Irish Champions Weekend Preview
Irish Champions Weekend provides the backbone for another major weekend of Flat racing action, with two days of fantastic racing in prospect from the Emerald Isle. Day one is at Leopardstown (12.40pm-4.20pm) on Saturday and is headlined by the Irish Champion Stakes at 2.45pm, one of five Group races on the card. They move across to the Curragh (1.45pm-5.45pm) for Sunday's action, which features a fantastic four Group 1 contests on the day. The Racing Post previews some of the main events across Irish Champions Weekend.
SATURDAY - LEOPARDSTOWN
1.10 - KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (Group 2, 1m)
Aidan O'Brien has landed this contest eight times since 2010 so anything he sends here is demanding of respect. Howth looks to have plenty improvement to find, and in any case, Ryan Moore seemingly prefers Stone Age. The Galileo colt also has work to do on paper after placed efforts in maidens at this track and Galway thus far.
Once Upon A River and Atomic Jones (both Ger Lyons) and Fozzy Stack's John The Baptist are all last-time-out winners with scope for better but the form choice is MARTIME WINGS for Joseph O'Brien and Shane Crosse.
The Gleneagles colt won his maiden over 7f here in June on debut and has twice since finished second to the uber-impressive Point Lonsdale in Group-race action here and at the Curragh. With that rival holding back for a bigger target tomorrow at the Curragh, the path is seemingly cleared for a merited breakthrough at this level.
Selection: Maritime Wings
Next Best: John The Baptist
1.40 - Coolmore America 'Justify' Matron Stakes (Fillies' And Mares' Group 1, 1m)
It was something of a surprise that Mother Earth bagged the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on seasonal bow but she has proved that was no fluke with her efforts since, dancing at all the big Group 1 parties this summer and ending a run of near misses with victory in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville last month. She's a major player for Ballydoyle as they bid to end a four-year wait for a win in this race.
With Pretty Gorgeous and Shale failing to match their classy 2YO form this season, they have questions to answer now and so PEARLS GALORE is fancied to show up well on her first taste of Group 1 action. Paddy Twomey's Invincible Spirit filly has landed successive Group 3 wins at Fairyhouse and Tipperary and should give another big account here.
Selection: Pearls Galore
Next Best: Mother Earth
2.10 - Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile (Group 2, 1m)
Amongst the most open of the Group races on day one, MacSwiney is likely to head the betting around the 4/1 mark. Jim Bolger's string are a little out of sorts right now and, since he turned over stablemate Poetic Flare in the Irish 2000 Guineas on testing ground in May, this son of New Approach has struggled in elite company. Even allowing for a drop in class, he's opposed.
Ballydoyle pair Khartoum and Horoscope are respected, as is the class-dropping Thunder Moon, but Richard Fahey's raider FEV ROVER might be the one. She ran a cracker in third behind Mother Earth in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and her subsequent Group 1 defeats have both come on heavy ground at the Curragh and Ascot. She is capable fresh and gets weight from the field here with Billy Lee an excellent ally in the saddle.
Selection: Fev Rover
Next Best: Thunder Moon
2.45 - Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1, 1m2f)
Just four runners compete for the first prize of ?580,000 ensuring this is a record low turnout for this Irish Champion Stakes in the modern era. Poetic Flare has stamina to prove and has already racked up a lot of racing in Group 1 company this season. Jim Bolger's charge could soon pay a toll for that busy summer. The mare Tarnawa easily won a Group 3 on last month's comeback for Dermot Weld and was a triple Group 1 scorer in the second half of last season but Coral-Eclipse winner ST MARK'S BASILICA could be hard to topple.
Last year's Dewhurst winner had earlier banked a pair of Group 1s in France and, providing he proves himself on this faster surface, he is the one to beat. His turn of foot could be decisive, judged on how he put away Mishriff and Addeybb at Sandown in July.
Selection: St Mark's Basilica
Next Best: Tarnawa
3.15 - Paddy Power Stakes (Group 3, 1m4f)
Earlswood was a creditable fourth in the Irish Derby in June and Johnny Murtagh's charge bagged Group 3s over 1m2f at the Curragh either side of that run. He's likely to face the fastest surface he has encountered now back up in trip but is a key player.
SIR LAMORAK was well held in the Grand Prix de Paris when last spotted but that was a big enough ask on reflection and he takes a marked drop in class now. His earlier weight-carrying second in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot was a really strong piece of form and, having moved from Ballydoyle to Joseph O'Brien since, a bold showing is forecast here.
Selection: Sir Lamorak
Next Best: Earlswood
SUNDAY - CURRAGH
2.20 - Moyglare 'Jewels' Blandford Stakes (Fillies' And Mares' Group 2, 1m2f)
Improving 3YO La Petite Coco bolted up in a Cork Group 3 on soft ground over 1m4f last month and is a key player now for Paddy Twomey taking on older rivals. She gets 9lb from LOVE, theoretically enough to take the scalp of Aidan O'Brien's star, but the older filly is preferred. Determined and more than visually impressive in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in her comeback win, Love's been beaten since in Group 1s at Ascot and York, but she can regain the winning habit now.
Next Best: Le Petite Coco
2.55 - Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes (Group 1, 5f)
Last month's Nunthorpe winner WINTER POWER is the star attraction in the Flying Five for trainer Tim Easterby. Her only setback this season was in the King's Stand at Ascot and she was a decisive winner at York last time having raced handily on a fast pace and moved clear in the final furlong. Runner-up Emaraaty Ana gave that form a boost in the Sprint Cup at Haydock last weekend, defeating July Cup scorer Starman. This progressive filly is the one to beat.
Glass Slippers is the danger on the betting, but the likes of Frenetic, Rohaan and Mooneista aren't discounted. Blinkers are tried on Ger Lyons' filly and could help her find the frame under Colin Keane with plenty early pace to suit.
Selection: Winter Power
Next Best: Frenetic
3.30 - Moyglare Stud Stakes (Fillies' Group 1, 7f)
HOMELESS SONGS made a winning bow over 7f at Leopardstown in July and had the re-opposing Agartha back in second, two-lengths adrift. Given that Joseph O'Brien's Caravaggio filly has since bagged a Group 3 over the same track and trip and then a Group 2 over this C&D, the pair must be leading contenders now.
Oisin Orr's daughter of Frankel did it nicely that afternoon and there's lots of scope for better with her. Given she races in the famous Moyglare colours, this target would have been earmarked quickly and she may be good enough with progress likely.
Cairde Go Deo impressed over C&D last month on her second start to open her account in clear-cut fashion and, while swimming in deeper water now, Ger Lyons' Camelot filly should only go from strength to strength.
Selection: Homeless Songs
Next Best: Cairde Go Deo
4.05 - Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes (Group 1, 7f)
The well-touted POINT LONSDALE has swept all before him this season, winning 4-4 so far including the Chesham at Royal Ascot and subsequent Group-races at Leopardstown and here over C&D (soft) most recently. He could have taken on a lesser engagement at Leopardstown on Saturday (facing a rival he clearly holds in Maritime Wings) but instead opts for this prestigious 2YO Group 1. It's likely he continues his perfect path.
Charlie Appleby's Superlative Stakes winner Native Trail is another unbeaten performer but taking the scalp of the Ballydoyle runner will prove much tougher. Ebro River has plenty experience in relation to some of these and stayed on strongly to win the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes over 6f here last month. Hugo Palmer's son of Galileo Gold should relish this extra yardage and could be the main danger.
Selection: Point Lonsdale
Next Best: Ebro River
4.40 - Comer Group International Irish St. Leger (Group 1, 1m6f)
Quite whether he'll be matching his trainer's iconic four-time winner Vinnie Roe or not remains to be seen but Dermot Weld's SEARCH FOR A SONG could well be a three-time Irish St Leger winner by the close of play. As he did last year, a couple of low-key runs have preceded this return mission, latterly in the Tattersalls Gold Cup here in May over an inadequate trip, and he should be primed to the minute for this task.
The veteran Twilight Payment retains plenty hope after winning a trial last month but he's already 0-4 in this race and so maybe the likes of Master Of Reality and Emperor Of The Sun could be more potent threats today for Joseph and Donnacha O'Brien respectively.
Selection: Search For A Song
Next Best: Emperor Of The Sun