Hayley O'Connor previews Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and The Curragh 8 years ago

Hayley O'Connor previews Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and The Curragh

A bumper weekend of action will take place across two courses this weekend. Ladbrokes' Hayley O'Connor talks you through the ones to watch at The Curragh and Leopardstown.

Does intuition or instinct have any place in making money at the GGs, or should we all just try to be disciplined and limit our risk?


In fact, what's it all about really, making money or enjoyment? I don't know. Ideally I'm aiming for both.

People, predominantly silly, boring men, like to say things like 'no place for sentiment in the betting ring', and 'don't let your heart rule your head'. So what's the point then? Why go racing if the modus operandi is to back one odds-on favourite after then next?

But maybe I'm the one deluded, who gets my kicks from backing horses with less obvious form but who I believe have an intangible quality of 'something special' about them.

While some 'special' horses manage to monopolise our attention, others, often with better accolades, can command less, and I'm wondering why I don't feel the same excitement about seeing Australia, the odds-on favourite for the weekend's highlight (Irish Champion Stakes, Saturday, Leopardstown, 6.50), as I did the 2008 Champion Stakes winner New Approach or Snow Fairy in 2012. (I'm not equating Sea The Stars in this sentence because he is on a whole other level.)


Australia's Classic-winning parents were bound to produce something spectacular when their chromosomes collided and so far, genetics has prevailed. He's beautiful to look at and his career thus far has been pretty much exemplary but is there something a bit Pete Sampras-y about him?

Ballydoyle's star has shone brightly enough all season not to cloud high expectations but he is yet to be engraved on my list of 'greats'. Nearly nothing on form suggests he'll get turned over but strangely, for the blueblood, one legacy Australia supporters will hope he won't inherit, is getting beaten in this race.

His mother was defied by a neck in the 2006 edition, while Galileo suffered an even narrower defeat of just a head, and at odds not too far off his son's at 4/11. He was the shortest priced loser of the race in 20 years, in fact.

It looks plain sailing though - his optimal trip on his ideal ground and he's officially rated the highest in the field. It wouldn't be a massive addition to my day though to back him, staking enough for a bottle of Champagne to win a score, so I've invested, financially and emotionally elsewhere, on another inmate of the stable; Tapestry in the Matron Stakes (Leopardstown, Saturday, 5.45).


A beautifully bred but timid-looking type, she showed that what she lacks in physicality she makes up for in heart when beating the ferocious 1/5 favourite Taghrooda in the Yorkshire Oaks and I can see her winning streak continue over this shorter trip.

Next year's 2000 Guineas betting could have a shake-up after the National Stakes on Sunday (The Curragh, 4.10) and I think it will be Dutch Connection that will have us reaching for the scissors. He broke the juvenile track record in York when landing the Acomb Stakes last month and I think he'll progress this weekend.

And lastly, should she turn up, with every bit of sentiment in my heart and pennies in my pocket, I will be lumping on Chicquita in the 2.40 (Moyglare Blandford Stakes) on Sunday. I LOVE this filly, and just for fun, I've backed her of the Arc as well. She's far from straight forward and could take a detour to the finish, but as one of my favourite philosophers, Spinoza once said, all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.

So you can keep your penalty kicks and odds-on shots, but I'll continue backing the je ne sais quoi.


For the latest odds on the Irish Champion Stakes, and the rest of Irish Champions Weekend, just check out Ladbrokes.