Belfast Telegraph

Marina keeps memories of Ronnie to fore

 

By Robert Fenton

Hillsborough's Marina McKeown was named trainer of the year for 2017 and kicked off 2018 with two wins at Drumbo Park on Saturday night.

And in receiving her presentation for 71 winners, she paid tribute to her late husband Ronnie who dominated this honour since the stadium opened in 2008, right up to his passing last August. He and Marina beat his 2016 score of 50.

Lailas Champ and Burma Ben Jones got the ball rolling for the new campaign in taking two sprints.

Burma Ben, coming back to the minimum trip, was headed from the lift of the lids by Fane Zeema but soon outpaced the leader into the turn where the reserve Matts Mourino was bowled over.

That left the fawn dog well clear and he came home 11 lengths ahead of Bandicoot Bundee in a sharp 18.20 secs.

Earlier, Champ made up for a missed break in a similar race prior to Christmas, by doing the opposite. The brindle and white pup, owned by Derry's Peter MCafferty, hit the ground running from Blacktwentynine and never looked like losing, leaving Dungannon Enigma to follow her home, a length and a half adrift in 18.28.

Dundonald's John Shaw had no success on the racing front but picked up two awards, one for being the leading owner last year with 36 winners. His Giorni Dispari emerged as the dog with most wins in the year (9) and that from a tracker with only one eye.

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