Mike Quigley

Irish horse racing, betting and other stuff

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Champions’ Weekend 

14/15 September 2019

The huge new stand at The Curragh seen from outside Nijinsky's Club



I travelled to Dublin BA from Heathrow, flying out on Thursday in order to enjoy an extra day in the city. It didn’t start well with my hotel of choice not being a good one. 

This was the Castle Hotel, see my tripadvisor review for more information.

My first evening meal was at PhoViet where I enjoyed one of their vermicelli dishes with a beer from Saigon. Recommended.  

On Friday I checked out the Dublin City Gallery, just across the road from my hotel. It’s undergoing refurbishment but there is still quite a lot to see (free). 

Then followed a guitar and ronrocco concert at the NCH. The ronrocco is a very interesting instrument not seen much outside Argentina. 

The highlights were the Piazzolla pieces. A week earlier I’d heard Piazzolla on “four-hand” piano in London and must admit I much prefer the string versions. 


14 September: admission charge 30 euro (20 euro seniors)

The familiar 22-minute Luas Line to Sandyford from St Stephen’s Green was followed by the free shuttle bus to the track. 

Entry a decent deal for oldies at just 20 euro. Eight races in prospect with not much of a clue what to back. 

Although quite busy (around 13,500 I believe) there was plenty of room to move around and quite a lot of free seating.

Horses parade for the Champion Stakes. Magical (5) leads Deirdre (3)

I’d backed Deirdre in the morning for the Champion Stakes @ 14/1. As there were exactly eight runners this was an each-way play. 

Extremely disappointed to see her finish fourth given plenty to do as they turned into the straight. 

I did manage to back a couple of winners though: Norway, taken at 13/2 at the start of racing (SP 7/2) and Iridessa around 13.0 on Betfair (SP 10/1). 

That meant a profit at the track all of which I lost at the Chester meeting!

The biggest disappointment though came in the impossible last, a 17-runner 7f handicap. 

I played three against the field on Betfair including Black Magic Woman (50.0, 2nd beaten a neck) and Ice Cold Alex (12.0, 3rd beaten two necks). 

Fortunately, perhaps, I couldn’t hear the commentary in the home straight and was unaware Black Magic Woman was in the photo.

We were back in Dublin just after 7pm and were fortunate to secure a table at Peruke & Periwig, an interesting restaurant the address with which I have a family connection. 

Click here to learn about that and the excellent meal we enjoyed.

The Curragh

15 September: admission charge 35 euro (30 euro seniors)

Not such a great concession for oldies here, a 14% reduction compared to 33% at Leopardstown. 

Train from Heuston arriving at Kildare was greeted with two large coaches for transfer to the track – which took around ten minutes. 

My first visit since the 81m euro refurbishment. Overall, I was impressed. It seemed busier than Leopardstown, which it wasn’t (around 10,000 here). 

Most crowded point was the walkway between the paddock and stands.

We arrived just after noon and decided to listen to the Paddy Power Winning Line pre-race tipsters. This was staged in the Champions’ Quarter adjacent to the Pre-Parade Ring. 

It started 20 minutes late. Not a problem for us other than the deafening disco music played in the interim. 

The tipping panel was mixed. One pundit put up his nap in the 24-runner 6f opener, declaring it was “value around 12/1” as he was saying this, I looked at Betfair to see it was quoted at 38.0! 

A better selection the panel was keen on at a decent price was Fairyland, which I was considering punting anyway. It was Ruby’s sole selection in the race. 

I took some 16.5 Betfair. 


The panel consider the action ahead (Ruby was late!)

Later there was live entertainment in the "Quarter" – electric violin 

I played quite big in the first but my main selection – Venturous – could only finish seventh. My “purple patch” came in the third and fourth races. 

Firstly, Fairyland prevailed by a short-head (SP 12/1) and then, continuing with the same combination (AOB/RLM),  

Love, which I’d watched win comfortably at Leopardstown on 25 July won here at 6/1.


 Nijinsky’s Club

All the food outlets were extremely busy except the blue wagon adjacent to Nijinsky’s Club. 

Yes, the choice was limited but the pork sausage hot dog was pretty good and no queuing! In the Club, “background” music between races was too loud. 

You could just about hear the trainer interviews if you stood close to a TV monitor.

Having watched Pinatubo win by half the track, we had a couple of losing bets on the Irish St. Leger and decided to call it a day. 

We’d seen seven of the nine races here and all eight at Leopardstown. Today had been a winning day too with no British racing of interest. 

No problem getting a seat in the stands right opposite the winning post!



We met up with the "Secret Racegoer" (from the Racing Hub) on the train back into Dublin

and the journey soon passed discussing all the weekend's racing. 

It was still pouring with rain when we reached Heuston so we got a cab up to Searson’s to enjoy the Sunday jazz and an excellent meal. 

I had the salmon served with garlic & thyme rotisserie baby potatoes, tender stem broccoli, parsnip puree, fresh radish & beurre rouge. Delicious.

The Zanzibar Jazz Quartet at Searson’s


A tremendous weekend, profitable too despite being dented by Chester losses. I tell myself if I'd stayed at home it would have been a losing weekend 

because Deirdre would probably have been my only bet in Ireland!


September 2019