Friday 24 November 2017

McCreery's Fiesolana set for shot at Matron

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Fiesolana, a sensational find for Willie McCreery this term, will tilt at windmills earlier than planned after her upwardly mobile Curragh handler confirmed that she is an intended starter in Saturday's Group One Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.

McCreery, who shares a lease in the triple Group Three-winning four-year-old, on Monday paid €20,000 to supplement her for the mares' mile event on the Irish Champion Stakes card, having last week nominated the Prix de la Foret on October 6 as her target.

While the Longchamp race hasn't been ruled out, he explained yesterday that the prospect of tackling less daunting opposition locally was too good to pass up.

"It's only an hour up the road, and we felt it would be an easier option than the Foret," McCreery said of the revised plan. "If we waited for the Foret, you would be taking on colts and geldings, and you don't know what might be happening with the weather by then.

"If we could snatch a place on Saturday, we'd get our money back and have a very valuable mare at the end of it. It's a race that usually cuts up, and there isn't going to be any rain before the weekend, so there are an awful lot of positives."

In winning four of her last five, Fiesolana has contributed total prize money of €165,000 since her arrival from France.

She bagged her latest Group Three when seeing off the triple Australian Group One winner Sea Siren at Tipperary two weeks ago, and McCreery is anxious to make the most of her momentum.

"She's in great shape," he explained, "and you like to strike while the iron is hot with mares. Maybe I'm clutching at straws on Saturday, but she deserves a crack at it."

Since saddling his first winner in 2008, McCreery has defied the difficult economic climate to establish himself as a real contender.


His father, Peter, achieved legendary status for producing Hilly Way to secure back-to-back Champion Chase glory at Cheltenham in 1979, and in 1994 his Clane-based brother of the same name enjoyed Irish Grand National success with the Franny Woods-ridden grey Son Of War.

McCreery, a former Kildare footballer who played in midfield in the 1998 All-Ireland final that the Lilywhites lost to Galway, has yet to enjoy such splendour.

However, with 2013 yielding 20 of his 87 career wins, this is his best year yet, so victory against rivals like Elusive Kate and Say in Saturday's €200,000 race would be some climax.

"The horses have been in form right from the start of the year," he said, "and Fiesolana has brought it up to another level for us. At the same time, you have to maximise what you have at your disposal, and that is something we always try to do."

Further afield, the prospect of a third Irish triumph in the Melbourne Cup on November 5 remains alive, with seven of the 135 nominations unveiled yesterday for Australia's most famous race trained here. Cup legend Dermot Weld has the classy four-year-old fillies Voleuse De Coeurs and Pale Mimosa to choose from this time.

Both beat the subsequent Galway Hurdle heroine Missunited in Listed company in their latest respective wins. Voleuse De Coeurs, which also slammed Mick Winters' mare in the 2012 Irish Cesarewitch at the Curragh, has come up short on her last two outings behind Aidan O'Brien's Ernest Hemingway and Johnny Murtagh's Royal Diamond.

Those two are also on the list of nominations for the Flemington feature, while O'Brien has Leading Light and Foundry to consider as well. Willie Mullins' Simenon, runner-up in Cup races at Ascot and York on his last two starts, completes the septet.

Meanwhile, Stephen Curran, owner of the top-class chaser Flemenstar, has failed to quell speculation that the three-time Grade One winner will be switched from Peter Casey's Dublin yard this winter.

"He's at home with me," Curran said when asked if Flemenstar would stay with Casey. "We won't make a decision for four or five weeks."

Irish Independent

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