Classic winners from Newmarket and the Curragh, along with a number of horses which played a starring role at Royal Ascot, feature among the entries released today for the six Group 1 races at Longines Irish Champions Weekend to take place at Leopardstown and the Curragh on Saturday, September 12 and Sunday, September 13.
A strong representation of fillies, headed by the mighty ten-time Group 1 champion Enable, features in an entry of 61 horses for the Irish Champion Stakes. Last year’s heroine Magical, the first Irish-trained winner since 2011, brought her Group 1 tally to five at the Curragh yesterday and she might well represent Aidan O’Brien once again.
The five-year-old mare could be joined by some of the younger Ballydoyle brigade, including the recent Newmarket and Irish 1,000 Guineas winners Love and Peaceful. Jessica Harrington’s brilliant Coronation Stakes winner, Alpine Star is there along with Deirdre which became the first Japanese-trained runner in Ireland when taking fourth place in the race last year.
Andrew Balding’s Kameko and Siskin, trained by Ger Lyons, winners of the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Curragh respectively are other early entries. Circus Maximus and Russian Emperor were among Aidan O'Brien’s Royal Ascot winners and they catch the eye as do the Gosden-trained Prince Of Wales’s Stakes winner Lord North and Palace Pier, successful in the St James´s Palace Stakes. Newmarket’s Coronation Cup winner Ghaiyyath, trained by Charlie Appleby, and the globetrotters Benbatl, trained by Saeed Bin Suroor, William Haggas’ Addeybb and Appleby’s Barney Roy also feature among the 20 British-trained entries.
The overseas contingent is completed by two entries from France, last year’s French Derby winner Sottsass, a winner again at Chantilly in the Group 1 Prix Ganay for Jean-Claude Rouget last month, and Andre Fabre’s Persian King, last season’s French 2,000 Guineas winner. Rouget won the Irish Champion Stakes with Almanzor in 2016.
There are 15 British trained entries among a total of 43 for Leopardstown’s Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes with New York Girl heading a quartet for Joseph O'Brien, successful last year with subsequent Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Iridessa. O’Brien’s younger brother Donnacha has entered his Irish 1,000 Guineas runner-up Fancy Blue, while their father’s Ballydoyle operation can count on the likes of this season’s English and Irish Guineas winners Love and Peaceful. Magical is included for O’Brien while Jessica Harrington’s Royal Ascot winner Alpine Star also features among a strong home team.
John Gosden’s Nazeef and the David O’Meara-trained Agincourt were first and second in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot and along with Group 1 winners Billesdon Brook and Quadrilateral, head the cross-channel entry. Last season’s Moyglare Stud Stakes runner-up Daahyeh, trained by Roger Varian, Hugo Palmer’s Powerful Breeze, Mark Johnston’s Raffle Prize and the Queen Anne Stakes runner-up Terebellum, another trained by Gosden, would all be worthy contenders.
There are four Group 1 races at the Curragh on Sunday, September 13, and the second day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend is highlighted by the Comer Group International Irish St Leger. 67 entries have been received for the final Classic of the season, with Dermot Weld’s Search For A Song, a brilliant winner of the race last year, leading the way for the legendary trainer.
Aidan O'Brien is well represented with 15 entries, including his Irish Derby and Royal Ascot winner, Santiago and the three horses that chased him home in Saturday’s big-race, Tiger Moth, Dawn Patrol and Order Of Australia. Mogul is another Ballydoyle possible while Joseph O'Brien is likely to have a strong hand with the weekend’s course and distance winner Twilight Payment, Rekindling, Latrobe and Master Of Reality among his 11 entries. Willie Mullins won the race with Wicklow Brave in 2016 and he has made three entries, including the runaway course winner Micro Manage.
Of the 19 entries from Britain, the unbeaten Logician, last season’s Doncaster St Leger winner, heads the way for John Gosden with Mark Johnston’s Nayef Road, second to Stradivarius in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, and Charlie Appleby’s Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter also exciting entries.
The brilliant Battaash, so impressive in winning Royal Ascot’s King's Stand Stakes for Charlie Hills, tops the 34 entries for the Group 1 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes. Four of the first five in that race are entered here, including two and a half-length runner-up and the winner’s stable companion Equilateral and the third horse, Liberty Beach, trained by John Quinn.
Denis Hogan is responsible for Ireland’s top sprinter and Sceptical, a gallant third over six furlongs in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot tops the home team which includes yesterday’s Group 2 course winner Speak In Colours, trained by Joseph O'Brien. It has the makings of one of the strongest renewals of the race which will be run as a Group 1 for the third time.
Irish trainers will be bidding to win the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes for the sixth successive year and Jessica Harrington has made six entries, including the impressive maiden winners Sussex Garden and Oodnadatta. Luminesce is already a winner for Ger Lyons while eight British-trained entries are among the 72 fillies in the race and they include Roger Varian’s Albany Stakes runner-up Setarhe.
A total of 71 entries have been made for the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes and among them are the Royal Ascot winners Battleground, trained by Aidan O'Brien and Clive Cox’s Nando Parrado. O’Brien’s Hudson River was a Curragh winner yesterday, Ides Of August was a taking winner for Ger Lyons at Leopardstown while Poetic Flare, Lucky Vega and Laws Of Indices have already been successful for Jim Bolger, Jessica Harrington and Ken Condon respectively.
Tim Husbands, Leopardstown CEO, commented:
“Once again, the quality of the entries for the Irish Champion Stakes and the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes are testament to the class of these races and Longines Irish Champions Weekend. We are delighted to welcome entries from Britain, France and Japan in addition to our own leading Irish contenders which highlights the importance of these races on the International calendar. We are looking forward to another excellent renewal of Longines Irish Champions Weekend.”
Pat Keogh, CEO of the Curragh Racecourse, said:
"We are delighted with the entries for our four Group 1 races on Longines Irish Champions Weekend. The number and quality of the entries is an indication of the status of these races. The weekend is a great celebration of racing when the global spotlight is on Ireland and the quality of racing goes from strength to strength each year.”