Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien has confirmed dual Group
1-winning filly Magical as his number one hope for the QIPCO Irish Champions Stakes,
the feature race on day one of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend on Saturday
O’Brien’s historic Ballydoyle yard was this morning the
scene for the launch of the biggest weekend in Irish flat racing at Leopardstown
on September 14, and at the Curragh on Sunday September 15. Now in its sixth
year, the Longines Irish Champions Weekend will feature six Group 1 races and
And while international competition has been a feature of
the concept, Ireland’s champion trainer is also the leading trainer at Longines
Irish Champions Weekend with 17 winners including the likes of Gleneagles in
the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes, Minding in the Moyglare Stud Stakes
in 2015 and Order Of St George in the Comer Group International Irish St Leger
in 2015 and 2017.
Champion trainer in Ireland for the first time in 1997,
O’Brien has won the national crown every year since 1999 and rewrote the record
books with 28 Group/Grade 1 wins in a whirlwind 2017 season which saw him
comfortably better Bobby Frankel’s 2003 record of 25. He has been the leading
or joint-leading trainer at Longines Irish Champions Weekend ever since its
inception in 2014. His best total over the two days is five winners in 2017.
Speaking at Ballydoyle this morning where he galloped a
number of his stable stars, including the dual Group 1 winner Magical, for the
assembled press and Longines Irish Champions Weekend sponsors, O’Brien said:
“Magical has had a break since her last run and the plan is for her to either
go to the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown with or without a run. We
also have Circus Maximus, Japan, Anthony Van Dyck and Sir Dragonet as possible
O’Brien added: “For the Coolmore Stud Fastnet Rock Matron
Stakes, we are looking at Hermosa and Just Wonderful while Mount Everest could
be one for the Kilternan Stakes.
“Lancaster House will go for the Clipper Logistics Boomerang
Stakes and Never No More is also a possible there. Lope Y Fernandez and Toronto
are two possible runners in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes.
“At the Curragh on day two, we are looking at maybe running
Armory, Arizona and Royal Lytham in the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes
while Love could go for the Moyglare Stud Stakes.
“Both Capri and Kew Gardens are potential runners in the
Comer Group International Irish St Leger while in the Group 1 Derrinstown Stud
Flying Five Stakes we have Ten Sovereigns and Fairyland as possibles. We are
looking at the Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes for Pink Dogwood and
An addition to this year’s event is The Pat Smullen
Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland on the second day of Longines Irish
Champions Weekend at the Curragh. Legendary jockeys, including AP McCoy, Ruby
Walsh, Kieren Fallon, Johnny Murtagh, Richard Hughes, Charlie Swan and Joseph
O'Brien, have been assembled by Smullen for the race at the Curragh on day two
of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend on Sunday, September 15.
All monies raised for The Pat Smullen Champions Race for
Cancer Trials Ireland and other various fund-raising activities over Longines
Irish Champions weekend will be donated to Cancer Trials Ireland for their work
into pancreatic cancer trials and research.
Brian Kavanagh, CEO of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “Longines
Irish Champions Weekend gives us so much to look forward to next month at
Leopardstown and the Curragh as the 2019 Flat season turns for home. It is
fitting that we launch this hugely important weekend at the home of our finest
Flat racing ambassador, Aidan O'Brien, who continues to bring our sport to a
wider audience with his phenomenal achievements in Ireland and abroad. The Pat
Smullen Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland brings an extra dimension to
the weekend and Pat’s race at the Curragh is sure to be as keenly contested as
any other over the two days.”