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Henry sweet on Honey for Down Royal festival bid


One to watch: Honeysuckle, here with Rachael Blackmore on board at Fairyhouse, is a likely favourite for the Down Royal festiv
One to watch: Honeysuckle, here with Rachael Blackmore on board at Fairyhouse, is a likely favourite for the Down Royal festiv

By Ron McKnight

The WKD Hurdle features on the first session of the Down Royal Festival on Friday, with the Grade 2 event having been increased in value to £50,000.

One to watch is the Henry de Bromhead trained Honeysuckle, which started her career with Banbridge trainer Gerry Cosgrave - winning a point to point on her debut and sold to current connections for £110,000.

The mare has proved a resounding success and is unbeaten in her four efforts over hurdles, including at Grade 1 level on her final start last season at Fairyhouse.

The Noel Meade trained Brace Yourself, owned by the Belfast based Hunt family who have a very long association with the local course, hasn't been seen since winning a maiden hurdle at last year's festival and is highly regarded by the trainer.

Gordon Elliott has a pair entered - Coko Beach, a recent Punchestown winner, and Coeur Sublime, which made a winning debut over flights at last year's meeting and finished runner up in the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival earlier this year.

Trainer Joseph O'Brien has Triplicate, owned by JP McManus, engaged having competed at the top level last term.

The Beginners Chase has been used to introduce some notable horses in past renewals, especially by Noel Meade, who has a trio entered with Moyross and Trappist Monk, again owned by the Hunt family, joined by Disc Donk, owned by the Gigginstown Stud operation.

Ryanair owner Michael O'Leary's racing team has a total of six entered, including Samcro, which will be a star attraction on his fencing debut.

Trainer Gordon Elliott has had this race as the horse's target for some time, with Samcro having been unbeaten in six starts over hurdles, including at Grade 1 level at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, before a disappointing season last year.

Elliott's stable rider Keith Donoghue made no secret of his excitement at the prospect of seeing the young star over fences at the festival launch.

Donoghue also advised that Elliott liked to run some of his top youngsters in bumpers at the track and has entered five, including The Very Man and Fantasia D'Alene. Elliott again has five engaged in the opening maiden hurdle, including the very exciting Envoi Allen - winner of the Cheltenham Festival bumper in March and again has been ear marked for this fixture.

Tellmesomethinggirl, trained by Henry de Bromhead - a £150,000 purchase in March following a points win - is an eye catching entry in the Grade 3 Mares Novice Hurdle, along with the notable duo of Caer and Mount Ida.

Meanwhile, Shumaker has proved a stable star for Dundrod rookie trainer Paul Traynor and completed a hat trick at Wexford yesterday.

Traynor said: "There is a good race at Down Royal (Saturday's feature hurdle) for him but it depends on the weather and we'll see how he is tomorrow. It was a good trip down here for us, it took about four hours, and that eases the journey home."


CATTERICK: 12.30 Mighty Spirit, 1.00 The Grey Zebedee, 1.30 Tamleek, 2.05 Magical Effect, 2.35 Cornerstone Lad, 3.10 BROKEN SPEAR (NAP), 3.45 My Valentino, 4.15 Vallarta.

CHEPSTOW: 1.15 No Rematch, 1.45 Shamilan, 2.20 Eason, 2.50 At First Light, 3.25 Finawn Bawn, 4.00 No Cruise Yet, 4.30 Plenty In The Tank.

SOUTHWELL: 4.45 Shine Baby Shine, 5.15 Gmasha, 5.45 George Mallory, 6.15 Ollivander, 6.45 Skeetah, 7.15 J Gaye, 7.45 Cathedral Street, 8.15 Strict.

DOUBLE: Broken Spear and Gmasha.


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