Officials at Down Royal are excited about the prospect of top-class racing at their two-day festival this weekend.
Preparations are going smoothly for the fixture that has attracted 2007 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Kauto Star for the feature JNwine.com Champion Chase on Saturday.
“Everything’s going well and I know that Kauto Star and The Listener are definitely coming over for the big race,” said racecourse manager Mike Todd.
“It’s absolutely brilliant, we are very excited about it.
“Paul Nicholls is also sending over Noland for the Killultagh Chase. That’s the race after the big one for second-season chasers.
“Tom Taaffe is also sending Fingeronthepulse as well, so that’s turning into another very decent race.
“Last year’s meeting was a great one for us, with lots of the winners going on to do well throughout the winter.
“We have an exceptional entry for the Champion Chase this year with 10 of the 19 rated over 150.
“You have to remember what we are, we’re not Punchestown or Cheltenham, so it’s fantastic for us.”
The going is described yielding, yielding to soft in places and is not expected to change much ahead of the meeting.
“We had about 12 millimetres of rain over the weekend. The track had been drying out really well on Friday so that rain set it back to where it was,” Todd went on.
“We are predicted a drop in temperature over the next few days, showers forecast with wintry ones coming in on Wednesday with maybe up to 10mm of rain but Thursday and Friday are looking pretty good at the moment.
“With the mixture of rain and dry weather we are getting we don’t expect the ground to change an awful lot. It’s proper jumping ground. At this time of year it can be a bit quick but that’s not the case this year.”