Minding to head a stellar cast

Minding (Ryan Moore) wins the 1000 Guineas
Newmarket 1.5.16 Pic: Edward Whitaker
Minding (Ryan Moore) wins the 1000 Guineas Newmarket 1.5.16 Pic: Edward Whitaker

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Minding heads 37 entries for the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes on the first day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown on 10th September.

Already a 5-time Group 1 winner, O’Brien’s top class filly was the recent winner of the Sea The Stars Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh having earlier taken the Investec Oaks at Epsom and the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.

This flying filly has only tasted defeat once this season when beaten by a head by Adrian Keatley’s Jet Setting in a thrilling renewal of the Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas in May and with Jet Setting also entered, a fascinating re-match could be on the cards.

Minding is one of six entries from Aidan O’Brien who has landed this prestigious event only once (Lillie Langtry in 2010) since the race became a Group 1 event in 2004. He has also entered both Ballydoyle and Alice Springs, who finished second and third in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas while trainer Dermot Weld, fresh from saddling Harzand to complete the Epsom-Irish Derby Double last weekend, has entered Tanaza and the promising Raymonda, winner of her only two starts to date and who races in the colours of Emulous whom Weld saddled to win this race in 2011. Ger Lyons could be represented by last year’s third placed filly, Ainippe, while Willie McCreery, who saddled Fiesolana to win this event in 2014, has entered the smart Devonshire who landed the Lanwades Stud Stakes (Group 2) at the Curragh on Tattersalls Irish Guineas weekend.

A strong overseas challenge sees four French-trained contenders and 10 British-trained fillies among the initial entries. There has been no French-trained winner of the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes to-date but with the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Ervedya, winner of three Group 1 races last year and the recent Coronation Stakes heroine at Royal Ascot, Qemah, both figuring among the entries, that statistic could be about to change. Another interesting French entry is Volta who finished third in the French Oaks recently while the formerly Irish-trained Steip Amach completes the French challenge.

As anticipated, the entries from Britain are impressive and while the last cross channel raider to win this race was the late Sir Henry Cecil’s Chachamaidee in 2012, there have been six British-trained winners since 2004. Mark Johnston saddled Attraction to win 12 years ago and he has entered last year’s Cheveley Park Stakes winner, Lumiere, along with Fireglow. John Gosden, who sent out Rainbow View to score in 2009, could be represented by recent Royal Ascot winner Persuasive who has won all four racecourse starts to date. Hugo Palmer enjoyed Group 1 success in Ireland last year with Covert Love in the Darley Irish Oaks and he has entered Hawksmoor who proved successful in the German 1000 Guineas at Dusseldorf earlier this year.

Pat Keogh, Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse said: “With just 72 days to Longines Irish Champions Weekend, the excitement is already starting to build. We now have the full set of Group 1 entries and I am delighted to see competitive international fields in the two Leopardstown Group 1 races. The entries for the Group 1 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes represent the best of European fillies and should deliver another thrilling renewal of this exceptional race.”