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Fox is ready to rock in sparkling Down Royal Christmas line-up

By Ron McKnight

Down Royal general manager Mike Todd, who last month oversaw the most successful Festival event yet at the Maze course, is on a high in advance of the popular Boxing Day fixture on Monday with Foxrock one of several top-class entries.

"Advance interest and enquiries for Boxing Day remain very positive from the public, many want to enjoy the excitement of our racing during the festive period and they won't be disappointed by the entry list that should ensure top class action on the day," Todd said.

A total of 190 horses are entered for the meeting and local trainers and owners are especially well represented.

Larne trainer Stuart Crawford, who married equine physiotherapist Jill Davidson a fortnight ago, has numerous entries on the day with multiple entries in some races.

Crawford's runners in Down Royal bumpers are always worth noting and he has a trio in the finale.

However the powerful Gordon Elliott stable has a total of six horses engaged in the same race.

The Ted Walsh-trained Foxrock, narrowly denied in the Grade 1 Hennessey Gold Cup at Leopardstown as well as in the Lexus, is an eye-catching entry in the Hunter Chase but was beaten by Templepatrick trainer Graham McKeever's Balnaslow in a recent points encounter.

However, Valmy Baie produced a spectacular display recently to win a point to point at Kirkistown after being left at the start and only setting off as the rest of the field passed the winning post on the initial circuit.

This horse looks a class act in his new role and is capable of registering a local victory for Derrylin handler David Christie.

Racing gets under way on Boxing Day with a high class Beginners Chase, Elliott supplying a quartet of entries, while Crawford's Ardmillan is the likely top weight in the Handicap Chase.

Elliott has another quartet in the EBF Hurdle - including The Storyteller, a high class youngster owned by the Templepatrick-based Sloan family. The Dark Horse Hurdle attracts the biggest entry with 37 engaged, including another Elliott quartet.

However, Magherafelt owner Pat Conway will be hoping for an extra Christmas present with the excellent Turbojet following a very fine effort at Navan last time.

The Martinstown Hurdle, sponsored by JP McManus, has another very large entry and local trainers dominate the runners.

Todd added: "Boxing Day remains one of the most popular fixtures of the season and I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who makes racing at the Maze a continuing success - racegoers and sponsors for their continued support as, with the owners, trainers and jockeys, they make the meetings special each time."

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