Willie McCreery is optimistic Colour Blue can further showcase her consistent streak when she runs in the Listed Vincent O’Brien Ruby Stakes at Killarney on Wednesday. The three-year-old filly was beaten a length into third by Dalkova in a Listed contest at the Galway Festival and was a course and distance winner in May. McCreery said: “She’s a tough little one who does nothing at home. She doesn’t need to, though, as she’s very clear-winded. She ran a blinder in Galway and hopefully it will be nice ground and that will suit her. She has freshened up since Galway.” Press Association O’Brien’s son Donnacha gets the leg-up on Illusive in the Cliffords Groundcare Limited Handicap. The young jockey claims 10lb and b linkers are applied on the colt’s first step into a handicap, but he will have plenty of backers after winning his maiden at Leopardstown. Recent winners Miller Beach and Amazing Star will look to make things difficult for the forecast favourite. Tony Martin sends Anner Queen into action for the Diarmuid Cronin Electrical Handicap and the four-year-old filly could be competitive off a mark of 49. Her third place in Down Royal caught the eye before she was heavily backed but withdrawn at Tipperary. She then finished down the field at the Curragh, but that came on soft ground. Bolger, Weld and O’Brien have a strong hand in the Bet Online At thetote.com Handicap with Solar Focus, Pirate Cove and Bazaar respectively. Ridestan for Denis Hogan, though, has been in terrific form over the summer bagging three wins, including one over course and distance. Red Rocks Point looks to make the most of his superior rating when he faces four rivals in the Ladbrokes Race over a mile and three furlongs. Cosmic Cannonball is the danger. The trainer added: “My concern is that she is drawn nine of 10 and it will be hard to be prominent. I don’t want to burn up too much horse. She won over course and distance and zipped round the corners well from the front. She has been very consistent. Her only bad run came in Killarney and I wouldn’t want her doing that again.” Mick Halford’s Mizzava is the highest-rated horse in the field. She was last seen finishing mid-division in a Group Three at the Curragh in May on soft to heavy ground. Halford said: “She hasn’t been out since May as she had a little issue, but that’s sorted and she is in good form and fit and well. The good ground isn’t a concern as she has form on fast ground in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and at Royal Ascot. If she runs up to her rating she should go well.” Dermot Weld’s Brooch raised many an eyebrow in Galway with the manner of her nine-and-a-half-length maiden victory and is pitched into this company on just her second start. Jim Bolger runs Flight Risk, who is also lightly raced. He was fourth in the Group Three Phoenix Sprint Stakes on August 10 on his second racecourse appearance. Aidan O’Brien has won four of the last five renewals of this race and he relies upon Sparrow, who was unplaced in her last three runs which came at Listed level. Michael Hussey takes the ride. Elsewhere on day one of the August Festival, Postulation aims to get Weld off the mark in the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF (C&G) Maiden for two-year-olds. There should be more to come after his second place at the Galway Festival. He has an interesting background being by North American champion juvenile sire of 2012 Harlan’s Holiday. Hannah’s Magic, Duchess Andorra and Henson are separated by 3lb on official ratings and clash in the Mosscontrol.ie Apprentice Maiden. They have a string of placed efforts to their name, but perhaps this will be the day Henson gets a victory. He was squeezed for room when finishing second at Galway.
In the midst of a five-game winning streak, Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser has given the Badgers excellent all-around play. He had eight points, two rebounds and an assist against Indiana.[/media-credit]Halfway through the Big Ten season, the Wisconsin men’s basketball team has found its groove.After losing three of their first four conference games, including three straight at one point, the Badgers have now won their last five in a stretch of contests that wasn’t consistently pretty, but rewarding nonetheless.Thursday night against Indiana, Wisconsin shot barely less than 40 percent (39.6) from the field and connected on just four of 17 three-point attempts. A 3-for-7 mark from the free throw line in the first half was perhaps the clearest sign the Badgers were not about to have a sparkling night shooting the basketball.Ten second-half points from Ben Brust and stingier team defense sufficed to carry Wisconsin to a 57-50 victory, and afterward, head coach Bo Ryan praised his team’s “grit” and “fight” in pulling out the win. Whether it was those factors at play or simply better luck putting the ball in the hoop, the effort was emblematic of the confidence the Badgers have fostered in their five-game streak.“Especially when we get a couple of close wins and grit out a couple wins, it makes everything feel a little bit better,” forward/center Jared Berggren said. “Guys have their confidence back; maybe we lost it a bit during our rough stretch there.”The first game of that skid was a home loss to Iowa on New Year’s Eve, and three days later, Wisconsin lost again in the Kohl Center to Michigan State. For a team that was a perfect 16-0 on its own court last season and also fell to Marquette in Madison back in early December, the Badgers appeared to be thrown off-kilter by their three home losses less than a week into the new year.Several pitiful shooting efforts – the three-game skid saw the Badgers shoot below 40 percent in each game, and Wisconsin also hit just 31 percent against Nebraska – ensued and the Badgers’ woes stuck around until a tough 67-62 road win at Purdue Jan. 12.“We’ve been playing better overall, we’ve been winning,” assistant coach Lamont Paris said. “A lot of times, we’re just really structured. You feel like, hey, we’ve got some good shots, we just haven’t made them. We’re right there where we need to be, and we’re going to win it one way or the other – whether that means a defensive stop, or somebody’s going to make a shot, whatever it takes.”This week, with a trip to Penn State looming Tuesday night and then a battle with No. 3 Ohio State slated for Saturday afternoon, the longevity of that confidence will surely be tested. Wisconsin also has five road games remaining in Big Ten play, including trips to Ohio State and Michigan State – both of which could be top-10 opponents by the time they meet the Badgers.“I feel pretty much all of our games have been close lately, so that’s definitely going to help us moving on throughout the year,” guard Josh Gasser said. “We’ve got a lot of tough guys on our team that don’t like to lose. That’s a good thing to have.”The Badgers also have their top-ranked defense, which is almost always a saving grace in Madison. Wisconsin allows just 49.6 points per game and holds opponents on average to 36.3 percent shooting from the field, both the best marks in the country.Against Indiana Thursday night, Berggren was critical in shutting down the Hoosiers’ leading scorer, 6-foot-11 forward Cody Zeller. Averaging 14.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, Zeller had just seven and three, respectively, against the Badgers. Saddled with four fouls, he took the floor for just 10 minutes in the second half.Berggren also blocked five shots in that game, fueling much of the talk of grit and fight permeating Wisconsin’s post-game press conferences.“I think we’re showing a little more of it now this little winning streak we’re on here,” Berggren said. “It’s not something that you can really turn on or off sometimes; it’s just something you’ve got to have. It’s something that we have. The guys in our locker room are all tough kids, and they’re all going to play hard.”