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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Countdown to a weekend of champions

Published 07/09/2016 | 02:30

Jim Bolger with his QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes contender, Moonlight Magic. Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Jim Bolger with his QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes contender, Moonlight Magic. Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Moonlight Magic, Turret Rocks and Glamorous Approach were among a host of stars of the turf on parade at Jim Bolger's Glebe House outside Carlow last week in the run up to the Longines Irish Champions Weekend which takes place at Leopardstown and the Curragh this coming Saturday and Sunday.

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Established in 2014, the festival has established itself as one of the leading flat racing events in the world, with prize-money in excess of €4.5m and 10 Group races (Five Group 1 races) being run across the two legendary Irish racecourses.

Enthusiasts were thrilled to get a sneak preview of Mr Bolger's entries for some of the feature races, with Moonlight Magic among a star- studded line-up for the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown which may also include the Ballydoyle fillies Minding and Found, as well as the 2014 winner The Grey Gatsby from the UK.

Aidan O'Brien is hoping he can add to his current tally of seven wins in the €1.25m race. These include Dylan Thomas in 2007 and So You Think in 2011.

Mr O'Brien's Order Of St George and Bondi Beach head the entries for the €400,000 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger at the Curragh on Sunday, while the same stable is responsible for two of the three additions to the €350,000 Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes.

He has entered his impressive Jockey Club Of Turkey Silver Flash Stakes winner Promise To Be True and Rhododendron which was a recent winner of a maiden race at Goodwood.

An intriguing renewal of the Group 2 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five on Sunday has attracted an entry of 33 horses, including the first four home last year - Sole Power, Maarek, Take Cover and Toscanini. There is a strong overseas challenge for the €200,000 Group 2 Moyglare "Jewels" Blandford Stakes which has attracted a total entry of 47 horses, an increase of 10 on last year.

There are 16 entries from Britain headed by John Gosden's So Mi Dar who remains unbeaten after three starts. From France, Jean-Claude Rouget has entered both War Flag and Zghorta Dance.

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Irish trainers are also well represented with Darley Irish Oaks winner Seventh Heaven, Even Song and Alice Springs among Aidan O'Brien's entry, while Pleascach could represent Jim Bolger.

Thanks to an initiative by Goldolphin, students are being offered free admission to racing on both days. The Curragh Thoroughbred Trail takes place before racing on Sunday and there are still some places left for yard visits. Register on www.irishchampionsweekend.ie

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