a one-at-a-time use of the gym,” said Sangiao. “Should a fighter gets called up by ONE, he gets priority access.”

Chatri Sityodtong, the promotion’s head honcho, on March 12 announced that four of its upcoming events will be on a closed-door setting in Singapore.

Fight cards have yet to be determined by the promotion as of this writing, and the Team Lakay mentor said he has not been notified whether a member of his crew will compete on those events.

ONE, according to Sitdyodtong, will return to its live format on May 29 at Mall of Arena in Pasay when it takes off the lid on its

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Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby on Ghaiyyath, Barney Roy and Cross Counter’s chances at Dubai World Cup

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby had the most enviable Dubai World Cup meeting of any conditioner in 2019, landing the Dubai Sheema Classic with Old Persian, Al Quoz Sprint with Blue Point and the Dubai Gold Cup with Cross Counter.

This year, he is entering the world’s richest race day with a potent arsenal of seven serious chances in the four turf races on the nine-race card.

The Newmarket handler’s top two claims of the day are arguably Ghaiyyath and Barney Roy, who run in the Dubai Sheema Classic and Dubai Turf respectively.

Ghaiyyath is the highest-rated (126) horse training in Dubai this season and enters off perhaps the most impressive performance in the world when storming to an eight and a half lengths victory over stablemate Spotify five weeks ago.

The son of Dubawi smashed the 2000m course record (2:00.33) at Meydan under an eased-up ride that day and stretches back out to the 2410m (about 12 furlongs) over which he won the Grosser Preis von Baden last September.

A winner of six of nine starts, Ghiayyath looks a real force ahead of Saturday’s race.

“He’s definitely a different individual this time around. He’s five now and I thought going into his last race he had a lot more substance about him,” said Appleby.

“Mentally, he looked in a good place and subsequently came out not losing anywhere near the weight he has in the past. He never gives himself an easy race because of his (forward) running style, so as easy as he wins with these big margins, he doesn’t help himself.

“His preparation so far has been faultless and I’m confident he’s going to be there in as good or better condition. Hopefully a bit better than we last saw him in his last start. He’s an exciting

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Ian Veneracion at 45: Aging not something to dread, but to embrace

Proud to be called a “tito”

The first time Ian Veneracion was called “tito” by someone unrelated to him was on the set of a television show. And he must admit that he was a little taken aback.

“Anong ‘tito?’ I retorted to that person. In denial?” he jested at a recent press conference for “Kilabotitos”—his two-night concert with Ogie Alcasid that has been indefinitely postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But no offense taken, seriously, he stressed. After all, it was something he himself practiced back when he was just starting out in show biz.

“It’s something I grew up doing here in the business. Even if you don’t know someone personally, you automatically refer to him or her as ‘tito’ or ‘tita’ if he or she is already of a certain age … especially if you’re working with them for the first time. It’s a sign of respect. That’s what my seniors taught me before,” he related.

Ian Veneracion

Ian Veneracion

Besides, gone are the days, he believes, when the word tito conjured up images of a naughty ladies man. “That’s not so cool anymore. Now, you’re proud of your tito who’s a good family man with good values, and treats women properly,” he pointed out. “The peg is different now.”

He doesn’t look a day over 45. And he doesn’t feel like it either. It only dawned on him that he’s, indeed, starting to get old when he woke up one morning and saw that grey strands of hair had been sprouting from his face, and that his vision was no longer what it’s used to.

“When I noticed those, I was like, ‘Oops!’ That’s when I realized that I wasn’t getting any younger. My eyesight was another sign. It used to be 20-20, which you need to have

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