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Deal or no-deal, we're under starter's orders for Festival: Down Royal chief



Emma Meehan

Emma Meehan

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Emma Meehan

Down Royal racecourse management are planning for racing as usual despite the prospect of a no-deal Brexit affecting the movement of horses between the UK mainland and Republic of Ireland to the venue's November Festival, their biggest meeting of the year.

This year, the event will offer a total prize fund over the two days of £460,000, a record for the meeting.

The feeling at the Maze track is that the effect of a no-deal in relation to movement from across the border, especially, could impact more on their Boxing Day meeting, rather than at the start of November when the Festival is scheduled to run on Friday 1 and Saturday 2.

Down Royal chief executive officer Emma Meehan revealed that she has been in contact with a number of cross-channel based trainers who are due to send runners in just over three weeks' time.

Ms Meehan said: "It seems to be the case that horses from the British mainland would travel by ferry from Liverpool to Belfast.

"There would be no point travelling into Dublin should there be no-deal. The British Horseracing Authority are indicating Liverpool is their port of choice for migration across the Irish Sea if there's no-deal on October 31."

The Down Royal chief added, however: "I wouldn't think if there is no-deal that it would have much of an impact on November 1-2. I would probably be more concerned about the Boxing Day fixture.

"The reality is it's unlikely customs, checks and balances will be in place on November 1 along the border at this rate, should there be no-deal While the information is pertinent you can't really apply it because we don't know where we are - so we're watching the news.

"We're talking with the relevant stakeholders but we'll just have to be ready to react and try and make it as seamless a process as possible for all concerned.

"I think there will be an extension the way things are going at the moment. If not we will do all in our power to react accordingly. But at the moment there's no clear direction so how can anyone create a flight path?"

Over 10,000 people are expected to attend the Festival which in the past has seen the big feature race won by some of the biggest names in jump racing including the legendary Kauto Star in 2010.

√ At Downpatrick's final meeting of the year today, the featured Molson Coors Hurdle looks competitive despite just four runners and could supply the banker on the card with Quartz Du Rheu.

The JP McManus owned runner, trained by Willie Mullins, finished runner up at Listowel on his second Irish start having been sourced in France. The winner of that race won again at Tipperary this week.

The race is for horses that have only won one hurdle contest and Mister Eddman, a previous course winner, could prove the danger. The Coors maiden hurdle is a very weak affair and Champion trainer Mullins can double up with Blue Jacaranda if accounting for Tokyo Getaway.

Cushinstown Finest won and Drumconnor Girl was a close third having been hampered and again can prove the principals with the former taken to confirm placings in the handicap hurdle.

Ar Eagla Na Heagla, Cappuccino Man and Ayr Of Elegance form the short list in the Beginners Chase with the latter, trained by Henry De Bromhead and partnered by Rachael Blackmore, preferred.

Nabraska, trained at Ballygowan by Sammy Wilson, has claims despite carrying top weight in the concluding handicap chase.

SELECTIONS: 1.40 Ya Boy Ya, 2.15 Cushinstown Finest, 2.50 Blue Jacaranda, 3.25 Tiger Twenty Two , 4.00 Quartz Du Rheu , 4.35 Ayr Of Elegance, 5.05 Open To The World.

Belfast Telegraph