Sunday 22 July 2018

'Alpha' can break Harrington's duck

Trainer Jessica Harrington. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Jessica Harrington. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

There are very few trainers who have the distinction of notching Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot winners and Jessica Harrington bids to add her name to that select list with Alpha Centauri a leading fancy in today's Group One Coronation Stakes (4.20).

There aren't many accolades absent from Harrington's star-studded training CV and the horse which gave her a first Irish Classic success at the Curragh last month looks primed to break the 71-year-old's Royal Ascot duck.

Just touched off in the Albany Stakes at the Royal meeting 12 months ago, the daughter of Mastercraftsman left two below-par runs in heavy conditions well behind her when taking the Irish 1,000 Guineas in good style.

That was on good ground and with the going likely to play to her strengths again today, Colm O'Donoghue's mount will be a tough nut to crack although shock English 1,000 Guineas victor Billesdon Brook will give her plenty to think about.

It was no fluke when Richard Hannon's charge prevailed in the Newmarket Classic at 66/1 and she could be open to further improvement while the big variable is how much Clemmie's seasonal debut - well behind Alpha Centauri - will have brought her on.

Aidan O'Brien's filly is probably the best horse in the race if she shows improvement from her win in last year's Cheveley Park at Newmarket but after missing the English Guineas - where she had been a strong ante-post favourite - with a setback, it may take her a little longer to come to the boil.

Another stellar card commences with the Group Three Albany Stakes (2.30) where O'Brien saddles the top two in the market - Just Wonderful and Fairyland. Ryan Moore sides with Just Wonderful, which wasn't overly impressive to win a Curragh maiden on debut on the same card as Fairyland's smooth Listed success.

Fairyland has the better form in the book so Seamie Heffernan's mount is preferred with the performance of Norfolk third Land Force - third behind Fairyland last time out - a huge positive, while Harrington's Chicas Amigas shouldn't be ruled out of the equation after her fine second in a Listed event at Naas last month.

Aidan O'Brien has only won the Group Two King Edward VII Stakes (3.05) once - with Five Dynasties 14 years ago - but saddles a trio of runners with little to choose between Rostropovich, Delano Roosevelt and Giuseppe Garibaldi, although the latter is an improving sort and may fare best.

Sioux Nation - Norfolk winner last year - carries his hopes in the Group One Commonwealth Cup (3.40) but the game Sands Of Mali may prove best.

Irish Independent

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