With total prize-money of €4.03m, Longines Irish Champions Weekend once again attracted the best of international competition to Leopardstown and the Curragh on the 12th and 13th of September, 2015. The Group 1 QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on the opening afternoon saw the John Gosden-trained Epsom Derby hero Golden Horn prevail under Frankie Dettori while the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger was the feature at the Curragh on the second day and it was won in stunning fashion by Aidan O’Brien’s Order Of St George.
Once again, both days of Longines Irish Champions Weekend attracted great crowds with 24,164 in attendance. Other big winners on the track included Legatissimo, the winner of the Group 1 Coolmore Fastnet Rock for David Wachman and County Cork jockey Wayne Lordan and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Minding and Air Force Blue who won the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes and the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes respectively.
Irish Thoroughbred Marketing’s promotion of the Goffs Champions Sale in the Leopardstown parade ring before racing on Saturday certainly paid off with €450,000 being paid for the exciting jumping prospect Edelpour. Three other lots also realised six-figure sums.
Over 400 people took part in the Curragh Thoroughbred Trail on Sunday morning before racing, getting a unique behind-the-scenes insight into the operations of some of the world’s most famous trainers and stud farms. Leading trainers taking part included Dermot Weld, Johnny Murtagh, John Oxx, Willie McCreery, Sandra Hughes, James Nash and Michael Halford. The groups also visited The Irish National Stud, Kildangan Stud, the Racing Academy and Centre for Education (RACE), the Irish Farrier School and some of the top equine veterinary practices.
After racing at Leopardstown on Saturday, the Irish European Breeders Fund hosted the Irish Champions Dinner in the Intercontinental Hotel in Dublin. Sponsored by Juddmonte and supported by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing and Horse Racing Ireland the gala dinner was attended by over 450 guests, including visitors from over 30 countries. The occasion was a celebration of Irish racing and a weekend that continues to showcase what’s best about the thoroughbred industry in Ireland.
Order Of St George, winner of the race in 2015 and runner-up last year, heads a field of ten for the Group 1 Comer Group International Irish St Leger on the second day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh on Sunday.
He put up the best staying performance in Ireland in the past 20 years when winning by 11 lengths in the hands of Joseph O’Brien two years ago and will be ridden by Ryan Moore who was on board when the star stayer suffered a shock defeat 12 months ago. Moore is bidding to win the Comer Group International Irish St Leger for the first time while Aidan O’Brien is chasing his fourth victory in the final Irish Classic of the season.
Order Of St George won the Group 3 Comer Group Irish St Leger Trial Stakes over this course and distance last month. Dartmouth, trained by Sir Michael Stoute for Queen Elizabeth II, lost out narrowly in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup Stakes at York late last month but was a winner over this distance at the same venue in May. Wicklow Bravebeat Order Of St George to win the Comer Group International Irish St Leger and will again represent Willie Mullins.
Aidan O’Brien has a strong hand in the ten-runner Moyglare Stud Stakes, the first of three Group 1 races at the Curragh on Sunday. He will be represented by Clemmie (a sister to Churchill) and three of the first four in last month’s Group 2 Debutante Stakes, the winner Magical (a sister to Rhododendron), runner-up Happily (a sister to Gleneagles) and September (out of Peeping Fawn). The champion trainer also runs his recent Flame Of Tara Stakes runner-up Ballet Shoes. Adding to the intrigue is the Eddie Lynam-trained Muirin which scored an eye-catching success here last month and Jessica Harrington’s Alpha Centauri, the winner of her first two races and a close second in the Group 3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot. Dermot Weld is represented by his exciting Leopardstown maiden winner, Chiara Luna.
Beckford, runner-up in the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes is the highest-rated contender in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes for which eight horses have been declared. Those taking on Gordon Elliott’s charge include the Aidan O’Brien-trained Gustav Klimt which overcame trouble in running when landing the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket in July. Verbal Dexterity, runner-up to Beckford in the Group 2 GAIN Railway Stakes, is an interesting runner as he steps back up to seven furlongs for Jim Bolger. Brother Bear from Jessica Harrington’s yard is trying seven furlongs for the first time and it is worth remembering that he beat subsequent Group 1 winner Sioux Nation on two occasions earlier in the year.
The Group 2 Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes has attracted nine runners including dual Group 1 winner Seventh Heaven, the William Haggas-trained Sea Of Grace and Dermot Weld’s Shamreen, winner of the race last year, while the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five, a Group 2 for the third time, has 12 contenders, notably Caravaggio, winner of the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, last year’s winnerArdhoomey, trained by Ger Lyons and Gorane which gave Henry de Bromhead a first Stakes success when winning at Tipperary last time out.
The Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes boasts the largest field of Longines Irish Champions Weekend with 30 two-year-olds and three reserves declared, 16 of them representing British-based trainers. The British challenge for the €150,000 Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Bold Lad’ Sprint Handicap is another with a strong look to it. Of the 24 runners, there are eight cross-channel contenders while the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Northfields’ Handicap sees 18 going to post, including last year’s winner Maudlin Magdalen, trained by Donal Kinsella.
Derek McGrath, CEO of the Curragh Racecourse, said: “The quality and competitiveness of day two of Longines Irish Champions Weekend is second to none and it is very positive to see such a strong challenge from the leading British-based trainers taking on the home team. The racecourse will be alive with activities from the time the gates open and we look forward to welcoming a large attendance to enjoy what is a fitting finale to our 2017 season.”
Prices for Longines Irish Champions Weekend supplied by Paddy Power
Comer Group International Irish St Leger
Paddy Power: 4-11 Order Of St George, 15-2 Torcedor, 8 Dartmouth, 20 Wicklow Brave, 25 Mount Moriah, Lord Yeats, Western Hymn, 33 Twilight Payment, 66 Benkei, The Tartan Spartan
Moyglare Stud Stakes
Paddy Power: 7-4 Magical, 5 Alpha Centauri, Clemmie, 6 Happily, 7 September, 12 Muirin, 20 Ballet Shoes, Chiara Luna, 40 Active Approach, 50 Gasta
Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes
Paddy Power: 2-5 Gustav Klimt, 5 Beckford, 14 Brother Bear, Verbal Dexterity, 20 Rostropovich, 25 Berkeley Square, Coat Of Arms, Lethal Steps
Notes to Editor
Admission tickets for both days of Longines Irish Champions Weekend can be purchased at the gates at Leopardstown and the Curragh. Adult admission is €30, Family Ticket €50, Children under 16 accompanied by an adult are free. Alternatively you can purchase online at www.irishchampionsweekend.ie
Other features of the weekend include:
Leopardstown – Saturday September 9
- Goffs Champions Sale before racing at 1.30pm
- Longines Prize for Elegance in association with Louis Copeland & Sons and Louise Kennedy
- Moet & Chandon Champion Hat
- Music throughout afternoon including after racing party with Paris Swinging Lovers’
The Curragh – Sunday September 10
- The Curragh Thoroughbred Trails before racing – Tickets still available at www.irishchampionsweekend.ie
- Longines Prize for Elegance in association with Kildare Village and David Marshall Hair Salon
- Family Fun Enclosure with lots of FREE entertainment and activities for kids
- Parade of Champions featuring Our Duke, Sizing John, Un De Sceaux, Douvan, Faugheen, Hurricane Fly, Forpadydeplasterer and Un Atout (parade together)
- Music throughout afternoon including after racing party with the Connor McKeon Band (aka The Late Late Show band)