The Roger Varian-trained Fujaira Prince and Joseph O'Brien’s Twilight Payment head a field of eight for the Comer Group International Irish St Leger on day two of Longines Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh on Sunday.
Successful at Royal Ascot and again in the Ebor at York, Fujaira Prince heads the early betting with Twilight Payment which has enjoyed Curragh wins in the Group 3 Comer Group Vintage Crop Stakes and the Group 2 Comer Group International Curragh Cup since joining Joseph O'Brien who rode Order Of St George to win the race in 2015, his final Irish Classic and Irish Group 1 victory as a jockey.
Search For A Song was a brilliant winner last year and she will be bidding to give trainer Dermot Weld a record-equalling ninth win in the race and match Vintage Crop, which won back-to-back renewals for Weld in 1993 and 1994. His Vinnie Roe won the race for four consecutive years from 2001 to 2004 while Voleuse De Coeurs triumphed in 2013.
Aidan O'Brien runs last year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby winner Sovereign and Passion while Willie Mullins, who won the race with Wicklow Brave in 2016, has Micro Manage, Jessica Harrington runs Barbados and race sponsor Luke Comer is represented by Raa Atoll, a Group 2 winner at Hoppegarten in Germany last year.
Fourteen ready to challenge Hogan’s hero in Flying Five
No stranger to success at the Curragh, Make A Challenge tops the 15 runners for the Group 1 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes. Denis Hogan’s charge has won five races at the Curragh and, along with the Paddy Twomey-trained Sonailya, bids to keep a strong British challenge at bay.
The raiding party is headed by the Kevin Ryan-trained Glass Slippers, winner of last season’s Prix de l´Abbaye at Longchamp, Simon & Ed Crisford’s A’Ali which beat Make A Challenge to win the Group 2 Holden Plant Rentals Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh in July and the Michael Dods-trained Que Amoro, runner-up in the recent Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes.
O’Brien brothers set for Moyglare showdown
While they shared success in the Moyglare Stud Stakes with Intricately in 2016, a first Group 1 winner as a trainer for Joseph and a first Group 1 winner as a jockey for Donnacha, the O’Brien brothers are very much in opposite corners for the latest renewal.
Pretty Gorgeous, trained by Joseph, and Donnacha’s Shale were first and second in the Group 2 A.R.M Debutante Stakes over this course and distance last month and they clash again in a field of 13 runners that includes Ken Condon’s Teresa Mendoza and Thunder Beauty, Jim Bolger’s Aunty Bridy, the Aidan O'Brien-trained Mother Earth and A Ma Chere, trained by Dermot Weld and running in the colours of the race sponsor.
Appleby runner ready for the battle
A Group 2 winner and unbeaten in two starts, Master Of The Seas is out to give trainer Charlie Appleby his third consecutive victory in the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes. Royal Ascot winner Battleground, trained by Aidan O'Brien might well provide the greatest opposition and from an Irish point of view, he’s ably backed-up by Lucky Vega, the three and a half-length winner of the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh for Jessica Harrington.
Also in the mix is Jim Bolger’s Group 2 Galileo Irish EBF Futurity Stakes winner Mac Swiney. The John Murphy-trained Charterhouse and Joseph O'Brien’s Thunder Moon, both supplemented for the race on Tuesday, feature among the final field of 11.
Pepper adds spice to Blandford Stakes
Second in two of the Curragh’s summer highlights, the Group 1 Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes and Juddmonte Irish Oaks, Cayenne Pepper will be a leading fancy for the Group 2 Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes. However, there is no shortage of opposition to Jessica Harrington’s filly with the Ger Lyons-trained Lemista seeking to stretch her unbeaten run to five following her win in the Group 2 Kilboy Estate Stakes at the Curragh in July.
Aidan O'Brien is well represented with Magic Wand and Elfin Queen while Joseph O'Brien runs his recent Curragh Group 3 Snow Fairy Stakes winner Thundering Nights and Bolleville. Dermot Weld has won five of the last six renewals of the race and he runs both Zawara and Amma Grace and Roger Varian goes with his York winner, Gold Wand. The final field of 11 is completed by Celestial Object and One Voice, two more for Jessica Harrington.
Biggest fields reserved for Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes and Irish EBF handicaps
Twenty runners have been confirmed for the Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes with the Tracey Collins-trained Livingston Range and Michael Mulvany’s The Blue Panther among those in against a British raiding party that includes Star Of Orion, Night On Earth and Bowman.
There are five British-trained runners among the 22 in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Bold Lad’ Sprint with Treacherous, Curragh winner Mr Lupton and Highland Dress in the team taking on a home defence that includes Romantic Proposal and Big Gossey, winners at Irish racing’s headquarters already this season.
Matthew Smith won the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Northfields’ Handicap with One Cool Poet a year ago and Flaming Moon gives him a fine chance of a follow-up victory. The Johnny Murtagh-trained Sonnyboyliston and Joe Murphy’s Insignia Of Rank are also among the 22 runners for the final race of Longines Irish Champions Weekend 2020.
Pat Keogh, CEO of the Curragh Racecourse, said: “Day two of Longines Irish Champions Weekend is one of the best day’s racing every year. We are delighted with the quality of this morning’s declarations and it is great to see so many English horses here to take on the local stars. With four Group 1 races including the final Classic of the year, the Comer Group International Irish St Leger, this is as good as it gets.”
CLICK HERE FOR THE DECLARED RUNNERS FOR THE CURRAGH ON SUNDAY