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Horse Racing Ireland: Irish Champions Weekend Details Announced

Horse Racing Ireland: Irish Champions Weekend

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has announced the full race programme for the 2014 Irish Champions Weekend, which places two iconic racing fixtures, the Irish Champion Stakes and the Irish St. Leger, back-to-back on September 13th and 14th at Leopardstown and the Curragh respectively.

The Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday and the Irish St. Leger at the Curragh on Sunday will be the feature races in a combined programme which will represent the greatest concentration of quality flat racing ever staged in Ireland. The race programme includes five Group 1 races, two Group 2 races, three Group 3 races and four premier handicaps each worth €150,000, making them the four most valuable flat handicaps in Ireland.

Total prize-money for the two-day Irish Champions Weekend meeting will amount to €3.73 million, an increase of more than €1.4 million on the respective race values in 2013, with the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown being raised in value from €750,000 to €1 million. The higher prize fund will be achieved through a significant rise in race sponsorship, together with an increased contribution from owners and HRI.

Brian Kavanagh, HRI Chief Executive said: “Irish Champions Weekend will, in effect, become the first leg of a European triple crown of end-of-season festivals, to be followed by the Arc meeting in France and British Champions Weekend. This will be a showcase for flat racing in Ireland, creating a high profile event to attract the best horses in the world and to demonstrate the value and importance of the Irish flat breeding and racing industry. We believe that it will quickly establish itself as a major racing attraction at home and become part of the calendar for international flat racing fans.’’

Pat Keogh, Manager of Leopardstown racecourse, said: “The record of the Irish Champion Stakes as one of the world’s top flat races gives us the perfect starting point for this exciting new concept for Irish racing. We also host the Group 1 Matron Stakes and the newly promoted Group 2 Solonoway. With more than €2 million in prize-money on offer, Leopardstown looks forward to welcoming the cream of international racing to the first of two wonderful days of competition. ’’

Paul Hensey, General Manager of the Curragh Racecourse, said: “This is a unique opportunity to create a new sporting weekend of international significance. We will celebrate the 100th running of the Irish St Leger this year and plan to develop the race’s historical links with the Melbourne Cup. In addition we have the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes and Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, which has been won by six of the last nine European Champion 2 year olds.”

In summary, Brian Kavanagh said: “Flat racing worldwide is moving more and more towards high quality international meetings and it is appropriate that with Irish Champions Weekend, Ireland will now have a meeting which can bear comparison with all other major international racedays.”

Irish Champions Weekend will aim to attract flat racing enthusiasts from Ireland, Britain and the wider racing world. The two racecourses and HRI have established a joint marketing team to promote Irish Champions Weekend as one event, working closely with sponsors, partner hotels, Tourism Ireland and the wider racing industry.  Further announcements on the programme for the weekend and sponsorship arrangements will be made in the coming weeks. 

Download the Irish Champions Weekend Race Programme and Prize Money

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