Stars gather to launch the Irish Champions Weekend
There wasn't a horse in sight as the stars of the Irish flat racing industry gathered at O'Reilly Hall in UCD last night to officially launch the annual Longines Irish Champions Weekend.
The event was packed with the great and the good of the Irish flat racing scene, from Joe Keeling, the chairman of Horse Racing Ireland to Aidan and Annemarie O'Brien and family.
Jim and Jackie Bolger, Mark and Zoe Weld, Johnny and Orla Murtagh, Noel and Derville Meade, Willie and Jackie Mullins, Jessica and Kate Harrington and jockey Chris Hayes also attended.
The unique racing event sees two of Ireland's premier racecourses - Leopardstown and The Curragh join forces to stage consecutive days of racing on Saturday September 10 and Sunday September 11.
The event 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 the QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot two weeks later.
There is an increased prize-fund for the weekend, totalling €4.5 million, to be won across 16 races. The event features 10 Group races, including five Group 1s, with two iconic feature races - the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes and the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger.
Jessica and Ronan O'Gara, were invited to be this year's Longines Irish Champions Weekend Style and Sport Ambassadors and attended last night's launch party. The couple are home on holidays from Paris with their children.
INM is official media partner of the event, which features two exciting days of fashion prizes.
The Longines 'Prize for Elegance' is open on the Saturday and Sunday with a prize fund of over €25,000 to be won across the weekend.
The 'Prize for Elegance' combines shopping experiences from Ireland's leading fashion houses including Louise Kennedy, Kildare Village, Louis Copeland and a five-star Penthouse Suite stay at the Merrion Hotel. Longines will also gift the male and female winners each day with elegant timepieces from its latest collection.