Epsom and French Derby winners Masar and Study Of Man join Cracksman and Enable in a stellar entry of 56 for this September’s QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes.
The race is the highlight on the opening day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown on Saturday, September 15 with the entry for Comer Group International Irish St Leger, at the Curragh on Sunday, September 16, headed by the leading stayer, Order Of St George.
Cracksman, the top three-year-old in the world last year, and the brilliant Enable, winner of five Group 1 races last season, feature among five entries for trainer John Gosden.
The last six winners of the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes have all come from overseas and the chances of that becoming seven must be strong because as well as Gosden’s quintet, Epsom hero Masar is among trainer Charlie Appleby’s two entries.
Of the 56 entries, 20 horses are trained overseas, including the Pascal Bary-trained Study Of Man, who stormed to French Derby success on Sunday at Chantilly. Prix du Jockey Club winners have a fine recent record in the race with The Grey Gatsy (2014) and Almanzor (2016) both winning the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes.
Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien boasts a typically strong entry, including Newmarket Guineas winner Saxon Warrior, the highly-regarded Amedeo Modigliani and Group 1-winning fillies Hydrangea and Rhododendron.
The winners of both Irish Classics run so far this season are also in the early mix with Ken Condon’s Romanised and the Jessica Harrington-trained Alpha Centauri holding entries, along with Dermot Weld’s Hazapour, who ran such a fine race at Epsom on Saturday.
One of four Group 1 races at the Curragh on Sunday, September 16, the Comer Group International Irish St Leger tops the bill on the second day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend.
Order Of St George is chasing a third success in the race after wins in 2015 and again last year. The Jim Bolger-trained Twilight Payment was runner-up to the Ballydoyle star in the Listed Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes at Leopardstown and is likely to re-oppose as is Jessica Harrington’s Torcedor, second to him in this race last September.
Also featuring among Aidan O’Brien’s entries are the three-year-olds Southern France, Kew Gardens and Delano Roosevelt but the biggest threat to their illustrious stable companion could be the Gosden-trained Stradivarius.
He impressed when beating Desert Skyline in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup two weeks ago and the pair have been entered by John Gosden and David Elsworth respectively. Sound Check, the promoted winner of the Group 2 Comer Group International 47th Oleander-Rennen at Hoppegarten, has been entered by German trainer Peter Schiergen.
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland:
“International competition is central to the further development of Longines Irish Champions Weekend and with the high-class entries for both the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes and the Comer Group International Irish St Leger, we can be happy with the progress the event is making on the world stage.”
Pat Keogh, CEO, Leopardstown Racecourse:
“The QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes has established itself as one of the top 10 furlong races in the world. It is a race that every owner, trainer and jockey want to win and that is reflected in the quality and spread of this year’s entries. We are very grateful to QIPCO for their support of the race.”
Derek McGrath, CEO, Curragh Racecourse:
“The Comer Group International Irish St Leger has grown in stature and prestige since becoming one of the major highlights of Longines Irish Champions Weekend and is an important target for the top staying horses in Europe. Targeting international runners for our major races is an important element of enhancing our race programme so it is very gratifying to see so many top class entries from Britain and Germany among the entries this year to add to a star studded line up of home trained contenders.”