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Down Royal Preview - Day 1

Down Royal hosts two days of high calibre racing across Friday and Saturday this weekend, with Grade 1 action to savour and the appearances of some very exciting novices' to boot. Gordon Elliott has a strong team heading for the Northern Irish circuit and the Racing Post previews both days, starting with Friday at Down Royal where they race from 12.20pm-3.50pm.


12.20pm - Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Maiden Hurdle (2m6½)

He was one of the most exciting bumper horses of last season and all eyes will be fixed on AMERICAN MIKE, as he makes his hurdling bow here for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy.

He's a high-class prospect over the coming months - and years - and he showed himself effective on any ground last season. A winner on debut at this meeting (2m1f, soft) he added a Listed contest at Navan in December and was second/third behind Facile Vega at Cheltenham and Punchestown in the spring. It's interesting to see him starting out over this extended trip, but impossible to oppose him.

It's 580 days since Letsbeclearaboutit was spotted on the track but he, too, was a well above average bumper horse in 2020/21 and Gavin Cromwell's charge is one to keep a close eye on.

Selection: American Mike

Next Best: Letsbeclearaboutit


12.55pm - Lough Construction Ltd. Handicap Hurdle (3m)

Last-time-out scorers True Destiny and TYRE KICKER are both interesting. The former had plenty in hand at Sligo (2m4f, yielding to soft) recently and could have the ability to stay this trip having been a strong stayer on the Flat. Brian Hayes' mount has a 9lb hike in the ratings to defy here.

Gavin Cromwell's Tyre Kicker meanwhile produced a much-improved showing when scoring at Punchestown over this trip in May. The Network gelding is 8lb higher himself here and sports a new tongue-tie this afternoon. He could be the answer in this competitive contest under Keith Donoghue.

Elliott's mare Jungle Prose also won last time, though the assessor has clobbered her with a 12lb hike and that's sure to make things tough. A fair few of the remainder have questions over them - Tony Martin's Rebellious Gale stayed on for fifth from an unpromising position at Galway in July on soft ground and remains unexposed at this trip. He could have something to offer.

Selection: Tyre Kicker

Next Best: Rebellious Gale


1.30pm - Irish Stallion Farms EBF Feathard Lady Mares Novice Hurdle (Fillies' & Mares' Grade 3, 2m1f)

It's not all Gordon Elliott here this weekend. Willie Mullins will be on site too and he's seeking to win this Mares' Grade 3 for the fifth time in nine years. The champion trainer goes mob-handed, saddling no less than four of the 11 runners.

Paul Townend sides with Nikini, who made it 2-2 over hurdles at Listowel in September, though that was more a hard-working display than anything.

She can improve, however, but SAYLAVEE is a good alternative for Team Closutton. Danny Mullins' partner was a cosy winner on hurdles bow at Gowran Park on soft ground five weeks ago, with lots more in hand than a slender winning margin suggested, and there could be plenty improvement to come upped in grade for this dual bumper scorer.

Noel Meade's The Model Kingdom has won three bumpers and a Tipperary maiden hurdle from five starts and is a viable threat to the Mullins machine, while Liberty Dance (Gordon Elliott), Magical Zoe and Rioga Choice (both Henry De Bromhead) all carry a threat in what could be a cracking contest.

Selection: Saylavee

Next Best: Nikini

Down Royal Festival Preview - Day 2

Down Royal Festival Preview - Day 2

2.05pm - WKD Hurdle (Grade 2, 2m1f)

A fascinating duel in prospect between the Elliott pair Fil Dor and PIED PIPER. The former chased home Vauban in Grade 1s at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown in the spring - with Pied Piper a neck behind in the Triumph Hurdle.

He's a quality prospect but his stablemate could have a fitness edge on him now after a winning return at Cheltenham a fortnight ago, when he showed he'd summered well with a polished display in seeing off old rival Knight Salute. Pied Piper was, it should be recalled, the only horse to lower Vauban's colours last season.

It's very hard to split this promising pair, with race fitness perhaps just swaying it in favour of Jack Kennedy's mount today. It will be intriguing to see how they fare in the market and a shock if they aren't battling it out for this prize.

Selection: Pied Piper

Next Best: Fil Dor


2.40pm - Start Your Free Trial Now At Handicap Chase (2m1f)

Espion Du Chenet won this race 12 months ago, rated 22lb lower at the time, and has two further wins since, albeit in amongst some lesser performances. His 7lb claimer helps, and no doubting he has the ability to defy a mark such as this, but last month's return to action at Cork was underwhelming and leaves him with a question to answer.

Top-weight Gevrey notched a win at Limerick (2m3½f, soft) last month but there was some element of fortune about that and a drop in distance isn't certain to help the Gordon Elliott inmate here.

Stablemate The Greek gained his first success over fences at Perth in September, albeit the front two in the market for that four-runner contest came to grief as early on. This is tougher.

NOW WHERE OR WHEN was a distant second behind Fakir D'alene on chasing bow here at Christmas and scored next time out at Fairyhouse (2m, soft) for Stuart Crawford. When last sighted, he was second behind Gevrey at Fairyhouse in a rated novice chase in the spring. He's got no qualms going well fresh and is significantly better off on these terms with that rival - he should go well.

Henry De Bromhead's returning mare Alice Avril rises in trip here under Rachael Blackmore and isn't one to discount completely off what looks a fair mark.

Selection: Now Where Or When

Next Best: Alice Avril

Premier League Preview – Week 15, Saturday

Premier League Preview – Week 15, Saturday

3.15pm - Tote Always SP Or Better At Down Royal Beginners Chase (2m3½f)

Another contest on this card where Gordon Elliott looks to be holding the ace-card, this time via dual Grade 1-winning novice hurdler MIGHTY POTTER.

A jumping error put paid to him in the Supreme at Cheltenham in March and Jack Kennedy quickly pulled him up, but he bounced back at Punchestown when accounting for Ballymore winner Sir Gerhard in good style. He's an exciting recruit to fencing and is entitled to be landing this assuming he gets around in one piece.

Largy Debut caused a stir on hurdles bow last season, defeating Kilcruit, but was put in his place next time by Mighty Potter. He won't likely be allowed an easy lead here and became hard to predict last season.

Race-fit from hurdling, it could be that the other Elliott runner, Mars Harper, does best of the rest behind the odds-on jolly.

Selection: Mighty Potter

Next Best: Mars Harper


3.50pm - Workpal Flat Race (2m1f)

A disappointing turnout for this finale. Carnfunnock won at Ayr last November and tackled graded events at Leopardstown and Punchestown in two runs since (both won by unbeaten star Facile Vega). Stuart Crawford's gelding was third at the Dublin Racing Festival, albeit beaten 20 lengths.

He's no mug, but that man Gordon Elliott is seeking a fifth victory in the last six editions of this contest and he's got the smartly-bred BETTER DAYS AHEAD in the Bective Stud colours to go to war with. Winner of his only point-to-point, he cost a tidy £350,000 at the Cheltenham Festival sales subsequently and won't lack for any assistance with Jamie Codd up on racecourse bow.

The filly Do As Your Told also debuts here and, while she's got some appeal on paper, this isn't an easy starting place.

Selection: Better Days Ahead

Next Best: Carnfunnock






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