Longines Irish Champions Weekend will open at Leopardstown on Saturday September 12th, with a
fantastic 8 race card including the feature race the Irish Champion
Stakes supported by The Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes.
The Irish Champion Stakes
regularly ranks as one of best races in the world, with previous winners
including four time Group 1 winner Magical,
Champion three-year-old colt and European horse of the year Roaring Lion, Horse of the Year and
Champion 3yo Colt Sea the Stars and Cartier
horse of the year Golden Horn. French Champion Jockey and multiple Group 1
winning Jockey Christophe Soumillon commented after victory aboard Almanzor in
the 2016 renewal of the Irish Champions Stakes “Only champions can win a race like this".
The 2019 renewal of the Irish Champion Stakes saw the
Aidan O’Brien trained filly Magical lead
home a remarkable 1-2-3 for the Irish Champion trainer. After finishing runner
up to Enable on her previous two starts in the Coral Eclipse and Yorkshire
Oaks, Magical proved that she was a
Champion filly in her own right achieving up her third win at the highest
The 2019 renewal of the Irish Champion
Stakes also broke new ground, with the first ever Japanese trained runner in Ireland.
Deirdre finishing a commendable fourth.
The Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes adds another Group 1 race to
the opening day of Longines Irish Champions weekend. Won most recently by the Joseph O’Brien
trained Iridessa who went on to take the Breeders Cup
Fillies’ and Mares Turf. This Grade 1 race is restricted to fillies and mares and
brings together the leading ladies the generations with three year olds and
older mares taking each other on over one mile.
| First Race approx. 2.00pm | Last Race approx 5.50pm |
Approximate race timings for Saturday September 12th are as below;
September 12th 2020
The Irish Champion Stakes is a restricted race for three year olds and upwards. It is run over 1 mile and 2 furlongs and is the most valuable race on the Longines Irish Champions weekend card. Previous race winners include legends of the turf such as Sadler’s Wells, Daylami, Giant’s Causeway, Dylan Thomas who won it on two occasions and the brilliant Sea the Stars. While English Derby winner Golden Horn gave Frankie Dettori his sixth win in the race and French raider Almanzor gave a scintillating display in “the race of the season” in 2016 to defeat a field consisting of 7 Grade 1 winners. Roaring Lion got the better of a final furlong dual with old rival Saxon Warrior in 2018. More recently Magical, Snow Fairy and The Fugue showed that the girls are equal - if not on occasion superior to the boys!
The Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes (Group 1) is run over 1 mile and is a restricted race for fillies and mares. In 2017 and 2018 the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes was rated the World’s Best fillies and mares race in the World by The European and World Thoroughbred Rankings – a tremendous accolade to receive. Previous winners of this outstanding race include multiple Group 1 winner Soviet Song and the incredibly tough Attraction. In 2019 we saw the Joseph O’Brien trained Iridessa defeat a field of Group 1 performers, including the 2018 Matron Stakes winner Laurens, on her way to victory. Iridessa was granted a Breeders Cup “Win and You’re In” ticket to the Santa Anita Breeders Cup meeting where she went on to defeat a Vaslika in the Filly and Mare Turf and give Joseph O’Brien the accolade of becoming the youngest trainer to win a Breeders Cup Race.
The Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile (Group 2) is run over 1 mile for 3 year olds an upwards. Previous winners of the race include Irish 2000gns winner Awtaad, and the David O’Meara trained duo of Custom Cut and Suedois. In 2018 I Can Fly lived up to her name as she hit top gear in the final furlong to win for Aidan O’Brien. The Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile has a rich history of International visitors taking home the prize fund, most recently the Richard Fahey trained Space Traveller swept to victory under a very cool ride from Billy Lee to take victory for owners (and race sponsors) Clipper Logistics. With this ride Billy Lee also received the accolade of Flat Ride of the Year at the 2019 at the Horse Racing Ireland Awards.
The KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes – Group 2 is run over 1 mile, is a restricted race for two year olds. The KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes has been upgraded from 2017 to Group 2 status due to its excellent history of producing top class racehorses. Previous winners include Epsom and Irish Derby winner Australia, Criterium International winner Johannes Vermeer, Epsom Derby runner up Madhmoon and although a runner up in the race Free Eagle who went on to win The Prince of Wales’ Stakes at Royal Ascot . The winner of this Champion Juvenile is eligible for a place in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile races due to its “Win and you’re in” status. The beautifully bred Mogul, who is a full brother to Juddmonte International winner Japan, gave Aidan O’Brien his eighth win in the race in 2019.
The Kilternan Stakes (Group 3) is run over 1 mile and 4 furlongs and is restricted for 3 year olds and upwards who have not won a Group 1 race. Since 2014 Dermot Weld and jockey Pat Smullen have dominated this race – the duo have claimed victory with Free Eagle (2014), Fascinating Rock (2015) Zhukova (2016) and Eziyra (2017). All these horses have progressed to have illustrious careers; Free Eagle claimed Group 1 victory in the Prince of Wales’ Stakes at Royal Ascot and now stands at the Irish National Stud. Fascinating Rock went on to take the Champion Stakes and Tattersalls Gold Cup and now stands at Ballylinch Stud while Zhukova travelled to America wining the Man O’ War Stakes at Belmont Park. Norway a previous winner of the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes took victory in the 2019 renewal of the Kilternan Stakes holding off the challenge of joint favourite Buckhurst to give jockey Seamie Heffernan his first win in the race.
The Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes (Listed) is run over 7 furlongs, is restricted to 2 year old fillies that have not won a Listed race. The Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes was upgraded to Listed status in 2017 and is the first race on the card of Irish Champions weekend. This race produces star fillies of the future and always attracts the leading yards in an attempt to win this prestigious race. Anamba owned by Godolphin won the race in 2015 and went on to win black type, Rain Goddess (2016) was placed at Group 1 level and won a Group 3, while Lightening Quick (2017) went on to win the Athasi Stakes Group 3. Blissful, a beautifully bred full sister to Gustav Klimt, was given a superb ride by Ryan Moore to get up in the shades of the winning post to win the 2019 edition of the Ballylinch Stud Ingabelle Stakes by a nose.
The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Petingo Handicap is run over 1 mile 5 furlongs, is open to 3 year olds and upwards. This extremely competitive race always gives a terrific finish due to the maximum field size, and has previously been won by leading jumps trainers Tony Martin and Willie Mullins. Quick Jack led home stablemate Pyromanic to give Martin a 1-2 in the race in 2016, both horses are admirable dual purpose performers Quick Jack having won the valuable Galway Hurdle as well as being beaten ½ length in the Chester Cup. Willie Mullins took the race in 2017 with Laws of Spin, owned and bred by Ballylinch Stud and also the 2018renewal with classy hurdler Limini, Willie Mullins was denied a third victory in the race in 2019 when the Dermot Weld trained Kastasa stayed on strongly to defeat the Mullins trained Buildmeupbuttercup by a neck in a thrilling finish. Kastasa followed up her victory in the Petingo Handicap with an astounding seven length victory in the Group 3 Loughbrown Stakes on her last run if the year.
The EBF Sovereign Path Premier Handicap is run over 7 furlongs and is open to 3 year olds and upwards. The concluding race on the card always attracts a competitive field and is often won by a British based trainer – of the last five running’s of the race, Baraweez (Brian Ellison), Kelinni (Kevin Ryan) Burnt Sugar (Roger Fell) and Zap (Richard Fahey) have won for visiting trainers while in 2019 Current Option trained by Lusk based Ado McGuiness claimed the prize money for Ireland defeating the 17 runner field. The Sovereign Path Premier Handicap was first run at Leopardstown in 2014 and has firmly established itself as one of the premier 7 furlong handicaps in Britain and Ireland.
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