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Crawford clan's fingers crossed for six of the best

By Ron McKnight

Racing at Down Royal on Boxing Day is a traditional part of Christmas, giving racegoers the opportunity to take a break from their festive overeating.

Larne trainer Stuart Crawford with his team - brothers Ben, Ross and Steven - will be kept busy with six runners alone at the Lisburn track, while the local handler confirmed his stable star Fine Rightly will target the Grade 1 £150,000 Lexus Chase on Wednesday.

"I would be happy with one winner at Down Royal but all the horses have chances," said Crawford.

Verona Opera should be capable of going close in the Martinstown Opportunity handicap hurdle, having run well in a Navan race recently, with Crawford adding: "The form of that race has worked out well but I don't really want a lot more rain for him."

In addition to Baby Bach, Ardmillan, Indy Island and Ballyhowne, Elusive Theatre is another Crawford contender with major claims in the EBF Novice Hurdle, however Joe and Pat Sloan from Templepatrick will be represented by The Storyteller and Runnerforbob.

Cheltenham Festival winning trainer Ian Ferguson has entered a team of James, Bridge End, Steel's Cotton and Ranmore Will, while Pat Conway's Turbojet will be expected to run well once again.

Lisburn trainer George Stewart has Castle Clyde engaged in the finale; Crossgar's Colin Mc Bratney has a quartet entered in the shape of Quite Account, Comber Mill, Caerleon Kate and Sports Barrow, while Court Jester - trained at Ballygowan by Sammy Wilson - targets the Martinstown Hurdle he won in 2012.

County Fermanagh trainer David Christie could supply a banker bet in the hunterchase with his Valmy Baie, owned by Down Royal committee member Ray Nicholas.

A new recruit to the Derrylin stables, the horse has made a big impression in open races and looks a potential luminary in this sphere.

The trainer lost stable star You Must Know Me earlier this year after winning at Leopardstown and it would be apt if Valmy Baie proved a new contender for the four time Northern Region Champion Points Trainer.

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