Irish Champions Weekend times altered to avoid direct All-Ireland final replay clash

Irish Champions Weekend times altered to avoid direct All-Ireland final replay clash
Leopardstown race track.

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) yesterday took evasive action to avoid a direct clash between day one of Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and the replayed All-Ireland SFC final.

Sunday's enthralling draw between Dublin and Kerry provided an unwanted headache for racing chiefs after the replay was quickly scheduled for a 6pm throw-in Saturday week.

Day one of Champions Weekend was due to start at 4.15pm with the feature race, the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes, initially due off at 6:35pm.

However, in order to avoid a clash, racing will now begin at 1.55pm with the Champion Stakes being run at 4.15pm.

This change will allow sports fans the option of attending the main event at Leopardstown before making the journey to Croke Park.

An added bonus is the alterations will also accommodate a significant Japanese television audience following the exploits of Deirdre, the first Japanese-trained runner in Ireland.

The Nassau Stakes winner will provide a fascinating international ingredient to the Champion Stakes, a race which will be broadcast to millions of racing enthusiasts live on the Green Channel, Japan’s dedicated horse racing channel.

“On a fantastic day of sporting action, we will cater for those who would like to see one of the best race meetings of the year and one of the highlights of the season, as well as the All-Ireland final replay," Leopardstown CEO Pat Keogh said.

"We will be bringing a big-screen experience to the football replay and, as we have seen during the Dublin Racing Festival and the Six Nations, there is an incredible atmosphere watching big games on the big screens at Leopardstown.

“The news that Green Channel will show the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes live on their channel is fantastic news for the profile of the race and we’ve been inundated with media requests from Japan which underlines the interest there in their brilliant racemare, Deirdre.

“It’s an incredible day’s racing and is one for the whole family to enjoy – indeed it is worth repeating that accompanied children U18 are free and there are plenty of free children’s activities.”

While the changes look sensible, they won't be welcomed by all given the Champions Stakes will now be run just 40 minutes after the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster.

That means that, unlike in previous years, it will now be impossible for jockeys to ride in both Group 1s and racegoers will almost certainly be deprived of Frankie Dettori as racing's greatest showman will almost certainly stay in England to ride hot St Leger favourite Logician.

Revised schedule for day one of Longines Irish Champions Weekend

1.55pm: Ballylinch Stud EBF Ingabelle Stakes (Listed)

2.30pm: Irish Stallions Farms EBF ‘Petingo’ Premier Handicap

3.05pm: KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (Group 2)

3.40pm: Paddy Power Betting Shop Stakes (Group 3)

4.15pm: QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1)

4.50pm: Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes (Group 2)

5.25pm: Coolmore ‘Fastnet Rock’ Matron Stakes (Group 1)

6.00pm: Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Sovereign Path’ Premier Handicap

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