Down Royal Racecourse is a dual purpose Racecourse located 16km south of Belfast. Down Royal host a total of 12 meetings all year round. The Derby Festival is the big flat meeting held at Down Royal during the summer. The feature race on the weekend is the Ulster Derby, which has a prize pool of €100k. The Ulster Oaks is also run on the same day.
The feature race of their entire calendar is the Grade 1 JNWine.com Chase. It is held during the two-day Northern Ireland Festival of Racing which is usually held in late October/early November. The JNWine.com Chase is the first Grade 1 of the National Hunt season and attracts some of the top staying chasers in the UK and Ireland.
Down Royal Racecourse characteristics
The course at Down Royal is a wide right-handed, square shaped track with a circumference of just under 2 miles.
There are 10 fences on the chase course which is situated on the very outer of the track. The Grade 1 JNWine.com Chase start is placed on the back straight. The runners face a total of 16 fences in the race. There are a few undulations throughout the circuit. The final turn into the home straight is the beginning of a decent with a slight uphill to the winning post.
The course in general is quite fair. The back straight is made up of clay and silt and runs adjacent to the River Lagan so it is susceptible to water-logging. This area has been sanded in the past to deal with potential water-logging. The sand and gravel base on the home straight dries quicker than the remainder of the track. The driest ground on the chase track will often be out wide.
For course information and going reports on the day, Down Royal Racecourse provide updates on their Twitter account.
Is there a pace bias at Down Royal Racecourse?
Like most courses in Ireland, front runners are profitable to follow on the hurdle and chase course combined over the last 10 years (win P&L of 22.07).
It is not strictly a front runners track though, as most winners (on the hurdle and chase course) are prominent runners rather than out and out front runners. If grouping front runners and prominent racers together compared to mid-division or held up runners, those nearer the fore have won 66.6% of the races (Hurdle and Jumps) at Down Royal. Due to the many turns and undulations, it can pay to be racing prominently, especially coming into the home straight.
The 5f start is situated on a chute that joins the main track on the home straight. The 5f trip is raced on a slight turn and favours the handier type. In fact, 85% of the winners at the 5f trip since 2009 (includes handicap and non-handicaps), were front runners or prominent runners. Six out of the forty-eight winners came from a mid-div or held up position.
The 7f track has further turns to deal with and requires the balanced type. An equal amount of front or prominent runners have won over 7f compared to those who are held up in mid-division or the rear in 8+ runner handicaps since 2009. However, front runners are slightly in profit overall.
The longer distances also have a slight preference to handier runners with front runners again in profit in 8+ runner handicaps (win P&L of 25.91).
Is there a draw bias at Down Royal Racecourse?
A low draw consistently outperforms middle to high draws in 8+ runner fields over 5f. A Low draw performs twice as well as its counterparts. The lower group of stalls have won 49% of races over 5f (8+ runners) in the last 10 years. They have also proven profitable to follow in this period with a win P&L of 26.94.
Lower draws here can bag the inside rail which has proven to be an advantage at the turn past the 2f pole. The bias is consistent over handicaps and non-handicaps but the numbers are more solid if including both together due to a bigger data set. Looking at pace and draw as a combination (A/E heat map below) accentuates the fact that pace is largely as important as draw over 5f.
There is no major draw bias over 7f. There is a 2f dash to the first bend over 7f so it can be argued that a low drawn front runner would be at a slight advantage. But in 7f, 8+runner handicap since 2009, lower draws have won 18 races whereas higher draws have won 17. In terms of PRB (Percentage of Rivals Beaten), lower draws have the best figures with 0.52 whereas higher draws are slightly worse off (0.47).
As seen by the numbers, higher draws are more than capable of winning over 7f and could in fact offer better value with a perceived low draw bias over 7f. For example, stall 13 has been the most profitable to follow (in 8+ runner handicaps) over 7f with a win P&L of 47.
Who are the top trainers at Down Royal Racecourse?
Down Royal racecourse hosts racing over both codes so let's look at the top trainer stats at Down Royal for each code separately:
Top flat racing trainers at Down Royal
Aidan O’Brien has the best win rate at Down Royal since 2009 with 8 winners from 24 runners (33.33%).
Kevin Prendergast has been the most profitable trainer to follow in this time period with a win P&L of 46.95 and 12.5 in handicaps alone.
Jim Bolger also does noticeably well at Down Royal with a win rate of 20.59% and win P&L of 19.94.
Noel Meade and John Oox have identical figures in handicaps at Down Royal with both winning 5 from 18 (27.78%). Noel Meade has been better to follow in terms of win P&L (12.85 v 3.21)
Top jumps racing trainers at Down Royal
Of the trainers with 15 or more runners, Paul Nicholls has the best strike rate at Down Royal over the last 10 years with 42.11% and win P&L of 7.37. Willie Mullins has to settle for a rare second best with a 25.33% strike rate.
Henry De Bromhead is not far behind at 23.33% but he has been profitable to follow with a win P&L of 34.09. Gavin Cromwell also does noticeably well here. He has a 20% win rate at the course and a win P&L of 63.15. He has the best strike rate in handicaps (25%).
Who are the top jockeys at Down Royal Racecourse?
Once again we'll examine the top jockeys at Down Royal individually by code just as we did for the best trainers at Down Royal:
Top flat racing jockeys at Down Royal
Former jockey, Donnacha O’Brien has the best strike rate over the last 10 years with a 29.41% win rate. Robbie Downey is close second with a win rate of 29.03. He has also been profitable to follow with a win P&L of 62.98.
Top jumps racing jockeys at Down Royal
Former jockey, Nina Carberry has the best win rate with 31.82% since 2009. Jack Kennedy lies second at 22.22%. He is also slightly in profit with a win P&L of 1.82.
Jody McGarvey has the best strike rate in handicaps with 18.42% while Conor Maxwell has been the most profitable to follow with a win P&L of 31.25.
Andrew Slattery and Declan McDonagh have been the most profitable to follow in handicap only races with win P&L’s of 13.75 and 13 respectively.
*Figures correct as of 09/09/2020
|17 Dec 15:30||Dixie Flyer||Mr B G Crawford||S Crawford||14/1|
|17 Dec 14:55||Billaway||Mr P W Mullins||W Mullins||5/4|
|17 Dec 14:20||Kristian Goingwel||Gavin Brouder||O McKiernan||100/30|
|17 Dec 13:45||Arahecan||Rachael Blackmore||H De Bromhead||4/1|
|17 Dec 13:15||You Say Nothing||Conor McNamara||G Cromwell||6/1|
|17 Dec 12:45||Feelgood Island||Sean O'Keeffe||Miss E Doyle||11/4|
|17 Dec 12:15||Battle Of Actium||Donagh Meyler||J O'Brien||2/1|
|31 Oct 16:10||Sir Gerhard||Mr J J Codd||G Elliott||2/5|
|31 Oct 15:35||Massey's Wood||Mark Bolger||B Connell||12/1|
|31 Oct 15:00||Battleoverdoyen||Mark Walsh||G Elliott||9/2|
|Mr J J Codd||2||6||33.3%|
|Shane B Kelly||2||4||50.0%|
|H De Bromhead||3||14||21.4%|
|Miss E Doyle||2||6||33.3%|