€1.25million is up for grabs this Saturday in just two minutes of horse-racing

The Longines Irish Champions Weekend takes place in The Curragh and Leopardstown

BY Newstalk 14:10 Thursday 8 September 2016, 14:10 8 Sep 2016

Frankie Dettori celebrates winning onboard Golden Horn at the 2015 QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Saturday and Sunday will see the eyes of the sporting world focus on Leopardstown and The Curragh for two days of brilliant horse racing.

The Longines Irish Champions Weekend has seen both racecourses join forces to rival British Champion Day in Ascot and the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe in Paris in both racing and fashion as an event that is growing in terms of global exposure.

Over the course of the two days there are ten different Group races, including five Group One race, with two iconic feature races – the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (Saturday) and the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St. Leger (Sunday). With an increased prize-fund of €4.5 million to be won across 16 races on both days, it makes the Longines Irish Champions Weekend one of the richest weekends on the racing calendar.

Saturday's racing takes place at Leopardstown with the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes taking centre stage at 6.45pm. The winner is guaranteed to win €725,000 in a race that's valued at €1.25million.

Last year's champion Golden Horn is not competing, but the 2014 champion The Grey Gatsby, with Declan McDonogh on board, will be looking to reclaim the title. No horse has ever managed to win the title twice, with only Dylan Thomas winning on two occasions; back-to-back in 2006 and 2007.

The race will last just over two minutes, but as last year's race proved, it is two of the most exciting minutes in Irish sport. Frankie Dettori won his sixth QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes last year, coming 17 years after his first win, on board Swain. The Godolphin horse remains the only six-year-old to win the race.

Saturday's star attraction will see Harzand and Minding battle it out over the mile and two furlongs. Harzand was victorious in the Epson Derby the Irish Derby at The Curragh this summer. The Dermot Weld-trained horse is unbeaten in 2016 with four wins from four.

Minding has won four of her five races in 2016, including the Espon Oaks and the 1,000 Gunieas. Ryan Moore is looking for his second win in the race after his win in 2014.

While the action on the track will be enticing to those in attendance, the Longines Irish Champions Weekend organisers have made sure there is plenty to do away from the track.

On both days, there will be a Five-Star Wild Atlantic Way Jaguar Driving Experience. All fans have to do is register and be at the tracks on either day at 5.30pm to be in with a chance to take to the famous route in a Jaguar F-PACE.

There are tickets still available to both days, and you can save money by buying your tickets in advance. Tickets to either Leopardstown or The Curragh are just just €20 (€25 on the day at the gates). They can be bought at www.irishchampionsweekend.ie

Fans can also follow all the action from behind the scenes for the first time ever from the Longines Irish Champions Weekend on Snapchat.


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