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Great line-up of Classic winners descend upon Leopardstown

By Johnny Ward

Even without Fascinating Rock, there are nine Group One winners and five Classic winners among the 13 declared for tomorrow's Qipco Irish Champion Stakes.

The biggest field in the race since it left the Phoenix Park for Leopardstown will include a dual Oaks-Guineas heroine, a previous winner of the race, a King George winner, two French Derby winners, an Eclipse winner - and a dual Derby winner in Harzand.

That Harzand's stable ally Fascinating Rock misses out due to reportedly unsatisfactory blood tests - thus denying Frankie Dettori a chance to equal Michael Kinane's record seven wins in the €1.25m event - is a minor blemish on an exciting occasion.

Little wonder course boss Pat Keogh labelled the line-up "quite unbelievable". He added: "The French horses have all arrived at the track and it's great that it should be lovely weather."

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