No Speak Alexander springs Matron Stakes surprise

Jessica Harrington hails ‘massive’ Longines Irish Champions Weekend success

Saturday, September 11, 2021
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Shane Foley celebrates Matron Stakes success aboard No Speak Alexander

No Speak Alexander sprung a surprise to bag the first Group 1 of Longines Irish Champions Weekend in dramatic fashion at Leopardstown, writes Paul Martin.

The 25-1 shot held off Pearls Galore and Mother Earth to finish first past the post and survived a lengthy stewards’ enquiry to land the €177,000 prize pot.

The enquiry came about to deliberate over whether favourite Mother Earth, piloted by Ryan Moore, was squeezed for space on the rail by Shane Foley on board the winner.

But following an anxious wait for Jessica Harrington and connections, no changes were made to the result and the trainer could celebrate a first ever Group 1 win for her three-year-old filly, who finished third in the Irish 1,000 Guineas earlier this season.

“Her day in the sun was today,” Harrington said. “Everything was right. 

“We’ve trained her for this day, we rode her the same way as we did in the Guineas up at the sharp end and she’s probably got a little bit stronger.

“It’s massive, absolutely massive.”

Shale and Flirting Bridge made the early running in the mile-long showpiece with Foley taking up prime position among the chasing pack.

The jostling began a couple of furlongs out as No Speak Alexander headed for the rail and just had enough in the tank to hold off Declan McDonogh on Pearls Galore as Paddy Twomey was forced to settle for another second place.

Mother Earth, seeking a third Group 1 of the year, found no room to manoeuvre and the much-fancied 6-5 favourite came home third, with last year’s winner Champers Elysees similarly searching for gaps which never arrived and ending up sixth. 

For the victor, this was the best possible return to form after a below-par display in the Prix Rothschild – which came after a 72-day break.

The filly is now eligible for the Breeders’ Cup but Harrington would not be drawn on whether a Stateside jaunt is in the offing.

“She likes a bit of nice ground,” she said. 

“We’ve no idea where we’re going with her, the plan was to enjoy today.”

Her day in the sun was today

- Jessica Harrington on No Speak Alexander

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