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Festival will be knockout once again: Frampton


By Ron McKnight

Carl Frampton threw his weight behind the Down Royal Festival at yesterday's launch as he took time out from training ahead of his comeback bout at the SSE Arena on November 18.

The eagerly anticipated Festival takes place on November 3 and 4, with a total of almost £500,000 in prize money on offer over the two days.

Former two-weight world champion Frampton said: "I love a day at Down Royal when the training schedule permits."

'The Jackal' acknowledged his year has not worked out as he would have liked while highlighting that his dream is to fight at Windsor Park.

Frampton compared notes on fitness and weight with another special guest at yesterday's launch, Jamie Codd, the Champion Irish Amateur rider who nominated Disko as the horse he would like to ride in the Festival's big race, the Champion Chase, worth £140,000.

Codd added: "Down Royal is a very fair track and usually the best horse wins.

"Down Royal should be delighted as this meeting always attracts the best trainers and their best horses.

"Gordon Elliott always has a large team to target the fixture.

"Our Duke won the Irish Grand National and is built like a tank but will need to step up in a Grade One - it's not a handicap."

Mick Fitzgerald, top jockey turned TV presenter, said: "The local event continues to go from strength to strength.

"The value the public gets at Down Royal is top drawer when you compare the costs at Cheltenham," he said, adding that Coneygree - winner of the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup - would be his pick of the current line-up.

"I saw him recently and he's in terrific order - the course would suit him perfectly," he stated.

Down Royal General Manager Mike Todd advised that the course is presently soft/heavy.

"A definite contrast to last year when we needed to water," he said.

"The success of the Festival is down to the great team at the course and I'm confident of another great event."

Racecourse Chairman and sponsor of the Festival feature - the Champion Chase - James Nicholson added: "This year's renewal could prove the best ever."

Ruby Walsh and Bryan Cooper have proved the jockeys to follow at the Festival, while Elliott has been leading trainer for three of the past four years.

Ryanair owner Michael O'Leary - and his Gigginstown Stud - has been the leading owner for the last three Festivals while winning the feature for the past four renewals.

The Best Dressed Competition, sponsored by Victoria Square, has a 10-day trip to Rio as the prize.

Codd made a quick exit yesterday to get to Punchestown and partnered King's Song to victory for Elliott in the Amateur Riders Chase, while the Meath trainer recorded a remarkable six timer on the day.

Navan trainer Noel Meade claimed the feature at Punchestown yesterday with the Gigginstown-owned Road To Respect.

"I think Disko will go for the JN Wine Chase," he said.

"It could well be that this fella goes for the Grade Two second season novice chase at Down Royal.

"We'll see what happens," Meade added.

Elliott got the afternoon off to a flyer as the high-class Pallasator won the John Shortt Legends Challenge Race in the hands of Norman Williamson.

Samcro justified 1-5 favouritism on his hurdling debut and Ben Dundee (13-8 favourite) obliged in the Punchestown November Festival Handicap Hurdle, before Death Duty (4-9 favourite) brought up the four-timer.

Elliott rounded off the day by winning the concluding two races with King's Song (3-1 favourite) and Felix Desjy (11-8 favourite).

He said: "It's a great day. Any day you have one winner is great, so to have that many winners, I can't believe it."

Belfast Telegraph

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