Down Royal to benefit from Racing TV coverage on St Stephen’s Day

Former Cheltenham winner Black Hercules lines up in a competitive hunters chase

Ruby Walsh celebrates winning the JLT Novices Chase on Black Hercules at the  Cheltenham festival in 2016.  Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ruby Walsh celebrates winning the JLT Novices Chase on Black Hercules at the Cheltenham festival in 2016. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Down Royal’s St Stephen’s Day programme gets guaranteed TV coverage for the first time on Thursday.

The sport’s busiest day of the year has traditionally seen Down Royal struggle for coverage on racing channels against Leopardstown and Limerick. .

Despite Huntingdon’s cancellation there are 10 meetings scheduled for Thursday in Britain and Ireland and Racing TV has arranged for pictures from all three Irish fixtures to be shown on ‘Freesport’ on Sky channel 435.

The once-off arrangement is in place on Thursday after RTV received criticism earlier this month about its split-screen coverage of Irish racing on busy race days. That appears to work to Down Royal’s benefit in particular this time.

The Northern Ireland course hosts runners from all four of the country’s top trainers including Willie Mullins who runs two in an exceptional-looking hunters chase.

They include the 2016 JLT winner Black Hercules who was narrowly beaten by Arctic Skipper on his return from a long absence in a point to point recently.

They renew rivalry again but also lining up is the former Irish Gold Cup hero Edwulf and the hunter chase stalwarts Burning Ambition and Ucello Conti.

Jamie Codd rides the latter, one of four mounts for the top amateur who will also be on board Ross O’Sullivan’s Theatre World for his debut over fences.

Farouk d’Alene was an expensive purchase by Gigginstown Stud after a point to point victory and also looks one for Codd in the bumper.

Opposites Attract has been mixing it in good maiden hurdle company and ran noticeably well last time behind Longhouse Poet.

He finished third that day and had Coolagh Park behind him in eighth. There doesn’t look to be any obvious reason why that should be reversed while Joseph O’Brien’s bumper winner Alighted hasn’t run in over a year.

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