The Raymond Smith Memorial Hunters Chase, won by Rodger Sweeney’s gelding last year, could see Salsify again pitting his wits against the up-and-coming Tammys Hill, who has defeated him twice already this season in events at Wexford and Down Royal. Sweeney, who was battling against snow at his stables near Castlelyons in County Cork on Tuesday, said: “He likes better ground, but he has to go this weekend as he needs to run before Cheltenham.” Salsify is to have his final prep run at Leopardstown on Saturday ahead of his defence of the CGA Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He added: “It should be a good race. Tammys Hill beat him fair and square at Down Royal, but the ground was very soft that day. He likes nice ground and hopefully it will all go well at the weekend.” Salsify had just a one-length advantage over Chapoturgeon at Cheltenham and Sweeney identifies Richard Barber’s charge as the main danger. “I saw Chapoturgeon win the other day and he looks the one to beat,” he said. “It was close last year, and all you need to do is make one mistake.” Press Association
Shay Given has warned the Republic of Ireland not to under-estimate resurgent Georgia as the Euro 2016 qualifying game approaches crunch point. Press Association “We did that and we roll on. Monday is a huge game now.” Given, who was winning his 131st senior cap, was a spectator for much of the game, although he had to make two important first-half saves from Gibraltar midfielder Liam Walker, who fully extended him from distance with Jeff Wood’s side much improved from the 7-0 demolition job in Dublin last October. Given said: “These games, sometimes you think you will have nothing to do, but at 1-0 I made a couple of saves and you are on a hiding to nothing, really, because even when you are two, three-nil up, they still want to bomb forward to try to get a goal and get their name on the scoresheet. “It was important that we kept a clean sheet. It’s good for myself, good for the back four and the team as a unit to keep a clean sheet. “People say yes, it’s not great opposition, but they have still got some players – they scored against Scotland in Glasgow, so they have still got players who can cause a couple of problems.” However, the Republic’s hopes would be dealt a serious blow if they failed to follow up their win in Portugal with a similar outcome against Georgia at the Aviva Stadium on Monday, with the Germans and the Poles the tricky opposition lying in wait next month. Given said: “We wanted them to win [against Scotland], but the thing is they’ll be coming to Dublin with confidence and belief. But we will have plenty of confidence as well after the win tonight. We could have had more goals as well. “We played some good stuff, created some good chances – but it will be a different game. Obviously Georgia are a better team than the guys (on Friday night), so it will be a tougher game, but we are at home and we need to win the game. “We said after the Scottish game in Dublin that there would still be a few twists and turns, and (Friday) has shown that that’s the case. “Scotland will be kicking themselves a little bit, but there are still a lot of games to play – well, three. But after (Friday), we have got tough games coming up. “Obviously Monday is the game now. We have got to recover and try to get a win on Monday night.” Given and his team-mates were aware of what had happened at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena before kick-off at the Estadio Algarve, but the 39-year-old admitted that it had done little to change their approach. He said: “Not really. If anything, it might give you a little boost because they have dropped the points. But we knew we had to win the game whatever happened with Scotland. The Georgians handed their Group D rivals a significant boost on Friday evening when they defeated Scotland 1-0 in Tbilisi hours before Ireland beat Gibraltar 4-0 in Faro to climb above Gordon Strachan’s men in the table. With Germany having replaced Poland at the top of the pool with a 3-1 victory over them in Frankfurt, it is realistically a two-way fight between Martin O’Neill’s side and the Scots for third place and a crack at the play-offs.
“It was exciting,” Pili said of hearing the news. “It was definitely a big accomplishment. Just knowing that I’m making so many people proud, it just makes me happy.” “That’s huge,” Pili said. “They’re some legendary players and just knowing that I’m on that path too is crazy.” Forward Alissa Pili capped off her incredible regular season by winning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Tuesday. (Ling Luo / Daily Trojan) USC women’s basketball forward Alissa Pili was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Tuesday, becoming the fifth Trojan in program history to receive the honor and the first since guard Briana Gilbreath in 2009. Going into the Pac-12 Tournament, Pili is currently on a 14 game double-digit points streak, including performances against top opponents like No. 3 Oregon and No. 7 Stanford. She also has 11 double-doubles this season, the fourth most in the conference. “We thought she might not even start [in the] beginning of the year, so she earned it,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “And she came in and she did everything she needed to do and turned out to be a pretty good player … so we’re very proud of what she did.” Pili has had an explosive first season for USC. Recruited as a three-time Gatorade Player of the Year from Anchorage, Alaska, Pili has been in the starting lineup since the season opener and has consistently delivered on both ends of the floor. Pili was honored as Pac-12 Freshman of the Week a staggering four times, the most in program history for the Trojans. Pili is averaging 50.9% from the field, which stands as the fifth best clip in the Pac-12. She has posted a 79.2% free-throw percentage and an 82.4% mark in conference play. Overall, she leads the entire Pac-12 freshman class in scoring, rebounding and free throw percentage. Pili isn’t just one of the best players in the conference, though, as she’s emerged as one of the nation’s most productive players across the board. Pili finds herself in the top 100 in scoring, rebounding, free throws made, field goals made and field-goal percentage as well as the top 50 in double-doubles. Pili has placed her name alongside Trojan greats like Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson with the Freshman of the Year honor. Pili, who obviously also earned a spot on the Pac-12 All-Freshman team, is joined by teammate senior forward Kayla Overbeck in the Pac-12 honors, with Overbeck receiving a Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention after averaging 1.7 steals in conference play and 5.8 rebounds per game overall. The true freshman averaged 16.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game this season, as well as an even better 19.4 points per game in Pac-12 competition — the second most in the conference. She earned herself a spot on the All-Pac-12 Team as one of the top 10 players in one of the NCAA’s most competitive conferences for women’s basketball. “That’s another big accomplishment,” Pili said. “Because this is one of — the toughest conference in the country, so just seeing myself up there with all these big time players too is cool.” Both players will begin postseason action Thursday at 6 p.m. in Las Vegas, Nev., where the No. 7-seeded Trojans will take on No. 10-seeded Colorado in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
The All Blacks got revenge for the historic win in Chicago two weeks ago by coming out on top 21-9 at the Avia Stadium last night.Jonathan Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and CJ Stander went off injured for Ireland in the first half hour while there was controversy involving two of the three tries New Zealand scored.Schmidt says it’s disappointing.