Leopardstown: Matron magic for Fiesolana
Fiesolana gave connections a day to remember in the Group 1 Matron Stakes on day one of the inaugural Irish Champions Weekend, providing trainer Willie McCreery and jockey Billy Lee a first victory at the highest level. It was a fantastic ride by the the unheralded Lee who was made to wait patiently for a gap to appear before producing the 5yo at the ideal time.
Fiesolana had been a very progressive filly last season, starting with a handicap victory at the Curragh before going on to win four Group races, the last of which was in the Group 2 Dubai Challenge Stakes at Newmarket. She had also finished fifth in this race last season but had so far failed to get her head in front this season, despite some game efforts.
She had been to France on two occasions where she met with softer than suitable ground but back on a sounder surface today, put in a flawless performance to beat some top level in the one mile contest.
Going by the market it was billed as a straight fight out between recent Yorkshire Oaks winner Tapestry who was dropping in trip and British raider Rizeena – this Season’s Coronation Stakes winner. Tapestry was given a toe into the race by stable mate Palace and kicked for home early in an attempt to make it a real test of stamina.
Rizeena was still travelling well coming to the pole and looked the likely winner as Ryan Moore kicked for home. Fiesolana was still cruising in behind under a patient Lee and despite having to wait for a gap to come between Rizeena and the fading Tapestry, went clear when getting room to win by a going away 1/2 length. Rizeena finished second, with 40/1 shot Tobann back in third.
Lee said: “It’s unreal, I was getting a bit emotional coming in. The race went to plan brilliantly. I did get caught in a bit of a pocket a furlong out but I just sat and it probably helped her let her fill up her lungs.
“I thought Ryan Moore would bring me where I wanted to go and I followed him through. Ryan kicked for home but I had no room. The gap came and she was good enough to take it.
“To win a Group 1 on home soil is very special. It is very hard, there are a lot of guys in the weigh-room who havn’t.”
By Kevin Walsh / Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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