16 races, six of them Group Ones, and €4.8m in prize-money adds up to Longines Irish Champions Weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday, Leopardstown will play host to eight races, the first of them due off at 3:20pm.
The feature race is the main race of the weekend, the €1.25m QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (6:35pm), which is one of the highlights of the entire racing year. It’s been won in recent years by such exceptional performers as Golden Horn, The Fugue, Snow Fairy, Sea The Stars and New Approach.
Britain has won five of the last six stagings of the 10-furlong contest; Ireland has won five of the last ten but not since Aidan O’Brien’s So You Think landed the coveted prize in 2011.
This year’s race will see recent Juddmonte International Stakes winner, Roaring Lion, take on the English 2,000 Guineas winner, Saxon Warrior,and French Derby winner, Study Of Man. France won the race last year with Almanzor.
It promises to be a high-class race.
The other Group One race on Saturday’s card is the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes (5:35pm), for fillies and mares. This season’s star performer, Alpha Centauri, is poised to take part and, thereby, bid for a fifth Group One success of the year.
At The Curragh on Sunday the action is set to start at 2pm.
Among the Group One races is the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (4:15pm), which has been won eleven times by Ireland’s champion trainer Aidan O’Brien.
Future Classic winners Churchill, Gleneagles, Dawn Approach, New Approach, Power, George Washington, Dubawi and Refuse To Bend have all won this race since 2002 and, quite rightly, it is viewed as one of the top juvenile events of the European calendar.
Sunday’s card also contains the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes (3:40pm), one of the leading races for juvenile fillies, which has been won in recent years by subsequent Classic winners Again, Misty For Me and the exceptional Minding and Sky Lantern. Since 2005, subsequent Group One winners Happily, Rizeena and Rumplestiltskin have also won the Moyglare.
The Sunday card also contains the Comer Group International Irish St Leger (4:50pm) and the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes (3:05pm), both of them Group One races, plus the €300,000 Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sales Stakes (5:25pm).
Longines Irish Champions Weekend promises to produce a stellar cast of runners from Ireland, Britain and France, as befits the most-valuable meeting ever staged in Ireland.
An exciting two days lies ahead for Irish racing.