Churchill, Eminent, Poet’s Word, Winter, Roly Poly, Persuasive, Qemah, Rhododendron among the final declarations for the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes and Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.
Dual 2,000 Guineas winner Churchill heads a field of ten runners for the Group 1 QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes on the opening day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown on Saturday.
His trainer Aidan O’Brien has also declared Epsom Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher and Taj Mahal for the €1.25m contest and the trio will be joined by British raider Eminent, trained by Martyn Meade and ridden by Frankie Dettori who is bidding to equal Michael Kinane’s record of seven wins in the prestigious ten-furlong event. The cross-channel challenge is further strengthened by the Sir Michael Stoute–trained Poet’s Word and Decorated Knight, winner of the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May.
Sixth to Almanzor last year, Moonlight Magic will again represent Jim Bolger while Success Days is another having a second crack at the race for Curragh trainer Ken Condon. The Grey Gatsby, winner of the race in 2014 has been declared by Dermot Weld who will also run Zhukova, winner of the Grade 1 Man O’ War Stakes at Belmont Park in May and the mount of Pat Smullen.
Winter, the dual 1,000 Guineas winner and more recently successful in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, features among the 12 declarations for the Group 1 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes. Aidan O’Brien has also declared his two-time Group 1 winner Roly Poly, as well as Rhododendron and Hydrangea. The race has also attracted the John Gosden-trained Persuasive and Jean-Claude Rouget’s Qemah which finished second and third to Alice Springs in the race 12 months ago.
The Group 2 Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes sees seven horses face the starter, headed by impressive course and distance winner Alexios Komnenos, trained by Fozzy Stack and Aidan O’Brien’s Sir John Lavery which has been supplemented for the race. There are ten declarations for the Group 3 Willis Towers Watson Champions Juvenile Stakes including the Michael Halford-trained Riyazan which was so impressive when scoring on his first start at the Curragh. Seven horses have been declared for the Group 3 KMPG Enterprise Stakes including the Dermot Weld-trained Eziyra and Ger Lyons’ Cannonball.
Once again a full field of 18 runners will go to post for the Ballylinch Stud EBF Fillies Maiden, the opening race of Longines Irish Champions Weekend. The Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Petingo’ Handicap boasts 20 runners while 18 runners, including the much-improved Silverkode, trained by Joe Murphy, will line up for the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Sovereign Path’ Handicap.
Pat Keogh, CEO of Leopardstown Racecourse, said, “Longines Irish Champions Weekend is a great initiative for Irish racing and the concept is certainly working very well. The opening day of the fixture at Leopardstown on Saturday oozes class from start to finish which is certainly appropriate for an event of this stature.”
QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes
Paddy Power: Evens Churchill, 4 Eminent, 8 Poets Word, 12 Cliffs Of Moher, 14 Success Days, Zhukova, 20 Decorated Knight, 25 Moonlight Magic, 33 The Grey Gatsby, 50 Taj Mahal