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Down Royal: Nodelay is bet of the Festival

By Jimmy Walker

Crossgar trainer Colin McBratney should be on the mark at Down Royal tomorrow evening when he runs Nodelay in the opener, the Lily’s Pub & Eatery Mares Novice Hurdle.

Nodelay was narrowly beaten by Original Option in a close finish at Downpatrick at the end of May and should go one better.

McBratney may also be on target with Selection Box who runs in the Galway Plate Trial Handicap Chase.

Selection Box was fourth last time out in the Perth Gold Cup and looks like the one to follow.

The action tomorrow is the first stage of a two-day meeting and is all jumping.

On Saturday the big race is the Magners Ulster Derby and here Yorkshire trainer Mark Johnston has entered two runners.

The best is Lovers Causeway who won last time out at Chester.

Johnston’s stable is running well and a lot of his runners have been mopping up.

However, for the winner it might be best to rely on Aidan O’Brien whose stable is on form and Admiral Of The Red could be the right one.

Others in the race with chances are Force Of Habit — trained by Dermot Weld — and Nantucket Bay, also trained by O’Brien.

Admiral Of The Red was successful at Leopardstown on his last run while Nantucket Bay won at Navan.

Long Live The King is another O’Brien-trained horse who could go well but at this stage I fancy Admiral Of The Red.

The Ulster Oaks is also on the card on Saturday and John Oxx must be fancied with Cape Of Good Grace and Celendine.

Joanna Morgan has entered Gypsie Queen who should go close but it might be best to follow Oxx.

Tyrone trainer Andy Oliver will have a chance with Negotiate who would be one of the fancied fillies along with Stylish One, trained by Jim Bolger

Back to tomorrow night and Tyrone’s Mervyn Torrens runs Dancera who goes for the Maxmara Hurdle and has some good class form.

Salford City, trained by Gordon Elliott, is another to watch out for but the best bet at the meeting may be in the opening race with Nodelay.

That race is scheduled for 5.45pm, the first of a competitive seven-race card ahead of Saturday’s appetising main course.

The featured Magners Ulster Derby is at 4.10pm, on a seven-race card which starts at 2.40pm.

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