Down Royal Racecourse will celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Ulster Derby this weekend.
The Magners Derby, which will take place tomorrow (Saturday 18th June), is the biggest and richest flat race of the season in Northern Ireland, the undoubted highlight of the two-day Summer Festival of Racing at Down Royal.
Thousands of spectators will be at Down Royal to take in the excitement of the €100,000 contest, an annual highlight of Northern Ireland’s social, as well as its sporting, calendar.
It’s also a race with more than its share of heritage, great sporting stories and a unique place in local affections.
One man with great memories of the event is three times Magners Derby winner Chris Hayes, who took time out from training to help launch the 2016 challenge alongside sponsor Julia Galbraith, Magners Brand Manager.
Hayes, who won the Magners Derby for the third time in 2013 on Sir Ector, is back in 2016 looking for further record breaking glory.
He said; “Down Royal has been a very lucky track for me. I’ve won the Magners Ulster Derby on three occasions and while I had no luck in the race last year, I had a great day as I won the Ulster Oaks and went on to ride a treble.
“I don’t know what it is, but I just love the track and it has been very lucky for me throughout my career.
“There is always a great crowd and atmosphere at Down Royal and the track is always very well presented and I know that my fellow jockeys all look forward to riding at the meeting.”
Looking forward to another fabulous Summer Festival of Racing, Mike Todd, General Manager of Down Royal, said, “The Magners Derby has long been the flagship flat race in Northern Ireland, attracting many names and top horses to Down Royal.
“Down Royal enjoys working with Magners on this race, and we’ve worked hard over the years to continue to introduce new, younger, audiences to the sport in general, enhancing the racing experience with fantastic facilities and a real sense of occasion.
“We are proud of the venue we offer today for both racing and socialising, and are particularly looking forward to the Magners Derby Day of this year’s Summer Festival of Racing.“