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Zagnzig zooms in on repeat performance


Front runner: Zagnzig (left) can repeat this Down Royal victory from last month in tonight’s opening Festival meeting
Front runner: Zagnzig (left) can repeat this Down Royal victory from last month in tonight’s opening Festival meeting

By Ron McKnight

Local connections can enjoy a successful start to the Summer Festival at Down Royal tonight.

In the featured Tote Hurdle, formally a chase trial for the Galway Plate, the Joseph O'Brien trained Monarch is an improving type, and no doubt the Galway Festival is on his agenda.

Storm Rising, which finished runner up ahead of the selection last time, looks a worthy favourite while Park Paddocks and Niven also hold solid claims.

Dixie Lee, owned by Magherafelt based Pat Conway and trained by Dermot McLaughlin, can land the opener at the expense of Osco Mosco.

Trainer Gordon Elliott has a quartet of the nine runners in the one winner hurdle. Flaxen Flare, the mount of Barry Geraghty, can supply another winner for Pat Sloan, the Templepatrick owner successful at Downpatrick last week, while The Game Changer, another trained by Elliott and partnered by Davy Russell, looks the danger.

The Tom Taaffe trained State Of Nirvana gets a confident vote in the maiden hurdle, while Colwinston, yet to win a race, runs well at this course and has the benefit of Barry Geraghty in the saddle offering an each way alternative to the favourite.

The Summer Festival Hurdle attracts a maximum field with Ballymadum, Loupagarou and Theatre Of Dreams forming the short list, while Hurricane Sky can never be ignored.

But Zagnzig, an emphatic winner at the venue last time for Ballyclare handler Harry Smyth, looks capable of following up and supplying the value bet.

Racing concludes with two bumpers. Gone Dancin gets the vote in the contest for four year olds having finished a close fourth to the high class Jerandme at the track last time.

Debutant Jelara provides the danger, while Late Again should be noted in the market as a contender.

Top Banbridge amateur rider Mark O'Hare is enjoying his best ever season and can add to his tally of success in the finale with Not The Chablis, which is taken to improve on his initial effort when third, while the ex-Willie Mullins trained Solis Gentil, the only previous winner in the event and now in the care of Crossgar trainer Colin Mc Bratney, is the obvious danger in this one.

SELECTIONS: 5.45: Dixie Lee. 6.15: State Of Nirvana. 6.50: Flaxen Flare. 7.20: Zagnzig. 7.55 Monarch. 8.30: Gone Dancin. 9.00: Not The Chablis.

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