Breeders’ Cup boost for Irish races

The Breeders’ Cup have announced that four races on the Irish calendar are to form part of the ‘Win and You’re in’ series.

Winners of the Stobart Ireland Pretty Polly Stakes, the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes, the Moyglare Stud Stakes and the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes will all have their entry fees and travel paid for ahead of the championship.

This year’s Breeders’ Cup takes place at Santa Anita, in California, on November 2 and 3.

Now in its sixth year, the series takes in races from all over the world.

Meanwhile, Joseph O’Brien has been cut in the betting for the Irish Flat jockeys’ championship following the news that changes to the minimum weight carried by horses will come into effect at the Curragh on Sunday.

The changes follow a medical submission received by Horse Racing Ireland from Dr Adrian McGoldrick, chief medical officer of the Turf Club.

Explaining the weight changes and the process which led to it, Dr McGoldrick said: : “I met with the Jockeys’ Association three months ago and we discussed what to do in relation to maidens, handicaps and black type races and apprentice races.

“I then went to the trainers’ association and they came back agreeing with what I proposed.

“Then I went to the HRI and the Turf Club and they took it on board.

“They backed everything apart from the apprentice weights and I am having another look at that.

“We’ve agreed that all maiden races will be 9st and 9st 5lb.

“The handicap scale will start from 10st downwards and condition races will have a minimum weight of 9st wherever possible.

“The changes will be implemented this weekend at the Curragh, but there is a fillies’ race there where conditions had already been advertised before we got agreement.

“Over the next couple of weeks the new system will wash in and certainly by mid-May I would expect it will be totally in place.”

O’Brien is now a 7-2 chance with Stan James to be crowned champion jockey behind even-money favourite Johnny Murtagh and 11-8 chance Pat Smullen.

Joseph Burke, spokesman for Stan James Ireland, said: “The rise in the minimum weights for Irish Flat races, coupled with the fact that Ballydoyle have not announced a replacement stable jockey and appear to be using Joseph O’Brien as their number one, means he has an excellent chance of adding a senior Flat jockeys’ championship to his apprentice title.”

Meanwhile, one-time Triumph Hurdle favourite Minsk is set to have one prep run before a bid for the Irish St Leger.

Minsk won the Irish Cesarewitch last October for John Oxx and was then sent to Dessie Hughes with the aim of running at Cheltenham.

However, he was beaten on his hurdling debut and was subsequently found to have an infection which put an end to his brief sojourn over obstacles.

“I think the idea would be he’ll have one prep run for the Irish Leger and then go for the Leger itself,” said Oxx.

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