Monday 24 September 2018

Alpha Centauri celestial again for Harrington

Trainer Jessica Harrington. Photo: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile
Trainer Jessica Harrington. Photo: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

Alpha Centauri continued her fantastic campaign with an impressive victory in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville yesterday.

Jessica Harrington's filly has arguably been the star of the season so far, following up her Irish 1,000 Guineas triumph with scintillating displays in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket.

She was a 10/11 favourite to claim a fourth successive Group One victory in France and her supporters will have had few nervous moments.

Colm O'Donoghue positioned Alpha Centauri on the heels of With You near the stands rail before angling out and allowing his mount to stretch racing inside the final half-mile.

Once again the response was superb as the Irish challenger found another gear to leave her rivals trailing in her wake. Recoletos was best of the rest in second ahead of With You in third.

The Ken Condon-trained pair of Success Days and Romanised finished in midfield, ahead of Eve Johnson Houghton's shock Queen Anne Stakes victor Accidental Agent.

Harrington said: "She's an amazing filly. I must admit, bringing her here to take on colts and older horses, I thought I must be mad. But then again, I felt we might as well keep her going and it was a fantastic performance.

"Three furlongs down she decided it was time to go, which was longer from the finish than I'd hoped, but I could see on the screen that she had the group on the far side behind her and once given her head, she just kept going away from them.

"When she does that, you hope she's not burning up too much energy because there are several possibilities now.

"She's in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown, the Sun Chariot at Newmarket and the mile at Ascot (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes) and if she does make it through to the Breeders' Cup, it will have been a very long season by then.

"She's given me a few sleepless nights, I have to admit that, but it's not quite like training Moscow Flyer as there are no fences to worry about!"

On the home scene, Advertise became the first British-trained winner of the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes in over 20 years with a workmanlike victory at the Curragh under Frankie Dettori.

With Sergei Prokofiev - one of Aidan O'Brien's four runners in a race he has won a staggering 16 times in the last 20 years - failing to fire, The Irish Rover and Advertise settled down to fight it out and were joined by So Perfect inside the last of six furlongs.

There was little to split the trio as they raced for the line, but Advertise stuck his neck out to score by half a length, with So Perfect beating The Irish Rover to the runner-up spot.

Winning trainer Martyn Meade said: "I'm very pleased with him. We'll give him a bit of a break and then go for the Dewhurst or something like that.

"The big question is if he'll get a mile, but he'll definitely get seven (furlongs)."

Speak In Colours knuckled down to win the Phoenix Sprint Stakes. Trained by Joseph O'Brien and ridden by his brother Donnacha, the 4/1 shot was being pushed along from an early stage, seemingly struggling to keep up with the strong early pace, but he stuck to his guns and finished well to get up and beat Gordon Lord Byron by a length and a quarter. Spirit Of Valor, the 6/4 favourite, was third.

The winning handler said: "He had a couple of nice runs earlier in the year. He was a bit disappointing in Ascot (unplaced in the Commonwealth Cup), but that was a funny race and it's nice to get him back on track today.

"Donnacha said he was happy throughout. He said he put him in gear and he got to the front a bit sooner than he wanted, but he was comfortable the whole way."

Irish Independent

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