Star trio set for red-hot Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown

Thursday, September 09, 2021

The big three have all stood their ground as a field of four runners have been declared for the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday. 

The Aidan O'Brien-trained St Mark’s Basilica, already the winner of the French 2,000 Guineas, the French Derby and the Coral-Eclipse Stakes this season and the joint top-rated horse in the world with Palace Pier, takes on Dermot Weld's star performer Tarnawa, the world’s leading mare. 

The pair will clash with Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare, rated the top-miler after his success in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and the St James´s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. The Joseph O'Brien-trained Patrick Sarsfield makes up the field.  

Mark Bird, IHRB Flat Handicapper, said: “The Irish Champion Stakes is once again set to be the jewel in the crown of what promises to be a mouth-watering festival of world class Flat racing in Ireland this weekend. It is a true heavyweight contest with the world’s top-rated horse and four-time Group 1 winner St Mark’s Basilica going up against the world’s highest-rated distaffer and Breeders’ Cup winner Tarnawa as well the world’s leading three-year-old miler and dual Group 1 winner Poetic Flare. 

“Seeing these Group 1 winners over eight furlongs, ten furlongs and 12 furlongs clashing on home soil over the Intermediate distance provides a veritable clash of the divisions, sexes and generations and is a race for the ages on our doorstep.”

A field of 13 will go to post for first of the weekend’s Group 1 races, the Coolmore America 'Justify' Matron Stakes. Aidan O'Brien holds the strongest hand here with his Qipco 1,000 Guineas and Prix Rothschild winner Mother Earth coming up against last year’s winner Champers Elysees for Johnny Murtagh, Paddy Twomey’s ever-improving Pearls Galore, Willie McCreery’s Epona Plays, the Ger Lyons-trained Acanella and British raider Dreamloper, trained by Ed Walker. 

The Group 2 KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes has attracted 10 runners with Joseph O'Brien’s course winner Maritime Wings, the Donnacha O'Brien-trained Absolute Ruler, a supplementary entry, and Lyons' Atomic Jones sure to be among the leading fancies. 

The Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile is another strong Group 2 on the highly-anticipated card and Richard Fahey’s Fev Rover will bid to give British-based trainers their sixth win in the race in the last eight renewals. A strong home challenge will be led by Jim Bolger’s Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Mac Swiney and Maker Of Kings, another trained by Ger Lyons. 

Nine horses have been declared for the Group 3 Paddy Power Stakes for which the Johnny Murtagh-trained Earlswood, Aidan O'Brien’s Innisfree, Sir Lamorak, on his first start for Joseph O'Brien and Jessica Harrington’s Leo De Fury might all be expected to play a leading role. 

Racing begins at the earlier time of 12.40pm on Saturday with the Listed Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes which has attracted a field of 11 runners with Harrington’s dual winner Corvigilia and the David Evans-trained Breeze Easy among the likely contenders. 

A full field of 23 runners and three reserves have been put forward for the first of the weekend’s handicaps, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Petingo’ Handicap. Topping the weights are the Jessica Harrington-trained two-time course winner Ever Present and Noel Meade’s Layfayette with the Emmet Mullins-trained Crowns Major, a big winner at the Galway festival, next in. The reserves will only get into the race if there are non-runners declared by 12 noon tomorrow, Friday. 

The day’s action concludes with the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Sovereign Path’ Handicap with Harrington’s Bopedro, the Gerry Keane-trained Laughifuwant and Tom Hogan’s Nebo topping the 18 runners. Once again, the reserves will only get into the race if there are non-runners declared by 12 noon tomorrow, Friday. 

Tim Husbands, CEO of Leopardstown Racecourse, said: “’After so long away we are thrilled to be welcoming back racegoers to Leopardstown and for the return to racing to be part of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend makes it a very special occasion.

"The highlight of the fixture is undoubtedly the Irish Champion Stakes which has the potential to be a thrilling renewal with our highest-rated horses competing strongly for the crown. The day will be watched on by the 4,000 attending and watching in from across the world. This race and the meeting in general will be a fantastic showcase for all that’s good in Irish Flat racing.’’


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