The cream of the flat racing crop assembles at The Curragh and Leopardstown over the course of the weekend for Longines Irish Champions Weekend.
As Aidan O’Brien said: “ It’s an unbelievable two days’ racing, we’re very lucky to have it, and we want to run as many as we can.”
O' Brien will run plenty judging by the five-day declarations. The Ballydoyle trainer is represented in all of the pattern races over Longines Irish Champions Weekend. There are six group ones and Aidan has entered 33 horses across those half dozen contests.
The QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes is the feature on day one at Leopardstown. It sees an international intergenerational clash. Deirdre will become the first Japanese runner in Irish soil arriving on the back of an impressive win at Goodwood.
Jockey Oisin Murphy told the assembled press this week when Deirdre worked “I’ll be disappointed if she doesn’t run very well because they couldn’t have done a better job with her.
"I’m pleased Leopardstown have stepped in and made it possible for people in Japan to see the race. Obviously, I’d have preferred if the race didn’t clash with the Leger but that’s a debate for another time. There’ll be a lot of people in Japan watching this race.”
Kevin Prendergast sends Madhmoon who will look to get his season back on track. The son of Cape Cross warmed up nicely when dropped in trip and class in the Desmond Stakes last month. Madhmoon missed out on Classic glory but is back on familiar territory having won at the meeting last year.
Madhmoon's conqueror in the Derby Anthony van Dyck will reoppose. While Guineas winner Magna Grecia could also line up.
Judging by the betting markets, Magical could be Aidan O'Brien's best hope of winning this for the first time since So You Think in 2011. He has never won the race since it has been part of Longines Irish Champions Weekend.
The Champion Trainer said “Magna Grecia could run in the Champion Stakes. His plan after the Irish Guineas had been the Juddmonte International at York, which he didn’t run in, the Irish Champion Stakes and then back to the mile later in the season at Ascot.
“We’ve been very happy with Magical since she ran at York. We'll know closer to the weekend, but plenty could run at Leopardstown.”
Elarqam has also been supplemented for the race. Mark Johnston's son of a pair of Classic winners was an eyecatching third behind Japan at York.
Assistant trainer Charlie Johnston told the Racing Post "the way he finished his race left us slightly frustrated as he was short of room at a time when things really mattered. He'd certainly have finished half a length closer with a clear run.
"He certainly proved he's up to Group 1 level and the Irish Champion Stakes is the obvious next step."
Connections have forked out the €75,000 supplementary fee to take that next step.
Roger Charlton is clearly a fan of the Irish Champion Stakes having won it in the past with Decorated Knight. He sends the highly progressive Headman to the Foxrock venue on Saturday and is generally second in the betting markets.
Headman is a son of rising stallion star Kingman and is looking to make the successful step into group one company for the first time of asking.
The star-studded field line up at the slightly earlier time of quarter past four it promises to be a race fit for its title.
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