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National winner for Down Royal

By Ron McKnight

A total of 21 horses, including eight from mainland Britain, have been entered for the feature of the Down Royal Festival - the JNwine.com Champion Chase later this month.

Two previous winners of the €140,000 prize ­- Road To Riches, the winner last year and Roi De Mee, the 20 13 winner - are included in the star studded steeplechase along with this year's Aintree Grand National winner Many Clouds, trained by Oliver Sherwood.

The inclusion of Many Clouds is a major coup for the Maze management.

British Champion trainer Paul Nicholls, who has claimed the feature chase four times, has a trio engaged with Silviniaco Conti, Saphir Du Rheu and Rocky Creek - the latter runner-up to Road To Riches last year in the big race last year.

Silviniaco Conti in a splendid season won three Grade 1 contests - the Betfair Chase, the King George VI Chase and concluded last term by winning the Betfair Bowl at Aintree.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, under his Gigginstown House Stud banner, has a total of seven engaged having claimed the Champion Chase for the past two years with Road To Riches and Roi Du Mee while Quito De La Roque landed the race in 2011.

County Meath trainer Gordon Elliott has four entries including rising young star Don Cossack which won the chief supporting chase on Super Saturday - the Grade 2 Powers Irish Whiskey Novice Chase - last year and considered by many as a future Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. The trainer is seeking his second victory in the feature, having already established himself as a major player in the principal Down Royal races.

David Pipe runs Dynaste, Reecca Curtis has two, Irish Cavalier and O'Faolains Boy, and former Ulster jockey turned trainer Neil Mulholland has entered The Young Master in a powerful cross channel challenge.

Irish Champion Jumps trainer Willie Mullins has Alelchi Inois and Urano engaged while included in Noel Meade's quartet of entries are a duo of locally owned hopes in Apache Stronghold, owned by the Hunt family and Texas Jack, owned by County Armagh's Robert Watson.

Down Royal manager, Mike Todd said: "I'm thrilled by the numbers and quality of entries for this year's Festival feature."

The Down Royal Festival is on Friday, October 30 and Saturday 31st.

Belfast Telegraph

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