The annual Longines Irish Champions Weekend, which takes place on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September 2017, is the first leg of a European Triple Crown of championship meetings leading into the QATAR Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe meeting at Longchamp in early October and QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot two weeks later.
The unique racing event sees two of Ireland’s premier racecourses, Leopardstown and The Curragh, join forces to stage the highest concentration of quality Flat racing in Ireland. The event features 10 Group races, including five Group 1’s, with two iconic feature races – the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes and the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger. The increased prize-fund for the weekend totals €4.5 million, to be won across 16 races.
Ronan O’Gara, Sport Ambassador for Longines Irish Champions Weekend, commented: “Sport at this level is particularly exhilarating so it is a pleasure for me to be the Sport Ambassador this year for Longines Irish Champions Weekend. Everyone knows that I love the sport of racing so to travel home to Ireland with Jessica for the weekend will be very special.”
Commenting on his plans for Longines Irish Champions Weekend, Champion Irish Flat Trainer, Aidan O’Brien, said: “We have obviously some nice horses for the races and hopefully we’re going to be well-represented over the course of the two days. We have a lot of different combinations so we’re lucky and obviously it’s a weekend to look forward to. It’s two great tracks and great racing – it’s a massive weekend for everybody.”
Leading Curragh trainer, Dermot Weld spoke about how Longines Irish Champions Weekend adds to the internationalisation of Irish racing. “It’s an excellent concept. You get the best horses of the world racing there and some wonderful Group races and it’s at the right time of year. The internationalisation of the sport is not only good for racing, it’s good for Ireland, it’s good for Ireland Limited, it’s good for tourism, it brings a lot of investment into our country and it’s helping to create more jobs in our country. They are the important things,” he said.
Racing legend, Michael Kinane, spoke about the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes, a race he won seven times, including on the all-conquering Sea The Stars in 2009. “It’s one of the major Group 1’s of the calendar. It’s situated in a beautiful position leading up to the Arc and Breeders’ Cup and it’s at an ideal distance for everyone. It has been, through the years, a fantastic race and it looks to continue this year with the entries that have been made for it.”
Pat Keogh, Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse, said: “Longines Irish Champions Weekend has become everything we hoped it would. The feature race, the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes, is the fourth highest-rated race in the world and is supported by a wonderful festival of top quality international racing. We are set for a terrific weekend and we are delighted to play host to the best horses once again.”
Derek McGrath, Chief Executive of the Curragh Racecourse, commented: “This is my first year being involved with Longines Irish Champions Weekend and I am taken with how the Irish racing industry has come together to support a truly remarkable event. The level of interest being shown by so many overseas trainers is certainly reflected in the strength of entries for the five Group 1s and their supporting races.”
Photo courtesy of The Curragh: ALANDI and Mick Kinane after they won The Irish Field St Leger for trainer John Oxx; photo credit HEALY RACING.
Longines Prize for Elegance
The coveted Longines Prize for Elegance competition will once again run across the weekend of September 10th and 11th, and will be open to all styles and racegoers. Fashion enthusiasts will have the chance to showcase their style credentials in the hope of winning some of the €25,000 in prizes on offer, including the overall Longines Prize for Elegance.
The prizes, including shopping experiences from Louise Kennedy, Louis Copeland and Kildare Village as well as a luxury stay at Dublin’s best address, The Merrion hotel, will be awarded to the most elegant female and male racegoer at Leopardstown and the Curragh. Title sponsor, Longines, will also gift the winners each day with an elegant timepiece from their latest collection. To pre-register simply log on to www.irishchampionsweekend.ie.
Godolphin Student Initiative
Longines Irish Champions Weekend, in partnership with Godolphin, offers free entry for students to both Leopardstown and The Curragh Racecourses on the 10th and 11th of September.
All Students who register will gain free admission to the weekend. In addition, 100 students will be invited on a private tour of Kildangan Stud on Saturday and Sunday ahead of racing. The exclusive tour includes speeches by Godolphin management, a stallion parade, stud tour and visit to the Kildangan museum.
100 students each day will also receive hospitality at Leopardstown Racecourse or the Curragh Racecourse on the day of their tour.
All students who take part in the tour will be in with a chance of winning a trip of a lifetime to Dubai including three nights’ accommodation. The winners will be chosen through submission of an essay on their experiences of their tour of Kildangan and Longines Irish Champions Weekend. The two lucky winners’ itinerary will include cultural and racing experiences, along with a visit to the ‘At the Top, Burj Khalifa’, as well as a tour of one of Godolphin’s private training facilities in Dubai.
Students can register on www.irishchampionsweekend.ie before Friday 27th August to be part of this exciting, exclusive initiative (2016 graduates are eligible).
For more information please log on to www.irishchampionsweekend.ie