All-Star Line-Up Faces Off in Irish Champion

All-Star Line-Up Faces Off in Irish Champion
Photo: Associated Press
Four-time grade I winning filly Alexander Goldrun among hopefuls in Saturday's Baileys Irish Champion Stakes.
By Mary Schweitzer
An all-star cast, led by this year's Vodafone Epsom Derby (Eng-I) winner Motivator and 2004 Irish Champion (Ire-I) winner Azamour will be lining up for Saturday's running of the Baileys Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Motivator, the dominating winner of the Epsom Derby in June, looks to add another group I win to his already impressive resume. The imposing dark bay colt has won four of five career starts, his lone loss being a close second in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) to Oratorio, who is also entered in the race. Motivator will be without the services of regular rider, Johnny Murtagh, who is currently serving a suspension. Kevin Darley, the regular partner of champion filly Attraction, has the mount.

The Aga Khan's Azamour looks to repeat his victory from 2004. He has won his last two starts, the Prince of Wales's Stakes (Eng-I) and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (Eng-I). However, no horse has ever won this race twice, and the last four favorites have been defeated. Christophe Soumillon comes in from France to ride.

Aidan O'Brien will be sending out a three-horse entry, led by dual group I winner Oratorio. The Danehill colt has Kieren Fallon in the saddle.

The other group I winners in the field certainly should not be overlooked. Dermot Weld's Grey Swallow poses as a legitimate threat, having won the 2004 Budweiser Irish Derby (Ire-I), and capturing the Tattersalls Gold Cup (Eng-I) earlier this year. The classy filly, Alexander Goldrun, has won group I races literally worldwide, traveling to Hong Kong last year to take the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup (HK-I). That victory is just one of her four group I wins. She captured the Vodafone Nassau Stakes (Eng-I) in her last start.

Rounding out the field are stakes winners Norse Dancer, Ace, Hazarista, Mona Lisa, and stakes-placed Temple Place.

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