Top class racing and fashion style set to meet for this weekend’s 2019 Longines Irish Champions
All eyes will be drawn across the Irish Sea this weekend for the 2019 Longines Irish Champions Weekend taking place at Leopardstown and The Curragh.
Now in its sixth year, the two days of exciting racing in Ireland at Leopardstown on Saturday 14 and at the Curragh on Sunday 15 September is now established as the pinnacle of the Irish Flat racing season. It is also regarded as one of Europe’s richest racing weekends and now draws in the best in the world as horses, trainers and jockeys are all keen to compete at the highest level.
Once again the two-day weekend Festival will feature a total of 10 Group races, six of which will be run on the opening day at Leopardstown in County Dublin on Saturday, with four at The Curragh in County Kildare. There are six Group One races and €4.8 million in prize-money across the weekend which underlines why this unique racing event is now regarded as one of the richest and most glamorous meetings on the international racing calendar.
Saturday at Leopardstown will be headed by two Group 1 races – the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes and the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes – sharing the top-billing. An eight-race card offers a total prize fund of €2.45 million and features five Group races, a new Listed contest and two high-class handicaps each valued at €150,000.
The Qipco Irish Champion Stakes has drawn significant early pre-race attention in no small part thanks to a horse named Deirdre who will become the first Japanese-trained runner in Ireland when she lines up in a field of eight. The Mitsuru Hashida-trained mare bids to add to her battling success in the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood under Oisin Murphy, who ironically won the Leopardstown feature on the John Gosden-trained Roaring Lion a year ago.
The Roger Charlton-trained Headman and Elarqam, supplemented for the race on Tuesday by Mark Johnston, make up the raiding party and will face up to a quartet of runners from Aidan O’Brien whose team is headed by star filly Magical. Anthony Van Dyck, Magic Wand and Hunting Horn complete the Ballydoyle contingent while the Kevin Prendergast-trained Madhmoon, a popular winner on the card last year, ensures a high-quality field goes to post.
The Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes will see last year’s winner Laurens heads the seven declared runners for where four of the septet are Group 1 winners. Aidan O’Brien will be represented by a team of four – dual Guineas winner Hermosa, I Can Fly, Happen and Just Wonderful – while John Oxx and Joseph O’Brien saddle top-level winners Skitter Scatter and Iridessa respectively.
Twenty four hours later, the action then moves to home of Ireland’s classics, The Curragh, for the Comer Group International Irish St Leger Day. The Curragh Racecourse is home to all five Irish Classic races and Sunday’s second and final day of the weekend will see four Group 1 races on the nine-race card. In a fitting season-finale for The Curragh, the crowds can look forward to the excitement of the Comer Group International Irish St Leger, the final Irish Classic of the season, the Moyglare Stud Stakes; the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes and the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes.
Darren Bunyan’s stable star Hit The Bid is one of 15 left in Ireland’s only Group 1 sprint for older horses, the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes. A scatter of overseas rivals, such as Caspian Prince, Soldier’s Call and Mabs Cross, are ready to take on a strong Irish team, which also includes the Eddie Lynam-trained Soffia.
The race is one of four Group 1 races at the Curragh on Sunday. A total of 15 have been left in both the Moyglare Stud Stakes and Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, with 18 remaining in the Irish St Leger.
Pinatubo, trained by Charlie Appelby, is still on course to take on the Aidan O’Brien-trained Armory, though Ballydoyle has nine other possibles, including Arizona and Innisfree in the juveniles’ race.
Capri and Kew Gardens have been left in by Aidan O’Brien for the Comer Group International Irish St Leger, while Joseph O’Brien has left in Latrobe, Buckhurst, Master Of Reality and his new addition, Twilight Payment.
Jessica Harrington has left Albigna, Alpine Star and Cayenne Pepper in the Moyglare, with Daahyeh set to run for Roger Varian.
A new race this year will see nine legendary retired jockeys get back in the saddle for the Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland. The field has been assembled by the great Pat Smullen and will include AP McCoy, Ruby Walsh, Paul Carberry and Johnny Murtagh.
The Longines Irish Champions Weekend is not only revered for the quality of its racing on the track, it is also regarded as one of the biggest social events in Ireland, with style and fashion at the heart of the occasion. At both of Ireland’s premiere racecourses of Leopardstown and The Curragh, all racegoers and fashion enthusiasts alike will get the chance to showcase their style credentials with a chance to win the coveted Longines Prize for Elegance.