QIPCO to back Irish Champion

Qipco Holding has agreed a three-year deal with Horse Racing Ireland to sponsor the Irish Champion Stakes for the next three years.

The mile-and-a-quarter Group One, run at Leopardstown on September 13, is the feature race on day one of the new Irish Champions Weekend.

The prize-fund for this year's Qipco Irish Champion Stakes will be E1,000,000, up from E750,000 in 2013.

Qipco is already a major sponsor in the UK, backing British Champions Day at Ascot and other feature races including the 2000 and 1000 Guineas.

Qipco Holding director Sheikh Fahad Bin Abdullah Al Thani said: "The deal builds on our existing ties and investment in Ireland via the horses in training we have there under the banner of Qatar Racing, a subsidiary of Qipco Holding.

"Sponsorship of the Irish Champion Stakes compliments our portfolio of interests in Britain, which include the key middle-distance championship races at Ascot, the King George and the Qipco Champions Stakes on British Champions Day."

HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: "The Irish Champion Stakes is one of the most important races in the international flat racing calendar.

"With the involvement of Qipco it can become the first leg of a 'Triple Crown' of European Championship races, followed by the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp and the Qipco British Champions Stakes at Ascot in October."