A GUARANTEED dry day and no competition from Britain should help Leopardstown Racecourse draw a strong attendance to today’s Irish Champion Stakes fixture, the opening day of Irish Champions Weekend.

By contrast, the Curragh Racecourse has been dealt a tougher hand for its top-quality card on Sunday. Rain during the afternoon looks highly likely and the meeting now clashes with a rescheduled nine-race St Leger card at Doncaster.

The death of Queen Elizabeth II had an unusual consequence for Leopardstown in that big race sponsor Bahrain Turf Club has asked for its Royal Bahrain prefix to be removed from the name of today’s Irish Champion Stakes, as a mark of respect to the late monarch. Bahrain is a member of the Commonwealth.

Racecourse manager Tim Husbands said: “The King of Bahrain has entered into a period of mourning, so this is entirely appropriate.”

Husbands acknowledged that events this week have conspired in Leopardstown’s favour. “Our big race was always going to have international appeal, with the French and British runners. But now that we are the only racemeeting taking place in Britain and Ireland there’s no doubt the interest will be higher again. I hope people are aware you can buy tickets on the day.”

Irish Champion Stakes day typically attracts between 10,000 and 13,000 people. However, due to Covid-19 the 2020 edition was staged behind closed doors and only 4,000 were permitted inside last year.

“We’re expecting very good weather on Saturday,” Husbands said yesterday afternoon. “The ground is soft but drying all the time.”

At the Curragh, the going was described on Friday as yielding on the straight course and good to yielding on the round track. Clerk of the course Brendan Sheridan said: “The forecast is uncertain. Saturday will be dry but there is more rain coming on Sunday from 10am through to mid-afternoon. There could be between 10-15mls. It’s not ideal but that’s what we have.”

Sunday’s card now clashes with the St Leger at Doncaster as well as the Arc trials at ParisLongchamp. At 11.30am on Friday the British Horseracing Authority confirmed that Saturday would be a blank day for racing in Britain as “an ongoing mark of respect” following the death of Queen Elizabeth.

Racing at Southwell and Chelmsford on Thursday evening was cut short for the same reason, while Friday’s meetings in Britain were also cancelled.

In addition to the St Leger, the Champagne Stakes and the Park Stakes, the Doncaster Cup and the Flying Childers Stakes have been saved from Friday’s cancelled fixture to form a nine-race Doncaster card on Sunday.

Chepstow is also set to go ahead on Sunday but Musselburgh’s meeting on the same afternoon has been called off due to the late monarch lying in state in Edinburgh.