Japanese Target Champion Stakes
Seven Japanese entries feature among a strong overseas challenge of 32 horses for the €1.1 million QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes on the opening day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown on Saturday, September 12th, 2015.
In total, 60 entries have been received for the ten furlong event. The Japanese entries are headed by Japan Cup winner Epiphaneia, the second highest rated horse in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings at the end of last year and Japan Derby winner One And Only. The three-time Group 1 winner Criterion could become the first horse trained in Australia to run in Ireland.
The seven-time Group 1 winner Cirrus Des Aigles and Karakontie, winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita in November stand out among an entry of six from France while Guiliani could represent Germany.
The British challenge numbers 17 at this stage. John Gosden has entered his Epsom Derby favourite Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs while Andrew Balding’s Elm Park, another leading fancy for Epsom, and last year’s QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes winner The Grey Gatsby are also in the race. Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes winner Night Of Thunder is another leading British challenger as are Group 1 winners Just The Judge and Kingston Hill.
Gleneagles, winner of the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh last Saturday, heads a typically strong Aidan O’Brien challenge. O’Brien has enjoyed seven previous victories and is the winning-most trainer in the 40 year history of the race. He has also entered the Group 1 winning fillies Found and Together Forever.
Dermot Weld has put his Epsom Derby contender Zawraq in the race along with the exciting Free Eagle who landed the Group 3 KPMG Enterprise Stakes at Leopardstown on the inaugural Irish Champions Weekend last year.
Other notable Irish entries include David Wachman’s QIPCO 1,000 Guineas winner Legatissimo, Jim Bolger’s Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Pleascach, Ken Condon’s Epsom Derby hope Success Days and the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas runner-up Endless Drama, trained by Ger Lyons.
Pat Keogh, Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse, said, “We are all looking forward to the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes which is the feature race on the first day of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend. Last year five Group 1 winners took part in a thrilling contest when The Grey Gatsby just prevailed. We are delighted to see so many top quality horses entered this year and it is particularly pleasing to see the international spread of entries including horses from Japan and Australia. The race is currently rated in the top ten in the world and this looks like being another vintage renewal of this famous race.”
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