From the stands: Knight has to bow to owner's schedule
Cheltenham ante-post backers were put on red alert early last week when Henrietta Knight surprisingly suggested that Somersby, entered for both the 2m Champion Chase and the 2m5f Ryanair, might be tried over the longer distance because of the prospect of the ground easing later in the week.
But a final decision was made on Friday and for an unusual reason. "The fact is that Mrs Radford (the owner) is ill at the moment and is having chemotherapy on Thursday next week, so he will run on Wednesday so that she can come and see him," Knight said. "He goes to the race on Wednesday whatever the weather, whether it is raining or snowing or whatever it is."
There are many variables in horse racing, but the health of the owner is one not usually considered by punters.
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In December, on these pages, Colm Cooper revealed that he couldn't expect some of his fellow Dr Crokes players not to emigrate if they were unable to find work at home.
"If someone asked me to go and talk to them, I couldn't give them an argument to stay around. Obviously I want them here and the team wants its best players around, but it doesn't pay the mortgage or put bread on the table. There is every chance these lads could go once this season is over and I can't fight with them," said Cooper.
Not surprisingly, just three months later, his fears have been realised. Two of his club-mates, Mike Moloney and Shane Doolin, have signed up to play for London Kerry Gaels.
On their website, the club offers to collect players from the airport, and sort out accommodation and jobs for them. Gaels had 30 players at training two weeks ago, and with an offer like that on on the table, we're not surprised.
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MOST people have by now seen the video and heard the story of the owl that died after being kicked from the field by a footballer in Colombia.
The Panamanian defender Luis Moreno, who plays for Deportivo Pereira, walked over and kicked the owl after it landed, injured, on the pitch during a game against Atlético Junior. The owl was the Atlético Junior mascot and Moreno later apologised to home fans.
Given the force with which he kicked the stricken bird, though, it sounds strange that he argued in an interview that "it wasn't my intention to hurt the animal".
Animal cruelty laws in Colombia can punish offenders with up to three months in jail. Local activists urged league officials to permanently expel Moreno from Colombian football, and he also received a number of death threats.
Some sanity was restored eventually, however, when the player was punished with a two-match ban.
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As petrol prices continue to rise and GAA players' mileage rates stay the same, it's quite possible that soon it will be costing hurlers and footballers money to train with their county teams. The expenses rate currently stands at 50 cent per mile at a time when petrol has passed the €1.50 per litre mark.
Player entitlements were last reviewed in 2007 and they are due to be looked at again at the end of April following the next GAA Congress.
However, spokesman for the Gaelic Players' Association, Seán Potts, feels that in light of the fact that the recession is causing difficulties for county boards, it's unlikely in the short term that they will be able to accommodate a rise in mileage expenses.
Playing for the county is getting less appealing by the day.
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Clareman Seán Hawes will make his Antrim debut in today's Allianz Hurling League Division 2 game against Carlow.
Goalkeeper Hawes, who hails from Cratloe, lives and works in Belfast. He played for Limerick IT in the 2005 Fitzgibbon Cup final and won a county championship with his native club.
After weeks of to-ing and fro-ing, the transfer has finally gone through and Hawes will line out between the posts for his new county today.
Fergus McDonnell and Marie Crowe
Sunday Indo Sport