Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 19 January 2019

'Alpha' in rude health as sights are set on famous five-in-a-row

Jessica Harrington. Photo: Getty Images
Jessica Harrington. Photo: Getty Images
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Jessica Harrington reports her superstar filly Alpha Centauri to have "thrived" in recent weeks as she looks to make it five Group One victories in succession in tomorrow's Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.

The daughter of Mastercraftsman is the star attraction on the first day of Irish Champions Weekend and the Moone handler is in confident form after two Curragh gallops since her Prix Jacques le Marois success.

"She's very well and she's actually had another week between this run compared to her other runs which were all four weeks. She has really thrived since her last run," she said.

"It's hard to say whether she's improving from race to race but the great thing as far as I'm concerned is that she has maintained her form and hopefully she will continue to do so."

Tomorrow will be a frantic day for a host of jockeys who will take to the skies to ride at both the St Leger meeting in Doncaster and Leopardstown, on one of the busiest days in the racing calendar.

Ryan Moore, Seamie Heffernan and Wayne Lordan will ride for Aidan O'Brien in the English Classic before making the helicopter dash and a 210-mile trip to ride at the Foxrock track.

Moore and Heffernan are aboard Ballydoyle mounts in the St Leger at 3.35 and are also set to ride less than two hours later in the Matron Stakes (5.25) as they look to lower Alpha Centauri's colours, while English jockey James Doyle is also attempting to ride at both tracks.

Meanwhile, Ballyoisin (9/2) was the star performer on day five of the Listowel Festival as Enda Bolger's classy chaser took full advantage of a 26lb lower mark over the smaller obstacles to score in the €100,000 Listowel Handicap Hurdle.

Talented claimer Darragh O'Keeffe was thrust into the spotlight on the JP McManus-owned seven-year-old and the 18-year-old made no mistake to overcome a difficult passage and prevail by a length.

"I rode my first winner in Killarney and that's my biggest win. I was like a child in a candy shop yesterday when I saw my name down to ride him. He's a very good horse and had the form to prove that as well," a delighted O'Keeffe said.

The feature of today's eight-race mixed card at the Kerry track is the Southampton Goodwill Plate Chase (4.20) and it can go the way of Henry de Bromhead's Alisier D'Irlande.

Second and well clear of some smart sorts when chasing home Ballyoisin in a Killarney Grade Three in May, Rachael Blackmore's mount looks the form choice and can account for five decent rivals in a strong renewal.

Elsewhere, Gordon Elliott's Samcro is on course to make his much-anticipated return to the track at Down Royal in early November, but no decision has been made about whether that will be over hurdles or fences.

Irish Independent

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