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Thrilling Final Fields Set For Irish Champions Weekend Opener

Australia heads a field of seven declared runners for the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday, the opening day of Irish Champions Weekend.

Aidan O’Brien’s dual Derby winner is joined by stable companion Kingfisher in the one million euro event. Jim Bolger runs last year’s third, Trading Leather and the Dermot Weld-trained Alkasser makes up the home challenge.

Australia wins the Judddmonte International

Overseas runners have won the last two renewals of the showpiece and there are three British-trained runners in the 10-furlong contest. Supplementary entry, The Grey Gatsby, is reunited with Ryan Moore as he renews rivalry with Australia, having finished second to the Ballydoyle star in the Juddmonte International at York last month. The William Haggas-trained Eclipse Stakes winner Mukhadram and last year’s runner-up Al Kazeem, trained by Roger Charlton, complete a strong British raiding party.

Ten horses have been declared for the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes and Aidan O’Brien once again holds a strong hand. He runs his Yorkshire Oaks winner Tapestry in the Group 1 event and she faces a formidable foreign challenge.

Last year’s beaten favourite Kenhope carries the hopes of France while Clive Brittain runs the winner of last year’s Moyglare Stakes and this season’s Coronation Stakes, Rizeena, the intended mount of Ryan Moore.

The Dermot Weld-trained Free Eagle catches the eye as he returns to action after an absence of a year in the Group 3 KPMG Enterprise Stakes, while last weekend’s Haydock Sprint runner-up, Gordon Lord Byron takes on Darwin, Royal Ascot winner Mustajeeb and the Mark Johnston-trained Goodwood Celebration Mile winner Bow Creek in the Group 2 Clipper Boomerang Mile.

There are seven runners in the Group 3 John Deere Juvenile Turf Stakes, which sees a British challenger in the shape of Faithful Creek, but Brian Meehan’s recent Deauville runner-up looks up against it with John F Kennedy, Tombelaine and the unbeaten Bertie Le Belge all declared.

Pat Keogh, Leopardstown’s CEO, said: “I’m delighted with the entries. I would like to say a very sincere thank you to all the owners and trainers who have supported the Irish Champions Weekend so well.”