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In-form Jessica Harrington hits Navan double

Silence Please and Ancient Spirit take Listed gold.

Ancient Spirit and Shane Foley (right) beats Buckhurst (left) to win the Heritage Stakes at Navan Racecourse.
Ancient Spirit and Shane Foley (right) beats Buckhurst (left) to win the Heritage Stakes at Navan Racecourse.
Image: PA

JESSICA HARRINGTON’S horses have hit the ground running since racing resumed in Ireland on Monday and the Moone yard bagged a big-race double at Navan on Wednesday.

First up was the Listed Irish Stallion Farms EBF Salsabil Stakes, with Silence Please (10-1) charging late to beat better-fancied stable companion One Voice right on the line in the hands of Tom Madden.

Harrington was represented on track by her daughter, Kate, who said: “We knew on their home work there was very little between them and it was just unfortunate that one of them had to get beat.

“Silence Please did very well over the winter. On ratings you’d have thought she had a bit to do, but we knew from her home work (she had improved). She only ever goes through the motions at home.

“It’ll be interesting to see where she goes now. When she steps up to a mile and a half I think you’ll see a better filly again.

“She’s in the Irish Oaks and she could go there.”

Having just been denied aboard One Voice, Shane Foley was again in a tight battle for the Heritage Stakes – but this time came out on the right side of the photo with the front-running Ancient Spirit getting the nod from Buckhurst, again by the smallest of margins.

Harrington said of the 100-30 joint-favourite: “We couldn’t be happier with him. He was unlucky at the end of last year to get beat and it’s great that’s he’s come out and done that today. He really battled.

He’s learning to do things right now. Shane jumped out and kept him out to let him relax in his own time. I think he’ll get a lot of confidence from today.

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“He has a few entries and I’ll let mum, Michael (Donohoe) and Mr Zhang have the conversation about where they are going to go.

“He’s very versatile and I think he’ll go on any ground. He’s just a good, solid horse and a exciting, fun horse to have for all those Group and Listed races.

“He could be anything if he keeps improving like he has.”

Foley, who had a four-timer at Naas on the opening day, earlier initiated a double with victory for the Gerard O’Leary-trained Blastofmagic in division two of the Navan Handicap.

There was a notable winner of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF (C & G) Maiden, as Chief Little Hawk (7-2) became the first progeny of former high-class sprinter Air Force Blue to strike in Europe.

Winning rider Seamie Heffernan said of the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt: “He’s been showing speed at home.

“The few Air Force Blues that we have have been showing loads of pace. Aidan said ride him as you find him and if he leaves the gates let him go.

“I liked the feel he gave me.”

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