Irish Champions Weekend concludes at The Curragh on Sunday with two Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races headlining the card. The winner of the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes (G1) will receive an automatic starting position into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), and the winner of the Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1) earns a free spot into the $ 1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into corresponding races of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which is scheduled to be held at Del Mar in Del Mar, California, on Nov. 5-6.
Last year the Bearstone Stud-owned Glass Slippers (GB) earned an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) with a victory in the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes (G1), before following up with success in the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland.
This year, the Kevin Ryan-trained mare, a five-year-old daughter of Dream Ahead, faces 12 rivals in the five-furlong contest. Tom Eaves, who has ridden the mare in 17 of her 18 starts, will again be in the saddle.
Glass Slippers Runs Third in King George Qatar Stakes
Heading the opposition is the King Power Racing owned three-year-old filly Winter Power (IRE), who earned an automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) with a victory in the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) at York last month.
Trained in Yorkshire, England, by Tim Easterby, the daughter of Bungle Inthejungle (GB) has won six of her last eight starts and will be ridden by former British champion jockey Silvestre De Sousa.
The Archie Watson-trained Dragon Symbol (GB), was first past the post in the Commonwealth Cup (G1), but was placed second behind the Wesley Ward-trained Campanelle (IRE) following a Stewards’ Enquiry, and is another strong contender from Britain.
The three-year-old was third behind Winter Power in the Nunthorpe Stakes last time out and jockey Oisin Murphy believes the undulating track will suit. Murphy said: “He’s been knocking on the door in Group 1 company all season and we’re trying to find the key; so hopefully the stiff nature of The Curragh’s 5 furlongs will help. Hopefully it will bring him and Winter Power closer together. He’s in very good shape.”
The Irish-trained contenders include the Jack Davison-trained Mooneista (IRE) who defeated Gustavus Weston (IRE) and Romantic Proposal (IRE) in the Paddy Power Sapphire Stakes (G2) over course and distance in July.
Homeless Songs out to Preserve Unbeaten Record in Moyglare Stud Stakes
Impressive Leopardstown maiden winner Homeless Songs (IRE) faces seven juvenile fillies as she bids to make it two wins from two starts in the Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1).
Owned by the race sponsors Moyglare Stud Farms and trained by Dermot Weld ? who enjoyed a breakthrough Breeders’ Cup success with Tarnawa (IRE) at Keeneland last year ? the daughter of Frankel (GB) defeated subsequent stakes winner Agartha (IRE) by two lengths on debut.
Since finishing second behind Homeless Songs in July, the Joseph O’Brien-trained Agartha (IRE) has gone on to win the Frank Conroy Silver Flash Stakes (G3) at Leopardstown and the Alpha Centauri Debutante Stakes (G2) over course and distance last month. The second, third, and seventh placed horses that day ? Sunset Shiraz (IRE), Discoveries (IRE), and Concert Hall (IRE) ? all take her on again here.
Ireland’s champion trainer Aidan O’Brien has won the 7-furlong contest a record nine times and fields two this year with Prettiest (USA), a daughter of Dubawi (IRE) and the mount of Ryan Moore, and Concert Hall, who will be ridden by Seamie Heffernan.
The eight-runner field is completed by the Ger Lyons trained Caidre Go Deo (FR) and big-priced outsider Missing Matron (IRE), trained by Jim Bolger.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for the winners of the Challenge Series winners to start at this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be run at Del Mar. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a travel allowance of US$40,000 for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships. The Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program by the Championships’ pre-entry deadline of Oct. 25 to receive the rewards.