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Down Royal's sponsorship joy

Exciting times: Emma Meehan, Chief Executive of Down Royal Racecourse, and Nicola McGeady, Head of PR at Ladbrokes
Exciting times: Emma Meehan, Chief Executive of Down Royal Racecourse, and Nicola McGeady, Head of PR at Ladbrokes

By Ron McKnight

Ladbrokes bookmakers has been unveiled as the new sponsor of Down Royal's November Festival of Racing in a three-year partnership.

The six-figure deal, the largest in Down Royal's history, will see the bookmaker take on title sponsorship of the first Grade 1 Champion Chase of the National Hunt season, with a prize fund of €140,000 (£125,000).

The long-established two-day Festival - to be staged on November 1 and 2 this year - is the highlight of the racing calendar at Down Royal and has an exceptional roll of honour, including Kauto Star, Beef Or Salmon, The Listener, Looks Like Trouble, Florida Pearl and Don Cossack.

Friday, November 1 will see the richest hurdle race in Northern Ireland take place - The WKD Hurdle - while the Ladbrokes Grade 1 Champion Chase will run on the Saturday.

Emma Meehan, Chief Executive of Down Royal Racecourse, said: "We are delighted to welcome Ladbrokes to our growing family of key sponsors and partners and look forward to working with them.

"The most prestigious of our race meetings, the November Festival, is set to be the biggest yet and with attendance up 12% year on year, we are anticipating over 10,000 over the two days."

Nicola McGeady, Ladbrokes Head of PR, said: "Ladbrokes has a long and proud association with top-class horse racing and we are thrilled to be embarking on this exciting sponsorship."

Meanwhile, Southern France has been supplemented for the Comer Group International Irish St Leger at the Curragh.

The four-year-old is set to have his last race in the care of Aidan O'Brien on Sunday, after being sold by Coolmore to Australian connections with the aim of going for the Melbourne Cup.

Third in last year's St Leger at Doncaster, Southern France won the Irish St Leger Trial at the Curragh last month.

O'Brien also has the last two winners of Britain's oldest Classic, Kew Gardens and Capri, plus Cypress Creek and Western Australia, among a list of 18 horses remaining at the confirmation stage as he seeks to win this race for a sixth time.

Joseph O'Brien has four possibles - 2018 Irish Derby hero Latrobe, Master Of Reality, Twilight Payment and Buckhurst.

Last year's Melbourne Cup victor Cross Counter and Ispolini represent Newmarket trainer Charlie Appleby.

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