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Azorian back in winning groove

first_img Noel Meade has kept the winners ticking along recently and the County Meath handler put another on the scoreboard when Wildebeest won as he liked in the Nobber Maiden Hurdle. Paul Carberry rode a typically patient race, creeping into contention on the 11-4 joint-favourite and allowing Sizing Titanium to jump the final flight upsides before sauntering past on the run-in to score by a very easy two lengths in the testing conditions. Meade said: “He worked last Tuesday with the horse that won yesterday (Heck Thomas) and I was thinking either the other horse worked badly or he worked exceptionally well. He’s a chaser for next year. He’s a big horse by Oscar and could make a nice one.” Sam Red was an emphatic winner of the Racing 15th March Maiden Hurdle, though the manner of the victory was different as he cleared right away after giving punters a scare with a stumble following a clumsy leap at the last. Alan Fleming’s evens favourite had the race in the bag at that stage and he soon recovered to pass the post 26 lengths ahead in the hands of Adrian Heskin. David Mullins is making a name for himself and the claimer gave Mine Now a confident ride to win the Garlow Cross Handicap Hurdle, making smooth progress to take over from Lion Na Bearnai going to the last and driving Peter Fahey’s 3-1 joint-favourite four and three-quarter lengths clear. The seven-year-old chased home the likes of Apache Stronghold, Briar Hill, Faugheen and Vautour as a novice hurdler last season and was third behind The Tullow Tank on his fencing bow at Fairyhouse in November. After pulling up at Punchestown a couple of weeks later, Azorian reverted to the smaller obstacles when third at Clonmel last month, and he was a 4-6 favourite back over fences in the Follow Navan On Facebook Beginners Chase. Press Association Sent straight to the lead by Bryan Cooper, his round of jumping was not quite error-free, but ultimately he had plenty in the locker and came home eight lengths clear of Big Kern, who was the only rival able to throw down a challenge in the closing stages. Griffin said: “It’s nice to have him back on a winning track. He’s been a bit frustrating after showing a lot of promise early on. He’s had breathing problems and has had a lot of operations. He could keep going during the summer as long as the ground isn’t quick.” Cooper went on to complete a double on the afternoon, steering the Tony Martin-trained No Secrets to victory in the Newgrange Veterans Handicap Chase after leading for most of the way. A winner for Warren Greatrex and David Pipe in Britain, No Secrets was a 4-1 shot on his first start for his new trainer following a long lay-off and got the better of Letter Of Credit by three-quarters of a length after the runner-up made a hash of the final fence. Hot favourite Glenquest looked likely to triumph between the final two fences, but faded quickly. Martin said: “I have a few nice horses for Malcolm Denmark. He has a lot of interest in Ireland and has bought a few nice horses. I’ve known Malcolm for a long time, since the days of Monsignor. He offered me a job at that time and we’ve been good friends since. We’re looking for another Monsignor!” Martin also landed the bumper when the JP McManus-owned Anibale Fly (5-4 favourite), ridden by Donagh Meyler, caught long-time leader Robin Of Locksley in the final furlong and forged six and a half lengths clear. It completed a double for the owner, whose second colours were carried to victory by Jody McGarvey on The Parishioner (11-1) in the Dunsany Handicap Chase for trainer John Kiely. Trainer Eoin Griffin is keeping his fingers crossed Azorian has turned a corner after the highly tried gelding gained an overdue success at Navan.last_img read more

Tough non-conference matchup awaits Badgers Saturday

first_imgThe Badgers will play their third game of the season Saturday when they host Bowling Green, entering the game with a record of 2-1 after easily defeating Western Illinois two weeks ago with a bye this past weekend.The Badgers will not be overlooking Bowling Green, especially since the Falcons upset the Indiana Hoosiers last week in a 45-42 shootout.At his Monday press conference, Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen made it clear that he expects this Saturday’s game to be a difficult test against a quality opponent.“It’ll be a big challenge for us,” Andersen said. “Defensively, we’re going to have to be on our toes and take care of business. We need to get back to playing solid, consistent offense and we expect to play that way against a defense that’s going to be very aggressive.”Andersen described Bowling Green as an opponent that plays at as fast a pace on offense and uses a lot of blitzing.However, the Badgers’ head coach was confident that his team is ready for the style of football that the Falcons will throw at them.“We’ve practiced against pace, we’ll continue to, and we can’t allow their pace to affect the game in a positive way,” Andersen said. “It causes some issues, but we’ve got to be prepared for it.”In their 37-3 rout of Western Illinois in game two, the Badgers did many things well, but running the ball was not one of them.Star running back and Heisman hopeful Melvin Gordon had an underwhelming performance against the Leathernecks, as the Badgers did not have the same success on the ground that they have become so accustomed to over the years. Despite averaging 7.8 yards per carry over his career and 8.8 yards per carry in Wisconsin’s first game against LSU, Gordon averaged only 2.2 yards on 17 carries against Western Illinois.“Your goal is to find a way to split the defense in half and we weren’t able to do that until late in the third quarter and a few of those runs in the fourth quarter,” Andersen said.Without a game this past weekend, the Badgers have had two weeks of practice to work on getting the running game back on track, and Andersen admitted Monday that they are focused on running the ball better, knowing that it will be important in order to get a win against a tough team Saturday.“We want to run the ball better than we did against Western [Illinois],” Andersen said. “Do we expect to run the ball better this week than we did in week two? Yes, we do, and I’m sure Bowling Green is going to load up the box and challenge us to run the ball effectively.”Unlike the running game, Wisconsin’s passing attack increased dramatically in their second game as quarterback Tanner McEvoy appeared to finally get into a rhythm and look comfortable throwing the ball. After a poor first game against LSU when he had just 50 yards through the air, McEvoy played much better against Western Illinois, throwing for 283 yards and three touchdowns while giving the ball away only once on an interception.Wisconsin will need McEvoy to keep progressing in order to beat Bowling Green and lead the Badgers to a successful season. While Andersen said he still wants his mobile quarterback to use his legs when the time calls for it, the Badgers’ head coach thinks one area for improvement that would allow McEvoy to develop further would be to utilize his ability to throw downfield when it is open.“I’m not asking him to [become a pocket passer],” said Andersen. “But we want him to hang in there, let the offensive line do their work and throw the ball down the field when the opportunity is given.”Along with McEvoy, a big reason for the much-improved passing game in week two was the breakout performance of wide receiver Alex Erickson, a former walk-on, who caught 10 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown against Western Illinois.Andersen said Monday that he expects Erickson to continue to emerge as a reliable target, especially since he will be heavily counted on to help McEvoy maintain a strong attack through the air.“He’s so detailed, and he’s so smart and so competitive, a lot of times that’s a vicious combination,” Andersen said of his receiver. “I really think his expectations for him is to be a great receiver, not a good receiver and he took some good steps toward that in game two.”Wisconsin will be looking to have both dimensions clicking in the same game for the first time this season and avoid becoming the second Big Ten team in consecutive weeks to be upset by Bowling Green.The two teams will kick off at 11 a.m. at Camp Randall Stadium and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN2.last_img read more