Hurricane Fly faces just six rivals as he bids to land the Rabobank Champion Hurdle for the fourth successive year at Punchestown on Friday. Press Association Among the horses taking on Willie Mullins’ dual Cheltenham Champion Hurdle hero are three of his stable companions, Midnight Game, So Young and Thousand Stars. But it is the sole British raider, Rock On Ruby, who is expected to give Hurricane Fly the most to do. The pair clashed at Prestbury Park last month, with Hurricane Fly coming out on top by two and a half lengths from Harry Fry’s charge. Mullins feels “home advantage” further increases Hurricane Fly’s chances of victory, telling At The Races: “We’ve been happy with the horse all year. He’s been doing all his work well, eating up after, and coming back strong after his races. “We’ve spent a lot of time trying to settle him and maybe it’s working, as he’s not as aggressive as he used to be. Maybe we have to take that into account when Ruby (Walsh) is riding him in the future. “Punchestown might suit Rock On Ruby, but it’s an away game for him, a strange place, where for us it is just up the road. We’d like to think it’s home advantage anyway.” Walsh also believes racing on home soil has to give his mount an extra edge. “He’s in really good order. Punchestown is 35 minutes up the road for Hurricane Fly but it’s a long way from Dorset (for Rock On Ruby),” he said. The Michael Winters-trained Rebel Fitz, winner of last year’s Galway Hurdle, and Brendan Duke’s Mister Benedictine make up the field.
Predecessor David Moyes was given just 10 months by the board as he failed to lead United to the Champions League after replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm. Van Gaal claimed just eight points from his first six Barclays Premier League games and oversaw a humiliating 4-0 defeat to MK Dons in the Capital One Cup. Louis van Gaal is adamant he will see out the entirety of his Manchester United contract despite an indifferent start to his Old Trafford reign. But the Dutchman, who penned a three-year deal in the summer, is certain he will be given time to get it right at United and is sure he will lead them back to the Champions League before 2017. “I didn’t have to come here to Manchester United. They asked me,” he told national newspapers. “And I will take United back into the Champions League yes, but not at once. “There is a trajectory and a process of three years. I have signed a three-year contract. Believe me, I shall finish that.” United’s defence has come in for much criticism since Van Gaal’s arrival, but the manager was candid in admitting that it is experience and leadership that is currently a major factor lacking from his dressing room. “At the time I was coming to the club, big leaders were leaving – (Patrice) Evra, (Nemanja) Vidic, (Rio) Ferdinand,” he said. “They were big leaders. “Also, leadership is a process – you don’t go from one day to the next and become a leader. “It’s a process and now a lot of players are in that process.” Fellow Dutchman Johan Cruyff believes Van Gaal will bring the necessary structure to United’s game but believes the key to his success will be how the new recruits such as Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao adapt. “They need to be organised because they were totally disorganised and normally Van Gaal is a very good organiser to put things his way and in the way that (they) should be,” he told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme. “That’s creating the basis. From then on you have got to build. “It depends how quickly the other players adjust themselves.” The former Barcelona boss also believes the United hierarchy made a mistake in appointing Moyes last summer after 11 years spent in charge of Everton. “Moyes is a very good coach because I’ve seen many many years in Everton but he’s not a coach which should fit with Manchester United because the focus for both teams are totally different. “That’s why the biggest mistake is to ask Moyes to come to Manchester United because it’s a totally different team, a totally different mentality. “The basic mistake was to sign him on. I think he is a great manager but not for Manchester United. He’s just a great manager for another type of team.” Van Gaal, meanwhile, believes Ryan Giggs is destined to become an excellent manager. Giggs joined United’s coaching staff on a full-time basis in the summer after calling time on a glittering playing career that saw him win 34 trophies in 23 years. United’s record appearance-maker was named caretaker boss following the Moyes’ dismissal, and Van Gaal thinks the Welshman has all the qualities to become a successful manager in the long-term. Writing in his programme notes ahead of United’s game against Everton, Van Gaal said: “Ryan is a true sportsman and a great ambassador of the game. “During his playing career, he achieved everything possible at club level and holds many records that I am sure will never be surpassed by any other player. “It is a pleasure to have Ryan as my assistant manager. He has grown up at this club, he lives and breathes Manchester United, he is developing into an excellent coach and I am sure in the coming years he will make a very good manager.” Press Association
JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoJason Bohannon is not your typical college freshman. For starters, he plays for the No. 4 basketball team in the country. Second, rather than riding the bench, Bohannon actually gets a significant amount of playing time. Finally, when he does see playing time, he plays nothing like a freshman.Through Saturday’s win over Northwestern, Bohannon is averaging 4.3 points in 14 minutes per game. Additionally, he is shooting 33 percent from beyond the arc, 42 percent from the field and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line.Although his numbers are not spectacular, Bohannon has earned much praise from teammates and head coach Bo Ryan for his consistency, as evident by his assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.3.”He really takes care of the ball well; he isn’t out there forcing things and throwing the ball around,” starting senior guard Kammron Taylor said.Bohannon’s journey to Madison is certainly an intriguing one. A native of Iowa, Bohannon grew up watching his father, Gordy, play quarterback for the Iowa Hawkeyes. But unlike other athletes who followed in their father’s footsteps, Bohannon chose to play on the hard court instead of the gridiron.”It’s cool to be the son of the Iowa quarterback, but I’ve just got to make a name for myself,” Bohannon said.Bohannon did just that in high school as the star of the Linn-Mar basketball team. As a sophomore, he led his team to a Class 4-A state championship and was named both Gatorade Player of the Year in Iowa and Mr. Basketball in Iowa his senior year. These high accolades led to Bohannon being recruited heavily by Wisconsin, Iowa and Stanford.In the end, after much consideration, Bohannon felt Wisconsin was simply the right place for him over his father’s alma mater of Iowa.”I visited them both, but a lot of things about Wisconsin — the fans, the coaches, the players — convinced me that this is where I wanted to be,” Bohannon said.As a freshman this season, Bohannon has had quite a number of things to get used to, the toughest being time management.”It’s been a tough transition, but I’ve gotten used to it now, and Joe [Krabbenhoft] has helped me out a lot with my priorities,” Bohannon said.But Bohannon has adjusted quickly, and his teammates have taken notice. While he has been extremely efficient in the minutes he’s received off the bench, Bohannon’s strongest aspect of his game has obviously been his shooting.”Jason’s strength is shooting,” junior guard Michael Flowers said. “I think he should shoot every time he touches the ball.”Yet, perhaps the most impressive thing about Bohannon has been his poise as a freshman.”He has so much confidence,” Flowers said. “Even though he is in and out of games and gets different amounts of playing time from week to week, he still maintains his confidence.”And Taylor thinks Bohannon is further along in his first year than the senior guard was three years ago.”He’s stronger than I was as a freshman and he was more ready to play sooner than I was,” Taylor said.Bohannon’s poise was on display in the Badgers’ 57-46 win over his dad’s Hawkeyes two weeks ago. While it was a homecoming for him, it didn’t seem as if everyone was happy to see him.Even with many friends and family members looking on at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Bohannon was booed loudly upon entering the game, and despite playing only three minutes, he was heckled every time he touched the ball. Nevertheless, he appeared unfazed and relaxed as he drained a deep 3-pointer the first time he touched the ball.”That had to have been one of Jason’s best feelings ever,” Flowers said of Bohannon’s 3-pointer. “Everyone on the team was happy for him.”With Bohannon and fellow freshman guard Trevon Hughes, the Badgers’ future in the backcourt looks very bright. “Jason and Trevon are going to be real good,” Taylor said. “That backcourt is going to be scary.”