Jean-Claude Rouget’s dual Royal Ascot winner Qemah and Aidan O’Brien’s star filly Winter feature among 30 entries for the Group 1 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes on the opening day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown on Saturday, September 9th.
Rouget was responsible for the first French-trained winner on Longines Irish Champions Weekend when Almanzor landed the Group 1 QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes last September, and his Qemah added to her success in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2016 when taking the Group 2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes two weeks ago. Qemah finished third to Aidan O’Brien’s Alice Springs and John Gosden’s Persuasive in the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes last year and all three are entered once again.
John Gosden has three entries in the €350,000 race in total. Laugh Aloud beat another Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes entry, the Archie Watson-trained Absolute Blast, to win a Group 3 at Epsom in June while Shutter Speed is a three-time winner and was a close fourth in the Prix de Diane Longines (French Oaks) at Chantilly. In all, there are ten British-trained entries including Marco Botti’s Aljazzi, runner-up to Qemah at Royal Ascot, and the William Haggas-trained Sea Of Grace, second in the Abu Dhabi Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas) at Deauville in May.
Successful in the race with Lilly Langtry in 2010 and with Alice Springs last year, Aidan O’Brien’s entry numbers nine horses. Dual 1,000 Guineas winner Winter made it three Group 1 wins in-a-row when taking the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. Roly Poly finished second to Winter in both the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas and the Coronation Stakes and O’Brien has also entered Hydrangea, third in both of those races.
British trainers are responsible for 17 of the 33 entries for the €300,000 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at The Curragh on Sunday, September 10th, the second day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend. A Group 2 race for the third time, the overseas challenge is headed by the Clive Cox-trained Profitable which chased home Lady Aurelia in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. Sir Mark Prescott’s Marsha finished third in that race and she too has been entered up as has the fourth-placed Muthmir, trained by William Haggas and David Griffiths’ Take Cover which was fifth.
The home challenge for the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes looks stronger. The brilliant Caravaggio stretched his unbeaten run to six when he landed the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last month and has been entered by Aidan O’Brien, who has seven horses in the race including last year’s runner-up Washington DC. Ardhoomey won the race for Ger Lyons last September and could well bid for a repeat success. The Fozzy Stack-trained Son Of Rest continues to live up to the promise he showed behind Churchill in the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes on Longines Irish Champions Weekend last year and is another interesting entry.