In brief: McCoy's hat-trick hits the right note
Mountain Tunes and Tony McCoy returned to Towcester for a lower profile success than that enjoyed last month. Back on November 7, the Jonjo O'Neill-trained gelding provided the record-breaking jockey with a his 4,000th career winner.
On that occasion, Mountain Tunes made late ground to oblige, but he looked far more likely to put his head in front as 5/4 favourite for the card's novice hurdle until forced to dig deep to beat Knockanrawley by a neck.
"He learned a bit from the last day and the horse in second was always going to keep going," said the jockey.
The success was the first leg of a 15/1 treble for McCoy, who also scored on Charles Egerton's Easy Beesy and Ballyhollow for Rebecca Curtis.
Meanwhile, Jessica Harrington's former inmate Citizenship rediscovered winning ways at Exeter where he is now in the care of Venetia Williams. The seven-year-old was only having his second run for Williams and won the day's handicap hurdle relatively comfortably.
IRVINE ROUNDS OFF 2013 WITH TWO AWARD WINS
Just days after attending the Irish Independent Sports Star of the Year awards, where he was nominated alongside fellow cyclists Nicolas Roche and Dan Martin, world scratch race champion Martyn Irvine has picked up two gongs for his heroic 2013 season.
Irvine picked up an outstanding achievement award from the Mary Peters Trust before learning he had also won the BBC Northern Ireland's Sports Personality of the Year award, beating Irish Independent winner AP McCoy into second place with motorcyclist Michael Dunlop, boxer Carl Frampton, Ireland cricket captain William Porterfield and triathlon star Aileen Reid also shortlisted.
"I didn't even know I was in the running for it," admitted Irvine. "Tony McCoy was the main man, but I think the judging panel decided that his 4,000 wins were over a whole career and the year I've had, with the world title, swung the jury and I won.
KERRY KEY MEN TO MISS LEAGUE TIES
KERRY veterans Marc O Se, Declan O'Sullivan, Kieran Donaghy, Darran O'Sullivan and Killian Young are expected to miss the first two rounds of the Allianz League against Dublin and Derry respectively.
Young (ankle), Darran O'Sullivan (hip) and Kieran Donaghy are all recovering from injury, while O Se and Declan O'Sullivan have been granted extended winter breaks.
And the Kingdom will also be without their Dr Crokes quartet of Colm Cooper, Johnny Buckley, Kieran O'Leary and Fionn Fitzgerald in the early stages of the league as they pursue an All-Ireland club title.
Meanwhile, the company that kits out the Ulster rugby team -- Kukri Ireland-- has become the third to be licensed by the GAA to produce its team kits.
"They are an Irish company who plan further expansion and we look forward to them bringing their expertise to bear on playing gear for football and hurling teams," GAA president Liam O'Neill said.
SWANN APOLOGISES FOR HIS 'CRASS' COMMENTS
Graeme Swann made a personal decision to apologise for the "crass and thoughtless" rape reference he included in a social media message.
Swann's comment on his brother and former Northamptonshire team-mate Alec's Facebook page has been heavily criticised by the chief executive of the charity Rape Crisis, who urged him to apologise to all victims of the sex crime.
The England off-spinner does not appear to have intended his remark for a worldwide audience.
He told his brother, and some mutual friends, that he would rather have been back home in the midlands at a pop concert than "being a***-raped in Perth" by Australia.
The page, however, has a public profile and is therefore openly accessible to anyone who decides to view it via the internet.
Within hours, Swann acknowledged he had made an error of judgment, and duly apologised via Twitter.
STEELERS PLAYER HIT WITH $25K FINE
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Terence Garvin has been fined $25,000 by the National Football League for his blindside block on Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber.
Huber suffered a broken jaw and possible further injuries, and is out for the remainder of the season as a result of being hit during a punt return in Sunday's game between the Steelers and the Bengals.
Garvin appeared to use the crown of his helmet during the brutal blow he delivered to an unsuspecting Huber.
"It was a pretty good hit. It's hard to be mad, more disappointing than anything," Huber told reporters while wearing a neck brace. "I can't do much about it now."
"Me getting mad and stressed about it is only going to make it harder to get through," he said.
"It is what it is. It's part of the game, I know, big hits. Unfortunately I got one of the big hits and I got hurt and I have to deal with it. I'll be fine. I'll be back next year."