Down Royal set for first fans at Irish racing since March 2020

Day four at Royal Ascot includes a strong Irish challenge in the Coronation Stakes

Spectators will return to Down Royal on Friday. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/Inpho

Spectators will return to Down Royal on Friday. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/Inpho

 

It pales in comparison to the 12,000 piling into Royal Ascot but that 500 spectators are allowed in for the start of Down Royal’s Summer Festival on Friday is still significant.

They are the first spectators allowed into an Irish racecourse in 15 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Authorities in the North, including the Police Service of Northern Ireland, gave the green light to the limited attendance which will be the first since March 8th of last year and who will follow strict protocols on-site.

The first spectators allowed back racing in the Republic will be at next Saturday’s Irish Derby where a crowd of 1,000 is allowed as part of a series of pilot sporting events.

Royal Ascot is part of a similar pilot programme of sporting events in Britain where day four includes an ultra-strong Irish challenge on the featured Coronation Stakes.

The half-dozen from Ireland include a pair of 1,000 Guineas winners from Ballydoyle as well as Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien represented by a pair of Group 1 winners in Pretty Gorgeous and Shale respectively.

Even Henry De Bromhead, dominant in last season’s top National Hunt races, tries his luck with the outsider Flirting Bridge while Jessica Harrington, winner of the race in two of the last three years, relies on another outsider, Oodnadatta.

Mother Earth and Empress Josephine collected the Guineas at Newmarket and the Curragh and after picking wrong on both occasions Ryan Moore opts this time for the filly who subsequently finished runner up in the French equivalent.

The presence of the comparatively unknown German 1,000 Guineas winner Novemba presents an intriguing element to the race however.

The daughter of Gleneagles proved a revelation when allowed to lead in last month’s German classic, keeping up a relentless gallop to beat a decent French filly by over seven lengths.

The official handicapper has her at least 3lbs superior to everything else in Friday’s race.

Handicappers like wide-margin winners but Novemba has been brought to Ascot by an Arc and King George winning trainer, has a plum inside draw to go forward and won’t mind any ease in the going that’s about.

Another half-dozen Irish hopes line up for Friday’s other Group 1, the Commonwealth Cup, although first-time blinkers could transform last year’s top juvenile, Supremacy.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.