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2019 Irish Champions Weekend tips – Five horses to follow at Leopardstown and the Curragh

Pinatubo (left) storms to victory in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.

We’ve taken a look through the entries for the major races over Irish Champions Weekend and highlighted five horses to back when the betting markets open.


Like the Dublin Racing Festival over jumps, Irish Champions Weekend has fast become one of the most important weekends of the season for flat racers. Over the two days, six fantastic Group One prizes will be handed out across two of Ireland’s premier venues, with the Irish version of the St Leger closing proceedings on the Sunday.

The betting markets are yet to open for any of the races during Irish Champions Weekend, but that hasn’t stopped our expert from looking through the Group One entries to highlight five horses to back when the betting finally opens.

2019 Irish Champions Weekend Horses To Follow

14/9/19 5:35pm Leopardstown Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes (Group 1) (Fillies & Mares) 1m


Hermosa’s horrific display at Glorious Goodwood has thrown all of her future participation into serious doubt. Veracious showed she had improved significantly by winning the Falmouth, but I’d be disappointed if there wasn’t a filly or two better than her in this field.

I Can Fly has been progressing nicely as the season has gone on and could be a huge danger. Yet, I’m struggling to see past my beloved LAURENS, who bounced back to top form when winning the Prix Rothschild. Karl Burke’s stable star produced a career-best effort to lower Alpha Centauri’s colours in this race 12 months ago and, if there’s a bit of juice in the ground, she will be very difficult to pass one again.

14/9/19 6:35pm Leopardstown QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1) 1m2f


Regular readers of mine will know how highly I rate MADHMOON. Ever since he cruised to victory on debut, I’ve fancied Kevin Prendergast’s charge would go right to the very top. I tipped him in the Guineas, the Derby - where he came up just short - and I’m going in on him once again in the Irish Champion Stakes.

Madhmoon has won three of his four outings here at Leopardstown, that defeat coming on his reappearance on soft ground, over an unsatisfyingly short seven-furlong trip. Chris Hayes mount did just enough to win on his recent prep-run for the race over a mile and I think this race has been the plan for him throughout the entire season. I’ll be backing Madhmoon, whatever the price.

15/9/19 2:25pm Curragh Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes (Group 1) 5f


If Ten Sovereigns wins the Nunthorpe at York, then I see no reason why he won’t claim victory in the Flying Five - a race Aidan O’Brien has already identified as a target. That being said, he will inevitably offer little in the way of value and the fast-improving SOFFIA could be the best alternative.

Even Edward Lynam would confess himself surprised with the way this four-year-old filly has progressed this term. Three victories on the bounce culminated in a demolition job in the Sapphire Stakes, for which she was awarded a staggering RPR of 120. Soffia is four-from-four here at the Curragh and has the potential to give Ten Sovereigns a right headache.

15/9/19 3:00pm Curragh Moyglare Stud Stakes (Group 1) (Fillies) 7f


Unlike the colts division, there hasn’t really been any stand-out fillies in this year’s crop of juveniles. Albinga will likely head the betting, following that impressive victory in the Airlie Stud Stakes. I, however, would prefer to take the favourite on with LOVE - a filly Aidan O’Brien seems to be rather smitten with.

Love got off the mark at the third time of asking at Leopardstown, defeating Soul Searching by a neck. O’Brien’s filly then proved her budding class by winning the Silver Flash Stakes without breaking a sweat. A full sibling to two Group Three winners in Peach Tree and Flattering, I’d be surprised if Love didn’t progress beyond the level her sister’s reached. She’ll be a big player at the Curragh.

15/9/19 3:35pm Curragh Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes (Group 1) 7f


Home fans will pin their colours to Siskin, who secured a Group One victory in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes last time out. Aidan O’Brien will have a couple of dangerous arrows to fire too, but the chances of any of them beating PINATUBO – undoubtedly the outstanding juvenile of 2019 – look slim at best.

Charlie Appleby’s charge followed a composed victory at Epsom with a superb triumph over favourite, Lope Y Fernandez in the Jersey Stakes. Pinatubo then rubberstamped his star quality at Glorious Goodwood, dismantling a good-quality field to win the Vintage Stakes by a mile. Appleby brought Quorto to the Curragh to win the National Stakes in 2018. Pinatubo will be the hot-favourite to follow in his stablemate’s footsteps.

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2019 Irish Champions Weekend tips – Five horses to follow at Leopardstown and the Curragh

We’ve taken a look through the entries for the major races over Irish Champions Weekend and highlighted five horses to back when the betting markets open from Saturday 14th September

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