Delta Work and Galvin carrying Elliott hopes in Savills Chase

Gordon Elliott will take on A Plus Tard in the Savills Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival with both Delta Work and Galvin.

The two Elliott-trained runners both ran at Down Royal last time out behind Frodon, with Galvin losing little in defeat when seeing his winning sequence of six come to an end by only three-quarters of a length.

Delta Work was five lengths further back in fourth, just behind Gold Cup winner Minella Indo.

While A Plus Tard looks the one to beat among the 23 entries for the December 28 showpiece at this stage, given how impressive he was at Haydock in the Betfair Chase, Elliott will accept the challenge.

Gordon Elliott has plenty of entries at Leopardstown over Christmas
Gordon Elliott has plenty of entries at Leopardstown over Christmas (Brian Lawless/PA)

“I was very happy with Delta Work, we know he always takes a run. He’s in good form and the plan is to go and Galvin will join him,” said Elliott.

“He ran a good race, too. He had race-fitness on his side, but he’ll like Leopardstown and he’ll like the ground.

“Hopefully Jack Kennedy will be back in time to ride Delta Work as he gets on better with him than anyone.

“Galvin is probably stuck between a rock and a hard place, whether he’s Grade One material is the question. He did run well at Down Royal, but this will be a bigger test. He could end up being a horse that could run well in the Grand National in time.”

Al Boum Photo, Allaho, Champ, Envoi Allen, Kemboy and Minella Indo all have an entry.

The Savills Chase was among a host of Grade Ones for which the entries were released on Monday, with Elliott represented in all of them.

Few novice chasers have created quite the impression that Riviere D’etel did in a Grade Two at Punchestown as a four-year-old filly she will be getting plenty of weight in the Racing Post Novice Chase.

“She’ll have entries at Navan and Cork, but I’d say the plan will be to go to the Grade One as she’ll get all the allowances as a four-year-old,” said Elliott.

“She jumps very well so I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t go there. The Arkle is a long way off so we’ll get Christmas out of the way, but if she comes through this you’d have to be thinking about it.”

The likes of Appreciate It, Ferny Hollow and Bob Olinger are among the 31 possibles.

Abacadabras is set to step up to three miles
Abacadabras is set to step up to three miles (Tim Goode/ PA)

Elliott is keen to step Abacadabras up in trip for the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle following his third to Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace.

“For me he was a bit lacklustre, he had a good blow after it so he’ll come on for the run. He never got into the race to be honest, it was a very funny race,” said Elliott.

“For a horse who always travels well over two miles, for me he was very sleepy. I’ll step him up to three miles at Christmas and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll probably run Sire Du Berlais and Grand Roi as well.

“He’s probably not good enough to beat Honeysuckle in a Champion Hurdle and while no race is easy at Cheltenham, the best chance for him is probably the Stayers’ Hurdle.”

Elliott has lost little faith in Mighty Potter despite his defeat on Sunday
Elliott has lost little faith in Mighty Potter despite his defeat on Sunday (Niall Carson/PA)

Stayers’ Hurdle winner Flooring Porter, Klassical Dream and Quilixios are in, too.

While Elliott’s Mighty Potter lost his unbeaten record in the Royal Bond on Sunday he still went into plenty of notebooks and will be seen next in the
Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle along with stablemate Three Stripe Life, a late absentee because of the ground.

“Davy (Russell) thought the ground was a bit tight for Three Stripe Life but there’s nothing wrong with him, I’d imagine both him and Mighty Potter will run in this. It will be a good race, it will be interesting what Willie (Mullins) gets out over the next couple of weeks,” said Elliott.

“Mighty Potter is a big chaser in the making. I think the faster gallop will suit him as the Royal Bond was a messy race, we’ll look forward to Leopardstown now.”

The Neville Hotels Novice Chase over three miles has attracted 17 entries, including Bob Olinger, Beacon Edge, Vanillier and Paul Nicholls’ Threeunderthrufive – but Elliott believes his Run Wild Fred, winner of the Troytown, sets a good standard.

“I’m thinking Run Wild Fred will run in the Neville. He went up 14lb for winning at Navan so he sets a fair standard for a novice chaser at this stage of the season. There’s no complications with him and he’ll go straight for this,” said Elliott.

Elliott intends to run Samcro in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase, where he will likely face one or more of Chacun Pour Soi, Energumene and Allaho.

“He’s very hard to train and might not be quite what he was, but he’s still well capable of picking up good prize-money,” said Elliott.

Leopardstown announces Dublin Racing Festival showpiece switch

Leopardstown has announced changes to the programme for the Dublin Racing Festival, with the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup and the Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle switching days.

The Gold Cup will now be run on the Saturday of the meeting, with the Irish Champion Hurdle moving to the Sunday as officials seek to offer the best ground possible for the headline events.

The Ladbrokes Dublin Chase over two miles and a furlong will also move to the Sunday card, with the fixture being held on February 5 and 6 in 2022.

Leopardstown CEO Tim Husbands said: “The race programme for Dublin Racing Festival has shown itself to be framed particularly well within the National Hunt calendar and we have been delighted with the strength in depth across the eight Grade One races and the seven other black type races since its inception.

“As always, Leopardstown will seek to deliver the very best track conditions for the weekend and hence the switch of the two feature races.”

Flooring Porter on course for Christmas date despite Navan fall

A return to Leopardstown for the Christmas Hurdle is next on the agenda for Flooring Porter after he emerged unscathed from his fall at Navan on Sunday.

Gavin Cromwell’s charge made a Grade One breakthrough at Leopardstown last December before going on to claim Cheltenham Festival glory in the Stayers’ Hurdle in March.

Making his first appearance since failing to fire at Punchestown in the spring, Flooring Porter was still in a narrow lead when coming to grief two flights from the finish in the Lismullen Hurdle.

Cromwell was pleased to report his stable star to be none the worse on Monday and hopes to see him defend his Christmas Hurdle crown next month.

He said: “He’s OK. He just came up too early and caught the top of the hurdle.

“He looked to be going OK. I don’t know whether he’d have won for sure, but I was happy with the performance up to that anyway.

“Hopefully he comes out of it OK and we’ll roll on to Christmas.”

Sessa success highlights Keane hat-trick at Leopardstown

Duke De Sessa came from the clouds under an inspired Colin Keane to claim Group Three honours in the Eyrefield Stakes at Leopardstown.

Down the field in the National Stakes on his latest appearance, Dermot Weld’s youngster was an 11-2 chance to get back on the winning trail and complete a treble on the day for the champion jockey.

The son of Lope De Vega was almost last rounding the home turn, but showed an impressive turn of foot once angled wide at the top of the straight to run down his rivals and prevail by half a length.

Piz Badile and Anchorage finished second and third respectively.

Weld said: “That was very pleasing. He’s a lovely colt, still immature, and he’ll make a lovely colt next year. There is lots to look forward to.

“Hopefully he’ll come back for a Guineas trial and I see him potentially as an Irish 2,000 Guineas horse.

“He just had to wait there to get him out and get him balanced and he came home exceptionally well.

“He has a lot of pace this horse and the lovely thing about him is that he has stamina as well.

“He’ll be a lovely mile or mile-and-a-quarter horse for next year, please God.”

Masen was an all-the-way winner
Masen made every yard of the running (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Keane opened his account aboard Jessica Harrington’s 9-4 favourite Nectaris in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Nursery, before steering Masen to an all-the-way victory in the Listed Knockaire Stakes.

Sent off the 2-1 favourite after finishing second at this level and winning a Leopardstown handicap last time, Ger Lyons’ runner was in charge from the off, seizing an early advantage that he did not relinquish despite tiring slightly at the finish.

Masen came home two and a quarter lengths clear of a decent yardstick in Njord and assistant trainer Shane Lyons expects the three-year-old to develop into an even better horse next year.

He said: “It’s a job well done. He’s a work in progress and hopefully he’ll have a nice winter and mature mentally.

“If he winters well, and there is no reason why he won’t fill into a man, we think he is a very good horse.

“Ger will have a chat with Barry (Mahon, Juddmonte’s racing manager) and the Abdullah family and make a plan. Colin thinks the world of him, as do we.

“Every race that he has run in he’s shown a bit of class and he’s improving with each race.

“The winter can’t come soon enough so he can have down time and mature. We’re really looking forward to him next year, we think he’s a proper horse in the making over seven furlongs or a mile.”

West Coast was a winner at the third time of asking
West Coast was a winner at the third time of asking (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Aidan O’Brien and Seamie Heffernan teamed up to take the first two races, headed by West Coast (7-2) in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden.

A Dark Angel half-sister to the classy Just Wonderful, West Coast was making it third time lucky as she saw off 15-8 favourite Perfect Thunder by three and three-quarter lengths.

Heffernan said: “To be very honest, I couldn’t see her getting beaten on either of her last two runs, but maybe she was greener than I thought or maybe I just gave her two bad rides.

“I was on the best filly in the race, and she’s genuine, so I just let her rip along.

“She has the makings of a nice filly.”

Star Of India impressed Heffernan with his victory
Star Of India impressed Heffernan with his victory (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Star Of India (5-1) earned Classic quotes as he brought up the double in the following Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.

A Galileo half-brother to 2013 Phoenix Stakes victor Sudirman, Star Of India made short work of his 11 rivals, impressing Heffernan with his two-and-a-quarter-length verdict and earning a 33-1 quote with Betfair for next year’s 2000 Guineas.

Heffernan added: “He’s a grand staying type of horse. We went a good gallop there and I stayed going well, I liked him.”

Glounthaune gives immediate boost to Dewhurst form

Glounthaune showed great resilience to win the Group Three Richmond Homes Killavullen Stakes at Leopardstown just seven days after running in the Dewhurst Stakes.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained youngster chased the leaders in the early stages and was delivered by Seamie Heffernan to hit the front in the final furlong.

The 5-1 winner took the spoils by half a length from Pennine Hills, with I Am Magic the same distance away in third.

Glounthaune was not disgraced in sixth place in the Newmarket Group One last weekend, on his first start since making a winning debut at the Curragh in April, and connections were delighted with his performance.

Heffernan said: “He’s a very big colt by Kodiac who was an impressive winner but then went a bit weak and missed a lot of time.

“His work was nice going to the Dewhurst and he ran well without being placed. He came out of it fresh and Aidan was happy enough to let him take his chance today. He said that he’d improved and I was delighted to put on these colours which have been very lucky for me.

“I’ve been a little bit disappointed with some of ours lately so I’d say this fella has loads to come and probably did well to win today. He showed a strong will and won well at the line.

“He has a bit of class and I think a mile is his trip.”

Georgeville won for the first time since joining the Ger Lyons stable when taking the Listed honours in the Manguard Plus Trigo Stakes.

The four-year-old was slowly out of the stalls and was towards the rear in the early stages. He then made headway entering the straight, and soon moved into contention in the hands of Colin Keane.

Georgeville is expected to win plenty of races
Georgeville is expected to win plenty of races (Niall Carson/PA)

Ridden to lead a furlong out, Georgeville (4-1 joint-favourite) stayed on strongly to score by two and a half lengths from Wuqood, with Leo De Fury a neck away in third.

“He’s never run a bad race for us over a mile or a mile and two. Colin has the key to him and rides him cold. He said he just loved it sitting in behind waiting for a gap, said Shane Lyons, assistant to his brother.

“He’s going to be a real fun horse for us next year in that grade. He reminds us a lot of Brendan Bracken.

“He’s done us proud all year and next year is a big year for him.”

Keane completed a double on Lunar Power (4-1) for Noel Meade in the Carmanhall Handicap.

Pearls Galore has Foret venture in sights

The Prix de la Foret may be next on the agenda for Pearls Galore following her narrow defeat in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.

After successive Group Three wins at Fairyhouse and Tipperary, Paddy Twomey’s filly stepped up to Group One level for the first time on Saturday – and ran an excellent race to finish a neck behind No Speak Alexander, and just over a length ahead of Mother Earth.

Pearls Galore is entered in the Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket on October 2, but is more likely to be seen in action at ParisLongchamp the following afternoon.

Twomey said: “I was delighted with her. She hasn’t put a foot wrong all year.

“I’d say the plan is to go for the Foret in France, as long as the ground isn’t too soft.

“Her owners are French-based, and they might like to see her in Paris.”

The Cashel-based trainer had just three runners across Irish Champions Weekend – with Limiti Di Greccio beaten just half a length in a Listed event at Leopardstown before La Petite Coco’s short-head victory over Love in Sunday’s Blandford Stakes at the Curragh.

Limiti Di Greccio (orange) also ran well in defeat
Limiti Di Greccio (orange) also ran well in defeat (Brian Lawless/PA)

Limiti Di Greccio is entered in the Rockfel Stakes and the Cheveley Park at Newmarket next week, but is set to remain in Ireland.

“She has a couple of entries at Newmarket and is entered in the Boussac in France, but I think she might stay at home,” Twomey added.

“She could go for the Silken Glider (Staffordstown Stud Stakes), which is a Listed race at the Curragh we won with Fantasy Lady last year, or there’s the Weld Park Stakes.

“One of those options might be more where we’ll go, but we haven’t quite decided with her yet.”

La Petite Coco, meanwhile, is bound for next month’s Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot.

Twomey said: “She seems in great form and has come out of the race very well.

“She’s a filly that has progressed all year, so it was great to continue on an upward trajectory.

“Ascot has been the plan from the middle of the season onwards, and that very much remains the case.

“If the ground came up soft, it would inconvenience other horses more than her.”

St Mark’s Basilica comes on top in thrilling Irish Champion

St Mark’s Basilica landed the odds in a pulsating renewal of the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Having his first race since winning the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown 10 weeks ago, St Mark’s Basilica (5-6 favourite) showed his trademark brilliance to overcome two Group One winners in Tarnawa and Poetic Flare in an absorbing tactical affair for the mile-and-a-quarter showpiece.

Aidan O’Brien’s crack three-year-old colt had missed the Juddmonte International at York due to a setback – but was able to show his superiority to add this race to his victories in the French 2000 Guineas and French Derby this season.

Patrick Sarsfield, the outsider of four, made the running until inside the final quarter-mile where the other three knuckled down to battle it out.

St Mark’s Basilica drifted right in the closing stages, taking Tarnawa with him, but got the verdict by a three-quarters of a length in the hands of Ryan Moore – although it was anxious wait for the result to be confirmed in a stewards’ inquiry.

Poetic Flare was a nose away in third place, on his first start over 10 furlongs. Patrick Sarsfield was seven and a half lengths away last of the quartet.

“It was great because it was very tactical,” said O’Brien.

“They sprinted up the straight and he did well. He had a bit of catch up to do after the last day (missing York).

“One thing we knew is that he does quicken. That’s what he always had – his strong qualities are that he relaxes and can really turn it on.

“They set off a nice pace, Kevin (Manning, on Poetic Flare) was in second and he steadied it down to get himself straightened up and set up.

“When they turned in they burned and I’d love to see what time they did for the last two furlongs. They ran up the straight.

“He’s just an exceptional horse and we’re very lucky to have him. All the lads at home have done a great job with him to get him back here today after the last day.”

He added: “The two targets he had were York and here, and after that we were going to see what way he came out of it and see what way we were going to go.

“He has all the options, he can go back to a mile or go a mile-and-a-quarter. All those races have to be there. A little bit of a problem with the QEII, we know that he handles soft ground but Ascot can be run in very bad ground.

“He did well to get back here after York and we’ll see how he is after this.”

Moore picked up a one-day ban for careless riding.

No Speak Alexander lands dramatic Matron Stakes

No Speak Alexander bounced back to form to cause a 25-1 upset in the Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.

The Jessica Harrington-trained filly crossed the line in front in a tight and a dramatic finish to the Group One over a mile. She then had to survive a stewards’ inquiry after things got very tight deep inside the final furlong.

Third in the Irish 1,000 Guineas in May, No Speak Alexander had benefited from a pipe-opener in the Group One Prix Rothschild at Deauville last month.

She took her revenge on the winner that day, Mother Earth, who had no luck in running on this occasion.

Shale made the early running with Flirting Bridge second and No Speak Alexander and Pearls Galore close to the pace.

Shane Foley made his move on No Speak Alexander early in the straight and hit the front a furlong out, landing the spoils by a neck from Pearls Galore.

Mother Earth, the 6-5 favourite, was unable to get a clear passage through under Ryan Moore and had to settle for an eased-down third, a length and a quarter away.

Shane Foley returns aboard No Speak Alexander
Shane Foley returns aboard No Speak Alexander (PA)

“It was her day in the sun today, everything was right, and she really came on from the last day,” said Harrington.

“She got no run in France at all, she got knocked over a furlong down. We trained her for this day and we rode her the same way as we did in the Guineas, up at the sharp end.

“She’s probably got a little bit stronger. She likes a bit of nice ground. We’ve no idea where we’re going now, this was the plan and we’ll enjoy the day.”

Foley was banned for five days for careless riding and he later got three more days after winning the Boomerang Mile on Real Appeal.

Matron mission for Mother Earth

Aidan O’Brien’s Classic heroine Mother Earth is primed to bid for her third Group One of the year in the Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes.

Mother Earth, who has already put the 1000 Guineas and Prix Rothschild titles in the Ballydoyle cabinet this year, will be joined in a 13-strong field by O’Brien’s Empress Josephine – an Irish Guineas winner in May – and a third stablemate, Friendly.

Strong opposition for them at Leopardstown on Saturday includes Paddy Twomey’s dual Group Three winner Pearls Galore, Ger Lyons’ Acanella and Willie McCreery’s Epona Plays.

Another out to make her seniority count is Ed Walker’s four-year-old Dreamloper, who crosses the Irish Sea from Lambourn after managing only fourth in Newbury’s Hungerford Stakes last time but as an emphatic Group Three winner at Ascot before then.

Last year’s winner Champers Elysees has run well in defeat several times for Johnny Murtagh this summer – while old rivals Shale and Pretty Gorgeous, for brothers Donnacha and Joseph O’Brien respectively, are also very much in the reckoning.

Mother Earth is nonetheless clear favourite to augment her already successful campaign, under Ryan Moore.

O’Brien said: “She is a lovely filly who probably doesn’t want to be in front too long.

“She’s a great traveller and very enthusiastic and usually very consistent.”

As well as her two triumphs this summer, Mother Earth has performed with significant credit in three defeats – at the top level throughout.

Empress Josephine has twice failed to reach the frame in Group One company since her Classic win at the Curragh – including when upped to 10 furlongs last time in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.

O’Brien said: “Empress Josephine went a mile and a quarter the last day, and it just didn’t work for her – they didn’t go fast enough for her.

“We’re going back to a mile with her and will ride her a bit patiently this time.”

Dreamloper has established her niche at a mile or seven furlongs – but will not appreciate any easing of the ground from the current good.

“She wants any rain to stay away,” said Walker.

“She’s really got her act together this year and was brilliant in the Valiant (at Ascot).

“The race unfolded the wrong way for her at Newbury, but still she did not disgrace herself.

“Back to a mile, hopefully there will be a good pace and she can switch off – then I think she’ll run a big race. It’s very exciting.”

Basilica bids to seal superstar status with Irish Champion victory

There may be only be four runners in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown – but the race still looks set to live up to expectations, with three multiple Group One winners taking each other on.

They are headed by Aidan O’Brien’s St Mark’s Basilica, an unexpected winner of the Dewhurst last season but arguably the leading three-year-old colt in Europe this term.

He has won the French Guineas and Derby, and then put elder rivals Mishriff and Addeybb to the sword in the Eclipse – form which was franked when John and Thady Gosden’s brilliant four-year-old dotted up in the Juddmonte International at York.

St Mark’s Basilica missed his own intended trip to the Knavesmire with an untimely leg infection, but he is now over that ailment – and all roads have led to Leopardstown since.

“The plan was always to go to the French Guineas, and from there to the French Derby,” said O’Brien.

“After that we felt the Eclipse would be a lovely race for him to meet the older horses in, over a mile and a quarter.

“Everything went as we planned all the way really (before the Juddmonte International).

“He’s very offhanded and very straightforward. He has a great mind, he relaxes, he has a great stride and is very genuine – he has all the things that you would love in a horse.”

Connections of St Mark's Basilica at Sandown
Connections of St Mark’s Basilica at Sandown (Nigel French/PA)

O’Brien is looking for his 10th win in Saturday’s race, which nearly all of his champions have on their CV – with Giant’s Causeway, High Chaparral and dual winners Dylan Thomas and Magical on the roll of honour.

“The Irish Champion Stakes is a great race every year,” he said.

“For older horses having an autumn campaign, it’s the tops really. It has come out as the top-rated race in the world on some occasions.”

According to the betting, St Mark’s Basilica’s chief rival is Dermot Weld’s mare Tarnawa, who arrives on a five-race winning streak which includes two French Group Ones and a victory at the Breeders’ Cup.

The five-year-old made a successful return to action in Leopardstown’s Ballyroan Stakes in early August – and champion jockey Colin Keane, who got the ride only by chance after Christophe Soumillon tested positive for Covid-19 in America, is excited for her latest assignment.

“To get on her was a case of being in the right place at the right time,” he said.

“I was fortunate to keep the ride on her, and we’re very much looking forward to the weekend.

“Christophe (Soumillon) failed a Covid test and couldn’t ride her (at the Breeders’ Cup). I got a phone call from Mr Weld asking would I ride her, and I didn’t have to think about it for too long. The rest is history.

“She was good (in the Ballyroan). I think they left her off for longer by design, very much thinking of a backend campaign with her.

“She came back much stronger physically this year. We thought going to Leopardstown she was about 70 per cent, and there was plenty to work on, so to put up the performance she did I thought was very impressive.”

Although Tarnawa’s best form has been over a mile and a half, she did win the Prix de l’Opera over 10 furlongs last autumn.

Keane added: “We’re dropping back two furlongs at the weekend, but she’s proven herself over that trip as well.

“It’s a very good renewal of the race – you’re taking on two of the best three-year-olds in Ireland, if not Europe.

“It’s not going to be easy, but I don’t think I’d swap her for anything.”

The second three-year-old Keane refers to is Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare, winner of the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes who has also claimed second in the Irish Guineas, Sussex Stakes and Prix Jacques le Marois.

The select field is completed by Joseph O’Brien’s outsider Patrick Sarsfield.

Top trio face Irish Champion Stakes showdown

St Mark’s Basilica, Tarnawa and Poetic Flare have all been declared among a field of four in Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-old St Mark’s Basilica arrives on a four-race Group One-winning streak over the course of two seasons.

He won the Dewhurst on his final start at two and this season has added the French Guineas and Derby before beating his elders in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

While a minor setback ruled him out of the Juddmonte International at York, O’Brien nominated this race as his next suitable objective.

Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa is the second multiple Group One scorer in the field.

She won the Prix Vermeille, Prix de l’Opera and Breeders’ Cup Turf last season and while she has only run once this term as she builds up towards the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, she was very impressive in Group Three company.

Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare will race over 10 furlongs for the first time having won the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes this year.

He has also been second in the Irish 2000 Guineas, Sussex Stakes and Prix Jacques le Marois.

The fourth and final runner in the field is Joseph O’Brien’s Patrick Sarsfield, who was second to Juan Elcano in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot last time out.

Aidan O’Brien runs two Guineas winners in Mother Earth and Empress Josephine in the Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes, along with Friendly.

Pretty Gorgeous (Joseph O’Brien) and Shale (Donnacha O’Brien) will meet again having repeatedly clashed last season, but both have failed to reproduce their top-class juvenile form this term.

Johnny Murtagh runs last year’s winner Champers Elysees but not Create Belief, with Pearls Galore and Epona Plays also among a field of 13.

Irish Guineas winner Mac Swiney is among a field of 14 in the Clipper Logisitics Boomerang Mile, while Ger Lyons’ Atomic Jones and Fozzy Stack’s John The Baptist are defending unbeaten records in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes.

St Mark’s Basilica and Tarnawa remain on course for Leopardstown

St Mark’s Basilica and Tarnawa remain on course for an epic showdown after standing their ground in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.

The top-class pair feature among a list of 13 left in the Group One over a mile and a quarter following the latest forfeit and supplementary entry stage.

Tarnawa, winner of three Group Ones in the autumn, culminating in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, bids to give trainer Dermot Weld a belated first winner of the race. The five-year-old made a pleasing return to action with an easy win at Leopardstown five weeks ago.

Tarnawa has been brilliant for Dermot Weld
Tarnawa has been brilliant for Dermot Weld (Niall Carson/PA)

St Mark’s Basilica has been a star three-year-old for Aidan O’Brien, with victories in the French 2000 Guineas, French Derby and Coral-Eclipse, although he had to miss the Juddmonte International at York last month.

O’Brien is responsible for seven of the possibles with Armory, Bolshoi Ballet, Innisfree, Love, Joan Of Arc and Snowfall completing his team.

His son Joseph is three-handed with Baron Samedi, Patrick Sarsfield and Thundering Nights.

Snowfall, Joan Of Arc and Thundering Nights are also in the Qatar Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

Poetic Flare is an intriguing contender for the Irish Champion Stakes
Poetic Flare is an intriguing contender for the Irish Champion Stakes (David Davies/PA)

Jim Bolger has the other two confirmations – the Newmarket 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes hero Poetic Flare, who will be trying 10 furlongs for the first time, and Mac Swiney, winner of the Irish 2000 Guineas.

Mac Swiney holds an alternative entry in the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile on the same card.

Safe Voyage likely to miss Boomerang defence

Safe Voyage is unlikely to defend his crown in the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile at Leopardstown.

John Quinn’s stable stalwart bagged his third Group-race victory on Irish Champions Weekend last season, before going on to finish a close third in the Prix de la Foret and then run at the Breeders’ Cup.

The eight-year-old opened his account for the current campaign in a Listed event at Chester in July, since when he has finished last in Goodwood’s Lennox Stakes and fifth in the City of York Stakes.

Safe Voyage has the option of returning to Ireland this weekend, but the prospect of fast ground means he is a doubtful runner there on Saturday

“The ground is very quick over there, so I don’t think Safe Voyage will be going,” said Quinn.

The Malton handler could still be represented on Irish Champions Weekend, with Keep Busy pencilled in for Sunday’s Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh.

Her stablemate Liberty Beach will not be joining her in the same Group One contest, however.

“Keep Busy might run in the Flying Five,” Quinn added.

“Liberty Beach won’t go – I think she might have had enough for the year.

“She’s had a hard enough season. It’s not set in stone yet, but she won’t go for the Flying Five – and we’ll see after that.”

Irish Champion intended destination for Poetic Flare

Poetic Flare is set to step up in trip for next week’s Irish Champion Stakes after trainer Jim Bolger decided against a clash with Baaeed in France on Sunday.

The duo had been in line to face off in the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp, with Poetic Flare bringing Group One victories to the table having landed both the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes this term, while Baaeed is a rising star and unbeaten in four starts so far.

However, Bolger – who warned earlier in the week he would monitor weather conditions in deciding where he would run – has decided to plot a different course with Poetic Flare, instead opting to try 10 furlongs at Leopardstown with his Dawn Approach colt, who was last seen when just edged out by Palace Pier in a thrilling edition of the Prix Jacques le Marois.

Kevin Manning celebrates winning the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes on Poetic Flare
Kevin Manning celebrates winning the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes on Poetic Flare (John Walton/PA)

He told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast: “I’ve got the weather forecast for the week, (and) while it’s going to rain, I don’t think it will be enough to produce soft ground, so I’m taking a chance and at this stage we’re saying we’re going to Leopardstown.”

In a stellar season, Poetic Flare has proved himself without doubt one of the toughest and best milers of recent years, as aside from his big-race victories and run behind Palace Pier he has also been second to stablemate Mac Swiney in the Irish Guineas and runner-up to Alcohol Free in the Sussex Stakes.

Should he run in the feature on the opening day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend he is likely to meet two formidable opponents in Aidan O’Brien’s St Mark’s Basilica and the Dermot Weld-trained Tarnawa.

Bolger explained that a combination of financial factors and ground conditions at Leopardstown had been key to his decision rather than the potential opposition at either venue.

He said: “(I was tempted to run in France) because I thought Leopardstown might get more rain, but I’m reasonably satisfied now that the going will be OK at Leopardstown.

“I’m not thinking about which is tough, I’m just going for which race I think suits best on the day. I’m not concerned about who goes where – I’m only concerned about the going.

“I can’t be sure (10 furlongs will suit better than a mile), but weighing up all the considerations, it’s been fairly easy for me to opt for Leopardstown.

“If you want to look at the financial side, the winner in Longchamp would take home about 250,000, which is not inconsiderable, and at Leopardstown it will be almost 700,000 I reckon. As someone who has to run the sport come business in a reasonably financial manner, Leopardstown makes more appeal.

“Leopardstown is home as well and we don’t have to spend 80,000 on an aeroplane so for that reason, Leopardstown was a no-brainer but then I had to consider the going. They are the only considerations, I’m not concerned about who else is going there as long as there’s room for us.

“It’s been the best mile-and-a-quarter race in the world in the last number of years.”

Jim Bolger reports his star miler to be in fine form
Jim Bolger reports his star miler to be in fine form (Mike Egerton/PA)

While Bolger is not certain Poetic Flare will thrive for a mile and a quarter, he has seen plenty in his manner of racing to raise to indicate he will.

He said: “This fella wouldn’t know how to be in any other shape – only top shape. That’s the sort of horse he is. He pulls out with his tail up every morning, it doesn’t matter if it’s the day after a race, he’s the same. You just couldn’t give him too much.

“I won’t be confident (about 10 furlongs suiting) until after Saturday week, but I’m reasonably sure by the way he was coming home in his mile races off a very fast pace that he will stay the extra two furlongs.

“If you look at Ascot, (it was) a record time for the race – even faster than the great horses that have won it in the past, including Frankel. He didn’t seem to be stopping as he approached the line so I’m reasonably confident he will get the trip and if he doesn’t, so be it.”

Jim Bolger holds Baaeed in high regard
Jim Bolger holds Baaeed in high regard (Tim Goode/PA)

Although Poetic Flare and Baaeed will now not meet in France, Bolger raised the possibility of a clash in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day next month.

He added: “(William Haggas) wouldn’t have been too concerned about who turned up (at Deauville) either because I’m sure he feels the same way about his horse. From what we’ve seen he’s entitled to feel that way.

“It would have been interesting and maybe we’ll meet at Ascot.”

Irish Champions Weekend to welcome crowds of 4,000 on both days

Leopardstown and the Curragh will welcome back crowds of 4,000 for each day of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend.

Horse Racing Ireland confirmed the increase in capacity for the high-profile meetings on September 11 and 12 in a statement on Thursday afternoon, which follows Tuesday’s Government announcement of a relaxation in Covid-19 restrictions.

During this week’s briefing from Taoiseach Micheal Martin, details emerged stipulating attendance up to 75 per cent of capacity would be permitted at outdoor events from next Monday, September 6.

HRI will plan for a 50 per cent limit from that date in outdoor spaces on course and 60 per cent of indoor capacity, the latter restricted to those able to provide evidence of their Digital Covid Vaccine Cert (DCC) as fully vaccinated individuals.

In accordance with the Irish Government’s roadmap, those limits are set to rise to 100 per cent if the planned lifting of all restrictions comes into effect on October 22.

In the meantime, both Leopardstown and the Curragh will next week stage a “mixed outdoor event with access to the indoor spaces, but with proof of a vaccine required for those consuming food and beverage indoors”.

Listowel’s Harvest Festival, from September 19-2, will be subject to a limit of 2,000 per day and it will be an “outdoor-only event”.

That figure too, however, is a significant increase on the current numbers – which are capped at 500, although 1,000 were permitted through the gates exclusively at both the Galway Festival and for a Government pilot event when the Curragh hosted the Irish Derby in June.

HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh described the return of crowds as an “essential ingredient” racing has had to get by without during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “It has been a very difficult 18 months for everybody in society, and racing can be proud of the way it has come through it.

“However, without racegoers, racing has been missing one of its essential ingredients.

“Like many industries, there is still much work to do, but there is now real progress and forward steps to normality. Welcoming back racegoers in measured but increasing numbers is one of those steps – and from Monday, Irish racecourses will be free to use 50 per cent of their capacity to allow racegoers back on the track in real numbers.

“And as we know, this good news comes just in time for some of our most important race meetings – the Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and the Curragh on September 11 and September 12, and Listowel’s Harvest Festival, which begins on Sunday September 19.

“I would like to thank all our customers for their patience and look forward to race meetings becoming just that again – a place where racegoers can meet each other in a safe environment and enjoy our great sport.”

Tickets for both days of Irish Champions Weekend will go on sale on Friday, September 3 to members of the public who have registered their interest in advance. The remainder will go on general sale on Monday, September 6.

Tickets for Listowel are already on sale.