Magical Launch for Longines Champions’ Weekend

Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien’s historic Ballydoyle yard was yesterday morning the scene for the launch of the Longines Champions’ Weekend.

The two-day festival takes place at Leopardstown on September 14, and at the Curragh on Sunday, September 15.

Now in its sixth year, the Longines Irish Champions Weekend will feature six Group 1 races and record prize-money.

“Longines Irish Champions Weekend gives us so much to look forward to next month at Leopardstown and the Curragh as the 2019 Flat season turns for home,” said Horse Racing Ireland CEO Brian Kavanagh.

“It is fitting that we launch this hugely important weekend at the home of our finest Flat racing ambassador, Aidan O’Brien, who continues to bring our sport to a wider audience with his phenomenal achievements in Ireland and abroad.”

Champion trainer in Ireland for the first time in 1997, O’Brien has won the national crown every year since 1999 and rewrote the record books with 28 Group/Grade 1 wins in a whirlwind 2017 season which saw him comfortably better Bobby Frankel’s 2003 record of 25. He has been the leading or joint-leading trainer at Longines Irish Champions Weekend ever since its inception in 2014. His best total over the two days is five winners in 2017.

He expects to have multiple Grade One performers at the meeting including Magical, Circus Maximus, Japan, Anthony Van Dyck and Sir Dragonet.

An addition to this year’s event is The Pat Smullen Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland on the second day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh. Legendary jockeys, including AP McCoy, Ruby Walsh, Kieren Fallon, Johnny Murtagh, Richard Hughes, Charlie Swan and Joseph O’Brien, have been assembled by Smullen for the race at the Curragh on day two of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend on Sunday, September 15.

All monies raised for The Pat Smullen Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland and other various fund-raising activities over Longines Irish Champions Weekend will be donated to Cancer Trials Ireland for their work into pancreatic cancer trials and research.

Longines is the principal sponsor of the event for which prize money will top €4 million.

Others backing the weekend include the Comer group, Goffs, Coolmore, Moyglare and Derrinstown Stud.

Image credit: Oisin Keniry, Inpho.ie

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