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Emmet Mullins-trained handicapper scores by wide margin after big Friday gamble

Emmet Mullins: the trainer was at the centre of two huge Friday gambles at Down Royal
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The second leg of a monster gamble on two Emmet Mullins-trained horses was successful at Down Royal on Friday as Blackstair Rocco, backed from 8-1 into 10-11, made absolutely no mistake under Mike O'Connor in the 2m4½f handicap hurdle (2.55)

Shake Him Up, who Paddy Power and Ladbrokes laid at 100-1 and was trading at odds-on at one stage in the morning, could finish only fifth in the earlier maiden hurdle (2.20) having been sent off at 9-4. 

In stark contrast to Shake Him Up, who never looked happy, Blackstair Rocco was always in the perfect position under O'Connor and cruised to the front at the second-last. The result was never in doubt from that point and he was pushed out to win by 16 lengths from Blue Markie. 

The six-year-old brought form figures of 00870 into the race and was last seen finishing 14th of 22, beaten 22 lengths, in a novice handicap hurdle at the Punchestown festival when 80-1.

The Racing Post Spotlight comment for Blackstair Rocco read: "Second in a point in December; hasn't built on that in five runs under rules; tough mark." 

What the bookies said before racing

Nicola McGeady, head of PR for Ladbrokes, said: "Shake Him Up is the biggest mover of the two with us. The move started late last night. We went up at 100-1 and within an hour it was down to 9-4 so it was an absolute crash in price.

"Blackstair Rocco wasn't as dramatic. He was 15-2 when we opened up and within the hour it was down to 5-6."

Paddy Power's Paul Binfield said the surge of support for both horses continued despite the prices collapsing.

Binfield said: "We've seen bits and pieces for both them and punters are actually still backing them would you believe. We laid Shake Him Up at 100-1.

"Emmet Mullins has become one of those trainers that punters have latched on to so we were on to the two horses quite quickly."

Read more of the day's top stories:

Royal Ascot 2021: Friday's card goes ahead as planned as track passes inspection

Royal Ascot race-by-race guide: the winners and losers from an overnight deluge

'We can't go back to the same old programme' – racing warned over fixture list

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The result was never in doubt from that point and he was pushed out to win
E.W. Terms