Strong International Entries in QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes

Updated: July 12, 2017

Dual Guineas winner Churchill, who flopped at Royal Ascot on Tuesday, and multiple Group One winning filly Minding head the list of entries for the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in September, but the home team faces a potentially tough international challenge with last year’s winner Almanzor, St. James’s Palace Stakes winner Ribchester and Japan’s Horse of the Year, Kitasan Black, among the initial entry.

The race is the feature on day one of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend on September 9th, with the day two highlight at The Curragh – the Comer Group International St Leger on September 10th – already anticipating a rematch between last year’s first and second, Wicklow Brave and Order Of St George.

Champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien’s star three-year-olds, Churchill, Winter and Rhododendron are among his 20 entries, a list that includes seven-time Group 1 winner Minding and Cliffs Of Moher. Dermot Weld is strongly represented with The Grey Gatsby, who won the race for trainer Kevin Ryan in 2014, and recent Grade 1 Man o’War Stakes winner Zhukova, among his entries. In all, there are 33 Irish-trained entries.

Almanzor became the first French-trained winner at Longines Irish Champions Weekend last September, winning a renewal of the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes so high-class it was named last season’s highest-rated race in Europe and joint-highest rated Turf race in the world.

Almanzor confirmed himself as the World Champion three-year-old on Turf when following up in the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot in October for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget and the four-year-old heads a French entry of five that includes Newmarket Guineas third Al Wukair, Mekhtaal, winner of the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan at Chantilly, French 2,000 Guineas winner Brametot, and Recoletos.

Kitasan Black gained an automatic place in the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes with his success in the Grade 1 Osaka Hai at Hanshin, Japan, at the beginning of April and has since gone on to win the Grade 1 Tenno Sho for a second time at Kyoto.

A total of 28 British entries have been made for the QIPCO Irish Champions Weekend feature race. Richard Fahy’s Ribchester, winner of the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot this week is entered while John Gosden has both Cracksman and former Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby victor Jack Hobbs in the race, with Saeed bin Suroor having six entries, including Best Solution.

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