Edited Breeders’ Cup Release— Three exciting Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In races will take place at Leopardstown on Saturday, with the Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes (G1) featured during an exceptional opening day on Irish Champions Weekend.
Amo Racing Limited’s King Of Steel and Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier, and Westerberg’s Auguste Rodin (IRE) will renew their rivalry, leading a nine-horse field in the 1 1/4-mile Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes (G1). The winner will gain an automatic berth into the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, an international series of 80 Graded/Group stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, scheduled to be held Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.
Two other Win and You’re In berths will also be awarded at Leopardstown. The winner of the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes (G1) will earn an automatic starting position into the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), and the winner of the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (G2) will earn a free spot into the $1 million Prevagen Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).
Auguste Rodin, winner of the Betfred Derby (G1) and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (G1), will bid to bounce back to form after he was eased nearing the stretch in the July 29 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes (G1) at Ascot. The son of Deep Impact (JPN) seeks to give Aidan O’Brien a fifth straight win in the race but will have to face again King Of Steel, the 9-4 favorite. King Of Steel finished third at Ascot last time out.
Alflaila (GB) is set for his first shot at Group 1 glory after being supplemented by connections at a cost of €75,000. The Owen Burrows-trained colt made a triumphant return from nine months on the sidelines when powering home to lift the July 29 York Stakes (G2).
Last year’s runner-up Onesto (IRE) will bid to go one better for trainer Fabrice Chappet. The French raider found only Luxembourg (IRE) too strong in a high-class renewal 12 months ago, but will have the assistance of the red-hot Frankie Dettori in the saddle this year. Luxembourg’s most recent racecourse appearance was when he finished fourth behind Hukum (IRE) in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes.
John and Thady Gosden are represented by Nashwa (GB), who was last seen finishing second behind stablemate Mostahdaf (IRE) in the Juddmonte International Stakes (G1). Joseph O’Brien’s Al Riffa (FR) has been the runner-up in both of his starts this year, but was a big-race scorer in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (G1) during Irish Champions Weekend in 2022.
“Nashwa is in great form,” John Gosden said. “It takes a long time to get her into the racing zone but when she’s there she really enjoys it. She’s built very powerfully and she takes her racing well; she’s not a delicate filly. To that extent, we’re game on to go to Ireland. It’s a fabulous race and if we can run here and maybe one more time this year that would be great.”
The field is completed by the Jessica Harrington-trained Sprewell (IRE) and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Point Lonsdale (IRE).
13 Declared for Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes
H H Aga Khan’s Irish 1,000 Guineas (G1) and Coronation Stakes (G1) heroine Tahiyra (IRE) is the star attraction among 13 fillies set to go to post for the 1-mile Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes (G1) for a free berth into the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Trainer Dermot Weld also saddles high-class older filly Homeless Songs (IRE), who is one of two hopefuls for Moyglare Stud Farm along with Paddy Twomey’s Just Beautiful (GB).
Aidan O’Brien has applied blinkers for the first time to Meditate (IRE),attempting to regain the form that saw her win the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). Zarinsk (GB) bids for a third straight win for Ger Lyons and Ralph Beckett’s Prosperous Voyage (IRE), while Tom Clover’s Rogue Millennium (IRE) and Olivia Maralda (IRE), from Roger Varian’s yard, all travel from Britain for the Group 1 contest.
Diego Velazquez Puts Unbeaten Record on the Line
Impressive Curragh scorer Diego Velazquez (IRE), a son of Frankel (GB) who won on debut by 4 3/4 lengths, is a hot favorite for KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (G2) as one of three runners for Aidan O’Brien alongside Capulet and Democracy (IRE). The KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (G2) over 1 mile will award the first automatic starting berth into this year’s Prevagen Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).
Joseph O’Brien runs the supplemented Atlantic Coast and Bad Desire (IRE), while Donnacha O’Brien saddles Bremen (IRE).
As part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for the Challenge Series winners to start at this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a travel allowance 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. 23 to receive the rewards.