Big names set for classic Longines Irish Champions Weekend renewal featuring the Irish Champion Stakes and Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes

Monday, June 29, 2020

A strong representation of fillies, headed by the mighty ten-time Group 1 champion Enable, features in an entry of 61 horses for the Irish Champion Stakes. Last year’s heroine Magical, the first Irish-trained winner since 2011, brought her Group 1 tally to five at the Curragh yesterday and she might well represent Aidan O’Brien once again. 

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 brilliant Coronation Stakes winner, Alpine Star is there along with Deirdre who became 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 catch the eye as do the 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 also feature among the 20 British-trained entries.

The overseas contingent is completed by two entries from France, last year’s French Derby winner Sottsass, a winner again at Chantilly in the Group 1 Prix Ganay for Jean-Claude Rouget last month, and Andre Fabre’s Persian King, last season’s French 2,000 Guineas winner. Rouget won the Irish Champion Stakes with Almanzor in 2016. 

There are 15 British trained entries among a total of 43 for Leopardstown’s Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes with New York Girl heading a quartet for Joseph O'Brien, successful last year with subsequent Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Iridessa. O’Brien’s younger brother Donnacha has entered his 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. 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. 


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