All set for Longines Irish Champions Weekend
August 26, 2015
Launch of Longines Irish Champions Weekend
Longines Irish Champions Weekend was officially launched in the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel, Dublin this evening, Tuesday August 25th. Swiss watchmaking company, Longines, has become the title partner of the event, which is in its second year. The weekend features the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes and the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St. Leger back-to-back on September 12th and 13th at Leopardstown and the Curragh respectively.
Guests of honour for the launch were Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Minister for Defence, Mr Simon Coveney TD and Mr Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice-President and Head of International Marketing at Longines.
The event was attended by many well-known faces from the racing industry including the trainers Aidan O’Brien, Jim Bolger, Willie Mullins, Michael Halford, David Wachman, John Oxx, Tom Hogan, Jessica Harrington and jockeys Pat Smullen, Kevin Manning, Joseph O’Brien, Fran Berry, Colin Keane, Colm O’Donoghue, Chris Hayes and Wayne Lordan.
Total prize-money for the two-day Longines Irish Champions Weekend meeting has risen to over €4 million. The race programme includes five Group 1 races, three Group 2 races, two Group 3 races and four premier handicaps, each worth €150,000, making them the four most valuable Flat handicaps in Ireland. The combined programme represents the greatest concentration of quality Flat racing ever staged in Ireland.
Broadcaster Ivan Yates was MC for the evening, introducing Minister Coveney, who gave an opening address. Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, Brian Kavanagh, also spoke, highlighting the success of the inaugural Irish Champions Weekend.
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland: “Last year’s event surpassed all of our expectations. We had two great days of racing with an equal spread of winners between British and Irish trainers. As Longines Irish Champions Weekend approaches, we await the return of some of those champions along with many of the most exciting horses we’ve seen this season. Each year, the internationalisation of Flat racing becomes more evident, with globe-trotting superstars competing at racecourses all over the world. Longines Irish Champions Weekend is very much at the heart of this trend.”
Juan-Carlos Capelli, Longines Vice-President and Head of International Marketing: “It is a great honour for Longines to become this year the Title Partner of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend, showcasing Ireland’s two premier racecourses, namely the Curragh and Leopardstown racecourses. Providing our long-lasting timekeeping expertise for this two-day meeting illustrates our continued commitment to equestrian sports, which are part of our rich history since 1878.”
Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse, Pat Keogh and General Manager of the Curragh Racecourse, Paul Hensey also addressed the gathering.
Pat Keogh, Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse: “On the back of a hugely successful summer season, the team are Leopardstown are looking forward to Longines Irish Champions Weekend. The line-up for the €1.1m QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes will be second to none and we are looking to build on the success of last year’s event with record crowds. It’s great that the Irish public will have the opportunity to see some of the top names battle it out at Leopardstown and the Curragh.”
Paul Hensey, General Manager of the Curragh Racecourse: “There is huge momentum and great anticipation building for Longines Irish Champions Weekend following last year’s phenomenal success. We couldn’t be happier with the quality of entries for our races and with all the star performers expected to be here, it will be a fantastic event to showcase horse racing in Ireland. We have had a fantastic reaction to the Thoroughbred Trail which takes place before racing on Sunday, giving racegoers a behind-the-scenes look into the yards of some of the world’s most famous trainers, who have made the Curragh their home.”
Group 1 QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes
The QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes is shaping up as the race of the year, having attracted a stellar cast. Dual 2,000 Guineas hero and St James’s Palace Stakes winner Gleneagles is set to clash with Epsom Derby and Coral-Eclipse winner Golden Horn but it is by no means a two-horse race as other intended runners in the €1.1m contest include the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Free Eagle, multiple Group 1 winning French star Cirrus Des Aigles and last year’s hero The Grey Gatsby. Pleascach, winner of both the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas and the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, is another possible runner in the race. Her trainer Jim Bolger said at the weekend, “Kevin (Manning) is very keen to go for the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes. After York, I was eyeing the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp, but I wouldn’t rule out Leopardstown at this stage.” German Group One winner Guiliani, who hit the mark at the top level in the 10-furlong Grosser Dallmayr-Preis in Munich on his latest start, could also be an interesting contender. Trainer Jean-Pierre Carvalho says, “Guiliani remains a possibility for the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes.”
Group 1 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger
Last year’s impressive winner Brown Panther could make his return from injury in the 2015 renewal of the Group 1 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger, the final Irish Classic of the season. There will be no shortage of opposition to Tom Dascombe’s seven-year-old with the locally-trained Forgotten Rules, third in the Ascot Gold Cup, and the recent American St Leger runner-up Panama Hat considered likely runners, while Order Of St George and Sea Moon, who finished first and second in the Group 3 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger Trial Stakes at the Curragh last weekend could also take their chance. Panama Hat’s trainer Andy Oliver says, “He ran a super race in Chicago and has come out of that very well. He took the journey over and back very well and appears to be in super form. I have spoken to Barry Irwin of Team Valor and the horse has a couple of options on Longines Irish Champions Weekend and there is every chance he’ll go for the Group 1 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger.” Connections of the impressive Newbury winner Agent Murphy have also set their sights on the race and his trainer Brian Meehan is likely to be well represented at the Curragh on the second day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend.
Group 1 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes
Legatissimo heads the entries for the Group 1 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes. David Wachman’s star won the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket in May and was later successful in the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood. Wachman says, “The plan is to run on Longines Irish Champions Weekend. We will leave her in both the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes and the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes until closer to the time. I’d imagine the Matron is more likely. She came out of Goodwood very well and we are very happy with her, she won quite snugly that day and seems in good form now.” Another intended runner is David O’Meara’s Amazing Maria and he says of the dual Group 1 winner, “The intention is for her to go to Leopardstown for the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes. She has been in good form since she won in Deauville and the form of that race has worked out well. She has form on slow ground as a two-year-old and seems pretty versatile ground wise.”
Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Ballydoyle is on target for the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes after her impressive success in the Group 2 Breast Cancer Research Debutante Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday. O’Brien looks to have a strong hand in a race that could also attract the likes of Dermot Weld’s runaway Leopardstown maiden winner Juliette Fair and his unbeaten Tanaza who has certainly caught the eye on her two starts at the Foxrock track. Michael O’Callaghan’s Now Or Never certainly deserves a shot at the big prize after her gallant effort in the Group 2 Galileo EBF Futurity Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday. The race is also the immediate target for the Brian Meehan-trained Blue Bayou who was the winner of the Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket last time.
Group 1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes
There are undoubtedly a few future stars hidden among the 50-strong entry for the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes. Jim Bolger has nominated the race as the immediate aim for Sanus Per Aquam of whom he said, “He is in the National Stakes and that is his target now and he is very well. He was in the Futurity, but obviously I wasn’t going to run the two horses in the one race, so we are going to keep him for the National Stakes.” Another interesting runner would be Queen Elizabeth’s Recorder who landed the Group 3 Tattersalls Acomb Stakes at York last week. His trainer William Haggas says, “The Curragh will suit him better I would have thought. There is no reason to go backwards now and we need to be positive. To send a horse of that quality is great and to perform as he has done is even better.” Aidan O’Brien won last year’s renewal with Gleneagles and he appears to have a strong entry to pick from as he bids for his tenth success in the race.
Longines Prize for Elegance
This year is the first running of the Longines Prize for Elegance and it is open to all racegoers on both days of Longines Irish Champions Weekend, with a prize fund of over €25,000 to be won across the weekend.
The Prizes for Elegance combines shopping experiences from Ireland’s elite fashion houses including Louise Kennedy, Kildare Village, Hackett London, Louis Copeland and a 5-star Penthouse Suite stay at the Merrion Hotel. Longines will also gift the male and female winners each day with elegant timepieces from their latest collection.
Jaguar Luxury Prize
Longines Irish Champions Weekend has partnered with Jaguar Ireland to offer racegoers at both Leopardstown and the Curragh, the chance to win a luxury five star trip exploring the Wild Atlantic Way in the new Jaguar XE staying in some of Ireland’s most luxurious hotels along the way with €500 spending money.
Racegoers are invited to complete the competition entry form at each Jaguar Destination. Each form has an individual code which entrants will tear off and keep. After the feature QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes and Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger, entrants will be notified to make their way to the parade ring. All codes will be put into a vessel and a winning code pulled out by the nominated judge. The code number will be announced and the owner of the code has 40 seconds to claim their prize. If they don’t claim it within the 40 seconds a second code is pulled out until a winner is announced.
LEOPARDSTOWN RACECOURSE DAY 1
On Day 1 of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown, racegoers can enjoy a premium bespoke marquee area – which is open to all racegoers. This beautifully appointed marquee will host a range of free entertainment for the day including: The Goffs Champion Sale, the Winning Line Panel, The Longines Prize for Elegance, Tote Betting facilities, food and refreshment areas and old style charisma from The Charles Cavanagh band after racing.
Goffs Champion Sale
The Goffs Champion Sale is a boutique sale of 20 elite horses in training which will take place before racing begins at Leopardstown. Buyers from around the racing world will be present for one of the most eagerly anticipated racing events of the year.
CURRAGH RACECOURSE DAY 2
Curragh Thoroughbred Trail
The Curragh Thoroughbred Trail, taking place during the morning before racing on Sunday 13th September, will give the public an exciting opportunity to see behind-the-scenes at some of Ireland’s leading thoroughbred racing and breeding establishments.
Places for each trail will be limited to 50 people and should be reserved by booking online at www.curragh.ie, where a variety of ticket options including a combined racing and trail ticket are now available for only €30. The cost of the Trail only is €15 with under 16s €10.
Parade of Champions
Featuring a star studded line up of some of Ireland’s best known and most successful racehorses.
Moyglare Stud Kids Zone
The Moyglare Stud Kids Zone will provide a variety of exciting free entertainment throughout the day for younger race goers throughout the afternoon.
Foodscape Kildare Festival
The inaugural Foodscape Kildare Festival supported by Kildare Failte, adjacent to the parade ring, will feature a showcase of the wonderful variety of restaurants and food producers from Co. Kildare.
Curragh support Light it Up Gold Campaign
In September, a campaign will take place to colour the world gold to raise greater awareness for children fighting cancer. The Curragh is helping to promote this at the races on 13th September with a number of gold themed initiatives taking place.
Longines: Elegance, tradition and performance
Longines has been based at Saint-Imier in Switzerland since 1832. Its watchmaking expertise reflects a strong devotion to tradition, elegance and performance. With many years of experience as a timekeeper for world championships in sport or as a partner of international sports federations, Longines – famous for the elegance of its timepieces – is a member of the Swatch Group Ltd, the world’s leading manufacturer of horological products. The brand known by its winged hourglass logo now has outlets in over 140 countries.
Longines and equestrian sports
Using the timekeeping expertise it has gradually acquired since 1878, Longines has established a network of advantageous links with the world of sport which enabled it to offer its skilled services to various prestigious disciplines.
Longines’ passion for equestrian sport dates back to 1878, when it produced a chronograph engraved with a jockey and his mount. Seen on the racetracks as early as 1881 and extremely popular among jockeys and horse-lovers, this model enabled its user to time performances to the second. Today, along with flat racing, the brand is an active partner in show jumping and eventing competitions.
Longines is now the official timekeeper of bo