Day 1 - Leopardstown
Saturday 9 September, The Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes Day
Racing at The Curragh
The Curragh Racecourse is home to all five Irish Classic races and is the venue for the second day of Irish Champions Festival.
Day two at the Curragh includes four Group 1 races, highlighted by the Comer Group International Irish St Leger, the final Irish Classic of the season, and the Flying Five Stakes, together with The Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes and the Moyglare Stud Stakes, two of the best juvenile races of the year which are likely to determine the champion two-year-olds in Europe once again.
The Irish St. Leger is the final classic and final Group 1 of flat season in Ireland and has produced some top class winners for many years. Last year we saw the high class Kyprios complete an unbeaten season for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore as he won his 4th Group 1 of the season beating English raider Hamish into second place.
Aidan O’Brien and Dermot Weld have had a great record in the Irish St. Leger for many years and have won five of the last six renewals between them, the 2021 renewal was the one that escaped on them as Sonnyboyliston gave Johnny Murtagh a first classic as a trainer and a first classic for jockey Ben Coen. Weld and O’Brien’s success in the race includes some household names such as Vintage Crop and Vinnie Roe for Weld and Yeats and Order Of St George for O’Brien.
This Group 1 contest always attracts top-class fillies and has produced high quality winners over the years. Last year we saw an extremely impressive performance by Tahiyra for Dermot Weld and Chris Hayes. In recent years the 2019 winner Love, has gone on to be one of the most prolific winners as she went on to win three Group 1’s as a 3 year old, The English 1000 Guineas, The English Oaks and The Yorkshire Oaks in 2020. In 2021 Discoveries came out on top for the bang in form Jessica Harington and Shane Foley, finishing 5th in that renewal was Homeless Songs who went on to win the Irish 1000 Guineas last year for Dermot Weld and Chris Hayes proving the strength and depth of the Moyglare Stud Stakes.
The Moyglare Stud Stakes was originally a six-furlong contest but it was upped to seven furlongs in 1992 when it was won by the Clive Brittain-trained Sayyedati who subsequently went on to win the English 1,000 Guineas the following spring.
Here we have the last Group 1 of the season In Ireland for 2 year olds which often tends to be a pointer for the following year’s classics. In recent years we have seen some top quality horses win and compete in this race. Last year we saw Al Riffa run out an impressive winner for Joseph O’Brien providing Champion Apprentice Dylan Browne McMonagle with his first Group 1 winner. Charlie Appleby has won three of the last five renewals with top quality horses such as Pinatubo and Native Trail.
Every running of the race is full of quality from top to bottom and this was proven in 2020 when Thunder Moon won for Joseph O’Brien with St Mark’s Basilica finishing 3rd. St Mark’s Basilica went on to be Horse Of The Year in 2021 winning four Group 1’s including The Champion Stakes here on Champions Weekend. The 7th and 8th in the 2020 National Stakes, Laws of Indices and Mac Swiney both went on to Group 1 glory in 2021 proving the high class nature of this race.
The Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Flying Five Stakes is a Group 1, fulfilling a long-held ambition to have such a race in Ireland for older horses. The Flying Five sits perfectly within the European calendar between the Nunthorpe Stakes at York and the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp and is just the fourth Group 1 sprint over five furlongs in Europe. In 2018 the Karl Burke trained Havana Grey became the first winner of the race as a Group 1 as it was a Group 2 prior to 2018.
Since changing to Group 1 status it has been three winners for England and two winners for Ireland in the race. The four winners of the Group 1 since Havana Grey have been Fairyland for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore (2019), Glass Slippers for Kevin Ryan and Tom Eaves (2020), Romantic Proposal for Eddie Lynam and Chris Hayes (2021) and Highfield Princess for John Quinn and Jason Hart (2022).