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2013 proves to be another memorable year for Curragh Racecourse

October 13, 2013

As the season draws to a close, 2013 has been another excellent season at the home of Irish Flat racing, the Curragh. The Group 1 races were won by a wide variety of connections and many were decided by thrilling finishes.

The Curragh campaign started with what would become a theme for the entire European Flat season, with Johnny Murtagh securing a big-race success, winning the BetVictor Irish Lincolnshire in great style on the Tommy Carmody-trained Sweet Lightning.

The first Classic of the season was the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas and it produced a highly-impressive winner in the shape of the Aidan O’Brien-trained, Joseph O’Brien-ridden Magician. Remarkably, that would prove to be the only Group 1 won by Ballydoyle in Ireland all season. Later on the card, the mile handicap was won by the Joanna Morgan-trained Roca Tumu and the following month he went on to gain a memorable success in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The Curragh enjoyed a record number of runners from Britain this year with 100 individual runners from across the Irish Sea taking on the home trained contingent and British trainers captured five of our ten Group One races this year.

The Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas went for export with the Charlie Hills-trained Just The Judge coming out on top under Jamie Spencer. The other Group 1 on that card was the Tattersalls Gold Cup and that context also went the way of a British raider with the Roger Charlton-trained Al Kazeem gaining what was considered a surprise success over Camelot under James Doyle. Though, the talented five-year-old would go on to show there was no fluke about it by winning two more Group 1 contests later in the season. Elsewhere on the card, future St Leger winner Leading Light stamped himself as a promising colt by winning the Group 3 Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes for Aidan and Joseph O’Brien.

The leading sprinter of the season at the Curragh was perhaps the Edward Lynam-trained Slade Power, with the progressive four-year-old winning two Group 3 contests during the course of the season, the Woodies D.I.Y. Sapphire Stakes and the Paypal Supporting Irish Autism Action Phoenix Sprint Stakes.

The highlight of the entire season at the Curragh is the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby and this season’s renewal produced a very popular winner in the shape of the Jim Bolger-trained Trading Leather. The son of Teofilo had won the Listed Silver Stakes at the Curragh on his previous start and Kevin Manning guided him to an authoritative 1¾ lengths victory over the Epsom Derby third Galileo Rock, prompting jubilant scenes of celebration amongst the Bolger team.

One of the most successful domestic-based two-year-olds at the Curragh was the David Wachman-trained Sudirman. The son of Henrythenavigator progressed very well indeed, getting the better of Big Time to win the Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Full Of Surprises Railway Stakes at the Irish Derby meeting and seeing off the same rival when winning the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes in August with Wayne Lordan in the saddle on both occasions.

Variety of winning connections was a theme all season long in Group 1 races at the Curragh and the Oxigen Environmental Pretty Polly Stakes in June was won by the Roger Varian-trained Ambivalent under Johnny Murtagh. The feature of the following month was the Darley Irish Oaks and it again went for export, this time to France, with the Alain De Royer-Dupre-trained Chicquita coming out on top by ½-length under that man Johnny Murtagh prior to surviving a steward’s inquiry. The first Group 1 at the Curragh in September was the Moyglare Stud Stakes and Britain was again the destination for the prize, with the Clive Brittain-trained Rizeena scoring by ¾-length under James Doyle.

The Group 1 action at the Curragh was completed for the season on September 15th and the featured GAIN Irish St Leger produced a locally-trained winner in the shape of the Dermot Weld-trained Voleuse De Coeurs. Despite being sent off at 9/1, Pat Smullen’s mount won like an odds-on shot, bolting up by six lengths. The other Group 1 on the card was the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes and it produced an impressive winner with the Richard Hannon-trained Toormore beating Sudirman by 2¾ lengths, stamping himself as one of the leading hopes for Classic honours in 2014.

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