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Derby delight for Down Royal

By Frank Brownlow

Down Royal racecourse has been boosted by news that Magners have committed to sponsoring the Ulster Derby for a further three years.

Apple a day: Miss Northern Ireland Finola Guinnane adds some glamour at launch of Magners Derby at Down Royal’s Black Horse Cafe yesterday, with the big race on Saturday, June 23

Magners stepped up to the starting line last year to sponsor the Ulster Derby — now known as the Magners Derby.

A huge crowd is expected to attend the event at Down Royal on Saturday, June 23, celebrating what is — along with the Northern Ireland Festival in November — the biggest and richest race meet of the year in Ulster, widely recognised as a highlight of the social as well as sporting calendar.

Magners’ connection with Down Royal will extend further this summer as the brand also sponsors the Magners Race Meet on the evening of Friday, July 27.

Announcing details of the association, Magners Marketing Manager James Simpson said: “This latest three year commitment reinforces the success of our association with Down Royal whose Summer Festival combines top class racing with a relaxed social atmosphere.

“The €65,000 prize pot for the Magners Derby ensures the event’s recognition as a major sporting occasion, and a much loved highlight of the racing season,” he added.

“Down Royal has also successfully opened up ‘the sport of kings’ to new and younger audiences, enhancing the racing experience with fabulous hospitality and entertainment.

“We are delighted both to extend our support of the Magners Derby and to support the evening race meeting on July 27.”

Welcoming support from Magners, Down Royal General Manager Mike Todd said: “We are thrilled to have a leading brand such as Magners confirm their three year commitment to Down Royal.”

Meanwhile, Charlie Hills is delighted with Gray Pearl as he prepares the lightly-raced filly for the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on Sunday.

An impressive winner of her Newbury debut last August, she was not seen again until running creditably when third behind the top-class Wading in the Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket.

“I don't think the softer ground at Newmarket will be a problem — I think she might prefer it that way — and the mile won't be a problem either,” he said.

Two riders were taken to hospital with possible head injuries after falls in the last race at Ballinrobe.

Mark Byrne, on Callthebigladjimmy, and Gwen Daly, on Star Of Boru, were taken to Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar.

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