No Speak Alexander and Atomic Jones win Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races at Leopardstown

September 11, 2021

No Speak Alexander (25/1) caused a huge surprise in the €300,000 Group 1 Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday, the opening day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend.

The three-year-old filly was in third place early doors before making her challenge two furlongs from home. Shane Foley got his mount into the lead before the one furlong marker and a determined effort from the Mountarmstrong Stud-bred filly saw her claim the major prize by a neck from Pearls Galore (7/1) under Declan McDonagh, for conditioner Paddy Twomey.

Mother Earth (6/5f), winner of the Group 1 QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, England, in May, was an unlucky third in today’s Breeders’ Cup Challenge race.

Ridden by Ryan Moore, the daughter of Zoffany had tracked the eventual runner into the home stretch. 

When Moore asked Mother Earth to challenge, she failed to find a clear passage to the finishing line, as Foley on No Speak Alexander, as well as horses weakening towards the end of the race, prevented Mother Earth from making progress along the rail. 

A frustrated Moore was left with no option other than to ease the filly, eventually finishing a length and a quarter behind in third.

No Speak Alexander, who finished third in May’s Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas at The Curragh, survived a Stewards’ Enquiry but her rider was handed a five day suspension for careless riding. 

It was revenge for the O’Callaghan Family-owned three-year-old who had finished back in seventh, behind Mother Earth, when the pair clashed in the Group 1 Prix Rothschild at Deauville on 3 August. Ironically No Speak Alexander was the horse that found trouble in running the last day, having being knocked about over a furlong down.

Mother Earth’s stable companion, Empress Josephine (33/1) finished fourth in the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes.

No Speak Alexander, a winning daughter of Shalaa was the first of three success on the day for trainer Jessica Harrington and jockey Shane Foley as they also tasted success with Real Appeal (14/1) in the Group 2 Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile and Ever Present (17/2) in the Irish Stallion Farms ‘Pentigo’ Handicap.

Atomic Jones part of Ger Lyons four-timer

Atomic Jones won the one-mile Group 2 KPMG Champions’ Juvenile Stakes, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race.

The two-year-old son of Wootton Bassett was a head winner for handler Ger Lyons and rider Colin Keane, over the Aidan O’Brien-handled son of Galileo, Stone Age.

O’Brien’s younger son, Donnacha, took third place with a son of War Front, Absolute Ruler, with Gavin Ryan in the saddle. 

In what was an incredible day for Ger Lyons, he achieved four successes on the eight-race card at Leopardstown, his most successful training day at Longines Irish Champions Weekend. 

The four-timer paid 16,301/1 as Panama Red opened the scoring for the County Meath-based trainer when taking the €100,000 Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes for two-year-olds over 7 furlongs. 

The sixth race on the card brought up Lyons’ treble, this time with Gary Carroll, instead of the stable’s number one rider, Colin Keane, in the saddle. Camorra, a son of Zoffany, won the one mile four furlong €100,000 Group 2 Paddy Power Stakes 

Masen, sporting the Juddmonte Farms’ colours won the final contest, the €125,000 Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF ‘Sovereign Path’ Handicap over the 7-furlong distance. The win was the third on the day for Ireland’s champion flat jockey Colin Keane.

At the end of the opening day of Longines Irish Champions Weekend, Ger Lyons is the leading trainer with four wins, one ahead of Jessica Harrington. Shane Foley and Colin Keane are joint leading riders with three successes each.

Day 2 of Longines Irish Champions Weekend is at The Curragh on Sunday, with four Group 1 races among the eight-race card. The day’s feature contest will be the final Irish classic race of the 2021 season, the €300,000  Group 1 Comer Group Irish St Leger over one mile 6 furlongs. 

Winner of the race the last two years Search For A Song goes for her third win in the race which will also feature last year’s Melbourne Cup winner, Twilight Payment, among others.

Photo: Breandán Ó hUallacháin photo

Leopardstown Racecourse photo

Contributing Authors

Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Breandán Ó hUallacháin lives in Ireland and writes specifically about Irish, British and French horseracing, both National Hunt and Flat. He has an interest in...

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