Joy for Jessica Harrington in thrilling Navan finales

Jessica Harrington’s Ancient Spirit has his own mind but is undoubtedly very talented and he proved so once more when taking the Heritage Stakes under Shane Foley.
Joy for Jessica Harrington in thrilling Navan finales
Silence Please and Tom Madden (nearside) wins in a photo finish from stablemate One Voice (hidden, far) in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Salsabil Stakes for Jessica Harrington at Navan yesterday. Picture: Healy Racing
Silence Please and Tom Madden (nearside) wins in a photo finish from stablemate One Voice (hidden, far) in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Salsabil Stakes for Jessica Harrington at Navan yesterday. Picture: Healy Racing

Photo finishes were the order of the day at Navan, but trainer Jessica Harrington won’t have minded as her horses came out on top in such finishes to both listed races, in one of which she had the first two home.

That was the Irish Stallion Farms Salsabil Stakes, in which the Tom Madden-ridden Silence Please edged out Shane Foley and One Voice. Raven’s Cry set out to make all and ran a fine race in defeat, but One Voice took over just inside the final furlong and quickly moved a length clear.

However, her stablemate, Silence Please, who had been last of the main bunch most of the way, responded to Madden’s pressure and got there in the final stride to pick up the near €30,000 winner’s prize.

“She’s turned into a grand filly this year,” said Madden of his unbeaten mount. “I won on her first time in Gowran in an auction race and she has done very well over the winter. 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.

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.

Madden, who is in his first season without a claim, added: “It’s 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.”

Harrington’s Ancient Spirit has his own mind but is undoubtedly very talented and he proved so once more when taking the Heritage Stakes under Shane Foley.

In front early, he tried to kick on in the straight but looked to be a sitting duck as the field closed up in behind. Buckhurst, dropping back to a mile for the first time since his debut, mounted a very strong challenge down the outside but, credit to Ancient Spirit, he stuck to his task with great determination and prevailed by a nose.

“I stayed out wide for the first furlong and a half just to make sure nothing was going to 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 has 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.”

That completed a double for Foley, who had earlier given the Ger O’Leary-trained Blastofmagic a well-judged ride to take the second division of the Navan Handicap.

Tick The Boxes went for home inside the final quarter mile but the winner, who had travelled well, produced a sustained effort on his outer to land the spoils in a photo finish.

Ger Lyons and Colin Keane each drew a blank on the first two days this week but righted that wrong by taking the opening two-year-old fillies’ maiden with Frenetic.

Late money ensured she was sent off favourite in the field of newcomers and it was evident very quickly that she knew her job.

She showed plenty of speed to take an early lead and maintained her gallop to win with a degree of authority, from Ballydoyle duo Mother Earth and Snowfall.

Denis Hogan has made a good start to the season and Boughtinthedark gave the Cloughjordan trainer another winner when running away with the first division of the Navan Handicap. It was a lucky thirteenth outing for Michael O’Sullivan’s Dandy Man filly.

Three-time Group 1 winner Air Force Blue had his first runners in Ireland in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden, over five furlongs, and Chief Little Hawk made the perfect start to his and his sire’s stallion career with a professional display.

Seamie Heffernan’s mount popped the gates in great style, found his rhythm very quickly and dictated all the way.

The Blue Panther ran a superb race from off the pace to finish second, but the winner looked a really bright prospect. Third-placed Hyde Park Barrack, also by Air Force Blue, also showed up well and will have no trouble winning races.

Fozzy Stack got off the mark for the week when You’resobeautiful justified favouritism in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden over five furlongs. With the benefit of a previous run, she was quick to break and commanded the rail position throughout.

Though she had plenty of challenges, chiefly from Illetas and the strong-travelling Na Blianta Beo, she ran on well to the line to score with a little bit in hand.

To end a competitive day’s racing, Mutadaawel, trained by Anthony McCann and ridden by Conor McGovern, battled back to beat Ambitious Approach by a short head.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

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