Magical Leads Saturday's QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown for Automatic Berth into Longines Breeders' Cup Turf
“WIN AND YOU’RE IN” BERTHS ALSO ON THE LINE IN FASTNET ROCK MATRON STAKES AND KPMG CHAMPIONS JUVENILE
LEOPARDSTOWN, IRELAND (Sept. 12, 2019) - Three Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races captivate Saturday’s outstanding program at Leopardstown, with the $1.441 million QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (G1), led by Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s 4-year-old filly Magical (IRE), as the main attraction. The winner of the 1 ¼-mile Irish Champion will gain an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf through the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge.
The Breeders' Cup Challenge is an international series of 86 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will be held at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California on Nov. 1-2.
Saturday’s action highlights the first of five Breeders’ Cup Challenge races to be held in Ireland this weekend. “Win and You’re In” berths also will be awarded at Leopardstown to the winner of the Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes (G1) -- which features multiple Group 1 stakes-winning mare and defending champion Laurens (FR) – providing that runner with an automatic starting position into the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and to the winner of the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (G2), who will earn a free spot into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
On Sunday at The Curragh, two Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Challenge races will be conducted: the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five, for a free berth into the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and the Moyglare Stud Stakes, which gives the winner an automatic spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Magical, a bay filly by Galileo (IRE), trained by Aidan O’Brien, is favored at 15-8 over seven rivals on Saturday. O’Brien, who has won the Irish Champion Stakes seven times, will have the good fortune of not having Magical face the super mare Enable (GB) this time. Enable has defeated his filly three times in her last seven starts, dating back to November’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs. This year, Magical lost the Coral-Eclipse (G1) at Sandown by three-quarters of length to Enable on July 6, and gave chase again to her rival in the Aug. 22 “Win and You’re In” Darley Yorkshire Oaks (G1), but fell short by 2 ¾ lengths.
Ridden by Ryan Moore, Magical opened 2019 with three consecutive wins in Ireland, including the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh on May 26. She suffered her first defeat of the season when finishing second to Crystal Ocean (GB) in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot on June 19.
Magical’s main threat could come from Hamdan Al Maktoum’s 4-year-old Elarqam (GB), who has come to hand this year with three wins in five starts for trainer Mark Johnston. A bay son of Frankel (GB) out of the Efisio (GB) mare Attraction (GB), Elarqam has captured two of his last three races, taking the listed 1 ¼-mile Gala Stakes at Sandown on July 5 and then scoring a 3 ¼-length win in the 1 3/8-mile Sky Bet York Stakes (G2) on July 27. He ran a very good third, beaten just 1 ½ lengths, behind Japan (IRE) in the Juddmonte International at York on Aug. 21. Elarqam will be ridden by Jim Crowley.
Prince Khalid Abdullah’s 3-year-old Headman (GB), 4 of 6, will be facing older horses for the first time on Saturday, but comes into the Irish Champion off three straight wins, the last two being Group 2 events. Ridden by Jason Watson for trainer Roger Charlton, who saddled Decorated Knight (GB) to victory here in 2017, Headman was a three-length winner of the 1 ¼ mile Prix Eugene Adam at Saint-Cloud on June 30 and next captured the 1 ¼-mile Logis Saint-German on Aug. 15 over very soft ground at Deauville by a head over Roman Candle (GB) as the 3-5 favorite.
Sheikh Hamdan has a second runner on Saturday in the Kevin Prendergast-trained 3-year-old Madmoun (IRE), who finished second in the Investec Derby (G1), and has won all three of his starts at Leopardstown. A bay son of Dawn Approach (IRE), Madmoun won his first two starts over the course in 2018, breaking his maiden at one mile by 2 ½ lengths, and then capturing the Group 2 KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes at one mile. This year, he was fourth in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmaket and then was a beaten just a half-length to Anthony Van Dyck (IRE) in the Derby. After a fourth-place finish as the 5-2 second choice in the Irish Derby (G1) at The Curragh, Madmoun rebounded on Aug.15 to win the Group 3 Desmond Stakes at one mile as the 4-7 favorite. Chris Hayes has the mount aboard Madmoun.
Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck (8-1), trained by O’Brien and ridden by Wayne Lordan, is looking to return to the winner’s circle after two defeats. The bay son of Galileo was beaten six lengths by stablemate Sovereign (IRE) in the Irish Derby and was a non-factor in the “Win and You’re In” King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) on July 27, finishing 10th of 11 runners.
In addition to the O’Brien trained Magic Wand (IRE), Toji Morita’s 5-year-old mare Deirdre (JPN) is the third filly in the race. Trained by Mitsuru Hashida and ridden by Oisin Murphy, Deirdre won the Group 1 Qatar Nassua Stakes at 20-1 in her last start against fillies and mares at Goodwood on Aug. 1.
O’Brien’s fourth runner is the longshot 4-year-old Hunting Horn (IRE), winless in eight starts this year, who will be ridden by Emmet McNamara.
Laurens Tough to beat in Fastnet Rock Matron
John Dance’s Laurens, the 13-8 favorite in the one-mile $403,500 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron, has won 8 of 15 starts, with five of those being Group 1 races. A bay 4-year-old daughter of Siyouni (FR), Laurens defeated odds-on favorite Alpha Centauri (IRE) in last year’s Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes. In her last two starts, Laurens, trained Karl Burke, won the Prix Rothschild (G1) at Deauville at one mile on July 28 and then was beaten by a nose against males in the Sky Bet City of York Stakes (G2) at seven furlongs on Aug. 24.
Two leading candidates to topple Laurens are the Aidan O’Brien-trained fillies Hermosa (IRE), a 3-year-old, who won the Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) at The Curragh in May and was second in the Coronation Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot, and the 4-year-old I Can Fly (GB), who was fourth in the 1 ¼-mile Darley Prix Jean Romanet (G1) at Deauville on Aug. 18.
The “Win and You’re In” $173,000 KPMG Champions Juvenile (GII) at one mile will award the first automatic starting berth into this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Aidan O’Brien has entered three of the seven starters in the race, led by odds-on choice Mogul (IRE). A 2-year-old son of Galileo out of the Danehill mare Shastye (IRE), Mogul broke his maiden in this second start, taking the one-mile Irish EFB Stallions at the Curragh on Aug. 30.
About Breeders’ Cup
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships. The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 championship races (13 Grade 1 events and one Grade 2 race) with purses and awards totaling more than $30 million, will be held on November 1-2 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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