QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes


Leopardstown Racecourse  

QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes

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) and The Grey Gatsby (2014) . Last year's race was won in thrilling fashion by the John Gosden trained Golden Horn who survived a dramatic stewards enquiry to keep the race.  

Champ Stakes  

Ballylinch Stud European Breeders Fund  Fillies Maiden

Always a keenly contested race, it has produced some very smart performers in recent years with the 2007 winner, Chinese White, proving successful in the 2010 Pretty Polly Stakes (Group 1) at the Curragh having also scored three times at listed level and once at Group 3 and Group 2 level. The last two winners have been Big Break in 2012, subsequent winner of the Killavullan Stakes (Group 3) over the same course in October and a fair fourth in the Irish 1000 Guineas the following year, and My Titania, a daughter of Sea The Stars who recorded a memorable triumph in the Irish Champion Stakes itself in 2009. My Titania subsequently landed the Group 3 C.L. Weld Park Stakes at the Curragh and finished a very creditable fourth in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot in mid-June on her first run of 2014. 

John Deere Juvenile Turf Stakes

In 2012 the Golden Fleece Stakes which had previously been run in July and been won by the likes of Zoffany in recent years was moved to Champions Stakes day to provide an opportunity for later-developing types who could hopefully go on to follow in the tracks of the colt whose name the race bears to Derby glory. That year Joseph O’Brien in one of the rides of the season, despite his saddle having slipped, steered subsequent Epsom Derby fourth Marengo Of Battle home ahead of Trading Leather, who would go on to claim the 2013 Irish Derby. In year two since the change of date Free Eagle was a warm favourite after one of the most impressive debut victories of recent years but Dermot Weld’s colt would prove no match for Australia, who created history when providing Aiden O’Brien with his third successive Epsom Derby in June. He will be hoping to make it his fourth this year with the 2014 winner John F. Kennedy a fancy for the Epsom 'classic'. Clearly this race, which is a ‘Win And You’re In’ for the Breeders’ Cup, is a race to keep a close eye for future stars. 

Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders' Fund 'Petingo' Handicap

A race which often sees a clash between the progressive three-year-olds and the more established stayers, many of whom are familiar names from the National Hunt scene, last year it was one of the latter who prevailed when Pique Sous, a high-class novice hurdler who had been successful on his only previous outing on the level at Dundalk, proved a comfortable winner for Willie Mullins. Still lightly-raced on the Flat, the grey would go on to have another memorable day when eclipsing the Queen Alexandra Stakes at this year’s Royal Ascot meeting.  In 2012 it was the three-year-olds who had the better of things in a clash of the Champion Trainers when Aidan O’Brien’s I Have A Dream just edged out the Mullins trained Call Me Bubbles, which was quite a performance from the younger horse under top-weight in contest such as this.


The KPMG Enterprise Stakes

Run over the same distance as the QIPCO Champion Stakes, the Kilternan Stakes excludes horse which have already won a Group 1 or Group 2 race but this has not precluded it from being used as a stepping stone for many horses who have gone on to success at a higher level, one of the most impressive of whom was runaway 2010 victor Await The Dawn who easily landed the following years Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and was placed at Group 1 level in the Juddmonte International. Others to have proved competitive at the highest level after contesting this race in recent seasons include Famous Name, Mutahadee, Speaking Of Which and Viscount Nelson as well as Belle De Crecy, who was fourth behind the lightly-raced The United States last year. Last year's renewal was won in great style by the highly exciting, Free Eagle for Dermot Weld.


The Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes

Upgraded to Group 1 status in 2004, the first renewal featured an excellent win for the high-class Soviet Song who defeated the English and Irish 1000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes heroine Attraction in a memorable finish and it was Attraction who managed to make all the running to score just twelve months later. English raiders continued to plunder this mile contest with Red Evie and Echelon taking the honours in the next two years before Jim Bolger’s top-class Lush Lashes, winner of the Yorkshire Oaks just a couple of weeks earlier, showed her versatility and class by keeping the prize at home in 2008 and there was more Irish success when Aidan O’Brien’s Lillie Langtry and Dermot Weld’s Emulous obliged in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The 2012 renewal witnessed a thrilling finish with victory eventually going to the late Sir Henry Cecil’s Chachamaidee who got the race following a Stewards’ Enquiry after the disqualification of Duntle, while last year it was 5/1 shot Fiesolana who provided trainer Willie McCreery with a popular success thus giving rider Billy Lee his first victory at Group One level.   


The Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile

Being run at Group 2 level for the first time, the Solonaway Stakes is also debuting at Leopardstown having previously been run over the Curragh’s New Mile course and is a race which has gone from strength to strength in recent seasons and clearly merits the upgrade. In 2011 Cityscape was successful at Group level for the first time when comfortably seeing off French 1000 Guineas third Wild Wind and within six months he was hitting the headlines with his runaway success in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free on World Cup night. Twelve months later the great Declaration Of War made his Irish debut but could only manage fourth place behind Dermot Weld’s ever popular Famous Name, a consistent performer at the highest level over a five year period. Last year the prize went to British trainer Mark Johnson as his Bow Creek proved too tough for his rivals.


Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders' Sovereign Path' Handicap

Always a devilishly competitive race, last year’s renewal saw three-year-old Tobann run out a relatively easy winner with familiar names at Stakes level such as Jamesie, Machete Mark, Eastern Rules and Slipper Orchid immediately behind. It is no surprise that Jim Bolger’s filly has since gone on to make her mark at a higher level by landing the Group 3 Brownstown Stakes this year. The previous year Ger Lyons was sending out Lilys Angel for her Irish debut when the then three-year-old dug deep to edge out Seanie with Group winners Duff and Russian Soul next home. Lilys Angel would go on to many more successes for the Lyons team, including at Group level before returning to Leopardstown twelve months later and only narrowly failing at the highest level when runner-up in the Matron Stakes.