Evening Sports Update

RACING

Trainer Jessica Harrington plans to run Sandymount Duke – owned by Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood – in the Guinness Kerry National, the feature race of the Listowel Harvest Festival, that runs from 9th – 15th September.

Kate Harrington, assistant trainer to Jessica Harrington, says the plan is to run Sandymount Duke in the big race with the Aintree Grand National the ultimate target


Trainer Aidan O’Brien says the plan at present is to run Order of St George in the Comer Group Irish St.Leger at the Curragh on Longines Irish Champions Weekend.

Order of St George has won this Group 1 race for the past three seasons.

If O’Brien feels it’s not a bridge too far for the six-year-old, the plan will be to let him take his chance to emulate Vinnie Roe’s four successive wins in the classic from 2001-04

The four €150,000 European Breeders Fund-sponsored handicaps on Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and the Curragh on September 15 and 16 have again attracted strong entries from both at home and the other side of the Irish Sea.

The first of the premier handicaps over the two days is the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Petingo’ Handicap at Leopardstown on Saturday, September 15 and Willie Mullins has made 17 entries, including last year’s last-gasp winner Laws Of Spin, his Royal Ascot hero Lagostovegas, Galway festival winner Nessun Dorma and Limini. The Jim Bolger-trained Stellar Mass is the early top-weight and could be joined by the stable’s summer Group 3 winner Cimeara. British trainer Joseph Tuite has again entered Machine Learner which just lost out in the runner-up spot 12 months ago.

While there are five British-trained entries in the ‘Petingo’, there are 13 early entries from over the water in the seven-furlong Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Sovereign Path’ Handicap, the final race on the opening day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown. This race went to the Roger Fell-trained Burnt Sugar last year and the six-year-old, a dual winner since, is entered once again as are the second and third home, the Joe Murphy-trained Silverkode and Richard Fahey’s Withernsea which had finished second in the same race in 2016.

Burnt Sugar and the Karl Burke-trained Mjjack share the early top-weight. Fellow British raiders Escobar and Firmament, trained by David O’Meara, and John Quinn’s Safe Voyage are also towards the head of the handicap. Safe Voyage narrowly beat David Barron’s Danielsflyer to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ´Ahonoora´ Handicap on the final day of the Galway festival and they could renew rivalry at Leopardstown along with the third and fourth horses at Ballybrit, Turbine and Master Speaker, trained by Denis Hogan and Ado McGuinness respectively.

The globe-trotting Gordon Lord Byron is the highest rated of all Longines Irish Champions Weekend handicap entries and is set to top the weights with 10st 3lbs in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Bold Lad’ Sprint Handicap at the Curragh on Sunday, September 16. Tom Hogan’s star 10-year-old showed much of his old sparkle when second to Expert Eye in the Group 3 City Of York Stakes at York late last month and is an intended runner. Hogan said: “He’s come back in great form from his good run in York. He was carrying 10st all of last year, trying to give weight away to proper Group horses and we will try to give it to handicappers here. He’ll run providing the ground remains good or close to it.”

The first three horses in the race last year, Ice Age, Al Qahwa and Blairmayne, trained by Eve Johnson Houghton, David O’Meara and Natalia Lupini, are also engaged as are Adrian Keatley’s The Broghie Man and Group 1 winner Maarek for trainer Evanna McCutcheon. Urban Beat completed a hat-trick of wins for Johnny Murtagh at the Curragh on Saturday and will carry 9st 9lbs after going up 7lbs.

The final handicap, and the final race of Longines Irish Champions Weekend, is the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Northfields’ Handicap for which last year’s first and second, the Jim Bolger-trained Panstarr and Ger Lyons’ Mawaany, are entered. Big Country, trained by Mick Appleby, tops the early weights on 10st with Aidan O’Brien’s Kenya, up 8lbs for his success in last Saturday’s Tote Irish Cambridgeshire, next in on 9st 8lbs. The runaway Bellewstown winner Astronomer is also among the Ballydoyle battalion. Still Standing completed a hat-trick of wins when successful at last month’s Killarney festival and could carry the hopes of Jessica Harrington who has also entered Charcor and Rickrack.

GAELIC GAMES

The remaining members of the Mayo Ladies Football panel say there are no player welfare issues within the county set-up.

In July, 12 players left the Mayo panel days before their qualifier with Cavan citing sensitive and personal issues.

That action led to Carnacon being thrown out of the Mayo Championship, a decision that they successfully appealed.

But in a statement to The 42-dot-I-E today, the current panel say no such player welfare issues exist, or have ever existed under the present management.

The statement claims that manager Peter Leahy was subject to a “failed coup” following the withdrawal of the Carnacon players.

Leahy – they say – retains the confidence of the remaining squad.

CYCLING

National Road Race Champion Eve McCrystal heads a strong Irish challenge in Rás na mBan, which gets under way in Kilkenny tomorrow.

Also in the event is Breda Horan from Killarney, who rides with Scott Orwell Wheelers in Dublin.

Elia Viviani won today’s tenth stage of the Vuelta Espana.

The Quick-Step rider beat Peter Sagan in a sprint into Bermillo de Sayago.

Simon Yates retains the leader’s red jersey with a 1-second lead over Alejandro Valverde.

SOCCER

James McClean has been ruled out of the Republic of Ireland’s Nations League opener with Wales.

The Stoke winger posted on his Instagram that he was he “going for surgery”, with pictures from hospital of his heavily-wrapped arm.

The FAI say McClean has suffered a wrist injury.

The squad are due to travel to Cardiff later, following today’s behind-closed-doors training session.

Former Arsenal midfielder John Jensen will be in charge of Denmark for tomorrow’s friendly with Slovakia, and their Nations League opener with Wales.

It follows an extraordinary row over players’ commercial rights.

Instead of their regular squad, Denmark will pick a team from a squad comprised of domestic first and second division players.

Head coach Age Hareide has also been told to stay home, with Jensen stepping into the breach.

Bohemians’ Under-19s have been drawn to faces the Danes of Midtjylland (PR: Mitchel-land) in the first round of the UEFA Youth League.

Bohs will travel to Denmark for the first leg on October 3rd, with the home leg on Wednesday October 24th.

The winners of that tie will face either Basel of Hamilton in round 2.

RUGBY

Ulster have lost prop Kyle McCall for the first three months of the season.

He tore a tendon in his elbow last week that required surgery yesterday.

With Marty Moore and Tom O’Toole already absent for Friday’s visit of Edinburgh in the Pro 14, it stretches Dan McFarland’s front row resources even further.

GOLF

The line-ups for this year’s Ryder Cup will near completion tonight.

U-S captain Jim Furyk will name three of his four wildcards at 10pm.

Tiger Woods and Fed-Ex points leader Bryson DeChambeau could feature for the Americans in Paris.

European captain Thomas Bjorn will reveal all four of his wildcards tomorrow.

Tournament veterans like Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson could all be in the frame for European spots.

The Men’s World Amateur Team Championships get underway tomorrow at Carton House.

Shane Lowry joined the side as they got their last practice round underway on the O’Meara Course.

Alan Kelly reports