An absolutely massive weekend of racing is set to take place in England, Ireland, and France, with prep races for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, British Champions Day, and the Breeders’ Cup abounding from all three jurisdictions. There are nine Group 1 races and a Group 2 that all bear watching.
12 runners were declared for the £350,000 Pertemps St Leger (G1), which is the final leg of the British Triple Crown. Neither of the winners of the first two legs are here, but the race is still intensely competitive with Pyledriver, who was a Group 2 winner at both Royal Ascot and York, taking on Irish Derby (G1) winner Santiago, who will be partnered by Frankie Dettori for Aidan O’Brien. On a three-race win streak is Hukum, a son of Sea the Stars, while there is a lot of chatter about the Joseph O’Brien trained Galileo Chrome, who is three for four and will be a price.
The first day of Irish Champions weekend takes place Saturday at Leopardstown with a pair of Group 1 races with Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In on the line. The rich Irish Champion Stakes (G1) features Ghaiyyath, who is widely considered the best horse in the world right now. The Charlie Appleby runner will face defending champion Magical, a six-time Group 1 winner. The Matron Stakes (G1) features the brilliant Deep Impact filly Fancy Blue, who has won two Group 1 races in a row, again Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Peaceful.
The second day of Irish Champions weekend is run at the Curragh, where there are four Group 1 events, two with Breeders’ Cup berths. The big race on the program is the Irish St. Leger (G1) over 1 ¾ miles, where defending champion Search for a Song will try to make it a repeat. The card also includes the Group 1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes for juvenile colts, the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes for juvenile fillies, and the Group 1 Flying Five Stakes for turf sprinters, which is a Breeders’ Cup challenge event.
The Grand Prix de Paris (G1) will feature the return of upset Epsom Derby (G1) hero Serpentine. Idle since that shocking win, the O’Brien trainee has been pointing for this, where he could face his well-regarded stablemate Mogul. English King, fifth in the Epsom Derby, rounds out the top contenders. The Prix Vermeille (G1) for fillies and mares over 1 ½ miles will have Irish Oaks (G1) winner Even So again globe-trotting multi-millionaire Magic Wand.
Perhaps the most important race on the program is the Group 2 Prix Foy, which produced last year’s Arc winner Waldgiest. The 1 ½ mile race has been won by runners such as Orfevre, Montjeu, and Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) star Shirocco. This year the race will feature the world’s best marathon type, Stradivarius. The John Gosden-trained son of Sea the Stars has won 16 of his 23 starts and 12 of his last 14. He is scheduled to face 2019 Derby (G1) winner Anthony Van Dyck.
For added flavor, the German Group 1 Grosser Preis Von Badden will have Barney Roy in it. That game gelding was a Group 1 winner in Germany and Dubai earlier this year. Last year Ghaiyyath launched his march towards greatness in this race.