Leopardstown Irish Champions Weekend Preview And Betting Tips – Day One
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Leopardstown Irish Champions Weekend Preview And Betting Tips – Day One

Two days of fantastic action coming up with Irish Champions Weekend taking place at Leopardstown (Saturday) and the Curragh (Sunday). There's a stack of high-class racing to enjoy on day one at the Foxrock track including the Group 1 Matron Stakes (3.10) for the girls and the Irish Champion Stakes (4.10) itself as the world's highest-rated horse Ghaiyyath seeks more glory. The Racing Post return with their betting preview and tips for day one of the Leopardstown Irish Champions Weekend.


2.00 - Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes (Fillies' Listed, 7f)

Jessica Harrington's No Speak Alexander likely heads the betting for this on the strength of her close fourth in a Group 2 at Deauville last time out. She'd earlier won a Roscommon maiden as she pleased on second start having bumped into the speedy Frenetic on debut at Navan (5½f) in June.

There's more to come from Shane Foley's mount and that French form stands up well to scrutiny.

Two contenders for Aidan O'Brien in a race he won last year with Blissful. Seamie Heffernan rides Monday, well held on debut this month at Punchestown (7f, soft) but likely capable of stepping forward on that. More pressing are the claims of More Beautiful.

She looked promising in her winning debut over 5f at Naas in June but has since disappointed as favourite in the Queen Mary (5f) and Princess Margaret (6f) at Ascot. It's still early days and don't be shocked if she delivers a more polished display tackling a new trip back on home soil.

A Taad Moody and Sister Rosetta merit some thought while a market check is required on the Dermot Weld debutante Vario, but the selection is Joseph O'Brien's C&D winner EARTH STRIKE.

She had Sister Rosetta back in fifth when leading home a one-two-three for her yard here last month on testing ground. Afterwards it was suggested she should be 'quite smart' and had been impressing at home. She made up plenty ground on that occasion and was going away at the line. She has changed hands since and there's plenty improvement lurking.

Selection: Earth Strike

Next Best: No Speak Alexander


2.35 - Irish Stallion Farms EBF 'Petingo' Handicap (Premier Handicap, 1m5f)

A typically fierce handicap for this card and one in which top-weight Mirann must be taken very seriously for Johnny Murtagh and Shane Foley.

The lightly-raced French import has run well in both starts since a winning start on these shores at Gowran Park (1m1½f, good) in June after a layoff. He was a winner over his distance for his previous trainer and a mark of 100 is very workable based on his recent Dundalk run. His stablemate Springbank also arrives here in fine fettle and needs a close look.

The likes of Buildmeupbuttercup and Persia will have their supporters given connections but maybe EMPEROR OF THE SUN is the one for fledgling Donnacha O'Brien ahead of his bid for Group 1 glory in the Matron Stakes.

The Galileo colt has run into some thriving rivals lately - Red Kelly, Princess Zoe, Pista and Galileo Chrome winning the last four races he's contested. The two most recent runs have been in Listed company and saw him knocking heads with upwardly mobile sorts (Pista won a Group 2 at Doncaster on Thursday / Galileo Chrome runs in the St Leger). That last-time-out second suggests this trip is ideal and with Gavin Ryan taking a handy 3lb off, they can go well in a deeply competitive contest.

Selection: Emperor Of The Sun

Next Best: Mirann


3.10 - Coolmore America 'Justify' Matron Stakes (Fillies' And Mares' Group 1, 1m)

Donnacha O'Brien was always liable to be given something very talented by the Coolmore team for his first full season in training and FANCY BLUE is that filly.

The daughter of Deep Impact won 2-2 last season for Ballydoyle, including at Listed level, and was maybe just undone by fitness when following home Peaceful in the Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh in June on her return.

She went to France and took the scalp of Alpine Star (Peaceful third) in a Group 1 in July when upped in trip and justified favouritism in the Nassau since at Glorious Goodwood, repelling the late challenge of subsequent Yorkshire Oaks third One Voice.

She meets old rival Peaceful again here coming back down in distance and they are clearly well matched as just a neck split them in the Prix De Diane (1m2½f). Did Ryan Moore make the choice between the pair? Hard to know but, either way, his presence on Fancy Blue can be nothing but a positive and she's set for another Group 1 prize.

Johnny Murtagh has got Champers Elysees on a roll this season and, after a Group 3 win at Gowran Park this month, she attempts another step up the ladder now, while stablemate Know It All backed up her C&D Group 3 win here in July with a near miss at the top level in France last month and is a fascinating contender for Cieren Fallon in the Qatar silks.

Selection: Fancy Blue

Next Best: Know It All


3.40 - KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (Group 2, 1m)

He looked a star in the making when romping to a nine-length success over 7f here on debut in July and CADILLAC probably improved on that when finishing second in the Group 2 Futurity Stakes at the Curragh last month. Conditions (soft-to-heavy) weren't really in his favour and he just couldn't display the same turn of foot as he showed here previously when he attempted to reel back MacSwiney.

The winner is a lively outsider in the National Stakes on Sunday and Ebeko (second to Cadillac on debut) has done well since, winning a good pot on second start at this venue and narrowly missing out in Del Mar's Juvenile Turf prize last weekend after making the move Stateside. He came from last in that contest to finish well and that's a nice nod in the direction of Cadillac, who should get better ground to race on now tackling a mile for the first time.

Ides Of August and Jack Duggan both made winning debuts for Ger Lyons and Jim Bolger at this venue and Tipperary respectively and are capable of progressing, but the main danger may come from the O'Brien household.

Joseph's Liffey River was a cosy winner of a Punchestown maiden this month and has scope for better, while Aidan's Van Gogh just missed out on a Group 3 over 7f here last month prior to finding the conditions against him when only sixth in the aforementioned Futurity at the Curragh. He can get much closer to Cadillac now.

Selection: Cadillac

Next Best: Van Gogh

4.10 - Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1, 1m2f)

The world's best horse (GHAIYYATH) against the world's best trainer (Aidan O'Brien)? This Champion Stakes has attracted a field of six and three of them represent the master of Ballydoyle, as he looks to stop the winning run of Charlie Appleby's imposing front-runner.

Last month's Juddmonte International win at York saw Ghaiyyath heralded as the best horse in training on ratings. At five-years-old, he's a mature performer and is now stringing together a mightily impressive body of work.

Where before he seemed to peak only when fresh, he's now bidding to win a Group 1 for the fourth month in succession. His front-running style asks big questions of his rivals given the high cruising speed he displays and, as yet, he's not been headed this season. The challengers have come to him, but this big son of Dubawi has always found more when asked for it.

Japan and Magical have tried and failed already in the Eclipse at Sandown and that York race respectively. Good as they are and remarkable as their trainer is, it's hard to see what tactics they can deploy to get the favourite beaten.

If they force the pace it might be throat-cutting to their own chances. Appleby is adamant that the more mature Ghaiyyath will take a lead if something goes fast enough to give it.

Having regular rider William Buick in Ireland with the easing of movement restrictions is a massive bonus and, on this season's form, Ghaiyyath looks set to take this crown from Magical and continue the recent British domination of the race (six wins in the last eight).

Jean-Claude Rouget brought Almanzor to win this race in 2016 and Sottsass is a lively contender for France. He's got plenty smart form over this distance (only beaten once, when conceding weight) and has Colin Keane to help him on his first start outside of his homeland. He might prove second-best.

Selection: Ghaiyyath @ 4/7

Next Best: Sottsass @ 8/1


4.45 - Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile (Group 2, 1m)

Lancaster House was a disappointing favourite in this contest 12 months ago. He's been in good form over 7f at the Curragh in two runs this season, including a Group 3 win on comeback, but looks to be facing into a stronger renewal of this contest now returned to the mile.

There's another strong British challenge in this contest with Safe Voyage and Century Dream holding claims.

John Quinn's York winner defeated the mare One Master in good fashion last month and gets a useful ally in Colin Keane but, of the raiders, Simon & Ed Crisford's Celebration Mile scorer is preferred. He's been in cracking form this term since his wind surgery and went right away from his rivals in that most recent Goodwood success. The stable also continues to be in brilliant form (37 per-cent strike-rate recently).

They all might play second fiddle to another Ballydoyle inmate in ROYAL DORNOCH, the mount of Seamie Heffernan. The Gleneagles colt really thrived in the autumn last season, including defeating Kameko in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket over this trip.

He flopped in a pair of Group 1s in June but a first-time tongue-tie saw him back on form when taking out a C&D Group 3 last month from Ancient Spirit. He defied some trouble in running to get the win and while this is tougher, he gets weights from older horses now and it might be that he's ready once more to peak in the closing stages of the season.

Selection: Royal Dornoch

Next Best: Century Dream


5.15 - The Paddy Power 'Is It 2021 Yet?' Stakes (Group 3, 1m4f)

This could be a very good chance for TIGER MOTH to go one better having chased home stablemate Santiago in the Irish Derby at the Curragh in June.

He travelled into that Classic contest like a dream having fended off a trio of stablemates to win a 1m2f maiden here on his first start of the season (second overall). He made Santiago battle every inch of the 1m4f distance at the Curragh and almost set up Emmet McNamara for what might have turned into a 'Derby double' given his exploits at Epsom the following weekend.

Ryan Moore's mount takes on older horses now but gets allowances for that and, on only his fourth start, is open to plenty progress for a yard that won this with another three-year-old (Norway) last year.

Buckhurst was a Group 3 scorer over a mile and a quarter at the Curragh in June and can be forgiven his defeat back there in elite company since. Joseph O'Brien's charge is ceding weight all round but may well improve now upped in distance sporting first-time blinkers, while Dermot Weld's Rakan is a previous C&D winner and may be able to go well here after seemingly failing to get home on soft ground over 1m6f at Down Royal recently.

Patrick Sarsfield saw his winning sequence halted by Barney Roy in Germany last time but he was progressing at a rate of knots before that and this extra distance could well eke out some more from him.

Selection: Tiger Moth

Next Best: Rakan


5.50 - Irish Stallion Farms EBF 'Sovereign Path' Handicap (Premier Handicap, 7f)

A spectacularly tough end to day one of Irish Champions Weekend for punters with this 18-runner handicap over seven-furlongs. A host of them have very valid claims and so it's worth simply taking two against the field.

Sheila Lavery's BREAKING STORY is one. The son of Dandy Man has run well in four starts this term without getting a lot of reward. His most recent third at the Curragh (1m, heavy) was another step in the right direction while his Listed run at Navan (1m, good to firm) in June, where he finished fifth, has also been advertised positively since. He's off an unchanged mark of 95 in his bid to land this ?75,000 prize and a big run is likely.

Sirjack Thomas caught the eye over 7f here (good) in July before scoring at Galway (1m½f, soft) at their Festival early last month from a mark of 81. He's been busy since with three more runs on heavy ground and has run well in each of them. He certainly doesn't need the mud flying and conditions here will be fine. Trainer Ado McGuinness has secured excellent claimer Dylan McMonagle and that takes a 7lb burden off and makes their partnership interesting.

Selection: Breaking Story

Next Best: Sirjack Thomas





V: 1.23.0 All rights reserved. August 2021