Friday, January 28, 2022
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Down Royal Festival pointed to the stars

THE Down Royal Festival last month most definitely pointed and showcased future jump stars. The French import ‘Fil Dor’ made a winning debut for trainer Gordon Elliott at the meeting and duly followed up, with Davy Russell aboard, when beating ‘Lunar Power’ (owned by the Belfast based Hunt family) and registering an excellent effort to score at Grade 3 level at Fairyhouse’s flagship day of jump racing on Sunday, with all races sponsored by Newry’s Barney O’Hare’s Bar One Racing Bookmaking operation. Elliott advised the Christmas meeting at Leopardstown could be the next target depending on ground conditions.

Trainer Noel Meade’s top class hurdler, ‘Beacon Edge’, with Denis O’Regan booked, had to settle for second on his debut in the Beginners Chase at the Maze, but reversed placing with the winner, ‘Lifetime Ambition’ (finished fourth) when tackling Grade 1 company in the Drinmore Novice Chase.

Meade said: “You’d have to think three miles is his trip and the three-mile race at Leopardstown over Christmas is the obvious next race for him.”

Fitted with a first-time tongue tie, the Henry de Bromhead trained ‘Gua Du Large’ (25/1), having been pulled up two out in the feature hurdle at Down Royal Festival, was another to score in a photo finish beating ‘Glan’ in the valuable £80,000 handicap hurdle, with ‘Magic Tricks’ – second in the Maze contest – filling third.

De Bromhead and jockey, Rachael Blackmore doubled up when champion ‘Honeysuckle’ won the Grade 1 £100,000 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle for the third time and, after 14 starts including a point to point, the top class mare remains unbeaten and, unless it goes unnoticed when winning her point was trained at Banbridge by Gerry Cosgrave and owned and partnered by the now retired top local amateur, Mark O’Hare.

The Willie Mullins trained ‘Statuaire’, having opened his account at Downpatrick in May, claimed the Grade 1 £100,00 Royal Bond Hurdle in a photo finish.

The Champion trainer said: “She will go on to Leopardstown for the Grade 1 and you’d have to say the mares’ novice at Cheltenham would be the target.”

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