Tag Archives: Leopardstown

Irish Champions Weekend (G1)

It could be an exceptional day for the Niarchos Family.

The owners of both Alpha Centauri and Study Of Man may end the day celebrating having the best three year old filly and best three year old colt in the world, on turf at least.

The Matron Stakes (G1)

Alpha Centauri after her win in the Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh in May

Jessica Harrington’s filly began her sequence of mile win’s with the Irish 1000 Guineas in May followed by the Coronation Stakes in June and Falmouth Stakes in July. She improved with each run and last time out in the Jacques le Marois in August she was mighty impressive when she beat Recoletos who has since franked the form in no uncertain terms by winning the G1 Prix de Moulin at Lonchamp last week.

Happily, Clemmie, Magical and Lightening Quick are the other Irish contenders. It’s hard to see any of them upsetting the favourite as she’s beaten Happily and Clemmie at the Curragh with the latter also suffering defeat at Ascot and Newmarket as well. Happily has got the closest to her and a win or place for any of the Ballydoyle trio will cement Aidan O’Brien’s position at the top of PRWC 2018 Trainers Table.

Happily 27th July 2017 at Leopardstown

Magical has yet to take her on and Ryan Moore has opted for her over the other two. He may expect she’ll improve the most as she’s only had the two runs this year winning the Kilboy Estates Stakes last time out. She can be expected to improve again for that.

Johnny Murtagh will hope Lightening Quick can repeat the feat of winning as she did this day last year when trained by Ger Lyons for the Ballylinch Stud Maiden, the opening race on the card. This granted is a bit thougher.

Lightening Quick who won the first this day last year

Laurens, a dual G1 winner over 10f in France steps back to a mile, a distance she last ran at when second behind Billesdon Brooke in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket. It’s a bold step having tried a mile and a half in the Yorkshire Oaks where she didn’t stay the trip. Dan’s Dream accompanies her from England having already been a visitor when running second at listed level at Tipperary last time.

Jessica Harrington has done a fabulous job with Alpha Centauri, her pride and joy. She has got her confidence to grow and grow throughout the season and she’s treated us to better and more authoritative performances each time she’s run.

There’s a tiny doubt about her on slow ground, it’s been a showery day in Dublin today, and she was beaten here on her first run of the year on heavy ground. Whatever the ground her class will tell, at least enough to see her out with Happily the one to chase her home.

A win here will see her top PRWC 2018 Horse Table though she’ll probably be sharing top spot with Winx when she win’s the George Main Stakes at Ranwick in the morning.

Recommendation: Alpha Centauri, Happily (Exacta) 

The Irish Champion Stakes (G1)

Study Of Man also looked a proper horse in the making in the spring when winning the Prix Greffulhe as a prep for the Prix du Jockey Club.

At Chantilly he didn’t disappoint winning it snugly.

He was given a summer break and brought back in August for a G2 at Deauville where on the face of it he did disappoint running fourth however in hindsight it looked a decent effort and his jockey Stephane Pasquier who’ll be having his first ride at Leopardstown reports him in top order expecting he’ll come on an awful lot for the run.

John Gosden saddles the favourite, trading slightly odds on, Roaring Loin was impressive at York in the Juddmonte where he easily had the measure of Poets Word. The second had a difficult passage but in truth the loin had roared and was long gone and there was no chance he would have been reeled in.

Ballydoyle send a quartet of G1 winners headed by Saxon Warrior. The Guineas winner has not hit the heights expected after Newmarket and could not get to Roaring Loin last time out at York in the International. There had only been a neck between them at Sandown in the Eclipse but at York Roaring Loin had extended that to 5L. Deauville, Athena, Rhododendron also run with the best of them possibly the latter.

Willie Haggas sends Addeybb over having already plundered G1 riches here this season with Sea Of Class and Urban Fox. This is tricker.

Verbal Dexterity makes up the line up, Jim Bolger’s horse is the forgotten one having won the National Stakes last year he missed the early season through injury but did make a pleasing comeback when fourth in G3 at the Curragh recently. If he can show that kind of form again he could well be a force to be reckoned with.

A cracking days racing to open Champions Weekend. Alpha Centauri will likely be crowned Queen of Ireland in the Matron while in a fascinating Champion Stakes Roaring Loin and Study Of Man will both lay claims to being the best middle distance colt of this generation. Preference is for Study Of Man who could yet become King Of France if he adds this on route to the Arc.

Recommendation: Study Of Man 10/1 win and Verbal Dexterity 20/1 ew


The Desmond Stakes (G3)

Custom Cut leaves the ring for last year’s Desmond Stakes

The evenings are drawing in and the last of the summer cider will be drunk tonight at Leopardstown.

The feature is an interesting renewal of the Desmond Stakes.

David O’Meara sends Custom Cut back for another crack at a track where he has been very successful. This will be his ninth visit to the course where he’s won three times, twice at G3 level including on his last visit when he took the Amesthyst Stakes over this distance here in May and once at G2 level when he won the Boomerang Stakes again over a mile in 2015.

He’s accompanied on the trip from England by Morando who’s looking for a fifth win from his seventh start. Roger Varian’s four old didn’t get a run as a juvenile but as a three-year old he managed three successive wins. He returned to the racecourse to win a listed race over a mile at Windsor on the 1st July.

True Valour at Naas earlier in the season

The home team is headed by three in the shape of True Valour, Sea Wolf and Alexios Komnenos who fought out the Celebration Stakes at the Curragh also on the 1st July. A 1/2 L and a neck separated them. Of the three the one with the most capacity to improve is the latter as Fossy Stacks runner was only having his third run of his life. Last year he won a maiden beating Inca Gold first time out and then only went down a battling neck to Churchill in the Tyros Stakes.

Diamond Fields at Naas in May

The other Stack runner Diamond Fields also processes some nice form having taken the scalp of Alice Springs in the Gladness Stakes at Naas at the start of the season. She then found the going too quick on her return to the same track over the May bank holiday weekend when running last to Rehana in the Athashi Stakes. We haven’t seen her since.

Flight Risk, Music Box and Intricately make up the field. The former is trained by Jim Bolger who after a cold spell had a double at Gowran Park yesterday. Flight Risk is hard to win with but like Custom Cut her last visit to the track was a winning one when she took the Ballycourus Stakes over 7 f here in June.

You might say Music Box is well exposed at this stage as this will be her 12th start of the current campaign however like many of Aidan’s she keeps improving from race to race. Her last three run’s are testament to her toughness. She found Drumfad Bay too good at Killarney and Only Mine too good at Naas but last time out she turned over the form with Drumfad Bay when taking a listed race at Galway.

Intricately won the Moyglare Stakes last year, the premier two-year old fillies race in Ireland. She hasn’t won since but she has been to all the best dances. She’s the only one in the field to have operated almost exclusively at G1 level. She might have been well beaten at the Breeders Cup last year at Santa Anita and again in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket but her run in the Leopardstown Guineas Trial at the start of the season was very good as was her run in the Irish 1000 Guineas where she was only 5 L off Winter. She’s since disputed the Pretty Polly and Irish Oaks where her stamina might have been stretched too far and the step back to a mile here will most likely suit.

This is an open and intriguing event.

There are proven older performers, the likes of Custom Cut, Sea Wolf and Flight Risk, the lightly raced four year old Morando. Then are are the three-year olds in receipt of a weight for age allowance with the fillies benefitting 3 lbs more than the males.

If the younger generation are to come out on top then you could argue both Music Box and Intricately have already had their opportunities. That leaves the three-year old males, True Valour and Alexios Komnenos. Of the two a chance is taken with the latter. He might be the least experienced but on the back of a 1/2 L defeat by Churchill and a very encouraging seasonal debut he offers the most potential.

Recommendation: Alexios Komnenos 13/2 win






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





Irish Champion Stakes (G1)

Embed from Getty Images

Picture courtesy of Getty Images and Koji Hirano

Don’t be surprised if the description of Leopardstown ground this morning, good to firm, turns to soft or even heavy by tomorrow morning. The rain in Dublin began to fall around mid afternoon on Friday. By tea time it was enough to turn the ground yielding at Leopardstown. If it continues as predicted by race time we might have had 50mm fall on the track.

Ballydoyle have been consistent in not running Gleneagles on bad ground and although push has come to shove its most likely he’ll be withdrawn. The participation of Golden Horn is also very questionable as his trainer John Gosden has said he’d let him take his chance on a surface no worse than good to soft but if the heavens opened he would walk the course before making a final committment.

If John’s gives the thumbs up after his stroll then Golden Horn will go off an even shorter favourite. His aura of invincibility was blown away at York when going down to Arabian Queen and surely it was the give in the ground that was his downfall. The Derby and Eclipse winner gave his all but that exceptional turn of foot we’d seen at Epsom and Sandown was blunted by the rain-sodden surface.

Dermot Weld’s Free Eagle could well handle it however that is still an unknown. He ran well to be third in the Champion Stakes last year on heavy ground and although it was a very good effort he couldn’t run down Nobel Mission or Al Kazeem.

If Gleneagles come out Coolmore are reliant on Found and Highland Reel. The predicament here is both of them are also fast ground horses.

Found missed the 1000 Guineas because of the ground and was sent to the Curragh to race in lesser company on heavy ground the next day (Aidan was desperate to get a run into her). She was beaten 2L by Iveagh Gardens (not seen since but due to contest the Matron Stakes later on) and then ran second to Pleascach in the Irish 1000 Guineas. She followed up with another second to Ervedya in the Coronation Stakes and a couple of weeks ago beat Answered impressively on a horrible day at the Curragh. It rained as much that day however the rain came late and didn’t get into the ground as it will here.

Highland Reel prospects of handling the surface must be as questionable as Gleneagles. We’ve seen the best of him in his last two runs. At Goodwood in the Gordan Stakes he relished the quick surface and was even happier when rattling home in the Secretariat on Arlington Million day on a rock hard track in Chicago.

Pleascach likewise restored her credentials in the Yorkshire Oaks. Her win in the 1000 Guineas was followed by a defeat by Curvy in the Ribblesdale and a below par run in the Pretty Poly a week later. At York she put that right when getting the better of Covert Love on a good to soft surface.

Last years winner The Grey Gatsby is capable of doing it again. Circumstances have not fallen his way this year however he refuses to throw in a bad run. Third at York in the International, second in the Eclipse and very unlucky not to collar Free Eagle in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes he could once again grind it out as he did last year against Australia.

The forgotten horse is the seven time G1 winner Cirrus Des Aigles. Tough as teak he added the last to his collection when he beat Al Kazeem 2L in the Prix Ganay on very soft ground in early May. He’s run once since when coming last of four in the Prix D’Ispahan (beaten 5 1/2L by Solow) on good ground in late May. He’s a horse who comes into his own in Autumn.

With no sign of an ease in the rain there really can only be one trainer enjoying wine with dinner tonight thinking I’m glad I came. If Corine Barande-Barbe has her star right, and she will, then Cirrus Des Aigles can add an Irish Champion Stakes to accompany the English one he already has. Granted he has to overcome age to make it G1 number eight but his toughness, durability and most importantly his love of the ground give him a shout here way beyond his current price. Don’t expect it to last if the top two defect.

Recommendation: Cirrus Des Aigles 11/1 win