Extra investment at Down Royal for two-day race festival

Pictured with the Ladbrokes trophy are Emma Meehan, chief executive of Down Royal Racecourse with jockeys Keith Donoghue (left) and Sean Flanagan
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE new management team at Down Royal racecourse have confirmed that next month's Festival of Racing will have the richest racing purse in the history in the north.

And it insists the two-day extravaganza on November 1 & 2 continues to be a significant corporate event, with exclusive VIP treatment, first-class dining and unrivalled views of the racecourse for business people.

Down Royal's chief executive Emma Meehan revealed that the owners are increasing their investment in the Festival to bring the richest-ever national hunt races to Northern Ireland.

The total prize fund over the two days is €460,000, with a whopping €150,000 alone up for grabs in the grade one Ladbrokes Champion Chase on the Saturday.

“This will be a festival like no other, and we expect business will be out in force to support us over the two days," said Emma, who was speaking at a formal launch event in the lavish surroundings of Hillsborough Castle.

“With attendance at Down Royal up 12 per cent year-on-year, we are anticipating a crowd of more than 10,000 over the two days, and with the venue and the track both in tip top condition, it promises to be a superb day out for all.”

Shane McLaughlin, managing director of Ladbrokes, said: “We've a long and proud association with top-class horse racing and are thrilled to be embarking on this exciting new sponsorship of the November Festival of Racing at Down Royal. We’re looking forward to an action-packed weekend of top class racing.”

Dublin-based property outfit the Merrion Group bought the racecourse near Lisburn in 2005 for £6.1m and last year installed a new management team, which is overseeing its first festival at the venue, which in recent years has hosted some exceptional chasers like Kauto Star, Beef or Salmon, Florida Pearl and Don Cossack.

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