Launch of Longines Irish Champions Weekend
The Longines Irish Champions Weekend was officially launched in the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel, Dublin yesterday evening, Tuesday August 25th.
Swiss watchmaking company, Longines, has become the title partner of the event, which is in its second year.
The weekend features the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes and the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St. Leger back-to-back on September 12th and 13th at Leopardstown and the Curragh respectively. Guests of honour for the launch were Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Minister for Defence, Mr Simon Coveney TD and Mr Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice-President and Head of International Marketing at Longines.
The event was attended by many well-known faces from the racing industry including the trainers Aidan O’Brien, Jim Bolger, Willie Mullins, Michael Halford, John Oxx, Tom Hogan, Jessica Harrington and jockeys Chris Hayes and Wayne Lordan.
Total prize-money for the two-day Longines Irish Champions Weekend meeting has risen to over €4 million. The race programme includes five Group 1 races, three Group 2 races, two Group 3 races and four premier handicaps, each worth €150,000, making them the four most valuable Flat handicaps in Ireland.
The combined programme represents the greatest concentration of quality Flat racing ever staged in Ireland.
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland: “Last year’s event surpassed all of our expectations. We had two great days of racing with an equal spread of winners between British and Irish trainers. We await the return of some of those champions along with many of the most exciting horses we’ve seen this season. Each year, the internationalisation of Flat racing becomes more evident, and Longines Irish Champions Weekend is very much at the heart of this trend.”
Juan-Carlos Capelli, Longines Vice-President and Head of International Marketing: “It is a great honour for Longines to become this year the Title Partner of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend, showcasing Ireland’s two premier racecourses, namely the Curragh and Leopardstown racecourses. Providing our long-lasting timekeeping expertise for this two-day meeting illustrates our continued commitment to equestrian sports, which are part of our rich history since 1878.”
Pat Keogh, Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse: “On the back of a hugely successful summer season, the team are Leopardstown are looking forward to Longines Irish Champions Weekend. The line-up for the €1.1m QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes will be second to none and we are looking to build on the success of last year’s event with record crowds. It’s great that the Irish public will have the opportunity to see some of the top names battle it out at Leopardstown and the Curragh.”
Paul Hensey, General Manager of the Curragh Racecourse: “There is huge momentum and great anticipation building for Longines Irish Champions Weekend following last year’s phenomenal success. We couldn’t be happier with the quality of entries for our races and with all the star performers expected to be here, it will be a fantastic event to showcase horse racing in Ireland. We have had a fantastic reaction to the Thoroughbred Trail which takes place before racing on Sunday, giving racegoers a behind-the-scenes look into the yards of some of the world’s most famous trainers, who have made the Curragh their home.”
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