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Kauto Star set for Down Royal

Kauto Star is on course for his first appearance of the season at Down Royal’s Festival of Racing this weekend.

The former Gold Cup winner who will bid for a record five-in-a-row King George VI victories at Kempton on Boxing Day, is reported fit and well for Saturday’s JNwine.com Champion Chase which he won two years ago.

There was speculation that the 10-year-old who is now in his seventh season over fences, would go to Haydock instead for the Betfair Chase but trainer Paul Nicholls is not keen on taking on current Gold Cup holder Imperial Commander at this time of the season.

Imperial Commander gave Kauto Star a major scare in the race last year, going down by a short head.

The two days of Down Royal will be covered both days on Attheraces and Channel 4 on Saturday.

Antrim-based Robinson Services will sponsor a handicap chase on Friday which was won last year by the Edward O’Grady-trained Killenaule Boy who later went on to win the Galway Plate Trial at the same track last June.

Racecourse manager Mike Todd said local sponsorship continues to play a significant role in their marketing programme.

“Sponsorship plays a key role in consolidating Down Royal as one of the leading sports and hospitality entertainment venues in Ireland,” he said.

“We are delighted to welcome Robinson Services on board. The festival is an important event for many of the UK’s and Northern Ireland’s leading firms, where they can reach new customers and actively promote their brand to an audience of thousands.”

As usual, the two-day programme will attract a number of top class horses who begin their build-up to the Cheltenham Festival next March.

The quality of racing includes the Grade 2 Ladbrokes.com Chase, while Friday’s feature race, the WKD Core Hurdle has been upgraded from Grade 3 to Grade 2.

Down Royal continues to pull in high-profile local businesses to support the event and has maintained links with sponsors including A.

Bartlett & Sons (Airdie) Ltd., Allianz, Archie Watson, Billecart-Salmon, Eventsec, EBF Lough Construction Limited who have upgraded their sponsorship to the Grade 3 Mares Novice Hurdle, JNwine.com, JWJ Porter & Co, Ladbrokes.com, the Mirror, Rainbow Telecom and WKD Core.

This year also sees new sponsor the Tayto Group enter the fold.

With a limited number of Punter Packs and hospitality packages up for grabs on Friday, time is running out to book your place!

Contact the Festival Office on 028 92621256 or log on to www.downroyal.com for details.

Belfast Telegraph