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Strong Entries for Valuable Longines Irish Champions Weekend Handicaps

August 30, 2017

The four €150,000 European Breeders Fund-sponsored handicaps on Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and the Curragh on September 9 and 10 have once again attracted strong entries from both home and abroad.

The Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Petingo’ Handicap is the first of the premier handicaps on Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown on Saturday, September 9. Tony Martin landed a one-two in the race last year with Quick Jack and Pyromaniac and he has entered six horses, including the useful Golden Spear, fifth in the race last year, with 9st this time and the less-exposed Landsman on 8st 9lbs. Dermot Weld, successful with Silwana in 2015, has entered recent winners Dalton Highway (8st 4lbs) and Turnabout (7st 6lbs) while Willie Mullins is well represented with five entries headed by top-weight Renetti (10st 3lbs), Ivan Grozny (9st 11lbs) and Lagostovegas (8st 12lbs). On 9st 4lbs, Noel Meade has entered Snow Falcon which was a good winner at Killarney last week. British trainers Joseph Tuite and David O’Meara could be represented by Machine Learner (8st 10lbs) and Tawdeea (9st 5lbs) respectively. In all, there are 47 entries for the race.

There is a far stronger British-trained entry for the seven furlong Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Sovereign Path’ Handicap, the final race on the opening day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend. Of the 54 entries, 15 have come from the other side of the Irish Sea including Dream Walker and Baraweez, both trained by Brian Ellison, which finished first and second in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ´Ahonoora´ Handicap on the final day of the Galway Festival. The pair have been allotted 9st 2lbs and 9st 3lbs respectively, while last Saturday’s Goodwood first and second, Johnny Barnes (10st 1lb) and Burnt Sugar (9st 2lbs) could yet represent trainers John Gosden and Roger Fell. Johnny Barnes had earlier finished fourth behind Richard Fahey’s Stamp Hill (9st 6lbs), Karl Burke’s Mjjack (9st 1lb) and Withernsea (9st 6lbs), also trained by Richard Fahey, at Ascot in late July. The latter was second to Willie McCreery’s Colour Blue in the race last year. Salateen, runner-up in the Group 3 Weatherbys Racing Bank Supreme Stakes for David O’Meara at Goodwood on Sunday, has 10st.

Canary Row, successful in the Listed Vincent O´Brien Ruby Stakes at the Killarney August Festival, is a notable entry for Curragh trainer Patrick Prendergast and has been handed 9st 4lbs while another leading Irish-trained hope could be Donal Kinsella’s hat-trick chasing Ducky Mallon on 8st 5lbs. Kinsella was among the winners on Longines Irish Champions Weekend last year when Maudlin Magdalen won the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Northfields’ Handicap at the Curragh. Elusive Time, successful in the Tote Irish Cambridgeshire at the Curragh on Sunday for trainer Takashi Kodama, has been given 9st while Joe Murphy’s Silverkode could bid for a fourth straight success off a weight of 9st 2lbs.

At the Curragh on Sunday, September 10, the opening race of the afternoon is the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Bold Lad’ Sprint Handicap for which there are 45 entries, including 19 from Britain. The race has gone for export since the creation of Longines Irish Champions Weekend and both the 2014 winner Watchable, trained by David O’Meara and the 2015 hero George Bowen, trained by Richard Fahey, have been entered again with allotted weights of 9st and 8st 13lbs respectively. Out Do, O’Meara’s Wokingham Stakes winner at Royal Ascot in June, is on 9st 12lbs while Shanghai Glory, winner of the Listed Eimer Hannon Waterford Testimonial Stakes over the course and distance last October, could represent Charlie Hills with a weight of 9st 10lbs. Eddie Lynam could run both Magic Bear (9st) and Miss Power (8st 11lbs). The recent Dundalk winner Reckless Endeavour on 9st 4lbs has been entered by Ger Lyons.

The final race of Longines Irish Champions Weekend is again the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Northfields’ Handicap which has again attracted 48 entries, eight of which are from Britain. Third in the race in 2015 and successful last year, Maudlin Magdalen (Donal Kinsella) has 8st 4lbs while last year’s runner-up Breathe Easy, trained by Gavin Cromwell, is on 8st 10lbs this time. The Pat Shanahan-trained Carbon Dating (9st 11lbs) has been running in Group 3 and Listed company since his success in a handicap at Musselburgh in April. Karl Burke’s Born To Be Alive, runner-up in a Listed event at Clairefontaine, has 9st 5lbs while Fabricate, a recent winner at Goodwood and Windsor, could attempt to complete a hat-trick for Michael Bell under top-weight of 10st 5lbs.

Pat Keogh, CEO of Leopardstown Racecourse, said: “One of the great features of Longines Irish Champions Weekend is the variety of races over the two days. The handicaps are always very popular and we are delighted to see such strong entries for the races in Leopardstown on the Saturday. We are very grateful to the Irish Stallions Farms EBF for the generous support of these races.”

Derek McGrath, CEO of The Curragh, said: “Longines Irish Champions Weekend is taking shape and the competitive nature of these races certainly adds to the event. We are delighted with the level of interest shown by British-based trainers once again and are looking forward to two very special days on a huge weekend for Irish racing.”

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