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Better Back Bob delivers on home turf at Downpatrick

By Ron McKnight

The forecast rain duly arrived before the penultimate race but failed to deter Better Back Bob - trained at Loughbrickland by Neil McKnight for his cousin Philip Boyd - winning the Saint Patrick's hurdle.

Jockeys wore black arm bands as a mark of respect for legendary jockey and trainer Tommy Carberry who passed away this week aged 75.

A major gamble (20/1 to 6/1) went astray on Personal Shopper on her debut for trainer Gavin Cromwell.

However Robbie Colgan produced Better Back Bob to lead at the final flight and score.

The winner's last victory was also at the course over fences last year when 33/1 and supporters who kept faith got 14/1 this time.

McKnight said: "He's not a good traveller so he can't travel too far and he'll come back here.

"Robbie gave him a great ride. He meets us once or twice a week to ride work. He's a gentleman to work with, very under-rated."

The Galway Festival is on the agenda for Mr Showtime after winning the opener.

Trainer Noel Meade said: "He was entitled to win on the ratings. It all worked out well.

"Fast ground is essential - he needs to be bouncing off it. He probably will win a two mile flat race on fast ground.

"I would imagine he will go to Galway for something. I'll probably give him an entry in the Galway Hurdle. I know that sounds a bit adventurous but if he doesn't get into it, he doesn't get into it and he probably won't anyway.

"There's a couple of other races we could run him in there."

A Year To Remember, trained by Joseph O'Brien and partnered by Jodie McGarvey, won the maiden hurdle. The winning rider said: "Our lad stayed on up the hill."

Blixt scored for father and son duo Willie and Patrick Mullins. The winner - a half-sister to the record breaking Ulster-owned Grade One ace Hurricane Fly - was finally opening her account having been beaten in four bumpers.

Jockey Patrick Mullins said: "As a half-sister to Hurricane Fly we thought jumping might improve her. The boys in Blue Blood Racing Club only took her over two weeks ago."

Mullins Junior completed a double by landing the finale on Exchange Rate, owned by his mother and trained by his father.

Shek O Lad was produced at the last by Ger Fox in the handicap hurdle and a good jump was enough to overhaul the leader Pat's Pearl while Wiiphania ran on late to claim third.

Winning trainer Dessie McDonagh said: "He's a big horse and he goes around here - it's amazing."

Shek O Lad was supported from 6/1 to 7/2 and was gaining his second victory at the track.

McDonagh added: "You don't know until you run them whether they will handle it or not. I'm happy with that.

"He might go to Ballinrobe - he has run well there before," he added.

Fox doubled up when prevailing on the Colin Bowe-trained Rueben James which denied the locally trained and well supported Caerleon Kate in a hotly contested long distance handicap hurdle.

Oddly, the three market principals raced in the rear and Caerleon Kate improved travelling easily and looked a likely winner but could not get to Rueben James which got first run downhill.

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