The Comer Group International Irish St. Leger

SUNDAY 10th SEPTEMBER 2017 - Curragh Racecourse


The Comer Group International Irish St. Leger 

Opened up to allow older horses to compete in 1983, this race has been won by some truly great stayers with the older horses holding sway over their younger rivals on many occasions. Melbourne Cup winner Vintage Crop won the Comer Group International Irish St. Leger on the way to his historic triumph Australia in 1993 before scoring again twelve months later, while Oscar Schindler and two-time Ascot Gold Cup hero Kayf Tara were other dual winners. The brilliant Vinnie Roe won on four consecutive occasions (2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004) while the record breaking four-time Ascot Gold Cup winner Yeats triumphed in 2007.  The race often provides exciting finishes and there was a dead-heat in 2011 with English raiders Jukebox Jury and Duncan sharing the spoils in a real thriller, while the 2012 renewal witnessed a first Classic success for both jockey Niall McCullagh and trainer Tommy Carmody. However, there was no need for the photo finish camera in 2013 as Lady O’Reilly’s Voleuse De Coeurs strode away from her rivals to record a six length victory to give trainer Dermot Weld a remarkable seventh success in Ireland’s premier staying contest. And more recently, there have been equally impressive winners with Brown Panther recording a six-and-a-half length win for Tom Dascombe and Richard Kingscote in 2014 while Aidan O'Brien’s Order Of St George raced clear in the straight to win the 2015 renewal by all of 11 lengths under Joseph O’Brien which meant he claimed the 2015 World Champion Stayer's Title. However, he suffered a surprise defeat at odds of 1/7 favourite when losing out Wicklow Brave, a first Classic success for Willie Mullins, last year.



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The Moyglare Stud Stakes

One of the most important two-year-old races for fillies in Europe, the Moyglare Stud Stakes always attracts top-class sorts. Originally a six furlong contest, the distance was upped to seven furlongs in 1992 when it was won by Clive Brittain-trained Sayyedati who subsequently won the English 1,000 Guineas the following spring. Since then other fillies that have gone on to Classic glory were the 1997 winner Tarascon (won Irish 1,000 Guineas in 1998), the 2008 winner Again (won Irish 1,000 Guineas in 2009) and the 2010 winner Misty For Me (won Irish 1,000 Guineas in 2011). The 2012 renewal witnessed a decisive success for Sky Lantern (who went on to win English 1,000 Guineas, the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket) while another subsequent Coronation Stakes winner who Rizeena who took the honours the following year. Cursory Glance was another winner for Britain in 2014 when scoring narrowly for Roger Varian and Andrea Atzeni. Sequoyah gave Aidan O'Brien his first success in the race in 2000 and he saddled his seventh winner when the brilliant Minding took the honours in 2015, the first of her seven Group 1 wins. Last year’s renewal saw Intricately, trained by Joseph O'Brien and ridden by his brother Donnacha, narrowly beat Aidan’s runner Hydrangea. 


 

Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes 

Generally regarded as Ireland’s most important two-year-old race with regard to the Classic races the following year, legendary trainer Vincent O’Brien saddled the winner on no fewer than 15 occasions with victories from some true giants of the turf like Sir Ivor (subsequent 1968 Epsom Derby winner), Roberto (subsequent 1972 Epsom Derby winner) and El Gran Senor (subsequent 1984 English 2,000 Guineas and Irish Derby winner). In more recent times, trainer Aidan O’Brien has come to the fore with winners such as Desert King (subsequent Irish 2,000 Guineas & Irish Derby winner in 1997), King Of Kings (subsequent 1998 English 2,000 Guineas winner), George Washington (subsequent 2006 English 2,000 Guineas winner), Mastercraftsman (subsequent 2009 Irish 2,000 Guineas winner) and Power (subsequent 2012 Irish 2,000 Guineas winner). Other future Classic winners include Refuse To Bend (2003 English 2,000 Guineas winner), Dubawi (2005 Irish 2,000 Guineas winner), New Approach (2008 Epsom Derby winner) and Dawn Approach (2013 English 2,000 Guineas winner). More recently, Gleneagles was a ninth winner in the race for Aidan O'Brien but a first for his son Joseph in 2014. Gleneagles went on to win both the English 2,000 Guineas and the Irish equivalent the following year and also win the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. Air Force Blue made it 10 wins for O’Brien when running out a ready winner in 2015 and Ballydoyle’s dominance in the race was further emphasised last September when Churchill ran out the easiest of winners. Like the Moyglare Stud Stakes, the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes is run over a distance of seven furlongs. 

 

The Moyglare "Jewels" Blandford Stakes

Since being confined to fillies and mares for the first time in 2001, the Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes quickly became a significant race for middle distance performers and has produced some high-class winners, including dual winner Red Bloom and subsequent Group 1 winners in Chorist and Chinese White. Victory in 2012 went to another Group 1 performer in Aidan O’Brien’s French 1,000 Guineas runner-up Up, while the 2013 renewal saw Johnny Murtagh’s Belle De Crecy upset the warm favourite Hot Snap, who was coming off a Group 1 placing in the Nassau Stakes, before going on to prove the success was well merited with her subsequent runner-up effort in the Group 1 British Champions’ Day Fillies & Mares Stakes. Tarfasha was another ‘home’ winner for Dermot Weld in 2014 but the Irish stranglehold on the race was broken when the James Fanshawe-trained Ribbons came out on top in 2015. However, Dermot Weld was back in the winners’ enclosure after last year’s renewal which went to Shamreen. The Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes is run over a distance of 10 furlongs. 


The Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes

As the name suggests, this is a race for the speedsters and it has attracted many of the best sprinters over the years. The race has proved a rich source of euros for overseas raiders with My Girl Anna in 2012 becoming the first Irish-trained winner since John Oxx’s subsequent Prix de l’Abbaye victor Namid won in 2000 and Ishiguru proved best for Ballydoyle the following year. Another to land Europe’s most historic sprint on Arc day in the meantime, was the regular Curragh visitor Benbaun who landed the ‘Abbaye’ in 2007 after eclipsing his third successive Flying Five, while multiple Group 1 winner Reverence won in 2009. In 2013, Dutch Masterpiece was partnered by Joseph O'Brien for trainer Gary Moore while Martin Dwyer was in the saddle as Stepper Point won for William Muir twelve months later. Runner-up in in 2011, the Eddie Lynam-trained Sole Power saw off Evanna McCutcheon’s Maarek to win in 2015, the first time the race was run as a Group 2 event. There was another Irish-trained winner last year when Ger Lyons’ Ardhoomey prevailed. 

 

Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes

First held in the early 1990s at the Curragh, it was dominated for over a decade by English-based raiders with Richard Hannon winning five consecutive renewals between 1996 and 2000 while Irish jockey Fran Berry proved successful on three separate occasions, all on English-trained runners. Choose Me became the first Irish-trained winner for 13 years in 2008 with Kevin Prendergast’s filly proving too strong for her rivals under Chris Hayes before the race switched to Fairyhouse for four years from 2009 to 2012. Indeed, the first renewal held at Fairyhouse produced the best winner of the race with Dick Turpin giving Richard Hannon a sixth victory as this subsequent Prix Jean Prat winner and English 2,000 Guineas and French 2,000 Guineas runner-up comfortably justified odds-on favouritism under Richard Hughes while the home team have hit back in recent years winning five of the last six races. Stand To Attention won for trainer Paul Deegan in 2010, Seanie followed suit for David Marnane the following year while David Wachman’s Three Sea Captains was the winner in 2012. Vallado won for Eddie Lynam in 2013 but there was a British-trained winner in 2014 when David Barron’s Midterm Break prevailed in a tight finish. Ger Lyons teamed up with Gary Carroll to win in 2015 with Glass House while Orewa was another British-trained winner when scoring for Brian Ellison last year. Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes is run over a distance of six furlongs and 63 yards, a distance unique to the Curragh.  


The Irish Stallion Farms EBF 'Bold Lad' Sprint Handicap

The first of the valuable handicaps on the second day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Bold Lad’ Sprint Handicap is run over six furlongs and is the opening race of the day. First run in 2013 when it was won by the Tom McCourt-trained My Good Brother, the race has gone for export for the past three years with David O'Meara’s Watchable winning in 2014, Richard Fahey’s George Bowen in 2015 and the David Barron-trained New Bidder last year. 


The Irish Stallion Farms EBF 'Northfields' Handicap

The final race on the second day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend is the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Northfields’ Handicap which is run over a distance of 10 furlongs. The race has been run on just three occasions and has always resulted in a home-trained winner. Aidan O'Brien took the honours in 2014 with Adjusted while the David Wachman-trained Torcedor was successful the following year. Donal Kinsella, who trains a small string of horses in Dunleer, County Louth, won the race last year with his stable star Maudlin Magdalen who came out on top in a seven-way photo-finish.