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Elliott is hunting for National success at Down Royal

 

By Ron McKnight

Down Royal today gets the new Irish National Hunt season under way following a titanic battle for the Champion trainer award which ended last weekend.

Gordon Elliott was second best to Willie Mullins at Punchestown in the trainers' championship but gets his new campaign started and is doubly represented in the Belfast Live Hurdle with Monbeg Notorious and Ballela Boy.

Brian Cooper, Gigginstown's retained jockey, opts for Monbeg Notorious despite Michael O'Leary having a trio of runners.

The selection, a Navan winner last time, has most to fear from Ballela Boy, runner-up at Downpatrick in March. Chosen Dream gets the vote to give local connections another success in the Dark Horse Hunterchase.

The selection is trained at Templepatrick by Graham McKeever for Peggy Hagan with the Ballyclare owner having been on hand to see Balnaslow give her the biggest success racing in the Champion hunterchase at Punchestown. Quiet Account is the danger. Colwinston, trained in Strabane by Suzy Barkley, has been running well and is overdue success in the opening maiden hurdle.

• Somehow's class won the day as last season's Epsom Oaks fourth overcame trouble in running to take the Listed honours in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Victor McCalmont Memorial Stakes at Gowran.

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