Down Royal celebrates 20 years of its popular Festival of Racing

The 20th Down Royal Festival of Racing has been launched in true racing style at The Orpheus, Belfast. Pictured are ITV Racing's Alice Plunkett along with Molly McCluskey, Down Royal assistant manager, Mike Todd, General Manager at Down Royal Racecourse and Chairman Jim Nicholson
The 20th Down Royal Festival of Racing has been launched in true racing style at The Orpheus, Belfast. Pictured are ITV Racing's Alice Plunkett along with Molly McCluskey, Down Royal assistant manager, Mike Todd, General Manager at Down Royal Racecourse and Chairman Jim Nicholson

The 20th Down Royal Festival of Racing has been launched in true racing style at The Orpheus, Belfast.

The team at Down Royal Racecourse have curated a fantastic weekend of World Class National Hunt Racing across Friday 2 and Saturday, November 3, paired with a magnifique Billecart-Salmon Most Stylishly Dressed Lady Competition to win a trip to Paris and explore the Billecart-Salmon Champagne House and Vineyards.

ITV Racing’s Alice Plunkett officially launched the much anticipated 20th anniversary celebrations amongst friends of Down Royal Racecourse surrounded by specially commissioned artwork from Aly Harte, who has also created a bespoke silk scarf to mark the 20th year.

Aly took inspiration from the Silks of 20 winners of the JNwine.com Grade 1 Champion Chase to create the piece for the Festival.

Mike Todd, General Manager at Down Royal Racecourse says this is a monumental year for the Festival.

“This is the 20th renewal of the Down Royal Festival of Racing which has completely revolutionised National Hunt racing in Northern Ireland,” said Mr Todd.

“The Festival is the highlight of our racing calendar and is now synonymous with the start of the National Hunt season in the British Isles. The last 19 years have been amazing and it has been a privilege to be a part of this Festival since its inception in 1999. We have been so lucky to have the long-term support of so many of our Festival sponsors and we wouldn’t be where we are now without their continued support and contribution to Racing at Down Royal.

“I’m really looking forward to what the 2018 renewal will deliver for all racing fans.”

The Down Royal Festival of Racing in November will see the running of the first Grade One Chase in the British Isles, The JNwine.com Champion Chase which will take place on the Saturday afternoon. Racegoers will also have the excitement from the EBF Lough Construction Ltd Mares Hurdle (Grade 3), the WKD Hurdle (Grade 2) and the MyCarNeedsA.com Chase (Grade 2).

Mr Todd continued: “The Friday Feature Race, the WKD Hurdle has been the seasonal starting point for several Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winners. Last year’s WKD Hurdle winner, Melon, almost added his name to the list, but was beaten narrowly on the finish line in Cheltenham’s richest Hurdle race.”

Down Royal has also partnered with Henry’s, Belfast’s newest bar in Joy’s Entry, to provide transport to and from the racecourse on Friday, November 2, and Saturday, November 3, plus a complimentary gin and tonic in the bar after racing, all for £10.

Hospitality packages start from £65 per person. £25 Punter packs are available on Friday, November 2, and include admission, race card, a bottle of WKD, £5 Matched Bet with Sean Graham or Pat O’Hare bookmakers and access into the Paddock Marquee private bar.

Gates open from 11am on Friday, November 2, and Saturday, November 3, with the first race starting at 12.45pm on both days. Admission is £12 Friday and £15 Saturday, Children under 16 go free and there is free car parking for all visitors.

All tickets can be booked via DownRoyal.com or by contacting the office on 028 9262 1256.