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Niall Cronin: This will be a weekend to savour at home


Aidan O'Brien

Aidan O'Brien

Aidan O'Brien

An All-Ireland final is one of the hardest sporting events to get tickets for and is probably the most sought after stage for young people growing up in Ireland. It’s where you want to be.

Yet, last Sunday, as hard as it was to either get a ticket, or earn the right to play in the final, there was a sort of damp squib feeling to the end of proceedings.

Kilkenny had won – again – and a combination of the Galway fans not being able to watch and the Kilkenny crowd having seen it all before, the winners of one of Ireland’s biggest sporting events celebrated in front of only a few thousand by the time they walked up the steps of the Hogan Stand.

The point to this? Well, racing can often get that sort of Kilkenny dominance criticism. People give out that Flat racing is dominated by a small few superpowers and that it’s simply not as enjoyable.

Well last year, in the five Group One races on Irish Champions Weekend, Aidan O’Brien had three favourites and two second favourites but only came away with one of the five Group Ones.

Indeed, across both Leopardstown and the Curragh he had just three winners. This is competitive stuff.

With the likes of Gleneagles, Found, Ballydoyle, Air Force Blue and Kingfisher, to name just a few, he has a good chance of being prominent in the betting for all five again, but unlike taxes and Kilkenny winning the hurling, it’s not a given that Aidan O’Brien will clean up on Irish racing’s biggest weekend.

So many big names are set to embark  on Leopardstown and the Curragh for incredible prize money and the Irish Champions Stakes is a race that you simply shouldn’t miss.

It’s just €40 for a weekend ticket including the must-see Curragh Thoroughbred Trail, and if you are a student you go free.

Irish racing can be sometimes dominated by a few, but this weekend if you are dominant you deserve every bit of it because you’ve taken on the best and beaten them and like Kilkenny there can be no complaints.