Morning Sports Update

SOCCER

Arsenal are back to winning ways.

The Gunners ended a run of 4 straight defeats with a victory over A-C Milan in the Europa League last night.


Aaron Ramsey hit the back of the net after Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored his first goal for the club.

It hands Arsenal a 2-nil lead heading into the second leg of the last 16 tie at the Emirates Stadium next week.

Manager Arsene Wenger says the result is something to build on

Dundalk welcome champions Cork City to Oriel Park in the S-S-E Aritricity League Premier Division tonight.

Shamrock Rovers play host to Derry City.

Bohemians welcome St Patrick’s Athletic to Dalymount Park.

Waterford will look to register back-to-back wins when they go to Sligo Rovers.

And Bray Wanderers continue their search for a first win of the season, with a trip to Limerick.


RUGBY

Sean O’Brien has tonight, the chance to prove his fitness for Ireland’s potential Grand Slam decider against England.

The Leinster flanker has recovered from an ankle injury to captain his Province in their rescheduled Pro 14 match against Scarlets in Wales.

The Irish squad continue their build up to tomorrow’s Six Nations clash with Scotland, with the eve of match Captain’s Run at the Aviva Stadium.

The Ireland Under 20s will look to bounce back from a defeat to Wales, when they face their Scottish counterparts to Donnybrook this evening.

Joe Schmidt says he will be keeping an eye on both the 20s and O’Brien tonight


GOLF

Rory McIlroy’s build-up to the Masters has suffered another blip.

The former World Number One has shot a 3 over par opening round at the Vaslpar Championship in Florida.

That leaves the Ulsterman seven shots behind the leader Corey Conners of Canada.

Shane Lowry has spent the night on level par, while Tigers Woods is 1 under.


RACING

Sizing John has been ruled out of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Trainer Jessica Harrington says the 8-year old has suffered a hairline fracture of the pelvis.

The 6 to 1 joint favourite was aiming to become the first horse since 2003 to successfully defend the title.

There is racing this afternoon at Leopardstown and this evening at Dundalk:

LEOPARDSTOWN
First Race: 1.25

Jezki will not attempt to add to his Cheltenham Festival haul next week and instead the 2014 Champion Hurdle winner will line up in the 2m2f conditions hurdle at Leopardstown (1.25).
The ten-year-old has run at five of the past six festivals, achieving his greatest moment for Jessica Harrington when beating fellow JP McManus-owned My Tent Or Yours in a pulsating finish to the Champion Hurdle.

While My Tent Or Yours has gone on to finish second in two more Champion Hurdles and will be trying again on Tuesday, Harrington and her team have settled for a less demanding challenge at Leopardstown.

Jezki has only four rivals but that is not to say the task is straightforward. He will need to overcome the Willie Mullins-trained Karalee – the mount of Ruby Walsh as he continues his comeback – Gigginstown pair Gangster and Lieutenant Colonel, and Ellmarie Holden’s soft-ground lover Ex Patriot.
Gordon Elliott, who will be travelling a team of 40 or more horses to Cheltenham and enjoyed a good afternoon’s work at Thurles on Thursday, will be hoping to continue his fine run of form in the build-up to the festival with a number of strong fancies at the Foxrock track.

Topweight Destin D’Ajonc has leading claims in the 2m handicap hurdle (2.25), Jetstream Jack and General Principle represent the yard in the €100,000 handicap chase (3.30), while high-class Flat recruit Pallasator will bid to win his first race over hurdles in the 2m4f maiden (1.55).
The nine-year-old, who reached a peak rating of 113 on the Flat, has his quirks but after two respectable races for Elliott over hurdles he seems to have leading claims of breaking his jumping duck at the third attempt.

DUNDALK
First Race: 5.30

Mendelssohn, who landed the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar in November, heads a team of three Aidan O’Brien-trained colts in Friday’s Dundalk feature, the 32 Red Patton Stakes (7.30), which is part of the European Road to the Kentucky Derby series.

The mount of Ryan Moore, Mendelssohn is drawn in stall one with stablemates Seahenge (Donnacha O’Brien) and Threeandfourpence (Seamie Heffernan) in three and six.

All three Ballydoyle colts will be racing on the Polytrack for the first time in the Listed event, which has been increased in distance from seven furlongs to a mile.

The O’Brien trio face five rivals including the Michael Halford-trained filly Blackgold Fairy, who won a course-and-distance maiden by six and a half lengths on her second start last month.
Joseph O’Brien is represented by Ship Of Dreams, a seven-furlong maiden winner over the course, and the maiden Irish Minister.

The Fozzy Stack-trained Zihba, successful in a seven-furlong maiden over the course on his debut in December, and the Gavin Cromwell-trained Princess Yaiza, a dual course winner, complete the line-up.

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