Irish Champions Weekend is spectacularly opened at Leopardstown with the QIPCO Irish Champions Stakes, a race
that is often ranked one of the best in the World, and takes a true Champion to win. Horses that have achieved legendary status
such as Snow Fairy, Sea the Stars and most recently Golden Horn have graced
the winner’s enclosure at Leopardstwon and have been crowned Champions of
Ireland by winning the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes. As Christophe Soumillon said, when winning a
Classic renewal of the race in 2016 "Only Champions can win a race like this."
Last year saw victory go to England with Roger Charlton and Andrea Atzeni teaming to win with Decorated Knight who beat Poets World by half a length. Decorated Knight, a multiple Group 1 winner now stands at the Irish National Stud with his first foals in 2018.
Listen to what leading jockey Ryan Moore has to say about Longines Irish Champions Weekend here
September 15th 2018
The QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes is a restricted race for three year olds an upwards. It is run over 1 mile 2 furlongs and is worth a staggering €1,250,000 – The most valuable race on the Irish Champions weekend card. The race attracts significant International attention, further increased by the Breeders Cup “Win and you’re In” status which offers complementary entry to the Breeders Cup. This year the Breeder’s Cup is staged under the twin spires at Chruchill Downs, Louisville Kentucky. 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. More recently Snow Fairy and The Fugue showed that the girls are equal - if not on occasion superior to the boys! 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” to defeat a field consisting of 7 Group 1 winners “Only Champions can win a race like this ” Christophe Soumillon.
The Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes (Group 1) is run over 1 mile and is a restricted race for fillies and mares. It is worth €350,000 making it the second most valuable race on the card. In 2017 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 winners Soviet Song and the incredibly tough Attraction. In 2017 we saw four time Group 1 winner and leading three year old filly Winter beaten a head by old foe Hydrangea giving Aidan O’Brien a 1-2 in the race which he has won a total of three times. Hydrangea was perhaps overlooked on the day in favour of her steely grey stable mate but never the less showed a courageous spirit to triumph.
The Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes (Group 2) is run over 1 mile for 3 year olds an upwards and is worth €200,000. Suedois, trained by Fermoy native David O’Meara landed the 2017 running of the race in a thrilling finish under a patient ride from Danny Tudhope, weaving his way between horses to take victory in the shadows of the winning post. The same tactics’ were applied in Suedois’ next run, where he travelled to America for the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile in Keeneland where he defeated a field of top class American performers. David O’Meara may now base himself in England, but he has been a strong supporter of The Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes having won the race or been placed in the race since 2015. Previous winners of the race include Irish 2000gns winner Awtaad, and the David O’Meara trained Custom Cut.
The KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes – Group 2 is run over 1 mile, is a restricted race for two year olds and is worth €150,000. 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 and although a runner up 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 Nelson who is by superstar Frankel out of the Irish Oaks winner Moonstone led home an Aidan O’Brien 1-2-3 in the race last year.
Paddy's Rewards Club Stakes (Group 3) is run over 1 mile and 4 furlongs, is restricted for 3 year olds and upwards who have not won a Group 1 race and is worth €100,000. 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 of 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.
The Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes (Listed) is run over 7 furlongs and is restricted to 2 year old fillies that have not won a Listed race and is worth €100,000. The Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes has been upgrade to Listed status from 2017 and is our 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) has won the Athasi Stakes Group 3. Ballylinch Stud have a rich history in producing leading racehorses and have bred leading horses such as Red Rocks, Belardo and Al Wukair.
The EBF Sovereign Path Premier Handicap is run over 7 furlongs and is open to 3 year olds and upwards and is worth €150,000. The concluding race on the card always attracts a competitive field and is often won by a British based trainer – of the last four running’s of the race, Baraweez (Brian Ellison), Kelinni (Kevin Ryan) and Burnt Sugar (Roger Fell) have won for visiting trainers while in 2016 Colour Blue trained by Kildare based William McCreery claimed the prize money for Ireland defeating the 17 runner field by a convincing three lengths. 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.
The EBF Sovereign Path Premier Handicap is run over 7 furlongs and is open to 3 year olds and upwards and is worth €150,000. The concluding race on the card always attracts a competitive field and is often won by a British based trainer – of the last three running’s of the race, Baraweez (Brian Ellison), Kelinni (Kevin Ryan) and Burnt Sugar (Roger Fell) have won for visiting trainers while in 2016 Colour Blue trained by Kildare based William McCreery claimed the prize money for Ireland defeating the 17 runner field by a convincing three lengths. 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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