Day 1 - Leopardstown
Saturday 9 September, The Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes Day
Racing at Leopardstown
Irish Champions Festival kicks off with a prestigious eight-race card at Leopardstown on Saturday September 9th featuring five Group races. The two feature races on the day are the Group 1 Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes and the Coolmore ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes.
The Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes, the second-best race in the Longines World Thoroughbred Rankings in 2020, and the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes, ranked as the world’s best fillies and mares’ race for the past number of years, are the highlights on the opening afternoon at Leopardstown.
This race has become a leading global contest in recent years providing some top quality contests. In 2022 the race was won by Luxembourg for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore. The third placed Vadeni went on to finish runner up in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe in Longchamp showing the quality of the race.
Previous winners of the race include house hold names such as Sadler’s Wells, Dylan Thomas, Sea The Stars, Fantastic Light, So You think and in more recent years the likes of Golden Horn, Almanzor, Roaring Lion, Magical (2019 & 2020) and The 2021 Horse Of The Year, St. Mark's Basilica held firm to narrowly take the win in 2021.
Here we have undoubtedly one of the best races of the season, The Coolmore America 'Justify' Matron Stakes was won in great style by Pearls Galore last year for Paddy Twomey and Billy Lee, who went one place better than in 2021 when finishing runner up to the Jessica Harrington trained No Speak Alexander.
There have been some great winners of the Matron Stakes in pervious years including Hydrangea, Laurens, Iridessa and in 2020 Champers Elysees gave Johnny Murtagh his first Group 1 success as a trainer.
Elsewhere on the card on Day 1 there is plenty of top class racing apart from the Group 1 action. We also have two valuable handicaps, a Listed Race, a Group 3 and two Group 2’s. The Group 2 KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes was won by the extremely exciting Auguste Rodin for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore before going to follow up that success in emphatic fashion in the Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes in Doncaster.
Of the eight races on the card in 2022 there was winners trained by seven different trainers, which goes to show the competition of this flagship weekend of Flat Racing.