Champions Weekend – Day 1

Stellar Mass winning the Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown in August

Stellar Mass winning the Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown in August

A cracking weekends action with the St Leger at Doncaster and The Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. Idaho will travel to Doncaster to be ridden by Seamie Heffernan with Ryan Moore making the trip to Leopardstown to ride Minding.

Doncaster The St Leger

Idaho was a maiden winner first time out last October and didn’t return to the winners enclosure until the Great Voltigeur at York in August. In between he was beaten five times. It was in defeat he proved himself top class, Harzand beat him three times, in the Ballysax, The Derby and Irish Derby. He got closer each time putting up a great fight at the Curragh going down a 1/2 L. He did it very well at York and was an easy winner from stablemate Housesofparliment who reopposes here. As ever there is a question about the trip, will he stay the extra 4 f? At York he looked to have plenty left at the end so you’d be confident he will.


Champions weekend throws up a great card at Leopardstown. The centre piece will be the Irish Champion Stakes with the Matron Stakes, also G1 status, supporting the day. There’s also a top class G2 in the Boomerang Stakes, a tremendous Enterprise Stakes and a very intriguing Juvenile Stakes. Throw in a premier handicap and it’s some days racing.

The Juvenile Stakes

Douglas McArthur and Radio Silence line out for Aidan O’Brien and Jim Bolger. The former was a 5 L winner of a maiden here last time out while the latter went down to the very impressive Churchill in the G2 Futurity. It a good test and both hold lofty entries for the remainder of the season. The winner here will become the outright favourite for next years Derby.

The Enterprise Stakes

A small but select field, Aidan O’Brien is responsible for three of the five runners. US Army Ranger was given a break after Epsom where he couldn’t get to Harzand. He gave it all and was rested until the Royal Whip in mid August. Sent off an even money favourite he ran flat and trailed in fourth beaten 4 L by Success Days.

Bondi Beech before the Desmond Stakes

Bondi Beech before the Desmond Stakes

Bondi Beech, a Leger first past the post last year at Doncaster may struggle over the mile and half.

Stellar Mass and Kevin Manning goes out to win the Ballyroan Stakes

Stellar Mass and Kevin Manning goes out to win the Ballyroan Stakes

Jim Bolger’s Stellar Mass had the measure of Bondi Beech here at the beginning of August in the Ballyroan building on his very good third in the Irish Derby. Zhukova hasn’t been seen since winning the Blue Wind at Nass in May where he beat Pretty Perfect, form that got a timely boost with Pretty Perfect just getting piped by Simple Verse yesterday at Doncaster. Tree Of Knowledge put in a stylish performance winning a Gowran maiden after two previous seconds.

The Matron Stakes

The Irish 1000 Guineas winner Jet Setting renews rivalry with Qemah. In the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot Paul Keatley’s filly went off favourite having beaten Minding at the Curragh but it was Jean-Claude Rouget’s filly who came out on top.  John Gosden sends Persuasive, she’s unbeaten and has improved with every run when stepped up in class. A listed and G3 winner she steps into G1 company for the first time.


Tribal Beat on his way out to win the Ballyroan

Tribal Beat on his way out to win the Desmond Stakes

The Boomerang Stakes

Awtaad the Irish Guineas winner and highest rated in the field has to overcome the disappointment of the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood where he was beaten both times but he’s back on his favoured ground.

Form in the race will revolve around Hit A Bomb, Custom Cut and Tribal Beat who all contested the Desmond Stakes in August. It was the latter on his seasonal reappearance who won the day. Hit A Bomb who also made his seasonal debut tired in the closing stages and will strip fitter for this.

Custom Cut leaves the ring for the Ballyroan

Custom Cut leaves the ring for the Desmond Stakes

Tribal Beat winning the Ballyroan

Tribal Beat winning the Desmond Stakes


The Irish Champion Stakes

Found leaves the ring at Leopardstown

Found leaves the ring at Leopardstown

Minding could have gone the easy route and added another G1 by contesting The Matron. Instead she goes for the big one taking on the colt’s for the first time. She’ll benefit from her sex allowance getting 3 lbs from Harzand, Hawkbill, Almanzor and Moonlight Magic.

Harzand has had a break since the Irish Derby but you know Dermot Weld will have him well tuned for this. It’s interesting to remember when interviewed after the Ballysax in April Pat Smullen thought he’d shape into a Leger horse. It does beg the question will he find the 10f too stiff here in this company?

There’s no doubt on the trip for the French Derby winner Almanzor who also prepped for this winning a G2 at Deauville recently.

Hawkbill so impressive in the Eclipse is on a bit of a retrieval mission having run a stinker at York in the Juddmonte Stakes while Jim Bolger is sweet on Moonlight Magic for a place.

Minding will also benefit from a weight allowance from the older horses. Success Days has to be respected for his win in the Royal Whip and Highland Reel who’s won a Hong Kong Cup and a King George. The fear here for both of them is the trip. You can’t knock Highland Reel last time out in the Juddmonte but was the trip just too sharp at this level?

There’s a lot to like about New Bay who had a quiet prep winning a G3 at Deauville. Last years French Derby winner will again try to win the Arc and that rather than this will be main aim however it’s significant Andre Farbe travels him rather than keeping him at home for one of the trials in Paris.

The Grey Gatsby hasn’t won since beating Australia here two years ago and maybe his best days are behind him. Found on the other hand second here last year to Golden Horn looks to be coming back to her best. She been suffering from a dose of secondiitis but she put in a cracking performance last time out in the Yorkshire Oaks. She might just be too good her stable companion Minding over this trip at this time of year.


Doncaster :        St Leger Idaho 1/1 win

Leopardstown : The Juvenile Stakes Port Douglas, Radio Silence FC

                            The Enterprise Stakes  Stellar Mass 6/1 win

                            The Matron Stakes Jet Setting 7/1 win

                            The Boomerang Stakes Tribal Beat 4/1 win

                            The Irish Champion Stakes Found 10/1 EW






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