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Down Royal set for Christmas cracker: Todd

By Ron McKnight

Down Royal General Manager Mike Todd will be at the course on Christmas morning long before he has opened any presents.

Todd has a set routine and before the opening of presents and enjoying the turkey with his family will be on the Lisburn course — not inspecting for tracks left by Santa’s sledge but confirming the official going and updating the Irish Turf Club on conditions which are then available to trainers prior to Boxing Day racing.

Top trainer Gordon Elliott envisaged approximately 100 runners at fixtures over the Festive season and is responsible for 34 of the 202 horses entered in the popular Boxing Day meeting.

Todd said: “Boxing Day always gets a huge entry but I’m impressed by the standard of intended runners this year. Presently it looks like the going will be soft, yielding in places, and possible heavy patches.

“Trainers know we will endeavour to provide the best racing surface and with the going consistently heavy on tracks in past weeks would be delighted with current conditions.”

All the principal National Hunt trainers along with the majority of local handlers have entries on the Festive card.

Limerick trainer Enda Bolger looks to hold the key to the hunter chase with the JP McManus-owned pair Gilgamboa and champion hunter chaser On The Fringe engaged.

Twelve of the 26 entries in the handicap hurdle are locally trained, creating the possibility of an Ulster winner on Boxing day — Backinthesaddle, winner of the race last year, bids for a repeat.

The quality of horses engaged in the concluding bumper is well above average and Elliott has no less than 11.

Brace Yourself, like Snow Falcon in the opener, is owned by the Belfast-based Hunt family and would be an apt winner at the long-standing owners’ local track and in the final race of the year at the course.

Belfast Telegraph

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