Sabrina Harty’s 8-1 shot was fast out of the stalls in the seven-furlong contest and Smullen was happy to play the role of pacemaker. O’Brien’s 6-4 favourite Darwin, turning out just six days after winning at Fairyhouse, loomed up ominously under the trainer’s son Joseph , but was unable to reel in Ansgar who passed the post a length to the good. Ansgar cut out virtually every yard of the running in the hands of Pat Smullen to land the Group Three Michael Murphy Home Furnishings Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh. The hard-luck story of the race was that of Eastern Rules, who found himself trapped behind a wall of horses before flying home against the far rail to finish third. Harty said: “That was fantastic and the horse really deserves it. “He’s had so many hold-ups. He had a kissing spine last year and sore shins a couple of years ago. He got a splint in May and was lame after Ascot. “He’s a proper horse considering all the problems he’s had. He’s a massive horse, he’s 16 hands 2 and he’s been growing and growing. “I’m delighted for the owners. He’s a machine and if he hadn’t had all the problems he’d have been a special one. “He’s entered in the Group Three at Leopardstown on August 14 (Desmond Stakes) and that’s his target.” A tremendous afternoon for the Harty team was completed by Breathe Easy (7-2) and Rory Cleary in the Kilsaran 50th Anniversary Handicap. Harty said: “He has serious ability, but is so nervous and fragile. Rory gave him a great ride and got him settled early.” Press Association
Senior Laurie Nosbusch (16) will play a major role in this weekend’s game as the Badgers attempt to gain six points in the standings with a pair of victories. Wisconsin has picked up only one win in its last six matchups.[/media-credit]Beginning Friday with a matchup against the Purdue Boilermakers and continuing on Sunday against the Indiana Hoosiers at the McClimon Complex, the Wisconsin women’s soccer team plays two of three consecutive home games to finish off the regular season.Both teams are coming off losses last Sunday. The Badgers (8-5-3, 3-2-3) fell on the road to the Fighting Illini 1-0, and the Boilermakers (6-9-2, 2-6-0) had its short two-game winning streak snapped at home against Michigan, 3-1.“It is super important [to play these games at home] because we need to win these three games,” senior forward Laurie Nosbusch said. “Right now we’re not in the best position; we’re fighting to get into the Big Ten tournament and maybe theNCAAtournament, so the fact that we are at home, we think we have a really good shot to win out these three games.”The loss to Michigan, and the 1-1 draw that Wisconsin fought to with Northwestern the game before, had major ramifications in the Big Ten standings. Before those two games, the Badgers stood at second place in the conference with a real opportunity to run down first-place Penn State.Instead, UW fell all the way to fifth in the conference and looks at this weekend as must-win games, only two points ahead of ninth-place.“We have to win; we have to come out of this weekend with six points,” senior goalkeeper Michele Dalton said. “Every team is playing for the Big Ten Tournament, so even the teams who are at the bottom are competing at a higher level simply because they want to make it into the tournament. No team can be overlooked at all.”Like Wisconsin, Purdue doesn’t score a lot of goals, but the combination of Alex Hairston and Kellie Phillips has scored 12 goals and tallied 29 points this season. The duo will be the biggest concern for Wisconsin.“The big thing is to stop entry passes into [Hairston and Phillips] by good pressure in the midfield and the back,” head coach Paula Wilkins said. “I think the less you let a good forward tandem deal with the ball the less opportunities they are going to have.”Wisconsin’s loss to Illinois on Sunday marked the ninth game this year that the Badgers failed to score more than one goal, a major factor in the team’s inability to support what has largely been a stellar performance by the defense all season.“We need to be able to keep the ball better. We’re not getting that many chances, and I think part of that stems from our spacing,” Nosbusch said. “So we are really spread out, and when we do get forward we aren’t able to keep it.”Of the three women’s soccer teams playing in Madison this weekend, none enters play struggling more than the Indiana Hooisers. In its last five games Indiana (6-9-1, 3-4-1) has a 1-4 record and been outscored by opponents 17-5, including a 2-8 loss to the Boilermakers. The eight goals tied a Purdue school record for goals in a game.A game the Badgers certainly want to put away early, doing so will require a much better offensive effort than Wisconsin has shown in quite some time, and the players are looking forward to playing a defense that may present multiple scoring opportunities.“In general that is one of the things we don’t do is jump on a team early and try to impose our will on them, so no matter who we are playing we need to focus on doing that better,” Nosbusch said.Indiana’s greatest offensive threat to the Badgers is Orianica Velasquez, who leads the team in goals and points with seven and 16 respectively. She is also tied for the team lead in assists and clearly is aggressive near the net with 69 shots, more than doubling the second highest volume shooter on the team, Lisa Nouanesengsy’s 32.The secret to defending a high volume shooter at this point in the season and a weekend sweep is an easy answer for Dalton.“We need some shutouts,” Dalton said. “As a defensive unit I think that helps boost our confidence a lot. This weekend I would like two shutouts, keeping the ball out of the back of the net on the defensive end and putting it in the back of the net on the offensive end. That is about as simple as a soccer game gets, and I think that is what we really need to focus on.”
BEN ROETHLISBERGERAll of Pittsburgh was glued to their TV screens Sunday after the Steelers defeated the Cleveland Browns 20-7 to see who was going to win the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers game. If the Chargers won the Steelers would watch the playoffs from home, but if they lost, the Steelers despite an 0-4 start would be in the playoffs.Well the Chargers beat the Chiefs in overtime 27-24.Most people, including myself, had written the Steelers off after their 0-4 start and especially after that turned into 2-6. But a 6-2 finish not only put the Steelers in the playoff hunt but it saved, Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley’s jobs. It also gave the coaching staff a chance to take a good solid look at all the young talent on this team to evaluate who will be staying and who will be leaving next season.In essence the 0-4 start did more for the Steelers’ future than if they had started 4-0. First on offense where most of the problems were, but no one was admitting it, Ben Roethlisberger would have never admitted that he was part of the problem. Haley was brought in to diversify the offense and to protect Ben. Before this season Ben had only played in all 16 games once. Well, he played in all 16 games this season and finished the season healthy.