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Saturday 21 October 2017

Sun sets on Flat season in Ireland with final meeting at Leopardstown

Soon Flat racing on grass in Ireland will be a distant memory as the season comes to an abrupt end at Leopardstown over the weekend - so soon that the November Handicap will take place on Sunday, in October.

After Sunday's finale at Leopardstown, the bright lights of Dundalk will be the only setting for all-Flat racing between now and next March but it has been the season that has given us Irish Champions Weekend, a meeting we will hopefully still be talking about many, many years from now.

Aidan O'Brien, by his own admission, has rushed a number of his two-year-olds to the track to get a run into them prior to the season's end and you get the feeling he's not alone in that ploy, which is a shame, as with the ground being as favourable as it is, you'd imagine the likes of a Naas or even the Curragh could host a couple of industry days concentrating on maidens predominantly.

Aside from the prestigious November Handicap, it is the two-year-olds who will take centre stage over the weekend, however, and not just at Leopardstown.

The ante-post markets will get a makeover following the Racing Post Trophy tomorrow which sees Aloft and Jacobean fly the flag for Ballydoyle and Ireland, while at home Royal Navy Ship will have his second outing in just under a fortnight in the Killavullan Stakes and he has already earned quotes of 16/1 for next year's Epsom Derby.

Jim Bolger, Dermot Weld and Ger Lyons, who have had fine seasons, all have entries of note at Foxrock over the weekend but as we begin to welcome back the National Hunt season proper, don't be surprised if familiar names from that sphere battle it out in the November Handicap.

formidable

Gordon Elliott has probably never had his team in better form and Bayan rarely lets him down, while Thomas Edison is a formidable representative from the Tony Martin yard.

Of course, don't expect Mr O'Brien or Mr Weld to disappear into the sunset just yet as they are likely to have a say in some of the bigger National Hunt races of the season also.

Not before we see significant rain, though.

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