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Irish Champions Festival preview: Stunning Sunday feast at the Curragh

The Irish Champions Festival action continues at pace on Sunday afternoon with day two from the Curragh headlined by four Group 1 races on the eight-race card.

The top-level action comes via the Flying Five Stakes (2.55), the Moyglare Stud Stakes (3.25), the Vincent O'Brien National Stakes (4.00) and the Irish St Leger (4.35), with lots of quality racing elsewhere on the card at the Co. Kildare circuit.

Here's our look ahead to a cracking card at Ireland's Flat racing Headquarters.

WhatIrish Champions Festival - Day 2
WhereThe Curragh, County Kildare
When1.50-5.45, Sunday 10th September 2023
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, RTE & Racing TV
OddsIrish St Leger: Kyprios 11/8, Eldar Eldarov 9/4, Emily Dickinson 10/3, Yashin 11/1, Dawn Rising 16/1

Highfield Princess back to defend her title

The opening Group 1 on the card is the Flying Five Stakes (2.55), as a field of nine rivals bid to relieve UK raider Highfield Princess (5/4) of her crown.

John Quinn's mare was unstoppable 12 months ago, winning a trio of Group 1s in a month and, while not quite as brilliant at times this season, she has been very consistent and backed up last month's Glorious Goodwood success with a more than respectable second-best in York's Nunthorpe behind an inspired Live In the Dream. 

She had her old foe Bradsell (5/2) behind in third, avenging a second to Archie Watson's charge in the King's Stand at Royal Ascot in June. 

Half of the field are British-trained, with Curragh regular Art Power (9/2) for Tim Easterby joining Charlie Hills' Equality (25/1) and Get Ahead (50/1) for Clive Cox in completing the UK challenge.

The Yann Barberot-trained Bouttemont (11/1) goes for France, while home hopes appear limited as the likes Ken Condon's Moss Tucker (20/1) and Johnny Murtagh's Ladies Church (20/1) are up against it on the figures, as is Aesop's Fables (28/1) for Aidan O'Brien. 

Ylang Ylang goes for Moyglare glory

If the home challenge is weak on paper in the Flying Five that is certainly not the case in the Moyglare Stud Stakes (3.25), where unbeaten Frankel filly Ylang Ylang (10/11) goes for Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore. 

A maiden winner here in June, she landed a Leopardstown Group 3 on her only start since and looks very promising for the Ballydoyle team.

Vespertilio (5/1) for Willie McCreery is another rapidly improving youngster, while Donnacha O'Brien's Porta Fortuna (13/2) won the Albany at Royal Ascot in June and her only defeat in four so far saw her second behind the very smart Bucanero Fuerte in the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes here last month.

Red Viburnum (17/2) was third here on debut last month and could improve significantly for Dermot Weld in the famous silks of the sponsors. 

Fallen Angel (13/2) won the Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket last time for Karl Burke and joins Dominic Ffrench-Davis' Prix du Calvados Stakes runner-up Ornellaia (20/1) in venturing over from England. 

Fuerte aims to conquer Troy

The aforementioned Bucanero Fuerte (10/3) has excelled this summer and looked better than ever when scooping his first Group 1 last month.

Adrian Murray's son of Wootton Bassett powered away to win there and stepping up to seven furlongs for the Vincent O'Brien National Stakes (4.00) should hold no fears in the hands of Amo Racing rider Kevin Stott.

What will strike fear into connections hearts is City Of Troy (8/11), given the manner in which the Justify colt obliterated his rivals in the bet365 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket in July.

That made it 2-2 and it was deeply impressive stuff, with Aidan O'Brien's charge already as short as 2/1 for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket next May. 

Both O'Brien and Murray are double-handed. Cuban Thunder (150/1) has recently joined the latter and looks up against it, but Henry Longfellow (10/3) is 2-2 for the former and a son of Dubawi with a Group 2 here over C&D under his belt already.

Islandsinthestream (28/1) was no match for him that day and Joseph O'Brien's challenger needs to find another gear on that form.

Jessica Harrington's Givemethebeatboys (22/1) completes a field of six for this mouthwatering juvenile examination, where the winner will have earned his €240,000 reward. 

Kyprios back in time for Leger defence

Completing the quartet of Group 1s is the Irish St Leger (4.35) where Kyprios (11/8) will attempt to defend the crown on what is his seasonal bow.

The son of Galileo was unbeaten in six last season, winning the Gold Cup at Ascot, the Goodwood Cup in a memorable joust with Stradivarius and Trueshan, and this race, all before his 20-length romp in the Prix du Cadran at Longchamp on Arc Weekend. 

He met with a setback this spring, but Aidan O'Brien was not slow in suggesting patience would see him back come the autumn rather than rushing for high-summer targets. All eyes will be on the returning star now in the hands of Ryan Moore. 

Eldar Eldarov (3/1) was a St Leger winner at Doncaster a year ago, but is 0-3 this season, albeit in high-class company since his second in the Yorkshire Cup in May as he tackled the Ascot Gold Cup and Goodwood Cup. This drop in trip might favour Roger Varian's Dubawi colt. 

He's the sole UK contender, with Ballydoyle filly Emily Dickinson (10/3) perhaps the chief threat if Kyprios falters, as Yashin (11/1) for Jessica Harrington and Dawn Rising (16/1) for Joseph O'Brien will be reliant on their rivals faltering. 

Keane partners Araminta in Blandford Stakes

The opening Group race on Sunday's card is the Blandford Stakes (2.25) a Fillies' And Mares' Group 2 over a mile and two furlongs.

Jackie Oh (7/2) heads the betting for the O'Brien/Moore axis following her soft-ground success at Gowran Park in July in this grade. 

Lumiere Rock (5/1) for Joseph O'Brien and Dylan McMonagle will hope to topple her, as will Jessica Harrington's Trevaunance (13/2) in the hands of Shane Foley in the Moyglare silks. 

Henry Candy sends over Araminta (9/2), winner of the Group 3 Prix Chloe Stakes at Chantilly in July and the trainer has managed to secure the services of Ireland's champion jockey Colin Keane - always a plus around the Curragh.

Tough handicaps bookend the Curragh action

Big-field contests begin and end the card.

A top prize of €90,000 is on offer for the winner of the opening Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund 'Bold Lad' Sprint Handicap (1.50), where much-loved sprinter Summerghand is a traveller from the UK for David O'Meara looking to continue what has been another fine season. 

The card ends with the 1m2f Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund 'Northfields' Handicap (5.45), as a field of 23 includes the likes of Saltonstall and Casanova for trainer Ado McGuinness.

Before that, and following the Group 1 spree, it will be the Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes, a two-year-old sprint boasting a prize of €150,000.

Richard Fahey's once-raced York novice winner Native American will attempt to give weight and a beating to his 11 rivals in the hands of Colin Keane. 

This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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