Friday 29th October 2021
Festival Of Racing 2021
Author: Jordan Yates
“A warm welcome to another preview of which this one come’s from the Festival Of Racing at Down Royal. I’ll be focusing my attention here for the next two days ahead of the UK action as I really like this meeting, as it always seems to throw up horses who go on to be big players at the Spring Festivals.
So as ever, enjoy!”
The first race at Down Royal comes at 1:10 and it’s a Maiden Hurdle that’s contested over two miles and six and a half furlongs. Gordon Elliott has unleashed some smart animals in this over the years and I think there’s a high chance he’s doing just that again this year with Hollow Games, who’s the mount of Davy Russell. The five-year-old has won both of his outings in bumpers as well as a win within the pointing sphere and he looks a cut above the rest of his rivals here, it taking to hurdles he’ll prove very tough to beat. Eat The Book and Simply Shabra will likely be the main challengers.
Moving onto the 1:45 and this is the first graded race of the meeting and it’s a Grade 3 Mares Novice Hurdle over two miles and a furlong. Following a similar trend from the first race I think this could well be another for Gordon Elliott, Davy Russell and Bective Stud with Party Central. The fire-year-old by Yeates won a Listed Bumper last season and was only narrowly denied by Grangee within Grade 2 company, she made the perfect start to life over hurdles winning cosily last month at Listowel and she gave the impression there is more to come on the back of that effort. Impervious and stablemate Glan look to be the main dangers to her, Purple Mountain would probably be the each-way play in the race for Willie Mullins.
It’s more graded action up next at 2:20 where the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle takes centre stage over two miles and a furlong. I feel as though I’m starting to repeat myself, which I am, as this one again I feel will be hard to get away from the team of Gordon Elliott and Bective Stud, this time with Zanahiyr and this time Jack Kennedy will be in the saddle. This four-year-old was considered one of the best juvenile hurdlers around last season, and whilst performing below expectations at Cheltenham in the Triumph where he was sent off the 11/8 favourite, he was only narrowly denied at Punchestown in the Champion four-year-old race when going down less than a length to Jeff Kidder. He’ll be very tough to beat here, his main rival looks to be Cask Mate.
We move into handicap company now as the 2:55 is a Handicap Hurdle over three miles. A typically competitive affair of which I think this can go to Temptationinmilan for Charles Byrnes and the talented claimer Jack Foley. This five-year-old has yet to taste victory in nine outings to date, which obviously isn’t ideal, however, he posted his best effort to date last time out when finishing third at Sligo last month and was only a length behind the winner. He’s gone up a pound for that effort but Foley’s claim takes five off his back and if progressing again from that effort he’s got every chance of playing a significant role at the business end of things.
It’s the 3:30 next and we take to the larger obstacles now with a Beginners Chase over two miles and three and a half furlongs. Beacon Edge will be a warm favourite here after his exploits over hurdles last season where he finished fourth in the Stayers at Cheltenham as well as claiming a Grade 2 at Navan earlier in the campaign. I actually think that this could well go to Gordon again though with Grand Paradis who’s set to be ridden by Jack Kennedy. He was last seen back in February when absolutely dismantling a Grade 3 field by the best part of thirteen lengths and I think he could well have a big future ahead of him for top connections.
The penultimate race of the day comes at 4:05 and it’s a Handicap Chase over two miles and half of a furlong. I’ve come down on Espion Du Chenet here who represents Louise Lyons and Ryan Treacy. It’s a rather tentative alliance due to a race of this nature, however, a lot of these look to be on testing enough marks and he has at least proven he can be competitive off his current one in recent outings. He was second last time and despite being over 8 lengths behind the winner, he was clear of the rest of the field has been kept on the same mark. The current favourite Bentham looks to be the obvious main danger.
The curtain comes down on Friday at Down Royal with the 4.35 which is a National Hunt Flat Race over two miles and a furlong. It looks as though The Mediator is the one that the market believes could be the one to side with here, and he looks the first string for Elliott with Jamie Codd on board. I’ve actually gone with his stablemate though Lieutenant Highway who’s the mount of Lisa O’Neil, he was well fancied on debut when going off a 10/11 favourite and finished third after he ran green. He should improve for that outing here and if the market leader isn’t fully tuned up he could well take advantage. Sundrenched will be another danger, who contested some hot contests last term.