New frontrunner emerges, as Bachelorette reaches pointy end

After Wednesday's suspiciously romantic boat date (I've been on Sydney Harbour heaps of times - there are no dolphins, just Coke cans), millionaire Stu's odds have shortened into negative figures.

But on Thursday's episode, another frontrunner emerged - and somehow it's the 24-year-old magician Apollo.

The beefy fan favourite scored his second one-on-one date, much to the chagrin of his less-chiselled housemates, Stu ("Middle-Aged Zac Efron") Laundry included.

On the date, Sophie and Apollo go playing with Australian Shepherd puppies, and by playing, I mean forcing them into a session of "doga" - doggie yoga. The show's producers are flirting with an animal rights backlash again, this time for secondhand puppy humiliation.

"I was watching Apollo playing with the puppies and I realised he's strong but he's so sensitive, he's so soft and funny, he's got it all going on," says Sophie, sounding like my teenage poems to Vin Diesel.

Something's bothering her, though.

Over smores, Sophie reveals she doesn't like entertainers. Apparently she feels this concern applies to sleight-of-hand magicians. Relax Sophie, he's not an illusionist.

Apollo smoothly quells her fears.

"In the past few years, I've stopped comparing myself to other people and just started running my own race... I'm definitely not the person who will try and compete with her," he says.

He gets another kiss, and a rose - and surely at least a spot as the next Bachelor if he still ends up losing this thing to Stu.

Stu and the other guys, meanwhile, are back on the harbour, in a "team-building" challenge involving racing yachts.

Blake, Jarrod and Sam, are fighting AJ, Jimmy and Stu in a regatta - with Sophie splitting her time between the two. The best in show gets one-on-one time with Soph.

Stu, being a multi-millionaire, knows his way around a yacht. Blake, being an "entrepreneur", gives Sophie a massage instead.

It's a good tactic. After the challenge ends in a draw, Sophie's left to choose the most deserving competitor and Blake's back-rub gets the nod.

"Blake's always been Mr Cool. He's sat back and waited for me to come to him. Maybe that's how he thinks he impresses a girl or he's not that into me? I need to know which one it is," says Sophie.

Blake, finally, disowns his douche-y demeanour. "Like, every guy needs to be sensitive, regardless of if you're a bad boy or not," he offers. "Because ultimately that's what girls want."

Despite that dumb line, he wins Sophie back by revealing he'd been cheated on in the past. Even the losers get lucky sometimes (RIP Tom Petty).

Sam finally gets the second of his double-delight rose dates, too, this time involving giant board games and "big Hummers" (this show must be edited by someone's 11-year-old nephew).

"Is this a Persian rug?" Sam asks Sophie as they sit down for a serious conversation about his intentions.

"I don't know what nationality it is," she replies. C'mon Ten, give her a sitcom already.

Sophie thinks Sam's on the show just to score some acting work or promote his entertainment career. He tells Sophie he has a few songs he's written that he thinks she should record. He stops short of asking for his 5 per cent agent's cut, but Sophie doesn't seem convinced.

"I'm confident of my connection with Sophie... I'm the top gun," Sam says as the 'loser edit' music kicks in. Can't you hear that distant marching drum, dude?

At the cocktail party, Jarrod brings up #PissPotGate again, but this time it's good news - the plant has finally sprouted. It's amazing how happy he is about it - even happier than he is being the first guy to score a rose at the rose ceremony.

In a common bit this season, the rose ceremony takes a dramatic pause as Sophie stops proceedings to send everyone but Blake, Sam and AJ away. AJ's quickly booted, leaving besties Blake and Sam to duke it out.

"I'd take a bullet and do whatever I have to," Blake pleas, the Costner to Sophie's Whitney.

It works, and the loser edit is complete - ol' ponytail Sam gets the chop. Maybe he can get Bardot's Chantelle Barry to do those hit vocals instead? I hear she's got Sophie's 5 per cent anyway.

This story New frontrunner emerges, as Bachelorette reaches pointy end first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.