It’s a great weekend of sport and Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and The Curragh is the highlight of the flat season in Ireland and it’s an initiative that has gone from strength to strength.
Flat racing in Ireland needed a focus and a highlight and that is what this weekend is all about. The timing is perfect and I’d say it is the envy of a lot of countries. The standard of racing is fantastic and the prize money is top class. We have Group 1’s from five furlongs to a mile and six – there is something for everyone.
As has been the case over the past couple of years, we are also looking forward to taking part in Sunday morning’s Curragh Thoroughbred Trail. This is a very popular event. It is a great opportunity for the public to see behind the scenes of our top yards – it is another great dimension to the weekend.
Zarzyni heads to the Goffs Sale before racing at Leopardstown tomorrow. He is a very sound, smart horse. He won his maiden well at Gowran and has been stakes placed on his two starts since. He has a rating of 102 and is still improving. There is more to come from him.
We are well represented at both tracks and here are my thoughts on our weekend runners.
3.05 Sinawann (Ronan Whelan)
He is in great form. He has stepped forward well since he won his maiden at The Curragh and while he steps up to Group 2 company, we feel that he is entitled to take his chance and we are looking forward to a good run from him. Mogul sets the standard and it looks a very competitive contest. There was an ease in the ground when he won his maiden, but he is a very good mover and once the ground is safe, I think he’ll be fine on it. He has won his maiden over a mile, so we know that he stays well. He is a horse that we’ve always liked and I think he’ll run a big race.
4.50 Surrounding (Ronan Whelan)
She has been an absolute star for us this season. I have never trained a filly to have improved as much as the age of six and she has thrived all summer. She was forced the miss the Fairy Bridge the last day as she was found to be in season. If we could get her placed here, it would be terrific. She has a good draw and the ground will be fine for her. She always seems to win with a little bit in hand, so there might be a little bit more to come from her. She has terrific form over seven furlongs, but she has solid form over a mile too and she comes into the race in great form. As I said, if she could get placed in a Group 2, that would be terrific.
3.35 Roman Turbo (Ronan Whelan)
We are looking forward to running him. It looks a hell of a good race with Pinatubo and Armory and you’d have thought that it looks a match between them based on what they have achieved so far this season. I have been delighted with our horse this season. He travelled very strongly the last day in the Futurity Stakes and I think if he settles better on Sunday, I think he’ll come home better. If he finished in the first four, we’d be delighted.
4.50 Katiymann (Paul Carberry)
We are thrilled to be taking part in this race. Pat Smullen had a very big connection with our yard and he rode plenty of winners for us and when the opportunity arose to support this race, I jumped at the opportunity. He is a great man and everyone in racing is getting behind this race. I think it’s vital that people turn up and support this event as much as possible and it’s a wonderful charity. Pat gave everything to racing and it’s great to see that support is being reciprocated and this race has reached out to so many people outside of racing, which is a testament to him and the riders who are taking part. Its best line up of jockeys that we’ll ever see on a racecourse – it’s just a shame that Pat can’t take part – but it promises to be a great occasion and I’m honoured to have a runner in the race. Paul Carberry has ridden plenty of winners for us down the years and we are looking forward to running our horse in a race that really captured the attention of a lot of people.
6.00 Massif Central (Ronan Whelan)
I think a stiff mile and a quarter will suit him and the ground should be fine for him. I am putting cheek pieces on him for the first time and while he has a big weight on his back, I think he is up to it and I think he’ll run a big race. His work has been good and he is dropping back to handicap company on Sunday. It looks a very competitive race, but I’ve been very happy with him and hopefully he’ll run a big race for his owner Paul Rooney, who has been a great supporter of the yard.
6.00 Sky Seven (Shane Foley)
I was very happy with him at Killarney the last day and I think he’ll be well suited by the mile and a quarter at The Curragh. Being a three year old, he gets all the allowances and I’ve been delighted with how he has been going at home. He has plenty of experience and the ground should be fine for him. It will be a big ask for him, but he’s entitled to take his chance and I am looking forward to running him.