SATURDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER 2017
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.
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'
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
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.
Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes
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.
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
Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders' Sovereign Path'
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.