It certainly was a day of mixed fortunes and mixed weather as the day at the well attended Downpatrick race meeting started off in sun and ended with heavy rain during the second last race writes Joe Kavanagh.
An excellent crowd turned up to support the meeting which was also the annual family day and entertainments kept the children busy while the serious punters kept their eyes on the ring, the bookies’ betting boards and the track.
However, Better Back Bob trained at Loughbrickland by Neil McKnight for his cousin Philp Boyd, won the Saint Patrick’s hurdle and was not deterred by the sheets of rain.
A major gamble with the prices moving from 20/1 to 6/1 went astray on Personal Shopper on her debut for trainer Gavin Cromwell. The mare having run consistently well at the track for Ballyclare trainer Harry Smyth before the change of stables had only won once from 63 starts although has been placed on multiple occasions and as she attempted to bid for the laurels making the punt look much more interesting.
Robbie Colgan always had the leaders in his sights and produced Better Back Bob to lead at the final flight to 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 did it well. The last day we ran him here we probably went the wrong trip and he no doubt needed the run back. That last day was the only time he was out of the money around here. The whole thing didn’t suit him. He’s not a good traveller so he can’t travel too far and he’ll come back here. Robbie Colgan gave him a great ride. He meets us once or twice a week to ride work. He’s a gentleman to work with. He’s very under-rated.”
The Galway Festival is on the agenda for Mr Showtime after winning the opener. Jockeys wore black arm bands in a mark of respect for Tommy Carberry who passed away on Wednesday. The Noel Meade trained odds on favourite made all the running to score in the hands of Sean Flanagan.
The Navan trainer said: “He was entitled to win on the ratings. It all worked out well… it doesn’t always, but it did today. 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 then 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 similar scenario looked likely in the maiden hurdle when Brian Cooper took Leomar into the lead at flag fall however after making all and holding a three length advantage. The Gordon Elliott runner stood too far of the final flight and crumpled on landing.
A Year To Remember trained by Joseph O’Brien partnered by Jodie Mc Garvey which was always second in running was the beneficiary while odds on favourite, Super Bowl was beaten after two out but kept on under Ruby Walsh to fill the runner up berth.
The winning rider said: “I just got lucky. Bryan Cooper got a run on me down the hill. He had me flat to the boards and if he had jumped the last he probably would have put it to bed. We had luck on our side and our lad stayed on up the hill. We had pretty weak opposition behind. He’s just very limited ability-wise. He got a bit of luck and he was lucky to win one.”
Davy Russell was another to opt for front running tactics on favourite, Delayed Eloquence in the mares’ maiden hurdle, however, Blixit which was hard ridden before the last kept on gamely close to the line to score for father and son, duo Willie and Patrick Mullins.
The winner – a three parts sister to the record breaking Grade 1 winning Hurricane Fly was finally opening her account having been beaten in four bumpers. Patrick Mullins said: “As a half-sister to Hurricane Fly we thought jumping might improve her. The boys in Blue Blood Racing Club have only taken her over two weeks ago. The other lads that owned her moved to a different horse and I just recommended her to Blue Blood. It’s probably the last time I will ride her!” Mullins Junior completed a double went readily landing the finale on Exchange Rate, owned by his mother and trained by his father.
Pat’s Pearl was always to the fore in the handicap hurdle, but, Shek O Lad which had shadowed the leaders throughout was produced at the last by Ger Fox and a good jump was enough to overhaul the leader Pat’s Pearl while Wiphania ran on late to claim third. Winning trainer Dessie Mc Oonagh said: “He’s a big horse
and he goes around here – it’s amazing. The winner supported from 6/1 to 7/2 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.”
Ger Fox doubled up at Downpatrick when prevailing on the Colin Bowe-trained Rueben James which denied the locally trained and well supported Caerleon Kate in the long distance handicap hurdle. Oddly, the three market principals raced in the rear and Caerleon Kate trained by Colin McBratney improved travelling easily and looked a likely winner but could not catch the winner which got first run downhill.