As we build up to the Irish Champions Festival on Saturday and Sunday, September 9th and 10th, the Association of Irish
Racecourses (AIR) is dedicating its column to that extravaganza this weekend.
One of the world’s leading racing festivals will take place at two of Ireland’s premier racecourses, Leopardstown and the Curragh, and the excitement is certainly building.
Irish Champions Festival is a showcase of the Irish flat season. It’s a sporting and social event like no other, combining history, glamour, excitement and prestige to provide a sporting spectacle.
Now in its ninth year, this special event features prize money in excess of €5 million, making sure that the very best horses line up over the weekend. The year’s renewal again boasts a strong programme, including six Group 1 races, one of them being the final classic of the Irish flat season.
While the Group 1 Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes and the Group 1 Coolmore America ‘Justify’ MatronStakes lead the way at Leopardstown, the Group 1 Comer Group International Irish St Leger, the Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Flying Five Stakes and two of the best juvenile races of the year, the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes and the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes feature at the Curragh.
Irish Champions Festival weekend will attract many of the world’s best racehorses, owners, trainers, and jockeys again this year, and is a premium festival not to be missed.
Day one at Leopardstown Racecourse hosts a prestigious eight-race card, featuring five group races. They include 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. Both races are likely to attract international competition, so they will no doubt be incredibly competitive and exciting to watch.
Enjoy unmissable entertainment throughout the day, and the party continues after racing, with live music from the Maniac 2000 hit-maker Mark Mc Cabe, while Bazza Band and DJ Lance West will also join in the celebrations. Warm up your vocal chords for a singalong around the parade ring, with some old-time favourite tunes after racing too! The racecourse is ideally located in Dublin and easily accessible, with excellent transport links. Gates will open about two hours before the first race.
Day two of Irish Champions Festival moves to the historic venue of the Curragh. In addition to top-class racing, Sunday at the Co Kildare racecourse also sees the return of the much-loved, behind the scenes tours, Thoroughbred Trails, and these take place during the morning.
They feature an opportunity to visit Sea The Stars at Gilltown Stud, with his trainer John Oxx, and a fascinating tour of the Curragh Training Grounds with the legend that is Ted Walsh.
A Parade of Champions, in association with Treo Eile and sponsored by Moyglare Stud, will be held during racing, giving race fans the opportunity to meet some equine superstars. These will include Sizing John, Tiger Roll, Douvan, Faugheen, Exultant, Snow Falcon, Max Dynamite, Supasundae, and 2012 Irish St Leger winner Royal Diamond.
In addition, there will be plenty of other attractions for style followers, courtesy of Weirs, Ireland’s premier destination for luxury watches, jewellery and gifts, with lots to enjoy for families. Among the free activities for younger racegoers is the Moyglare Kids Zone.
AIR wishes the teams at Leopardstown and the Curragh racecourses the very best of luck next weekend. For more information and to purchase tickets visit irishchampionsweekend.ie.