Chief Little Hawk and Seamie Heffernan winning from The Blue Panther (Gary Carroll) and Hyde Park Barracks (Padraig Beggy) in the "Irish Stallion EBF Colts Maiden) at Navan
Top trainer, Jessica Harrington and her stable jockey, Shane Foley, kept up their winning sequence since racing returned with a fine double at Navan this afternoon (Wedesday June 10).
Harrington garnered both the day’s feature events by a nose in photo finishes and can never have been as unruffled waiting for the judges’ verdict as in the aftermath of the Listed Irish Stallion Farms EBF Salsabil Stakes at Navan.
The Moone handler looked to have landed the spoils when Foley pushed One Voice to the lead inside the two-furlong pole, but a run from the clouds by stablemate Silence Please (10/1) left the matter in considerable doubt before the outsider got the verdict.
Unbeaten from two runs over seven furlongs as a two-year-old, the daughter of Gleneagles needed every metre of the three-furlong step up, in the hands of Tom Madden, sprouting wings to just catch One Voice, with long-time leader Raven’s Cry back in third.
“She’s turned into a grand filly this year. I won on her first time in Gowran in an auction race and she’s done very well over the winter” said Madden.
“Jessie said to give her a chance early, sit behind the pace and have one go at them out of the dip. They went nice and even and she came home really well.
“It was only her third run. Going forward I’d say a mile and a half would be no problem the way she settles and relaxes and travels. Hopefully, it’ll be an exciting year for the filly.”
It was the most prestigious success of Madden’s career and vital for Harrington’s No 2, having lost his claim at the end of 2019.
“First year without the claim is going to be tough but I was always told keep the head down, keep your mouth shut, keep doing what you’re told, work hard and hopefully things will work out.”
A half-hour later, Foley was on the right side of a head-bobber, this time holding on with Ancient Spirit in the Heritage Stakes.
Front-running tactics paid handsome dividends throughout the day and Ancient Minds was ahead within a furlong of the break. Foley kept a lid on the keen-travelling five-year-old well and kicked for home two out.
Joseph O’Brien’s Buckhurst came with a late rally under Wayne Lordan and though falling just short, connections will be pleased with the all the middle-distance targets in sight later in the year.
“I stayed out wide for the first furlong and a half just to make sure nothing was gonna rush down his outside” explained Foley.
“He’s an aggressive horse. I never ride him at home. He’s not simple and Seanie (Byrne) does a great job on him but he’s a lot of ability. I wasn’t sure about the ground and he leaned a bit right but I think that’s him, he’s quirky.
“We like our lad and going forward that’s probably the trip for him, with a little bit more juice in the ground.”
Like Harrington and Albigna in the Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas on Saturday, Ger Lyons will saddle the favourite in the 2000 Guineas the day before. The Glenburnie handler and Colin Keane received a nice boost when well-educated debutant Frenetic (11/4f) bounced out of an inside berth to make all in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden for fillies.
The daughter of Kodiac never saw another rival and was not extended in prevailing by a length and three-quarters.
Aidan O’Brien has taken the covers off a number of smart prospects since racing resumed in Ireland on Monday and the champion trainer unleashed another likely contender for top juvenile prizes in cosy Irish Stallion Farms EBF (Colts and Geldings) Maiden victor, Chief Little Hawk (7/2).
An early representative of Air Force Blue’s first two-year-old crop, like eye-catching third Hyde Park Barracks, the winner possesses much of his sire’s precocity and while he has much to do to match his sire’s debut campaign – one that yielded three Group 1s – there was a lot to like about this pillar-to-post debut.
You’resobeautiful (13/8f) was another all-the-way winner in the Irish Stallion Farms Maiden for three-year-olds, Chris Hayes doing the steering on the Fozzy Stack filly.
Foley registered the first leg of his double in the second division of the Navan Handicap, galvanising a late run from the Ger O’Leary-conditioned Blastofmagic (4/1f) to edge out Ticks The Boxes by a short head.
It was lucky 13 for Boughtinthedark (16/1), who belied her previous inability to score in a dozen outings with a very comfortable triumph in the Navan Handicap’s first division. Joe Doyle never had a moment’s concern on Denis Hogan’s charge, who had four and a quarter lengths to spare at the line.
The racing concluded with Mutadaawel (20/1) being navigated brilliantly by jockey Conor McGovern from a wide berth in the Proudstown Handicap and then showing a fantastic attitude to hold off Ambitious Approach made by a short head for trainer Anthony McCann and owner Rita Shah