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Turbojet lift-off can hand punters a late festive gift

By Ron McKnight

Punters at Down Royal's Boxing Day fixture today will require a clear head to navigate a complex and ultra-competitive card in the quest for winners.

Turbojet looks a likely local winner, trained by Maria Richert for Magherafelt owner Pat Conway.

Turbojet had to settle for second in a good race at last month's Down Royal Festival and finished fourth at Navan subsequently.

The locally owned Black Ace, trained by Noel Meade, following several placed efforts looks the likely favourite while Calino D'Airy, purchased after winning a Ballymena point to point in May, makes his hurdling debut for De Bromhead.

Art Of Payroll could open his account over fences in the opening Novice Chase following consistent placed efforts including finishing runner-up in similar contest at last month's Down Royal Festival.

Burgas, having finished second to the high class Yorkhill although some distance in arrears, looks the likely favourite.

Falcon Crest, despite absent for a year, appears another major threat having won twice from only five efforts in top class company. Last Goodbye could have place prospects.

The hunter chase can supply a local winner in Valmy Baie, trained by Derrylin handler David Christie.

Valmy Baie has proved a very high class recruit to the point to point circuit - winning six times and producing an amazing display last month when left at the start but still managing to win.

Foxrock and Buckers Bridge are top class chasers reverting to hunter chasing.

Foxrock was third to Don Poli in the Lexus Chase last year and fourth to Carlingford Lough in the Irish Gold Cup last season.

Buckers Bridge ran at the Cheltenham Festival in March and won a point last time.

The locally trained Balnaslow holds Foxrock on points form while Grand Jesture, trained by Jim Dreaper, also warrants respect, however Valmy Baie is taken to prevail in a hot contest.

One Cool Clarkson, Bridge End, Ardmillan and Sean Airgead make most appeal in the handicap chase with the last named just preferred to score for Sligo handler Mark McNiff.

The Storyteller looked set for victory before falling at the penultimate flight at the course last month and can gain compensation for the Templepatrick-based Sloan family and trainer Gordon Elliott in the maiden hurdle.

Elusive Theatre, trained near Larne by Stuart Crawford, looks the danger having run well when fourth in a similar event at last month's Down Royal Festival.

Catch A Lucky Star finished runner-up to the very useful Death Duty in a bumper at the course and warrants respect on his hurdling debut while Monbeg Chit Chat - a points winner - makes his track debut for Henry de Bromhead who claimed both the feature races at the festival.

The Martinstown Handicap Hurdle is another poser for punters. Broughtons Star, Mr Moondance, French Ambassador and Verona Opera are the quartet making most appeal and the last named is capable of providing Crawford with a festive winner.

Runforbob could complete a superb Sloan family double in the finale.

Broken Soul looks the likely favourite, with several placed efforts, and represents Elliott and champion amateur rider Jamie Codd.

Castle Clyde, a winning pointer, holds place claims and is trained in Lisburn by George Stewart, while Katie Walsh is a notable booking for Blairs Cove, third at Punchestown in April.

12.20 Art Of Payroll 12.50 Sean Airgead 1.20 Valmy Baie 1.55 The Storyteller 2.30 Turbojet 3.00 Verona Opera 3.35 Runforbob

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