Saturday 25 May 2019

O'Donoghue sweet on 'Alpha' for 'Prix'

Jockey Colm O'Donoghue. Photo: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile
Jockey Colm O'Donoghue. Photo: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Colm O'Donoghue has enjoyed a thrill-a-minute season aboard Jessica Harrington's superstar filly Alpha Centauri and the Cork jockey is purring with excitement ahead of her French raid at Deauville on Sunday.

Alpha Centauri is primed for the Prix Jacques le Marois as she prepares to take on the colts for the first time and the weather even seems to be on her side with a huge storm unexpectedly missing the French track .

Seen to best effect on good ground, conditions look to be ideal for Harrington's stable star as she bids to notch her fourth Group One in succession following scintillating victories in the Irish 1,000 Guineas as well as the Coronation and Falmouth Stakes.

"She's been brilliant and done nothing but please us all season. She's in great form and I'm excited and looking forward to what she might do on Sunday," O'Donoghue told the 'Racing Post' of the odds-on favourite.

"She's an exceptional filly and has taken every Group One we've put her in with ease. This is another Group One and they're never easy to win, but I'm very grateful to ride such a filly and she fills me with a lot of confidence.

"We'd love to have nice ground for her - no worse than good - so the rain keeping away would be a help. As the owners sponsor the race it's very close to their hearts. For one of their horses to win it will mean a lot to them."

Having already provided her with a first winner at Royal Ascot in June, the Moone handler plans to return to the English track for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in October providing everything goes to plan with her.

O'Donoghue and Harrington showed their rude health at Sligo last night where the pair notched a 207/1 treble spearheaded by the comfortable victory of Rickrack (11/2) in the Diageo Day 21st August At Sligo Races Handicap.

"She's a star and deserved that as she wears her heart on her sleeve every day she goes out.

"I'm not sure what happened her at Killarney the last day (when ninth at Kerry track in mid-July). I think she may be going for a Listed race (John Musker Fillies' Stakes) at Yarmouth in September that (stablemate) Beautiful Morning won last year."

Earlier on the mark in the opening claimer through an easy win for Dragon Girl (7/1), the duo also claimed the €30,000 Connacht Oaks in great style with a bloodless victory for Echo Park (3/1) ahead of what they hope will be even bigger and better things this weekend.

All eyes will be on Harrington and O'Donoghue at Leopardstown tonight to see if they can continue their rich vein of form with The King in the Group Three Grenke Finance Ballyroan Stakes (8.05).

There may only be four contenders, but that doesn't take away from its intrigue with each runner holding a live chance in the 1m4f contest as The King again tackles older horses.

While the son of Mastercraftsman receives plenty of weight, this is a stiff task with Jim Bolger's Stellar Mass - winner of this race in 2016 - bidding to turn the tables on Aidan O'Brien's Yucatan from their Curragh Group Three last month.

Yucatan had a length to spare on that occasion but Stellar Mass was returning from nearly a year off the track and is 3lb better off on this occasion as O'Brien bids to land this €63,000 prize for the fifth time in six years.

Dermot Weld is another who has excelled in tonight's feature race, however, winning four successive runnings from 2009-2012 and the master of Rosewell House may have the solution to a tough riddle in three-time Group Three scorer Eziyra.

While overcoming a 334-day absence, the daughter of Teofilo is still the one to beat in the hands of Declan McDonogh having scored over course and distance at the Foxrock track last September.

Irish Independent

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