Friday 24 January 2020

Harrington still aiming Alpha at Ascot

Harrington: "One thunderstorm could change everything.” Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Jessica Harrington says she will give Alpha Centauri every chance of running at Royal Ascot, despite ground conditions being a potential concern for the exciting grey.

Favourite for the 1,000 Guineas next year with some firms, the daughter of Mastercraftsman aims to provide Harrington with her first Royal Ascot winner in the Albany next Thursday.

However, officials at Ascot have commenced watering ahead of next week's Royal meeting and Harrington would be worried about conditions being too quick for Alpha Centauri.

She said: "There's nothing I can do about it - what will be will be - but we will do our best to run her. One thunderstorm could change everything."

Harrington is also aiming two other juveniles, Brother Bear (Coventry Stakes) and Whitefountainfairy (Chesham or Albany), at the meet.

Aidan O'Brien will have a powerful two-year-old team. "We are looking at Murillo and Declarationofpeace going in the Coventry Stakes," he said.

"We may have Sioux Nation in the Windsor Castle or Norfolk and the ground got very soft at the Curragh last time. It's not certain we will have a runner in the Queen Mary.

"Clemmie and September are possibles for the Albany and Chesham. All the older horses are ready to go."

O'Brien's Order Of St George is on track for an attempt at a second Gold Cup win in a row. His task has been eased as Vazirabad will miss it after suffering a minor injury. The knock occurred in last month's Prix Vicomtesse Vigier, leaving bruising on his leg.

The Ascot Stakes has proved fruitful for Willie Mullins, Simenon (2012) and Clondaw Warrior (2015) both winning. He has left five in for this year's race: Penhill, Thomas Hobson, Whiteout, Riven Light and Laws Of Spin.

Paddy Power now has a market on the champion trainer this year in Ireland without O'Brien, with Jim Bolger and Dermot Weld both 11/8. Ger Lyons is 5/1, Harrington 8s. Punchestown has begun phase two of its €6.2m redevelopment, work on a new grandstand due to be finished by March.

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