Review of Longines Irish Champions Weekend Trials at The Curragh

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Updated: August 22, 2017
Irish Champions Weekend

Last weekend The Curragh hosted Longines Irish Champions Weekend Trials with winners of the trial races qualifying for free entry into Group One races during the upcoming Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and The Curragh.

 

The Group 3 Qatar Airways Royal Whip Stakes, Ireland’s oldest continuously run horse race, has quite a roll of honour which includes Alleged (1977, 1978), High Chaparral (2003), Fame and Glory (2010) and Found (2015), to name but a few.

This year, the Aga Khan’s Shamreen was an impressive winner for the Dermot Weld-Pat Smullen combination. Whether the 2017 winner of the 1 mile 2 furlong contest is anything of the calibre of past winners named above only time will tell. The filly now earns free entry into the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday September 9th, a race won in impressive fashion last season by the recently-retired French horse Almanzor.

Ascot Gold Cup winner of 2016 and Irish St Leger victor of 2015, Order Of St George, claimed his third consecutive Comer Group International Irish St Leger Trial over 1m 6f. The trial’s role of previous winners includes such luminaries as Melbourne Cup winner Vintage Crop (1995), four-time Irish St Leger victor Vinnie Roe (2001) and the winner of the 2014 Ascot Gold Cup, Leading Light. Order Of St George, the Cartier Champion stayer of 2016 and runner-up to the Willie Mullins-trained Wicklow Brave in last year’s Comer Group International Irish St Leger, should be able to account for the son of Beat Hollow in this year’s renewal considering the Aidan O’Brien five-year-old beat Wicklow Brave by seven and three-quarter lengths in the trial last Sunday.

 

O’Brien outlined the immediate plans for Galileo’s son:

“Order Of St George is in good form and he did everything right in the Irish St Leger Trial on Saturday. He handled the ease in the ground well and stays very well. In all fairness to Order Of St George, he is a very consistent horse and the plan is for him to come back to The Curragh for the Irish St Leger. He had a break after Royal Ascot so it was nice to get him back going and Ryan (Moore) was very happy with him.”

The Curragh on Day 2 of Longines Irish Champions Weekend, Sunday 10th September, will host the rematch between he and Wicklow Brave, but the race is also expected to include the Lloyd Williams-owned Joseph O’Brien-trained Rekindling who had three lengths to spare over Wicklow Brave last weekend, and had a half-length victory over Mullins’ horse the previous time they clashed in the Group 2 Comer Group International Curragh Cup on 2nd July.

The two-year-old Group 2 trial, the Galileo Irish EBF Futurity Stakes, provided clear evidence of the strength of Aidan O’Brien’s team as Rostropovich won the seven furlong contest ahead of his stable companions Coat Of Arms and Berkeley Square. The victory of Rostropovich sees the son of Galileo gain entry to the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at The Curragh on September 10th.

 

When discussing the winner and second placed horse trainer Aidan O’Brien said:

 

“We were delighted with both Rostropovich and Coat Of Arms in the Futurity Stakes at The Curragh. Rostropovich probably wasn’t mad about the ground but he stayed going well. Looking at him in his races I’d think he will stay further than seven furlongs but on nicer ground a race like the National Stakes would be possible. On better ground he might travel better so it is possible he will be in our thoughts for the National Stakes.”

Another Ballydoyle inmate, Magical, arguably the less fancied of Aidan O’Brien’s runners, won the Group 2 Breast Cancer Research Debutante Stakes and in the process received free entry into the Moyglare Stud Stakes on Day 1 of Longines Irish Champions Weekend. The daughter of Galileo beat Happily, the choice of Ryan Moore and the daughter of Deep Impact and Peeping Fawn, September, who had started as 11/10 favourite.

Aidan O’Brien confirmed that all three of his runners from the Debutante Stakes will clash again, ground permitting, in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at The Curragh, where they may be joined by Royal Ascot’s Albany Stakes victor Clemmie:

 

“She handled the ground well and she’s a nice filly. We ran three in the Debutante Stakes all with the view of coming back here for the Moyglare Stud Stakes. Ryan thought that Happily would quicken better on better ground and Séamus (Heffernan) felt the same for September but it was her first run back since Royal Ascot and she’ll come on for that. If the ground is not too soft they will all come back for the Moyglare with Clemmie. We’ve been happy with Clemmie since Newmarket.”

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