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Tuesday , 13 November 2018
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Irish Champions Weekend a dish to relish

Leopardstown hosts the first day of Irish Champions Weekend. What a great card: five Group races. Both Group 1s have strong odds-on favourites and both should win.

In the Matron Stakes, for fillies and mares over a mile, Alpha Centauri stands out. She’s won four Group 1s on her last four starts. On the most recent occasion, in the Prix Jacques le Marois, she beat Recoletos who franked the form when winning last week’s Prix du Moulin. What can beat her?

Aidan O’Brien runs Clemmie, Happily and Magical. Clemmie must be fed up with chasing Alpha Centauri. She’s finished behind her in the Irish Guineas, Coronation and Falmouth Stakes. Happily was placed in both Guineas. Ryan Moore opts for Magical, winner of a Group 2 at the Curragh last time. None of those should trouble the favourite.

Laurens won the Prix St Alary and Prix de Diane but didn’t stay the Yorkshire Oaks trip so now drops down to a mile. Danny Tudhope replaces the injured PJ McDonald. The other two, Lightning Quick and Dan’s Dream, look outclassed.

Irish Champions Weekend’s main event

Roaring Lion has won the Dante, Eclipse and Juddmonte so far this year. Now he bids to add the 1m 2f Irish Champion Stakes. Again, what beats him?

This time, Aidan O’Brien throws four at the race. Deauville has danced every dance yet has won just four of his 23 starts. Rhododendron won the Lockinge but has run lamentably in her three subsequent races. Athena’s last two starts were in America and looks up against it in this company. Moore rides 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior. He didn’t stay the Epsom/Irish Derby trips but came within a neck of beating Roaring Lion in the Eclipse. However, he then finished five lengths behind him in the Juddmonte.

Pascal Bary runs Prix du Jockey Club winner Study of Man who disappointed when only third in a Deauville Group 2 last time. Lincoln winner Addeybb won a weak Group 2 at Sandown and that looks about his level. Jim Bolger’s Verbal Dexterity has loads to find.

It seems rather too obvious but Alpha Centauri and Roaring Lion can get Irish Champions Weekend off to a flying start.

About Chris Pitt

Chris Pitt is a racing historian and freelance journalist. He has written three books including 'A Long Time Gone', chronicling Britain's lost racecourses, and 'Go Down to the Beaten', stories of jockeys who didn't win the Grand National. He founded the Midlands Racing Club and was formerly racing correspondent for BBC Radio WM.

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