All horse racing fans should mark May 17th as a day to get to Leopardstown for the inaugural €50,000 Microsoft Cup, leading lady jockeys from Ireland, England and France are all expected to be in action in most valuable Ladies race ever to be run in Europe.
The Microsoft Cup, kindly supported by the new neighbour of Leopardstown Racecourse, will form the centre piece of Leopardstown’s Ladies Evening being held on May 17th in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness.
Exceptional riding feats have not been limited to the male riders of the weighing room this year, Ireland’s own Rachael Blackmore and Lisa O’Neill have been associated with major success at recent festivals while English jockeys, Bryony Frost, Lizzie Kelly, Megan Nicholls and Hayley Turner have established themselves as leading riders in England. The 2018 leading jockey table in France contained three lady riders – notably Mickaelle Michel, Coralie Pacout and Maryline Eon. Leopardstown is hoping to attract a number of these lady riders to the course on May 17th giving the Microsoft Cup a truly International feel.
Leading Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore commented: “The Microsoft Cup is a fantastic initiative by Leopardstown Racecourse. This is a wonderful opportunity for all lady riders and I very much hope to be there on the evening, all being well.”
Leading trainer Jessica Harrington is no stranger to enjoying notable success at Leopardstown Racecourse and the history making trainer has been an ever-present at Leopardstown’s Ladies Evening since it began – Harrington was the guest speaker at the charity event in aid of Breast Cancer Ireland in 2017.
Harrington is hopeful of being well represented with runners on the card next month.
“This is a great initiative by Leopardstown and it’s wonderful to have a race capable of attracting so many high-quality lady riders,” Harrington said. “There is a superb purse for the race and we will certainly be aiming to have runners and support the event as much as possible.
The first running of the Microsoft Cup will be run over a mile and a half at Leopardstown and is on the radar of British Champion trainer Paul Nicholls who is expected to be represented in the race. Nicholls has saddled an increasing number of horses on the Flat and is likely to be represented with a runner to be ridden by his daughter, Megan, at the Leopardstown fixture.
Megan Nicholls commented: “To get the opportunity to come over to Ireland and ride at a racecourse like Leopardstown is great and I’m very much looking forward to it. We have a different series in England which some of the Irish girls have come over to, so it is fantastic to hear about the Microsoft Cup. We’ve been running more and more horses on the flat and we’ll try and pick the best one as it is really great prize money on offer.”
Cathriona Hallahan of Microsoft Ireland commented: “We are delighted to be renewing our association with Leopardstown Racecourse’s Ladies Evening for the second year and sponsoring the very first staging of the Microsoft Cup at the doorstep of our campus at One Microsoft Place. The race itself will bring together some of the elite athletes in Irish sport along with some of their peers from other countries which is very exciting.”
Pat Keogh, CEO of Leopardstown is equally enthused by the addition of a Ladies only race to the Leopardstown racing calendar.
“Leopardstown Ladies Evening is now in its third year and it has gone from strength to strength. The introduction of the Microsoft Cup is recognition of how the event has established itself. We are very grateful to Microsoft and all our partners for making this happen,” commented Keogh.
Leopardstown’s Ladies Evening is a step away from your traditional Ladies Day event with the aim of celebrating the women in your life, applauding elite athletes and enjoying an evening of top-class horse racing, music and entertainment.
The Ladies Evening will be held in aid of Breast Cancer Ireland and around the racecourse racegoers will enjoy food and entertainment highlights along with two specific ticketed events on the evening. The ‘Race Forward’ event is a fundraising event in the Pavilion, it is in its third year and is this year aiming to grow to 400 guests, the keynote speaker is Chanelle, Lady McCoy who follows on from Anne Marie O’Brien last year and Jessica Harrington on the first year. The other event on the evening is the Peak Performance event in the Champions bar hosted by comedian/actor and racing enthusiast Paddy Courtney who will interview top Trainers and Jockeys on the evening about training horses and themselves for Peak Performance as well as celebrating the wonders of the racehorse, along with this will be a Taittinger bar, viewing over the new pre-parade and parade ring, music by DJ January Winters and more.