Irish Champions Weekend: Take on Ballydoyle – The Top Three

Irish Champions Stakes

Irish Champions Weekend has already been one to remember, not just because of the horses, but purely thanks to Jerry Hannon’s commentary for the Group 1 Irish Champions Stakes.

All jokes aside, yesterday was an enjoyable watch from post to pillar and for The Top Three readers, we were a head away from landing an 8/1 winner in the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes.

Alas, it wasn’t to be and with Gallant Lion’s slight disappointment at Ascot alongside Urban Sprawl’s tame effort in the last at Leopardstown, we are searching for a winner today.

So, with some brilliant races ahead of us, let’s begin.


2:25 Curragh – Insinuendo @ 10/1 with William Hill – 1pt EW

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The first Group race of the day is the Blandford Stakes and back for another bite at the cherry is Insinuendo having run into Above The Curve – a future four-time Group 1-placed mare for Aidan O’Brien – in last year’s renewal.

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The six-year-old by Gleneagles has been the stable star for Willie McCreery for several years and over the last 12 months, she has taken connections to Champions Day at Ascot and as well as the Bahrain International Trophy.

Despite her age in a contest that includes eight three-year-olds, meaning she will give away six pounds to them, she is the one with the best form in the book.

Firstly, she gave five pounds away to Luxembourg – a future Group 1 Irish Champions Stakes winner – in last year’s Group 3 Royal Whip when only beaten by a neck.

Two months later, she rocked up at 80/1 in the Group 1 British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes and put in a remarkable effort on a slightly unfavourable good-to-soft surface to finish third to Emily Upjohn.

Following an average run in the Bahrain International Trophy, she began this season with a comfortable success over a mile on soft-to-heavy ground at the Curragh; considering her best form is over 10 furlongs on good ground, this run can be marked up.

With two victories at the course and some good efforts in defeat over course and distance, Insinuendo looks to be a cracking each-way bet in the Blandford Stakes and thanks to her two-month break from the track, she should be fresh and ready to go.


3:25 Curragh – Porta Fortuna @ 13/2 General – 1pt EW

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This year’s Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes is a fascinating contest with nine runners set to head under the starter’s orders.

As with juvenile races at this time of the year, plenty in here could unleash potential ability that they have yet to fully show, however, without knowing what will happen for sure, Porta Fortuna is the solid option at 15/2.

Trained by Donnacha O’Brien, she has the unenviable task of taking on his dad’s Ylang Ylang at the head of the market as well as Willie McCreery’s Vespertillo who was second to today’s even-money favourite before her success in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes last month.

That being said, Porta Fortuna is definitely the form horse of the contest thanks to her second to Bucanero Fuerte in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes last time out, a performance that can be marked up as she raced predominantly on the near side which was slightly unfavourable throughout the day.

Prior to that run, she was sent off a well-backed 5/1 for the Group 3 Albany Stakes and won impressively under Frankie Dettori – who will get the leg up today – and the form of that race has been boosted thanks to Matrika’s Group 2 win on her next start.

Furthermore, out of the Holy Roman Emperor mare Too Precious, a winner over 1m4f, today’s seven-furlong trip looks a step in the right direction and even though her sire is the brilliant sprinter Caravaggio, he has had more runners and winners between seven and nine furlongs than in the sprinting distances since his first crop hit the track in 2021.

Of course, the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes looks like a tough race to win, but the form horse is Porta Fortuna and she is a big price at 13/2.


4:00 Curragh – Bucanero Fuerte @ 4/1 with William Hill – 2pt Win

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The Group 1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes is my race of the weekend based on pure excitement levels as the potential clash of City Of Troy, Bucanero Fuerte, and Henry Longfellow is mouthwatering.

Although the Aidan O’Brien-trained first-string is a well-fancied favourite, I’m willing to go against the Ballydoyle pair with Bucanero Fuerte.

Although City Of Troy’s performance to beat Haatem by six lengths in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes was visually impressive, I think that the form of the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes victory is better and Adrian Murray’s Wootton Bassett colt he made all on his side of the track – despite the attempted implementation of a pacemaker with stablemate Launch – was no small feat.

Luckily for connections, owner and stablemate Cuban Thunder is next to Bucanero Fuerte in stall four today, so he will have an easy lead into the contest.

So on form, he has a good chance, but what about his step up to seven furlongs?

A glance at his pedigree shows that his full-brother Wooded started life as a seven-furlong horse and was successful on his second start at the trip, finished fourth to Pinatubo in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat, and then won the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye over five furlongs on his final career start.

His other half-brother, Beat Le Bon, won the 2019 edition of the valuable Golden Mile Handicap at Goodwood and has since placed over two miles in America over hurdles, so his pedigree would suggest today’s trip should be no problem.

At 4/1 against a 4/7 favourite, he looks like a good price for his quality and hopefully, he can produce a stunning performance at the Curragh.

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