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Brian does the trick at Drumbo

By Robert Fenton

Never two but three is an old French saying. In other words, things come in triplicate and that was the case for Antrim's Brian Macklin who took the prestigious Robert Connolly Memorial Tri-Distance final (575) for the third time at Drumbo Park.

Trophies are not in short supply in the Macklin household and Brian was delighted to add this one to his tally with his black dog Mervin My Friend, named after his Ballymena pal Mervyn Morrison, himself no stranger to Drumbo success.

The black dog won the £1200 prize and trophy with a very slick start which saw him confirm semi-final form with Scullys Flo. The latter took a bump at the first bend and his kennel mate Jetts Bertie and others suffered in the scrimmaging.

Mervin kicked on but going to the penultimate turn, Flo loomed large and the odds favoured her staying on the better in the run for home.

But My Friend refused to surrender and battled on grimly to hold Scully by half a length in 31.51. Donoghues Field, the rank outsider, ran on for third a head better than Jetts but seven lengths behind Scullys.

And to cap it all off, Brian's Dogsandfools skated up in the last over 525, stopping the watch at a breathtaking 28.59 secs, in what was Drumbo's best night's racing this year.

The other final on the last racing Saturday of the year, the Toolmakers Open 550 was a real thriller with Ballymac Zoe showing great resolution to come back and land the £1,000 prize for Hillsborough's Marina McKeown. Trained by her husband Ronnie, Zoe was soundly beaten in the semi-final by Droopys Punk but not on the night when it mattered.

The 2/1 joint-favourites, Droopys and Coolykereen Jack, nudged each other on leaving traps and this saw Shes A Mover lead round the first two turns and down far side. But the 6/1 outside Ballymac soon took it up while Droopys began to make in-roads as he charged toward the third bend. Punk swept it in great fashion and on the home-stretch, held the advantage and looked certain to win. But he could not sustain it and Zoe fought back, getting up to snatch the spoils by a short head in 29.92. Shes A Mover was a further two back in third.

Classy tracker Common Man, from Margaret Campbell's Dundonald kennels, came back for an eight-month absence due to injury, to clock a super 17.86 over the sprint trip. The black dog left his rivals for dead from the lift of the lids and romped home by five lengths from Yonder Blue.

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