Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 19 October 2019

Millisle hits spot for Harrington

Millisle jockey Shane Foley is congratulated by trainer Jessica Harrington after winning The Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket yesterday. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire.
Millisle jockey Shane Foley is congratulated by trainer Jessica Harrington after winning The Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket yesterday. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire.

Daragh O Conchuir

Jessica Harrington secured the Group 1 her unprecedented season of flat success demanded when Millisle streaked clear under Shane Foley to record a stunning success in the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket yesterday.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Chase and Champion Hurdle are all part of the considerable Harrington roll of honour but the Commonstown Stud handler has increased her operation on the level in recent years.

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Alpha Centauri provided Harrington with her first Classic success in the Irish 1,000 Guineas last year and finished her career with four Group 1s, but it is the juveniles that have shone this season.

"We were very frightened in March because we couldn't find a bad one and we thought, they're either all useless or we have a good crop!" said a laughing Harrington afterwards.

The latter proved the case as Millisle was providing her trainer with a staggering 27th two-year-old success of the campaign. The vast majority of those have come from fillies so it was fitting that a member of the fairer sex provided her handler with a sixth career Group 1.

Raffle Prize was prominent from the break, just off the early hot pace set by the Aidan O'Brien-trained Tango and Lowther victor Living In The Past.

Frankie Dettori moved the 10/11 favourite to the front at the half-way mark, by which point the 16/1 winner was struggling to remain in contention.

Stamina kicked in, however, as Millisle found another leg inside the final furlong to take the spoils comfortably by one-and- three-quarter lengths in a wind-assisted track record time of 1:09:39.

"When she went to Salisbury (for the Dick Poole Stakes, in which the Curragh Listed victor was beaten by a short head) she made the running because we wanted to make sure it was a good pace," Harrington explained.

"She was probably a bit idle in front and got passed but was coming back in the end so we were pretty sure she'd stay well."

Foley is no stranger to big-race success, having completed the Irish Guineas double. However, he is currently on a career-best 68 winners on home turf in his first season as Harrington's retained jockey and was securing his first Group 1 triumph on foreign territory.

"She jumped smart but I wanted to get a lead and by the time I sat they'd gone away from her a bit," the Kilkenny native revealed. "She was outpaced through the early part of the race but once I got down into the dip and she met the rising ground, she really motored. I was (worried at half-way) but I knew she'd finish.

"I said it a couple of weeks ago, Jessie deserves to get a Group 1 with these fillies and I'm glad we got one."

The other Group 1 race on the card, the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes, was touted as possibly the race of the season but it was robbed of much of its lustre when Ger Lyons' unbeaten Group 1 winner Siskin reared in the stalls and was withdrawn.

Jockey Colin Keane emerged unscathed afterwards and so did Siskin, apart from suffering some cuts and bruising.

The highly-fancied Mums Tipple failed to land a blow and it was Earthlight who scored for jockey Mickael Barzalona and Andre Fabre, the French trainer who claimed this prize for the third time.

There was further big-race success for Irish-based trainers when Aidan O'Brien landed the Group 2 Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes with the outsider of his three contestants, Royal Dornach.

It was a third major success of the season over the Rowley Mile and third in all for jockey Wayne Lordan, who piloted Hermosa to English 1,000 Guineas glory in May, having done likewise on Winter two seasons ago.

At the Curragh, Kastasa made it four wins from five this term when making little of the step up into group company to win the Group 3 Holden Plant Rentals Loughbrown Stakes for Dermot Weld.

Earlier, Speak In Colours had the best form in the race as a Group 2 winner and Joseph O'Brien's charge was too strong for Downforce in the Group 3 AES Renaissance Stakes under Shane Crosse.

Make A Challenge was an effortless winner in the €50,000 Manguard Plus Joe McGrath Handicap landing his fifth success of the season for Denis Hogan, with Joe Doyle doing the steering.

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