HRI today announced the initial entries for the €1 million QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes and the €300,000 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St. Leger, the feature races on each day of the inaugural Irish Champions Weekend, to be run at the Curragh and Leopardstown, Ireland’s two premier Flat racecourses, on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th September respectively. These raise the prospect of a first-ever Japanese-trained runner in Ireland.
The QIPCO Irish Champions Stakes has attracted two Japanese entries, Just A Way, currently the top-rated racehorse in the world in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, and the Japan Cup runner-up Denim And Ruby. In total 22 individual Group 1 winners feature among the 61 entries, including the French star Cirrus Des Aigles and Godolphin’s Dubai World Cup winner African Story. Other leading contenders will no doubt be the Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Magician; Noble Mission, winner of yesterday’s Tattersalls Gold Cup; the ex-American Grade 1 winner Verrazano, and last year’s Tattersalls Gold Cup, Epsom Derby and Irish Derby winners, Al Kazeem, Ruler Of The World and Trading Leather. Many top-class fillies also feature, including The Fugue, last year’s winner of the Irish Champion Stakes, and the Classic winners Just The Judge, Sky Lantern and Chicquita. The three-year-old generation is also well represented by the likes of Australia, Fascinating Rock, Free Eagle, Kingston Hill and UAE Derby winner Toast Of New York.
A high-class international field has also been entered for the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St. Leger, with 38 of the 73 initial entries being trained overseas. Topping the list of international contenders are the French-trained former Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden, the Queen’s Ascot Gold Cup winner Estimate, Japan’s Denim And Ruby, who is entered in this race as well as the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes, the globetrotting Hong Kong Vase winner Red Cadeaux and the last two winners of the Dubai Gold Cup, Certerach and Cavalryman. The last two winners of Doncaster’s St. Leger, Aidan O’Brien’s Leading Light and Godolphin’s Encke, also feature among the entries, along with previous Irish St. Leger winner Royal Diamond and the Prix Royal Oak (French St. Leger) winner Tac De Boistron.
Announcing the entries, HRI’s CEO Brian Kavanagh stated: “HRI and the racecourses have worked very hard to target the top international horses and we are very pleased both with the quality and quantity of entries for the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes and the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St. Leger. The strength in depth and geographical spread of the entries, and the possibility of a first ever Japanese runner in Ireland, underline the huge international appeal of our inaugural Irish Champions Weekend. With many other top-class races over the weekend at our two premier flat racecourses, we look forward to welcoming the racing world to Ireland for a meeting which has truly global appeal.”
Pat Keogh, Leopardstown CEO said: “We are absolutely delighted with the initial entry for the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes, featuring the Japanese-trained highest-rated horse in the world Just A Way. The increased prize-money for the race of €1 million, made possible by QIPCO’s generous sponsorship and HRI’s financial support for the meeting, has enabled us to attract an international entry of outstanding quality, which has exceeded even our loftiest ambitions. We hope that this will encourage many international visitors and domestic racegoers to book early for what will truly be a memorable day’s racing at Leopardstown, on Saturday 13th September, as part of Irish Champions Weekend.”
Paul Hensey, the Curragh General Manager, also expressed his delight: “The increased prize-money of €300,000 for the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St. Leger, which is up by 50% compared to last year, has definitely had the desired effect in attracting all the top staying horses from Europe as well as a very welcome Japanese entry in the shape of the top-class Denim And Ruby. Our aim is to ensure that the race is at the forefront of the major long distance races in the world and we are very pleased to have achieved our first objective of attracting a top-quality initial entry. We are already getting lots of interest and bookings for the Curragh on Sunday 14th September as part of Irish Champions Weekend, and we believe that it will quickly become established as a key event within the international racing calendar.”