The 2023 running of the Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes has attracted an outstanding field of runners with contenders from all over Europe travelling to Leopardstown to do battle with a strong Irish based contingent headed by the Aidan O’Brien trained dual Derby winner, Auguste Rodin, and last year’s big race winner, Luxembourg.
The Group 1 Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes is the headline act in the Kingdom’s race sponsorship portfolio, which in 2023 was expanded to include the new ‘Dublin to Bahrain’ race series, an initiative designed to further strengthen sporting and business links between the two countries.
Shaikh Salman bin Rashed Al Khalifa, Bahrain Turf Club High Committee Representative, International Racing, said:
“It is an honour to be associated with one of the world’s greatest races. We are particularly excited by the calibre and mix of runners the race has attracted. Not only is the field likely to include the two-time Derby winner Auguste Rodin, but we also have several Group 1 winners from France and from the UK.
“Consequently, with so many fascinating contenders and individual clashes to look forward to, this year’s renewal of the Royal Bahrain Irish Champions Stakes looks set to be an exceptional one.
“We are very much looking forward to celebrating the Kingdom’s support for such a prestigious race. It is an important day for all concerned and we are delighted to be part of Irish Champions Festival.”
Saturday’s race will witness the third meeting of Auguste Rodin and King Of Steel, first and second in the Derby at Epsom, as well as a re-match of the 1-2 in last year’s Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes as the winner Luxembourg renews battle with the French trained, Onesto, the mount of Frankie Dettori, who bids for a record equalling seventh win in the race. Also due to line-up on Saturday is three-time Group 1 winner Nashwa and Qipco Champion Stakes winner, Bay Bridge.
Adding further spice to the race is Alflaila, supplemented at today’s entry stage by owners Shadwell Estate. Trained by Owen Burrows, Alflaila is unbeaten in his last four starts and the colt was on course to round off his 2022 campaign in the Bahrain International Trophy before a setback ruled him out. The winner of a Group 2 race at York on his only run to date this year, he is another intriguing runner in this year’s Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes.
Angus Gold, Racing Manager to Shadwell Estate, said: “Going to Ireland has been the plan since Alflaila won well on his comeback at York at the end of July. Ability wise he has just kept on improving and he has relished each step up in distance. It will be interesting to see how he gets on in Group 1 company, but he is going to Leopardstown as a fresh horse and in great form.”