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Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Going will have 'good of some description' says Leopardstown chief

Almanzor and Christophe Soumillon win the 2016 Qipco Irish Champion Stakes
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It's almost upon us. Longines Irish Champions Weekend looks set to sparkle over the coming days, with Leopardstown chief executive Pat Keogh expecting conditions to be "good ground of some description" for Saturday's meeting.

Keogh said: "The ground was good to yielding on Tuesday but it has dried a bit since then. It's very unclear as to what the weather will do next – arguably tougher than finding winners at the races – but we will have some rain on Friday."

He added: "Depending on the extent of the rain, it'll be either fast or slower good ground, but it won't be good to firm."

This year's Irish Champion Stakes may not have attracted a similar cast of Galacticos as the 2016 renewal, but there are still plenty of talented performers in the line-up.

"The entire card oozes with quality from start to finish" said Keogh. "While the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes will lack a little bit of the quality of last year, we still have a dual-Classic winner to look forward to and super horses ready to do battle.

"This is absolutely the biggest event in the Irish Flat racing calendar and we can't wait for the entire weekend to get underway."

Popular fixture

The two-day initiative has proven popular with industry figures and the racing public, with Keogh expecting a strong showing in terms of attendances over the coming days.

He said: "The attendance for the old format would have seen approximately 8,500 go racing, but since the inception of Longines Irish Champions Weekend, we're in excess of 13,000. We expect a similarly healthy attendance this weekend."

The international representation both on and off the track has been a notable trend in the weekend's success, with the chief executive noting the current economic environment in Britain as an element that could potentially play a part at this year's event.

"We have plenty of overseas racegoers making the journey but I would stress that there is a Brexit and weak sterling factor in all tourism in Ireland at the moment" said Keogh.

He added: "We've had a strong level of British visitors at our meetings this year, perhaps not as strong as last year, but that's representative across the entire Irish tourism sector.

"The pre-bookings are strong – up on last year – and while that's not the only factor in attendance figures, it's a positive signal." 

Leopardstown entries

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This is absolutely the biggest event in the Irish Flat racing calendar and we can't wait for the entire weekend to get underway

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