Leopardstown Trials attract major Classic Contenders


Aidan O’Brien has won the last three renewals of this race

Tuesday, May 03, 2022
Bolshoi_Ballet_850x580

Bolshoi Ballet, winner of the 2021 Derby Trial Stakes for Aidan O'Brien


We are really excited to be back racing on Sunday with some quality Group 3 action. There are many familiar faces among the entries with a number of horses who made their mark at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend and I’ve no doubt that we will see a number of future Group 1 winners at Leopardstown this weekend and possibly horses who will be back with us for Irish Champions Weekend in September.

Unbeaten colt Atomic Jones may begin his three-year-old season for Ger Lyons and new owners Beauty Stable after the son of Wootton Bassett won the Group 2 KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes here at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend.


The two-time winner has entries in the Irish 2,000 Guineas later this month as well as the Irish Derby and St James’s Palace Stakes. 


Aidan O’Brien has won the last three renewals of this race and provides the highest-rated colt amongst this year’s entries. Stone Age was second behind Atomic Jones on Irish Champions Weekend but earned a rating of 109 for his Navan maiden win back in March. The Ballydoyle inmate is joined by stable companions Bluegrass, Shark Bay and United Nations. 


Paddy Twomey’s 107-rated French Claim has the choice of the Epsom Derby or the Irish equivalent at The Curragh if all goes well at the weekend, while the Dermot Weld-trained Duke De Sessa is another one who holds a current engagement in the Epsom Derby. The Leopardstown Group 3 winner started his campaign with a third-placed effort in the Ballysax Stakes at the beginning of last month. 


Joseph O’Brien and Jim Bolger are both double-handed in the Derby Trial. O’Brien has the JP McManus-owned Good Heavens and the Lloyd Williams-owned Swan Bay in the mix, while Bolger’s challenge rests with a couple of Leopardstown maiden winners in Manu Et Corde and McTigue. O’Brien said: “I will run Swan Bay in the Derby Trial, as long as the ground isn’t soft. He will have improved for his seasonal debut over course and distance but does need better ground.”


Michael O’Callaghan’s Great Max boasts some good form, while County Tyrone trainer Andy Oliver is prepared to take on the big guns with recent maiden winner Glory Daze. A €3,000 purchase by Oliver in 2020, Glory Daze had a couple of well touted Ballydoyle runners behind him at The Curragh and Oliver is hoping Sunday’s race will allow him make some interesting entries going forward.


Elsewhere at Leopardstown on Sunday, the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia may kick off his season in the Group 3 Amethyst Stakes. Aidan O’Brien’s charge enjoyed Group 2 glory last season and was placed at the highest level. The five-year-old heads the current field of 13 runners for the €50,000 heat this weekend. 


Irish Champion Weekend winner Real Appeal may return to the scene of his Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile Stakes triumph for Jessica Harrington and owner Zhang Yuesheng, while the very progressive Raadobarg could bid to continue his fantastic start of the season for Johnny Murtagh. The four-year-old claimed the Irish Lincoln on the opening weekend of the Flat season and backed that up in good style at Tipperary last time out. 


The Group 3 Cornelscourt Stakes has attracted a total of 15 entries, headed by the Group 1 runner-up Agartha for Joseph O’Brien. The Scott Heider-owned daughter of Caravaggio was second on debut this season to Homeless Songs in the 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown and holds entries for the Irish 1,000 Guineas as well as the Irish Oaks. “Agartha is an intended runner in the Cornelscourt Stakes. She’s come out of her first run of the year well,” said her trainer. “We were delighted with her run in the 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown at the beginning of April, when she was only headed late on and was a close second. “This race has been the plan since then and we’re looking forward to it.”


Another Irish Champions Weekend winner in the running to return to Leopardstown on Sunday is the Ger Lyons-trained Panama Red while further depth is added to the Cornelscourt Stakes by recent maiden winners Princess Olly (Adrian Murray), Suwappu (Darren Bunyan) and Suwayra (Dermot Weld). 


Sunday will also see Leopardstown play host to the Fund A New Home For Festina Lente Handicap. Festina Lente is Ireland’s top equine and horticultural learning charity, known across the racing industry for its outstanding work in the field of equine assisted learning for those with special needs through a wide range of equine assisted learning programmes and are fundraising to secure the purchase of Belfield House and lands in Kilpedder, County Wicklow to facilitate an essential move and expansion.


Tim Husbands, CEO of Leopardstown Racecourse said: “We are really excited to be back racing on Sunday with some quality Group 3 action. There are many familiar faces among the entries with a number of horses who made their mark at Leopardstown on Irish Champions Weekend and I’ve no doubt that we will see a number of future Group 1 winners at Leopardstown this weekend and possibly horses who will be back with us for Irish Champions Weekend in September.”

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