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Irish Champion Stakes - 13th September, 2014

Australia was a sublime winner of the Juddmonte International Stakes last time out when demolishing a classy field in the York spectacle and the dual Derby winner could look to enhance his already lofty reputation on Saturday when heads to Leopardstown to compete in the Irish Champion Stakes.

Imperious when landing the Investec Derby at Epsom earlier in the season, Aidan O'Brien's star colt then followed up with a facile win in the Irish Derby, before outclassing his older rivals on the Knavesmire and O'Brien has said that if all things go to plan then he will line up in this Group 1 contest.

He could well look to use this contest as a stepping stone to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at the end of the season and he has already been installed for this prize as a red-hot favourite and with the likelihood of scaring off a host of rivals he will be sent off at prohibitve odds on a day that will also see the Ladbrokes St Leger take place.

Kevin Ryan's The Grey Gatsby was a fine winner of the French Derby earlier in the season and was a gallant runner-up to the aforementioned Australia when the pair met in the Juddmonte and he will have another shot at his Irish adversary this weekend.

A host of class acts could take their chance in one of the Flat highlights of September and former Irish Derby winner Trading Leather will look to recapture the winning thread, whilst the O'Brien team will also saddle Kingfisher, who could adopt front-running tactics for his stablemate.

William Haggas's Mukhadram showed his class when landing the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park, but hasfailed to build on that since and will be aiming to return to winning ways here, whilst Al Kazeem continues to be on the comeback and will be another top notch star lining up.

Latest Betting for 2014 Irish Champion Stakes

1/3 Australia

6/1 The Grey Gatsby

11/1 Mukhadram

12/1 Al Kazeem

14/1 Trading Leather

66/1 Alkasser

66/1 Kingfisher

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Irish Champion Stakes History

The Irish Champion Stakes is a Group One race run over one mile, two furlongs at Leopardstown for horses aged three years or older.

Established in 1976, the Irish Champion Stakes has become one of the biggest Group Ones of the season and is part of the Breeders Cup Challenge.  Historically, this event has attracted a star-studded field and it is usually a chance for the Classic era to take on their older rivals.

A plethora of Classic winners have made the trip to the Emerald Isle and have bagged glory in the Irish Champion Stakes.  High Chaparral won the Epsom Derby in 2002 and then conquered his rivals in the Irish Champion the same year and more recently some stars of the turf have replicated that feat.

New Approach stormed to victory in the 2008 Champion Stakes after winning at Epsom, whilst the incomparable Sea The Stars did exactly the same in 2009.

Aidan O'Brien has a terrific training record in this race notching up six wins since the turn of the century.  Giant's Causeway bagged his first success in 2000 and since then he has trained Dylan Thomas to double glory in 2006 and 2007 and also Cape Blanco in 2010.

However, jockey Mick Kinane eclipses O'Brien's record in the Champion Stakes as  has he rode a magnificent seven winners of the Group One contest, with his first coming with Carroll House in 1989 and his last aboard Sea The Stars.

Recent Winners of Irish Champion Stakes

  • 2000 - Giant's Causeway
  • 2001 - Fantastic Light
  • 2002 - Grandera
  • 2003 - High Chaparral
  • 2004 - Azamour
  • 2005 - Oratorio
  • 2006 - Dylan Thomas
  • 2007 - Dylan Thomas
  • 2008 - New Approach
  • 2009 - Sea The Stars
  • 2010 - Cape Blanco
  • 2011 - So You Think
  • 2012 - Snow Fairy
  • 2013 - The Fugue
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