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Better Back Bob in shock 33/1 success at Downpatrick

By Ron McKnight

Loughbrickland trainer Neil McKnight supplied a shock 33/1 winner when the aptly named Better Back Bob claimed the Beginners Chase at Downpatrick yesterday.

Better Back Bob - owned by Philip Boyd from Banbridge - made almost all the running and rallied to excellent effect with Robbie Colgan in the saddle when headed two from home to gain a decisive win as the well supported favourite Gone Platinum stayed on to take second.

Colgan said: "That was great. I got beaten a few times on him over two miles five round here. I'd say the trip probably suited him and the fences.

"I've been struggling to ride a winner so I'm glad. It's nearly five months so it's great to get that."

The opening maiden hurdle supplied a locally owned victory when Mahler Ten won on his debut for Robert Watson and Edward Conroy.

Mahler Ten and jockey Sean Flanagan, after jumping the final flight, swept round on the outside to score easily for the Portadown owners.

Robert Watson is a son of the late legendary local trainer Archie Watson who sent out French Tan to finish runner-up in the 1970 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Trainer Noel Meade said: "We thought he was alright but we thought a run might just put him right.

"Robert Watson said he would like him to run in Down Royal so I thought that was where he was going to go but he would have a bit of experience because he wanted further than two miles so we might be going for the two mile six hurdle there."

Teacher's Pet, in the colours of JP McManus, landed the long distance handicap hurdle for the father and son duo of trainer Philip Dempsey and jockey Luke.

The winner was gaining a repeat course success.

Dempsey Junior said: "She likes this track - she's not a bad mare. She was a bit free early on, probably too keen to do too much early but in fairness she's tough. She still had plenty in the tank.

"She'll be a nice filly over fences next year. That's the plan for next year - she has already schooled."

The presentation was made by Gold Cup winning top British amateur rider Sam Waley-Cohen.

The Dessie McDonagh trained and owned Shek O Lad, partnered by Brian Kane, won the handicap hurdle, just denying Canny Tom with favourite Our Rachael third.

McDonagh said: "It wasn't a surprise - his run in Ballinrobe was very good the last day and last year he was third a couple of times. It took time I suppose and lots of little niggles but sure he is our own."

Top trainer Gordon Elliott had a double courtesy of Ballela Boy and Dounikos.

Elliott said of Ballela Boy: "He's a big chaser in the making. Whatever he does this year will be a bonus. We'll probably find a little winners' race somewhere for him and he'll be okay. I'd say chasing will be his game and he's a big honest horse."

Elliott yet again picked up the Horse First Award as leading trainer at the track.

Belfast Telegraph


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