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Irish Champion Stakes to clash with St Leger in bid to avoid All-Ireland replay

Leopardstown: Irish Champion Stakes card has been moved forward
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The Qipco Irish Champion Stakes will now be run just 40 minutes after the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster on September 14 after Leopardstown brought its meeting forward by more than an hour.

The switch has been made primarily to avoid a clash with the replay of the All-Ireland football final between Kerry and Dublin.

Day one of Longines Irish Champions Weekend will now begin at 1.55pm, rather than the original 3.05pm start. The Irish Champion Stakes will be run at 4.15pm instead of 6.35pm.

With the final British Classic of the season at Doncaster beginning at 3.35pm, that creates a potential Group 1 headache for trainer Aidan O'Brien, who regularly flies jockeys back from the St Leger to ride in Leopardstown's feature when there is more than two hours between the races.

O'Brien has several engaged in the St Leger, led by general second favourite Sir Dragonet. He currently has the top two in the market, Japan and Magical, in the Irish Champion Stakes.

Pat Keogh, Leopardstown's manager, was keen to stress that the new time slot was not solely decided upon to avoid clashing with the action at Croke Park. 

Keogh said: "The race times have been adjusted for two reasons. Number one, and the really good news is, that the Irish Champion Stakes will be shown live on Japanese television. 

"Obviously we've got a live Japanese contender in the race with Deirdre so that's a substantial breakthrough for Irish racing.

Deirdre is led in after the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood

"That's why we've brought the Irish Champion Stakes forward because the condition on that [showing the race live in Japan] was that the race had to be shown at a reasonable hour in Japan given the time difference [eight hours ahead]." 

He added: "Then obviously the GAA replay had to come into consideration as well so we'll be putting the whole lot together for those two reasons. 

"We'll be bringing racing forward by two hours to allow people the opportunity to come racing and enjoy the racing and the Gaelic match [between Kerry and Dublin] after racing, as they did earlier this year after the Dublin Racing Festival when Ireland played England in the rugby."

RTE, whose coverage of Dublin’s historic bid for five successive All-Ireland titles attracted an average audience of 968,700, which was a 76.5% share of those watching television at the time, will show the five Group races from Leopardstown.

William Hill's Rupert Adams believes the switch may help showcase the St Leger. He said: "In recent years we have had a few issues with jockeys and trainers being unable to attend the trophy presentation as they have been running to catch helicopters. "This change should ensure that there will be no such rush, unless they are going to the final!"

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It'll be a great way to finish off the day with the Dublin and Kerry match on Saturday
E.W. Terms