2023 Irish St leger & National Stakes Recap

The big names kept coming at the Curragh on the second day of the two-venue Irish Champions Festival, with the centrepiece G1 2023 Irish St Leger won in authoritative style by British raider Eldar Eldarov. Aidan O’Brien showcased yet another star two-year-old colt when Henry Longfellow cruised in the G1 Vincent O’Brien National, while Lumiere Rock snapped a frustrating losing streak with an easy victory in the G2 Blandford.

Breeders Cup Odds

Irish St Leger

G1, 600,000 euro, 1m 6f turf, 3yo+

Eldarov lands knockout blow

Plenty went right for Aidan O’Brien over the course of the Irish Champions Festival but not everything did, and his bid to land a seventh Irish St Leger at the Curragh fizzled out on Sunday when British raider Eldar Eldarov cruised to victory over a short field, with the odds-on Kyprios and Dawn Rising following him home at a respectful distance.

Eldar Eldarov had drawn a blank through 2023, but was a 16-5 second-choice to end that dismal streak against just three rivals after the scratch of Emily Dickinson. The scene was set up nicely for him, with the O’Brien-trained Kyprios returning from a year off, and Eldar Eldarov duly took advantage, chasing the front-running Yashin until surging to the lead two furlongs out.

That gave him the crucial first run on the patiently ridden Kyprios and he strolled clear to win at his leisure, crossing the line three and a half lengths clear of the labouring favourite, with the dual-purpose runner (Flat racing and jumping) Dawn Rising making no show but getting third, two and three-quarter lengths further back.

“This is what dreams are made of,” said young jockey David Egan, who is very successful in Britain but was riding his first winner in Ireland. “I grew up in a house close to the five-furlong marker here, so this really means a lot. He was very smooth today and I’m glad he is back at the top where he belongs.”

2023 Irish St Leger Race Video

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Eldar Eldarov wins the 2023 Irish St. Leger Stakes #Horseracing #Horsesoftiktok #Horsetok #Sports #FYP

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Eldar Eldarov, whose share of the purse made him a sterling millionaire, is five-for-ten lifetime and became the first horse for 41 years to add success in the Irish St Leger to victory in the British version of the marathon contest, which he won in 2022. His trainer Roger Varian will now point him towards the two-mile G2 British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot on October 21.

2023 Irish St Leger Race Payouts

HorseWin (euro)
1. Eldar Eldarov3.70
2. Kyprios 
3. Dawn Rising 

Winning time: 3m 01.72s

Vincent O’Brien National Stakes

G1, 400,000 euro, 7f turf, 2yo

Longfellow is poetry in motion

The incredible depth of the juvenile colt division at Aidan O’Brien’s stable this year was excitingly illustrated in the Vincent O’Brien National, when the immaculately bred Henry Longfellow stretched his unbeaten record to three with a dazzling, dominant defeat of Islandsinthestream and Bucanero Fuerte.

Henry Longfellow’s barnmate City Of Troy was hot favourite for the race but was scratched two hours before post-time when heavy rain changed the ground conditions, reducing the field to just four. Henry Longfellow thus went from second-string to 10-11 favourite with a stroke of the pen and made it look very easy under Ryan Moore, sitting off a brisk gallop until easing into the lead at the two-furlong pole.

He put the race to bed in just a few strides and cleared right away to beat Islandsinthestream by a cantering five lengths, hitting the line strongly as though going longer would not be an issue. The second-choice Bucanero Fuerte possibly suffered from stamina issues and dropped away to be third, more than seven lengths further back.

“He’s a special horse, he quickens so well, and he just took off,” said O’Brien, who with this victory was reaching the mighty milestone of 4,000 winners, 12 of them coming in the Vincent O’Brien National.

2023 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes Race Video

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Henry Longfellow (IRE) dominates in the 2023 National Stakes #Horseracingtips #Horseracing #Sports #Horsesoftiktok #Horsetok #FYP

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“He travels and he quickens and that is very difficult for other horses to handle. His dam won over a mile and a half so he should stay further.”

Henry Longfellow, a son of world-class sire Dubawi and the champion racemare Minding, may now be put away for a three-year-old campaign, as O’Brien has plenty of other candidates currently lacking that G1 tag to send for the big late-season prizes. The colt is second-favourite for the 2024 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket next May – behind barnmate City Of Troy.

2023 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes Race Payouts

HorseWin (euro)
1. Henry Longfellow1.70
2. Islandsinthestream 
3. Bucanero Fuerte 

Winning time: 1m 27.54s

Blandford Stakes

G2, 200,000 euro, 1m 2f turf, 3yo+ females

Lumiere lights up the Curragh

The O’Brien name was in the record books after the Blandford too, but this time it was Aidan’s son Joseph O’Brien collecting the prize following the comfortable success of Lumiere Rock, who produced a career-best at the ideal time to see off Jackie Oh and Trevaunance in some style.

Not all that much had gone right for Lumiere Rock in 2023, and the 6-1 fourth-choice came into the Blandford on a five-race losing streak, but the rain that fell was on her side and she was always prominent behind the pacesetting Red Riding Hood.

With two furlongs to run Dylan Browne McMonagle asked her to go and she went quickly, opening up from the furlong pole and cruising away from a strong field. She crossed the line three lengths clear of the favoured Jackie Oh, who got up for the place close home, a half-length ahead of Trevaunance.

“She deserved that,” said O’Brien, winning the Blandford for the second year running. “She had been performing well in good company all year. She is exciting, and I think she will be able to move up a level as she gets older and stronger.”

2023 Blandford Stakes Race Video

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Lumiere Rock takes the 2023 Blandford Stakes #Horseracingtips #Horseracing #Sports #Horsesoftiktok #Horsetok #FYP

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Lumiere Rock has an unusual resume in that she never won a maiden. She has a two-for-ten count with her previous success gained at G3 level last year, and she will now attempt to gain that valuable G1 tag in either the Opera at Longchamp on October 1 or the British Champions Fillies & Mares at Ascot on October 21.

2023 Blandford Stakes Race Payouts

HorseWin (euro)Place (euro)
1. Lumiere Rock7.201.90
2. Jackie Oh 1.30
3. Trevaunance 3.20

Winning time: 2m 07.89s

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