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Coneygree aiming for Down Royal Festival joy

 

By Ron McKnight

The feature race of the Down Royal Festival - the Grade 1 JNwine.com Champion Chase - has attracted a total of 20 high-class entries.

The Mark Bradstock-trained Coneygree - winner of the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup - has been included in the stellar line-up for the £140,000 prize after missing last month's Kerry National at Listowel due to the heavy going.

Leading Irish owner JP McManus has a trio of top-class chasers engaged, including Carlingford Lough, who was fourth to Don Cossack in the 2016 Gold Cup prior to winning the Punchestown Gold Cup.

Jonjo O'Neill has also entered Minella Rocco and More of That for McManus in the Maze feature. The latter won the World Hurdle in 2014 while Minella Rocco was runner-up to Sizing John in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March of this year.

Neil Mulholland - from Crumlin but now based in Wiltshire - has successfully made the transition from jockey to trainer and has entered Indian Stream.

Gordon Elliott has a quartet of Gigginstown horses engaged, likewise Noel Meade who has entered recent winner A Genie In A Bottle, Disko, Road To Respect and the locally-owned Apache Stronghold.

The latter finished runner-up to Valtour in the JLT Grade 1 Chase at Cheltenham in 2015 but has been absent since filling third in the Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown in 2015.

Valseur Lido - winner of the Festival feature last year - has again been entered by Henry De Bromhead, and the Waterford trainer has also sent in Sub Lieutenant - winner of the Grade 2 supporting feature last season - and Balko Des Flos.

Irish Champion trainer Willie Mullins has entered former Ulster point to pointer Shaneshill as his sole representative.

Our Duke - winner of the Irish Grand National last season - is Jessica Harrington's only entry. The Northern Ireland Festival of Racing is staged from November 3-4.

Belfast Telegraph

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