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Santo shakes off losing run

David Marnane was delighted to see Santo Padre back in the winner's enclosure after the eight-year-old ended his drought by taking the feature Woodlands Stakes at Naas.

Without a victory since the Portland Handicap at Doncaster back in September 2009, Fergal Lynch's mount was the outsider of the six-runner field at 12-1 and was towards the rear in the early stages.

British raider Spirit Quartz helped to cut out the running and led approaching the furlong pole, but Santo Padre went past him and drew two and a half lengths clear in the Listed contest.

Marnane said: "Last year was a very messy season for Santo Padre. I was never happy with him and we never really got a run with him. This year he has improved off his first run at Dundalk to Cork, and again from Cork to today.

"Now he is getting a bit older, maybe an ease in the ground is helping him. He'll probably go for the Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh next month."

Another heading for the Curragh is the Jessie Harrington-trained Backbench Blues (4-1), who completed a hat-trick by winning the Naas Racecourse On Facebook Rated Race.

Fran Berry set a steady gallop and kicked for home on the turn before comfortably holding the opposition at bay, with Croi An Or taking second spot, two and a quarter lengths in arrears.

The trainer said: "Backbench Blues is a smasher. That wasn't exactly the plan. Plan B was to make the running! He'll go a mile and a quarter and probably in time a mile and a half.

"He is like all those Big Bad Bobs, he is never beaten. He'll go handicapping now. If there is a one-mile-two handicap at the Curragh on Guineas weekend, that would suit as the owner is coming over."

There were a couple of decent handicaps on the card and they went to David Nagle's top-weight Maarek (11-4 favourite), who battled his way to the front inside the final furlong under Wayne Lordan, and Andy Oliver's Bankroll (5-1 co-favourite), who led all the way in the hands of Chris Hayes.

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