Tahiyra, Inspiral and Homeless Songs headline stellar cast in Group 1 Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes

Wednesday, 28 June 2023
Tahiyra, Inspiral and Homeless Songs headline stellar cast in Group 1 Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes

Photo: Racing Post

In it's 20th Year of sponsorship of The Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes has attracted a superb field of fillies and mares.

Dermot Weld’s Classic winners Tahiyra and Homeless Songs as well as the top-rated British raider Inspiral are among a stellar cast of luminaries that could take their place in the Group 1 Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes on day one of Irish Champions Festival at Leopardstown on September 9.

A contest with a rich history, the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes is a supreme test for fillies and mares with Kooyonga, Timarida, Dress To Thrill, Soviet Song, Lush Lashes, Legatissimo and Laurens among the Classic and multiple Group 1 winners to stamp their names on an illustrious roll of honour.

In all, there are 46 entries for one of the highlights of the Flat season, which reaches a landmark in 2023 as the 20th year of Coolmore’s invaluable sponsorship.

That number includes ten cross-channel entrants, which comes as no surprise given the healthy winning record of British raiders over the years. Indeed, the late John Dunlop is the most successful trainer since 1980, with four triumphs.

Karl Burke was the last to launch a successful raid when he brought Laurens to Leopardstown to land the spoils in 2018 and he is one of six British trainers represented, along with Roger Varian, Archie Watson, Ralph Beckett, Ed Walker and John and Thady Gosden.

The Gosden father-and-son axis have entered a trio of potential runners but the 120-rated Inspiral would be Clarehaven’s headline act as a triple Group 1 winner most recently seen getting just touched off in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot last week.

Homeless Songs is the highest rated of the domestic entrants on 119 while stablemate and successor as Irish 1000 Guineas winner Tahiyra tops the Classic generation on 118.

Tahiyra announced herself in sensational fashion when sprinting to an incredible victory in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh last September under regular rider, Chris Hayes.
Having began her season with a courageous effort but narrow defeat in the English 1000 Guineas when her preparation had to be rushed slightly, she cruised to victory in the Irish 1000 Guineas before registering a similarly impressive triumph in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot last week.

The Aga Khan-owned-and-bred daughter of Siyouni will now take a mid-season break after an intensive start to her campaign before being prepared for an autumn programme.

The Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes is firmly in the mix of prestigious prizes up for consideration for the optimal target trainer Dermot Weld, who won the contest twice previously with Dress To Thrill in 2002 and Emulous in 2011, both ridden by the late Pat Smullen.

The Matron Stakes would certainly be a race we would definitely consider,” said the Rosewell House maestro.

“Tahiyra has come out of last week well and is going on a short break at the moment and no decision has been made about her autumn campaign but obviously the Matron Stakes will be given very serious consideration".

“Emulous was a very good filly that I trained for Juddmonte. She was a very good winner of it. She was a very consistent filly, a multiple Group-winning filly.

“And of course Dress To Thrill was an unbeaten three-year-old filly that I trained for Moyglare. She was very talented. She won the Matron Stakes, the Sun Chariot at Newmarket and then, with a brilliant ride by Pat Smullen, won the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes in California, beating the champion turf mare of America, Golden Apples.”

Among potential rivals to Tahiyra if she lines up are her closest rivals in the Coronation Stakes, Remarquee, from the Ralph Beckett yard, and the Sounds Of Heaven, who represents Jessica Harrington, winner in 2021 with No Speak Alexander.

Above The Curve is one of 11 entries for Joseph O’Brien, who was successful in 2019 with four-time Group 1 and subsequent Breeders’ Cup heroine Iridessa. Triumphant in the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary at Longchamp last season, the four-year-old was a comfortable Group 2 victor at Saint-Cloud on her latest outing in May.

Aidan O’Brien, victorious on three occasions (Lillie Langtry 2010, Alice Springs 2016 and Hydrangea 2017), has eight potential representatives, led by Breeders’ Cup winner Meditate, who has found Tahiyra too good on three occasions. Prix de Diane runner-up Never Ending Story and unbeaten juvenile Statuette are two other interesting contenders.

Coolcullen maestro, Jim Bolger is also a triple winner and Irish 1000 Guineas third, Comhra could bid to follow in the hooves of Upward Trend (1989), Dazzling Park (1999) and Lush Lashes (2008).
Pearls Galore was a very popular winner of last year’s renewal and trainer Paddy Twomey’s record with progressive fillies and mares may well be showcased by the likes of Just Beautiful, one of a quartet of Athassel House residents given the option of participating.

The Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes provided trainers Willie McCreery and Johnny Murtagh with their first Group 1 winners courtesy of Fiesolana in 2014 and Champers Elysees in 2020.

Leopardstown Group 3 TRI Equestrian Ballycorus Stakes victor, Ocean Jewel is one of two possible runners for McCreery, while Murtagh, who won the race three times as a jockey, could saddle the exciting Cadeau Belle, an unraced juvenile who is two from two this term and showed a lightning burst of acceleration to secure Listed honours in the Kooyonga Stakes at Navan on just her second outing earlier this month.

Ger Lyons’s Zarinsk is a course and distance winner after scoring in the Group 3 Cornelscourt Stakes and Kieran Cotter has included English 1000 Guineas third, Matilda Picotte.

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