QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes


Leopardstown Racecourse  

The QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes 

The QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes was ranked in 2016 the best race in Europe and the joint second highest rated race in the world. This race really does deserve its ‘Champion’ title with the very first winner of the race back at the Phoenix Park in 1984 being Sadler’s Wells who was to become the most influential sire of the latter part of the 20th century. Subsequent Prix de l’Arc winners Carroll House (1989), Suave Dancer (1991), Dylan Thomas (2007) and the brilliant Sea The Stars (2009) all won this prestigious event while  Epsom Derby winners Dr Devious (1992), High Chaparral (2002), New Approach (2008) and the aforementioned Sea The Stars were also successful. Other notable winners on what is a hugely impressive roll of honour are multiple Group One winners Timarida (1996), Pilsudski (1997), Swain (1998), Daylami (1999), Giant’s Causeway (2000), Fantastic Light (2001), Azamour (2004), Oratorio (2005), So You Think (2011), Snow Fairy (2012) The Fugue (2013), The Grey Gatsby (2014) and Golden Horn (2015). Last year's race was won in thrilling fashion by the Jean-Claude Rouget trained Almanzor.

Champ Stakes  

Ballylinch Stud European Breeders Fund  Fillies Maiden

Always a keenly contested race, the Ballylinch Stud European Breeders Fund Fillies Maiden is the opening race of Longines Irish Champions Weekend. It has produced some very smart performers over the years and hopes are high that last year’s winner Rain Goddess will make her mark at stakes level as the 2017 Flat season progresses. The race is run over a distance of seven furlongs. 


The Willis Towers Watson Champions Juvenile Stakes  

This race provides an opportunity for later-developing two-year-olds. Australia landed the spoils in 2013 and went on to win both the Epsom and Irish Derbys the following summer, while the 2015 winner, Johannes Vermeer took the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud on his next start. Landfall added to a debut success at the Curragh when winning in great style last year for trainer Ken Condon and Shane Foley. Clearly this contest, which is a ‘Win And You’re In’ race for the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Championship Race or the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Championship Race, is a race to keep a close eye for future stars. The race is run over a distance of one mile.   

Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders' Fund 'Petingo' Handicap

This valuable handicap, over one mile and five furlongs for the first time this year, often sees a clash between progressive three-year-olds and more established stayers, many of whom are familiar names from the National Hunt scene. In 2016, Quick Jack prevailed for Tony Martin and young Donegal apprentice Oisin Orr only a matter of months after he had landed the Guinness Galway Hurdle.  This is the first of four €150,000 handicaps on Longines Irish Champions Weekend. 


The KPMG Enterprise Stakes

The Kilternan Stakes excludes horses which have previously won a Group 1 or Group 2 race but this has not precluded it from being used as a stepping stone for many horses that have gone on to success at a higher level. One of the most impressive was runaway 2010 victor Await The Dawn who easily landed the following year’s Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and was placed at Group 1 level in the Juddmonte International. Others that have proved competitive at the highest level after contesting this race in recent seasons include Famous Name, Mutahadee, Speaking Of Which and Viscount Nelson. Dermot Weld has won the last two renewals, scoring with Free Eagle in 2015 and the smart mare Zhukova last year. 


The Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes

This is guaranteed to be one of the races of the season. The first of five Group 1 races on Longines Irish Champions Weekend, the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes was won in great style by Legatissimo in 2015, her third top-level success of that season. Alice Springs was even more impressive when winning last year and for good measure she went on to take the Group 1 Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket next time out. Other notable winners include the likes of Soviet Song, Lush Lashes and Lillie Langtry. The Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes is a ‘Win And You’re In’ race for the 2017 Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf Championship Race and is run over a distance of one mile.    


The Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile

This event is run over one mile and has been a Group 2 race at Leopardstown since 2014. Once run at the Curragh, the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile is consistently one of the strongest races on the opening day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend and was won last year by the high-class Awtaad who had won the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 earlier in the season. The race is also sure to attract a strong overseas contingent and was won by the David O’Meara-trained Custom Cut in 2015 and by Mark Johnston’s Bow Creek the year before. 


Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders' Sovereign Path' Handicap

The second of the handicaps, the opening day concludes with the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders ‘Sovereign Path’ Handicap. British-based trainers hold the upper hand as they have won two renewals of the race since it moved to Longines Irish Champions Weekend in 2014. Brian Ellison won that year with Baraweez while in 2015, Kelinni won for Kevin Ryan. Curragh trainer Willie McCreery took the honours last year when winning with Colour Blue who won with plenty in hand.