Longines Irish Champions Weekend Trials took place at The Curragh on Saturday and Sunday last.
Here is a review of some of the key races of the two day meeting, as horses are being prepared for Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and The Curragh on 10th and 11th September.
Kilfrush Stud Royal Whip Stakes
Ken Condon’s Success Days caused a surprise when winning the Group 3 Kilfrush Stud Royal Whip Stakes. Most observers expected a clash between the Ascot Champion Stakes winner of 2015, Dermot Weld’s Fascinating Rock, and 2016 Epsom Derby runner-up US Army Ranger, who was making his reappearance after a summer break. Success Days, however, lead all the way to hold off Fascinating Rock by three-quarters of a length. Aidan O’Brien’s US Army Ranger ran a very disappointing race, having flattened out late on to finish in four spot. All three could possibly meet again in the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on the first day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend.
The Galileo European Breeders Fund Futurity Stakes
Aidan O’Brien’s Chesham Stakes winner at Royal Ascot, Churchill (1-4f), could have the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket next May as an early season target following an impressive victory in the Group 2 Galileo European Breeders Fund Futurity Stakes over seven furlongs, to notch up a hat-trick of successes.
The winner was left unchanged at 16-1 co-favourite for the Epsom Derby, but may now be more of a Guineas horse, for which he is 8-1 market leader. His most immediate target is the National Stakes at The Curragh on Day 2 of Longines Irish Champions Weekend: “He’ll come back here for the National Stakes and there’s no doubt he’ll be better on better ground. Hopefully he’ll get further than a mile, but he’s not slow this horse. I’d definitely say he’s a Guineas-type of horse” said winning trainer, Aidan O’Brien.
The Breast Cancer Research Debutante Stakes
Rhododendron (11-8f) gor the better of stablemate Hydrangea (10-1) in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes, giving winning trainer, Aidan O’Brien, his 11th success in the race.
The favourite made her move at the two furlong pole on the outside of Hydrangea, who rallied, only failing to get up by a head. Brave Anna, a winner this year at Royal Ascot, faded on her comeback from a break. O’Brien expressed the hope that his three fillies would all line up against each other again in the Moyglare Stakes at The Curragh on Sunday 11th September.
A Weekend Ticket for Longines Irish Champions Weekend is priced at €35 online, or a ticket for either day is priced at €20 per day. Further details can be found at http://www.irishchampionsweekend.ie/ICW/Tickets/.