Longines Irish Champions Weekend

This weekend features the highly anticipated Longines Irish Champions Weekend, featuring some of Europe's finest thoroughbred horses and races alike. Spread over two days, 9th & 10th September, the weekend features racing from both Curragh and Leopardstown racecourse.

You’d be forgiven to think these racecourses were within close proximity to each other (everyone else in the office did) - like a Sandown to Epsom distance. However, in reality they’re quite a distance apart.

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Nonetheless, racing fans from all over Ireland & the rest of the world will be sure to descend on the 2 day spectacle. This is certainly a weekend we’ve all been looking forward to for quite a while with 10 group races, 5 of which are group 1.

With the prize money exceeding €4.6 million over the two days, this makes it one of Europe's (and the world's) richest racing festival. Arguably, this is the biggest date in the Irish racing calendar! However, the weekend is more than just about the racing; it’s about the fashion, fun, elegance and excitement of it all.  

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Day one racing kicks off at the historic Leopardstown racecourse. Leopardstown is located on the outskirts of the Irish capital, Dublin, and is six miles south of the city centre. Any weekend to Dublin is one to remember for the rest of your life and one I would highly recommend you check out. The racecourse itself was completed in 1888 after being modelled on the notorious Sandown Park racecourse in Surrey (one for the pub quiz!)

The feature race of the day is the QIPCO Irish Champions Stakes - which is currently the highest rated turf race on the world! Not only this, but the prize money for the day stands at an eye watering €2.3 million. This is certainly a wonderful Irish sporting occasion not to be missed.

After the racing in the daytime, the evening will be one to look forward to. Dublin city centre will be full of racegoers alike looking for a fantastic evening. The humour and friendliness of the city will overwhelm you upon first arrival. Be warned, don’t get too carried away with the evening as you have another race meet to attend the following day!!!

After a good night's sleep (or not so good depending on how much you have drank), the following day features some more fantastic racing from Curragh. Whilst you nurse your hangover with some fantastic hospitality you may wish to browse over your race card, and you’ll be in for a treat. The feature race of the day is the Irish Champions Stakes. Churchill seems to be the one to beat here with the bookies already placing him to clinch victory at 4/5. Seems a bit short if you ask me as there is some healthy competition in the form of Highland Reel and Winter.

Nonetheless, this weekend is one I’m ecstatic about and one I will certainly be tuning into. What’s even better is it is still not too late to book! Racing Breaks have some fantastic deals for everyone’s needs with overnight packages starting from just £99! Check it out here.

Hong Kong International Races

The Longines Hong Kong Cup will be held on 10th December 2017, at Sha Tin racecourse. There are plenty of races to enjoy including the Hong Kong Cup, Hong Kong Mile and The Hong Kong Sprint, all classed as Group 1. This is the highlight of turf racing in Hong Kong and has a total purse of HK$83million making it the richest race in Hong Kong. The feature race of the day has a total prize money of HK$25million. The Hong Kong Cup is run over 2000m and is the premier end-of-year championship for the world’s top middle-distance horses. Last year Ryan Moore rode a winner for trainer Noriyuki Hori, Maurice, after a slow start from the stalls. Other previous winners includes California Memory who won the race consecutively in 2011 and 2012 with Matthew Chadwick and our very own ambassador Frankie Dettori, took the victory in 2003 on board Falbrav.

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The race was originally limited to horses trained in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore but eventually opened up to other countries and Europe in 1990. Sha Tin racecourse is one of two racecourses in Hong Kong, and will take approximately 40-45 minutes from central which is easy enough as there are several transport links from the centre of the city so getting around and exploring is super easy. Take a trip to Lantau Island where you can visit the giant Buddha via cable car plus a Tai O boat ride. Get a taste for chinese cuisine by taking a food tour through central and Sheung Wan districts or, if you fancy more of a fine dining, avant-garde experience, Felix in the Peninsula hotel is the one to try.  A tram tour is also on the list of things to do and will transport you to a fantastic viewing point at the Victoria Peak which, allows for you to see the delights of the city during the day or at night.

Packages with Racing Breaks start from £1,995 per person, where you will stay 4 nights at the deluxe Grand Hyatt hotel with breakfast included. This package gives you hospitality tickets to the thrilling racing at Sha Tin racecourse on Sunday, return flights and airport transfers.

To fill your week with even more racing delights, there is the opportunity to extend your stay and attend Hong Kong’s other racecourse, Happy Valley, for their race meeting on Wednesday 5th December. Our 6 night gold racing package includes hospitality to racing at Happy Valley on the Wednesday followed by a breakfast with the Stars on Thursday at Sha Tin racecourse and hospitality to racing at Sha Tin on the Sunday.

Click here to book your visit and find out more about the packages available.

Palio Di Siena

The Palio di Siena is a race like no other. This unique event only occurs twice every year on 2nd July and 16th August and attracts people from all over the world. It is not only  about the horse race itself, but the pride, pageantry and civic identity amongst the Sienese. The town of Siena is made up of seventeen ‘contrade’ or city wards who have been rivals for many years. Only ten horses are drawn for the race with jockeys riding bareback and wearing traditional colours of the contrade they represent. The night before the race, each horse is taken into their relevant contrade church to be blessed and kept away from any potential threats from other rivals. The origins of this race are medieval and date back to 1581 meaning there is a lot of history and culture surrounding this pinnacle event. Horses and jockeys run three laps around the famous ‘Piazza de Campo’ of Siena, Tuscany on a temporary sand surface and normally lasts around 75 seconds. With nail biting corners and high speeds, there is a much greater risk of riders being unseated however, an unmounted horse is still able to cross the line first and win.

Castel Monastero offers a minimum 3 night stay in the stunning setting on the one of Italy’s most beautiful regions. This ancient Monastery stands in a tiny 11th Century hamlet just 23km outside of Siena. Guests have access to an exclusive viewing point to watch the race; from the windows of a beautiful apartment situated in the square. Guests overlook a tricky 90 degree bend on the track which proves one of the biggest challenges throughout the race. Enjoy 5* hospitality with champagne, canapes and refreshments. There is also a personal guide to inform you about the incredible history and meaning behind this monumental event. After the race there are several proceedings and celebrations including flag-wavers, human towers a pageant and a huge feast.

Packages are now available from only £1,395 per person which includes a 3 night stay at the quaint italian hotel, Campo Regio Relais, located in the centre of Siena. This little hotel will make you feel a part of the Sienese way of life and experience the Palio from the heart of its origin. If you would prefer a more luxurious and relaxing get away from the excitement of the square, then simply choose our other package at £2,045 per person. Enjoy a three night stay at the luxurious and secluded Castel Monastero where you can indulge in a spa treatment and savour the delectable cuisine of local chef in partnership with  Gordon Ramsay. Enjoy your meal  with a selection of exclusive wines from the Castel Monastero vineyard. Vineyard tours are also available for those who would like to explore outside of the walls of this rural, historic retreat. Packages include return flights to Florence, airport transfers and car hire can be arranged if you wish to explore the delights of Tuscany independently.

An opportunity not to be missed and one to definitely tick off the bucket list!

Click here for more information about our packages and book now.