Confidence behind Fiesolana bid

Trainer Willie McCreery is confident Fiesolana can repay the faith of her connections by making her presence felt in the Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes (5.45pm) at Leopardstown.

Confidence behind Fiesolana bid

Since joining Curragh-based McCreery from French handler Jean-Claude Rouget earlier in the year, the four-year-old has clinched a Curragh handicap and three Group 3 prizes, at Leopardstown, Fairyhouse and Tipperary.

She steps up to Group 1 company this weekend, having been supplemented for the one-mile contest on Monday, and McCreery is keeping his fingers crossed the owners at least get their money back by finishing in the frame.

“She’s in great form. She came out of her race at Tipperary very well and we’re looking forward to it,” the trainer told At The Races.

“We’re clutching at straws a little bit, but she deserves to be there. She’s won three Group 3s this year, so what else can you do? There’s nothing much left for her.

“Her wins this year have all been on watered ground. I don’t know if she needs a bit of cut in the ground.

“She has a very high cruising speed and she’s able to quicken off it.

“She did that the last day and she saves a little bit for herself when she hits the front as well.

“When we got her she was rated 92 and I thought she’d be a hard mare to place, but all she’s done is progress and everything we’ve asked, she’s answered.

“She has a good draw, Billy (Lee, jockey) knows her well and she’s very straightforward in her races.

“The mile shouldn’t be a problem and once we get this rain that we’re meant to get, the ground will be absolutely perfect.

“We’re in there, we’re happy to be there and we have a chance, we hope.

“I’d be very disappointed if we’re not in the frame, mainly because we paid £20,000 on Monday and if we’re not in the first three we don’t get it back.”

French trainer Henri-Alex Pantall won the Matron back in 1997 with Clerio and returns with another major challenger in Kenhope.

Second in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and third in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville, she is another filly unlikely to be inconvenienced if ground conditions deteriorate.

Pantall’s assistant, Ludovec Gadben, said: “She has recovered very well from her last race at Deauville and she travelled well to Ireland and arrived on Thursday morning. Everything is going in a good way for the filly.

“It was good news for us that Elusive Kate does not run. We were in third place behind her last time when just beaten for second by another good filly (Duntle).

“She is a tough filly and has been running well all year at a high level so we think she should run very well.

“Any rain would be good news for her. She goes on all ground but she is better if it is somewhere between good and heavy.

“She has run well on all types of racecourses so the track won’t be a problem for her. She can pull during a race but she is like that and the jockey knows that. It will not be a problem.

“She can be far away during the race and can come back pretty quickly at the end of the race and can do a good final stretch from behind. I hope she can win. We have travelled in the hope of that, we will see.”

Aidan O’Brien saddles Just Pretending, Say and Magical Dream.

The Ballydoyle handler told “Just Pretending last ran over one mile when third in the Irish 1,000 Guineas. She’s in good form and, hopefully, the ground will stay good or better as that suits her best.

“Say has been running consistently well recently. She won over nine furlongs at the Curragh last time and while she is dropping down another furlong in trip, she is in good form.

“Magical Dream ran well in the Nassau Stakes last time when she didn’t have much luck in running.

“She’s well and if there is ease in the ground that won’t be a problem for her.”

Kevin Prendergast’s La Collina was a Group One-winning two-year-old and was not beaten far when fifth in last year’s Matron.

Prendergast said: “She was only beaten a couple of lengths last year and suffered a bit of interference, so I’m hoping she’ll run a big race.

“Most of her runs this season have been good. The ground is pretty fast at the moment, so a drop of rain won’t do it any harm.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox