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Chief Todd is all fired up as Down Royal prepares for a thrilling Festival

 

By Ron McKnight

Down Royal general manager Mike Todd can't wait for this weekend's Festival, with racing spread out over Friday and Saturday.

Todd said: "The current going is soft - perfect for the top-class National Hunt horses we are expecting to turn up. The ground in past seasons has sometimes been a worry but this year everything is perfect. I expect the stars to shine."

The Friday session features two Graded races - the Grade 3 Mares Novice Hurdle and the long-standing Grade 2 WKD Hurdle, sponsored by leading local owner Joe Sloan.

Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins, currently in Australia supervising his trio of entries in next Tuesday's Melbourne Cup, also has three in the WKD - top-rated pair Melon and Coquin Mans, along with Let's Dance.

Wakea, winner of the big handicap hurdle on Super Saturday last year, has been entered by Karl Thornton, while leading trainer Gordon Elliott's sole entry is Mick Jazz.

Noel Meade has had 11 winners in recent weeks and has Art Of Security engaged after scoring on the flat at Navan last week.

Mullins is at the double in the mares contest. He has entered the locally-owned Mystic Theatre - the winner of her last five starts - who started her career in local point to points and moved to the champion trainer after dual success.

He has also put forward Contingency, who is unbeaten in her two efforts for the trainer while engaged.

Henry de Bromhead, who claimed both the big Festival chases last season and sent out a winner at Cheltenham last weekend, has Classic Theatre, Creation and Special Diamond entered.

Dixie Lee, owned by the Draperstown-based PJ Conway, can prove a major local hope.

While all the major jumps trainers have supported the Down Royal Festival, the early tip is follow Meade's runners.

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