Classic winners from Newmarket and The Curragh, along with horses that played a starring role at Royal Ascot, feature among the entries for the six Group 1 races at Longines Irish Champions Weekend, which will take place behind closed doors, at Leopardstown and The Curragh on Saturday, September 12 and Sunday, September 13 respectively.
Last weekend’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Enable heads a strong representation of fillies in an entry of 61 horses for the Irish Champion Stakes. Last year’s heroine Magical, the first Irish-trained winner since 2011 and winner of the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh last Sunday, looks set to represent Aidan O’Brien in the Leopardstown showpiece.
The five-year-old mare could be joined by some of the younger Ballydoyle brigade, including the recent Newmarket and Irish 1,000 Guineas winners Love and Peaceful. Jessica Harrington’s Coronation Stakes winner, Alpine Star is there along with Deirdre, the first Japanese-trained runner in Ireland when taking fourth place in the race last year.
Andrew Balding’s Kameko and Siskin, trained by Ger Lyons, winners of the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and The Curragh respectively are other early entries. Circus Maximus and Russian Emperor were among Aidan O’Brien’s Royal Ascot winners and they both hold entries as do the John Gosden-trained Prince Of Wales’s Stakes winner Lord North and Palace Pier, successful in the St James’s Palace Stakes. Newmarket’s Coronation Cup winner Ghaiyyath, trained by Charlie Appleby, and the globetrotters Benbatl, trained by Saeed Bin Suroor, William Haggas’ Addeybb and Appleby’s Barney Roy, a winner in Munich on Sunday, also feature among the 20 British-trained entries.
The overseas contingent is completed by two entries from France: last year’s Prix du Jockey Club winner Sottsass, a winner again at Chantilly in the Group 1 Prix Ganay for Jean-Claude Rouget last month. Rouget will be bidding to win his second Irish Champion Stakes having trained Almanzor to win in 2016. Andre Fabre’s Persian King, last season’s French 2,000 Guineas winner, completes the list of overseas entries for the Group 1 contest.
New York Girl heads a quartet of entries for Joseph O’Brien, successful last year with subsequent Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Iridessa, for Leopardstown’s Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes. O’Brien’s younger brother Donnacha has entered his Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas runner-up Fancy Blue, while their father’s Ballydoyle operation can count on the likes of this season’s English and Irish Guineas winners Love and Peaceful. Magical is included for O’Brien while Jessica Harrington’s Royal Ascot winner Alpine Star also features among a strong home team.
John Gosden’s Nazeef and the David O’Meara-trained Agincourt were first and second in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot and along with Group 1 winners Billesdon Brook and Quadrilateral, head the cross-channel entry of 15 fillies and mares. Last season’s Moyglare Stud Stakes runner-up Daahyeh, trained by Roger Varian, Hugo Palmer’s Powerful Breeze, Mark Johnston’s Raffle Prize and the Queen Anne Stakes runner-up Terebellum, another trained by Gosden, would all be worthy contenders.
Tim Husbands, CEO of Leopardstown Racecourse, said of the entries for both the Irish Champion Stakes and the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes:
“Once again, the quality of the entries for the Irish Champion Stakes and the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes are testament to the class of these races and Longines Irish Champions Weekend. We are delighted to welcome entries from Britain, France and Japan in addition to our own leading Irish contenders which highlights the importance of these races on the International calendar. We are looking forward to another excellent renewal of Longines Irish Champions Weekend.”