Race-by-race guide and tips for Saturday on Irish Champions Weekend

The Aidan O’Brien-trained St Mark’s Basilica is the headline act in the feature Irish Champion Stakes (2.45). It is one of five Group races on the top class racecard

Chris Hughes takes us around top racing stables Jackdaws Castle

St Mark’s Basilica is the headline act as the stars go head-to-head on day one of Longines Irish Champions Weekend.

Unbeaten this season, Aidan O’Brien’s top class performer exhibited a devastating turn of foot to defeat Mishriff in the Coral-Eclipse.

Fans were denied the eagerly awaited rematch when a freak injury ruled the Irish raider out of a trip to York for the Juddmonte International.

Back on home turf, nine-timer winner Tarnawa heads the opposition in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes (2.45), dropping back to 1m 2f for the Dermot Weld team.

Poetic Flare, this season’s 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace hero, is third in the betting, while Patrick Sarsfield is the outsider in the select field of four.

Here is Mirror Racing’s guide to the eight races…


LULLABY can call the tune in the opening contest of the fascinating fixture.

Aidan O’Brien has won the last two runnings of the Listed Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes – and Ryan Moore’s mount shaped well when pitched into Group 3 company on debut.

Jockey Ryan Moore can win the first race on Longines Irish Champions Weekend




Without Point Lonsdale in opposition, Group 2 KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes entrant MARITIME WINGS gets his chance to shine.

Runner-up twice behind the 2022 Derby favourite, Joseph O’Brien’s colt sets the standard for his rivals to aim at – and there should be more to come over a mile.


Thriving PEARLS GALORE is fancied to turn over favourite Mother Earth in the Group 1 Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes.

Just half-a-length behind reopposing Champers Elysees, when that rival was at the top of her game, this year the selection has won a pair of Group 3s with a bit to spare.

Her usual jockey Billy Lee can rue switching to Epona Plays, who nevertheless is a danger, alongside the O’Brien hotshot.


Value bet FEV ROVER has the engine to go close in the wide open Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile.

Richard Fahey sends the daughter of Gutaifan across the Irish Sea to contest the Group 2, as she bids to end the season how she started it.

An excellent third in the 1,000 Guineas, the return to decent ground should see her peak after an 85-day break.

She has won at his level on her travels also – and everything looks to be in her favour in receipt of the fillies’ allowance.


Punters have worshipped ST MARK’S BASILICA this season, a standout in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes.

Back from injury, O’Brien hopes the three-year-old can go some way to compensate for the loss of great stallion Galileo – and bagging another win is important here.

The Ballydoyle star made a mockery of the smart Mishriff at Sandown, as that rival and Addeybb has no answer to his stunning turn of foot.

He can repeat the performance against Tarnawa, at her best with a couple more furlongs to tackle.

Get an odds boost for the Irish Champions Stakes with Grovesnor Sport


Group 3 Paddy Power Stakes runner EARLSWOOD is the one to be on.

He had enough in hand of Innisfree in the Royal Whip to uphold the form and is top-rated here.


Plenty in with chances in a typically competitive Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Petingo’ Handicap.

PHOENIX COWBOY is on an upward curve for top combination Ger Lyons and Colin Keane, forging clear to win at Gowran last month.

St Mark’s Basilica (purple colours), pictured winning the 2020 Darley Dewhurst Stakes, has excelled at the top level this season



A 9lb higher mark may not be enough to halt his progress, while the Willie Mullins-trained N’GOLO is well-handicapped on his jumps form if sharper for his latest Flat run.

Stablemate HOOK UP, who carries the same colours as owner Rich Ricci, is also competitively weighted and the booking of Ryan Moore catches the eye.


Unexposed MASEN is the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Sovereign Path’ Handicap pick.

Hooded for his handicap debut, his Listed second is a useful form line in this company.

Johnny Murtagh gets the best out of his horses so a big run from RIOT, fresh from his first run for the trainer, would come as no surprise.

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