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National horse lined up for Down Royal

Down Royal festival

By Keith Hamer

Down Royal Festival is launched today and Grand National fourth Gilgamboa could make his seasonal debut in the Champion Chase on November 5 as long as the ground is suitable.

Trainer Enda Bolger reports the JP McManus-trained eight-year-old to have benefited from his summer break and is looking forward to the new campaign.

A Grade One novice chase winner in April 2015, Gilgamboa did not get his head in front last term but took on the best in such races as the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, Irish Gold Cup and Ryanair Chase.

He signed off for the season with an admirable fourth in the world-famous marathon at Aintree in the spring.

"He's entered in Down Royal for the James Nicholson race," said Bolger.

"At the moment that's the plan. I'd say we'll kick-off with him there, but it would depend on the ground. If it's anywhere on the quick side he won't run.

"He looks well and has done well over the summer.

"It's just that he's rated in the high 150s, so he's limited as to where he can go.

"He's a lovely horse to have and we're looking forward to the winter."

Should Gilgamboa turn up at Down Royal, then he might cross swords with The Last Samuri, who finished two places ahead of him at Aintree.

"He's pencilled in for there. All reports from Kim (Bailey, trainer) are good," Jason Maguire, racing manager to owners Paul and Clare Rooney, told Racing UK.

"He'll do a couple of serious bits of work. You hope every year a horse improves a small bit, which he needs to if he is to be a Grade One horse, but he seems to be doing everything right.

"The National will be his main target again. Touch wood, we get him there in one piece."

Meanwhile Brian The Snail might not be destined to be running in Classics with that sort of name but showed a decent level of ability when winning on debut and can follow up at Catterick.

Owned and trained by Richard Fahey, the son of Zebedee - hence the name as both were characters in children's TV Show The Magic Roundabout - was sent off the 2-1 favourite at Pontefract.

He showed a really likeable attitude to fight off Father McKenzie and win by a length, doing all his best work close home.

The winner carried a rating of 75 into the contest so set a decent level of form and Brian The Snail can surely only improve for that experience.

The highest-rated of his rivals in the Novice Stakes is Secret Potion on 77 so he does not have a mountain to climb.

Iain Jardine is a trainer making a real name for himself through the exploits of Shrewd and Nakeeta and he looks likely to be a fixture for years to come.

He runs Fingal's Cave in the Dine And View At Catterick Races Handicap and on his first start for the yard he looks interesting. Formerly with Mick Channon, he is on a career-high mark of 84 but there is just a chance Jardine could illicit some improvement.

Belfast Telegraph


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