Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Harrington takes plaudits as 'Alpha' lands 1,000 Guineas

Jockey Colm O’Donoghue with trainer Jessica Harrington and assistant trainer Kate Harrington (left) after the partnership were victorious with Alpha Centauri in yesterday’s Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas. Photo by Barry Cregg/Sportsfile
Jockey Colm O’Donoghue with trainer Jessica Harrington and assistant trainer Kate Harrington (left) after the partnership were victorious with Alpha Centauri in yesterday’s Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas. Photo by Barry Cregg/Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

It was a weekend of firsts at the Curragh as Ken Condon and Jessica Harrington enjoyed occasions to remember as they claimed their respective maiden Classic victories at headquarters.

Harrington has enjoyed plenty of success - both over jumps and on the level - but a big space on her CV was filled with the gutsy succcess of Alpha Centauri in yesterday's Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas.

Aidan O'Brien's 25/1 outsider Could It Be Love held a notable advantage in the one-mile contest with a couple of furlongs to run before Colm O'Donoghue delivered Harrington's 12/1 shot down the middle of the track to prevail by a length and three-quarters, with the favourite Happily only third.

"It's fantastic - I've finally got the Classic," said the Moone, Co Kildare handler. "I've been second and third and the horses have always run really well, but this is dream come true for me to win a Classic.

"To win a race like this is absolutely fantastic. I'm just waiting for the Ascot winner now. This is the first time since Ascot last year that she's got good ground and that's the key to her. She likes good, quick ground.

Harrington could look to Royal Ascot with Indigo Balance (7/1) which took the opening juvenile maiden over six furlongs, also under O'Donoghue.

Earlier, O'Brien's Lancaster Bomber (10/3) trumped his better-fancied stablemate Cliffs Of Moher (5/4) to claim the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

Trying the trip for the first time, Seamie Heffernan took up the running in the early stages on the eventual winner and built up a big advantage.

While Cliffs Of Moher and favourite Defoe did close, Heffernan's mount was going away again at the line and won by two lengths.

O'Brien said: "He's been running at the top level the whole time, all in Group Ones, and obviously we didn't think he'd get a mile and a quarter.

"That's the first time we did it with him and let him roll on beautiful ground. The plan was to come here and then go back to Ascot for the mile race (Queen Anne) again. I'd imagine that's where he'd go, but he'd have an option of the Prince of Wales's Stakes now."

Justified

O'Brien's son Donnacha was in the saddle for his other winner Lucius Tiberius which justified 6/5 favouritism in the closing three-year-old maiden over 10 furlongs.

Mick Halford recorded a notable milestone as Platinum Warrior boosted the Derby claims of Hazapour when running out a clearcut victor of the Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes - for the trainer's 1,000th winner on these shores.

Only fourth behind Dermot Weld's Epsom hope in the Derrinstown Derby Trial, the 7/2 shot landed this Group Three with the minimum of fuss, beating Latrobe by two and a quarter lengths in the hands of Shane Foley.

"You'd be delighted with that horse. He's a Galileo and we don't get too many Galileos," said Halford.

"He's a horse with a big engine and always has had, and he loves that ground. He got a bit lonely there in front and wandered, he's done it in the past.

"I think there is more to come from him and we'll aim him at the Irish Derby now. I'd say he'll step up to a mile and a half no bother."

Halford also won the Irish Stallion Farms EBF 'Habitat' Handicap with Godolphin's Saltonstall (7-1) ridden by William Buick.

Emmet Mullins sent out his first winner at the Kildare venue thanks to the victory of St Stephens Green (13/2) under Ronan Whelan in the two-mile premier handicap, while Kevin Prendergast's Aared (14/1) landed the K Club Handicap under Dylan Hogan.

On Saturday, Condon was the star of the show as his Romanised sprang a 25/1 surprise in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Foley - who was winning his second Classic after taking the 1,000 Guineas two years ago on Jet Setting - brought Romanised with a late run to beat Aidan O'Brien's U S Navy Flag in clear-cut fashion.

Condon - incredibly, winning his first race this season and first since last summer - said: "We kept faith in him and he had excuses at Naas on his comeback.

"He worked the best he's worked all spring last Tuesday. We knew we were a long shot coming in here, but I felt he was going to run a big race.

"I'm in a bit of shock and it will be a few days before it sinks in. It's just amazing to win a Classic. It's all I wanted to do when I entered racing.

"It's a very select club and to actually step into that club feels like you are walking through special doors to be considered one of those."

Mick Channon's Opal Tiara (10/1) downed O'Brien's Hydrangea in the Lanwades Stud Stakes in what was the final run of her career as she is in foal to Churchill.

However, the rest of Saturday's card was dominated by the Ballydoyle supremo with Fairyland (4/1) winning the Marble Hill Stakes and the Australian import Merchant Navy (9/2) looking a top-class prospect in the Greenlands Stakes.

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