Crossgar-based trainer Colin McBratney has been producing winners at his Raffrey yard for the past 20 years. He’s raced all over Ireland, but says Down Royal is his lucky charm. Colin has had 10 winners on the course over the past decade and hopes to have up to eight of his horses running at the festival which starts on the 31st of October.
"I’m very confident about a couple of them, and with all the hard work out of the way it’s all about keeping them healthy and happy over the next week or so until they take to the course,” said Colin.
"Down Royal is the Cheltenham of Northern Ireland – it’s a fantastic track with a superb atmosphere and for trainers like me it’s an all-round great meeting.”
Of the many highlights Colin has had at Down Royal, he says his stand-out moment took place in 2009 when Ballyholland won the Galway Plate trial.
"That was an amazing triumph for us, and one I’ll never forget. The victory was made even sweeter when Ballyholland went on to win the biggest summer handicap in Ireland at the Galway Races the following month.”
"Down Royal is such an important race course for Northern Ireland trainers, owners and breeders and this is the festival that we really look forward to.”
So – any tips?
"Obispo in the two mile handicap on Friday 31st October. He’s won his last two races, so could do well on day one of the Festival.”