Sunday 19 April 2015

Great tracks, great races . . . and a great deal of money at stake for Champions Weekend

Published 12/08/2014 | 02:30

Left to right, Grace and Tom with their dad Johnny Murtagh at the inaugural Irish Champions Weekend at Dublin's Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. Photo: Sasko Lazarov
Left to right, Grace and Tom with their dad Johnny Murtagh at the inaugural Irish Champions Weekend at Dublin's Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. Photo: Sasko Lazarov

Former footballer Michael Owen, actress Victoria Smurfit and the members of the royal family of Qatar are just some of the high-profile guests down to attend the inaugural Irish Champions Weekend (ICW) this September.

The two-day festival has been dubbed "the country's richest racing weekend" with an overall prize fund of €3.7m including a €1m race.

The ICW is a unique racing event as it takes place at two different race tracks over the course of two days.

On Saturday, September 13, race-goers will gather at Leopardstown before moving to the Curragh on Sunday, September 14.

Jockeys, trainers and race enthusiasts including Jim and Jackie Bolger, Johnny Murtagh, Ger Lyons and Jessica Harrington crowded into Patrick Guilbaud's restaurant last night to toast the launch of the ICW.

"This weekend is all about bringing together the greats: two great race tracks," Johnny Murtagh told the Irish Independent.

"Two great races: the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes and the Palmerstown House Estate St Leger. And then there are the great horses, the great style and the great deal of money at stake."

Aidan O'Brien's dual Derby winner Australia, Michael Owen's Brown Panther and Estimate owned by Queen Elizabeth will all compete over the course of the festival. Goffs Champions Sale will take place prior to the first race on Saturday with a total of 20 horses in training going to auction.

"I think it's extremely exciting to have a new event in the racing calender," trainer Jessica Harrington said.

"It's ambitious but life is all about taking risks. I have so many memories from both tracks - bringing them together is a real treat."

Irish Independent

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