Irish Champion Stakes

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Irish Champion Stakes
Group 1 race
Assert, oil on canvas
Painting by Bob Demuyser (1920-2003)
Co. Dublin, Ireland
Race typeFlat / Thoroughbred
Race information
Distance1m 2f (2,012 metres)
QualificationThree-years-old and up
Weight9 st 1 lb (3yo);
9 st 7 lb (4yo+)
3 lb for fillies and mares
Purse€1,250,000 (2018)
1st: €712,500
Irish Champion Stakes
Claret, gold braid, claret sleeves, claret cap, gold tassel Purple, white seams, striped sleeves, purple cap Pink, emerald green chevron, halved sleeves, quartered cap
Roaring Lion Saxon Warrior Deauville

The Irish Champion Stakes (Irish: Curadh-Dhuais na hÉireann) is a Group 1 flat horse race in Ireland open to horses aged three years or older. It is run at Leopardstown over a distance of 1 mile and 2 furlongs (2,012 metres), and it is scheduled to take place each year in September.


The event was established in 1976, and it was initially held at Leopardstown as the Joe McGrath Memorial Stakes, it was named in memory of Joe McGrath (1887–1966), the founder of the Irish Hospitals' Sweepstake and a successful racehorse owner.

The race was transferred to Phoenix Park and renamed the Phoenix Champion Stakes in 1984, its present title was introduced in 1991, when the event returned to Leopardstown after the closure of its former venue.

The Irish Champion Stakes became part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series in 2009; the winner now earns an automatic invitation to compete in the same year's Breeders' Cup Turf.[1]

The Irish Champion Stakes has become a very useful prep race for the remaining major races in the Autumn schedule such as the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Champion Stakes, Breeders Cup, Hong Kong International Festival and major Group 1 races in Japan; the 2016 edition of the race was possibly one of its strongest editions with eight out of 12 participants winning 17 career Group 1's between them prior to the race. The form of the race would later see four of the participants win further Group 1 honours by the end of the 2016 season, producing a first & second in that year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, first and second in the Champion Stakes, the winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and first and second in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Winners of the Irish Champion Stakes have gone on to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in the same season on five occasions :Carroll House (1989), Suave Dancer (1991), Dylan Thomas (2007), Sea The Stars (2009) and Golden Horn (2015), and a sixth Arc win was achieved when 2016 Irish Champion Stakes runner-up, Found, won the 2016 edition of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Winners of the Irish Champion Stakes have gone on to win the Champion Stakes in the same season on five occasions: Triptych (1987), Indian Skimmer (1988), Pilsudski (1997), New Approach (2008) and Almanzor (2016); the race has produced two further winners of the Champion Stakes with the 1986 third, Triptych, and the 2010 third, Twice Over, subsequently winning the British race that season.

Participants in the Irish Champion Stakes have gone on to win several Breeders' Cup titles in the same season; this includes five winners of the Breeders' Cup Turf, with Irish Champion Stakes winners such as Daylami (1999), Fantastic Light (2001), High Chaparral (2003) achieving a season double, while 2015 Irish Champion Stakes runner-up, Found, and a 2016 participant, Highland Reel, found success in the respective season's edition. In 2006, third placed Ouija Board went on to win that season's edition of the Breeders Cup' Filly & Mares Turf.

Success has been also achieved in Japan where the Irish Champion Stakes winners, Stanerra (1983) and Pilsudski (1997) won the Japan Cup in the same season. Meanwhile, 2011 runner-up, Snow Fairy, gained compensation by winning that year's Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup


Most successful horse (2 wins):

Leading jockey (7 wins):

  • Michael KinaneCarroll House (1989), Cezanne (1994), Pilsudski (1997), Giant's Causeway (2000), High Chaparral (2003), Azamour (2004), Sea the Stars (2009)

Leading trainer (7 wins):

  • Aidan O'BrienGiant's Causeway (2000), High Chaparral (2003), Oratorio (2005), Dylan Thomas (2006, 2007), Cape Blanco (2010), So You Think (2011)

Leading owner (7 wins): (includes part ownership)

  • Sue Magnier / Michael TaborGiant's Causeway (2000), High Chaparral (2003), Oratorio (2005), Dylan Thomas (2006, 2007), Cape Blanco (2010), So You Think (2011)


Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer Owner Time
1976 Malacate 3 Lester Piggott François Boutin María Félix Berger 2:07.60
1977 North Stoke 3 Ron Hutchinson John Dunlop Mrs M. Lequime 2:09.20
1978 Inkerman 3 Lester Piggott Vincent O'Brien Simon Fraser 2:05.20
1979 Fordham 4 Tommy Carberry Vincent O'Brien Robert Sangster 2:07.00
1980 Gregorian 4 George McGrath Vincent O'Brien Danny Schwartz 2:07.80
1981 Kings Lake 3 Pat Eddery Vincent O'Brien Mrs Jean-Pierre Binet 2:06.30
1982 Assert 3 Christy Roche David O'Brien Robert Sangster 2:06.30
1983 Stanerra 5 Brian Rouse Frank Dunne Frank Dunne 2:09.50
1984 Sadler's Wells 3 Pat Eddery Vincent O'Brien Robert Sangster 2:00.90
1985 Commanche Run 4 Lester Piggott Luca Cumani Ivan Allan 2:09.20
1986 Park Express 3 John Reid Jim Bolger Paddy Burns 2:02.50
1987 Triptych 5 Tony Cruz Patrick Biancone Alan Clore 2:06.70
1988 Indian Skimmer 4 Michael Roberts Henry Cecil Sheikh Mohammed 2:06.50
1989 Carroll House 4 Michael Kinane Michael Jarvis Antonio Balzarini 2:04.00
1990 Elmaamul 3 Willie Carson Dick Hern Hamdan Al Maktoum 2:02.90
1991 Suave Dancer 3 Cash Asmussen John Hammond Henri Chalhoub 2:06.80
1992 Dr Devious 3 John Reid Peter Chapple-Hyam Sidney Craig 2:10.00
1993 Muhtarram 4 Willie Carson John Gosden Hamdan Al Maktoum 2:06.10
1994 Cezanne 5 Michael Kinane Michael Stoute Godolphin 2:07.90
1995 Pentire 3 Michael Hills Geoff Wragg Mollers Racing 2:04.40
1996 Timarida 4 Johnny Murtagh John Oxx Aga Khan IV 2:06.20
1997 Pilsudski 5 Michael Kinane Michael Stoute Lord Weinstock 2:04.70
1998 Swain 6 Frankie Dettori Saeed bin Suroor Godolphin 2:10.20
1999 Daylami 5 Frankie Dettori Saeed bin Suroor Godolphin 2:08.40
2000 Giant's Causeway 3 Michael Kinane Aidan O'Brien Magnier / Tabor 2:03.10
2001 Fantastic Light 5 Frankie Dettori Saeed bin Suroor Godolphin 2:01.80
2002 Grandera 4 Frankie Dettori Saeed bin Suroor Godolphin 2:04.70
2003 High Chaparral 4 Michael Kinane Aidan O'Brien Tabor / Magnier 2:03.30
2004 Azamour 3 Michael Kinane John Oxx HH Aga Khan IV 2:01.90
2005 Oratorio 3 Kieren Fallon Aidan O'Brien Magnier / Tabor 2:03.90
2006 Dylan Thomas 3 Kieren Fallon Aidan O'Brien Magnier / Tabor 2:02.90
2007 Dylan Thomas 4 Kieren Fallon Aidan O'Brien Magnier / Tabor 2:02.27
2008 New Approach 3 Kevin Manning Jim Bolger Princess Haya of Jordan 2:07.57
2009 Sea the Stars 3 Michael Kinane John Oxx Christopher Tsui 2:03.90
2010 Cape Blanco 3 Seamie Heffernan Aidan O'Brien Smith / Magnier / Tabor 2:03:89
2011 So You Think 5 Seamie Heffernan Aidan O'Brien Derrick Smith et al. 2:04.20
2012 Snow Fairy 5 Frankie Dettori Ed Dunlop Anamoine Limited 2:00.92
2013 The Fugue 4 William Buick John Gosden Andrew Lloyd Webber 2:05.22
2014 The Grey Gatsby 3 Ryan Moore Kevin Ryan Frank Gillespie 2:03.18
2015 Golden Horn 3 Frankie Dettori John Gosden Anthony Oppenheimer 2:05.41
2016 Almanzor 3 Christophe Soumillon Jean-Claude Rouget Ecurie Antonio Caro 2:08.93
2017 Decorated Knight 5 Andrea Atzeni Roger Charlton Al Homaizi / Al Sagar 2:08.36
2018 Roaring Lion 3 Oisin Murphy John Gosden Qatar Racing Ltd 2:07.21

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2011 Breeders' Cup Challenge Schedule" (PDF). Retrieved 12 February 2012.