Horse racing - Electra Niarchos, Colm O'Donoghue, Jessica Harrington

Breathtaking Alpha is Ascot No.1

8 months ago

Alpha Centauri’s stunning victory in Friday’s Group 1 Coronation Stakes was surely one of the most popular of the meeting as trainer Jessica Harrington (pictured above, right) broke her Royal Ascot duck in the most emphatic fashion.

Clashing with the Qipco 1000 Guineas winner Billesdon Brook, and Teppal, the French 1000 Guineas, as well as a host of other quality rivals including Clemmie and Threading, Alpha Centauri, a surprise 12/1 winner of the Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh on her previous start was the subject of plenty of market confidence this time, backed down to 11/4 favourite before the ‘off’.

The daughter of Mastercraftsman travelled like a dream and settled comfortably tracking the pace, but once they rounded the home turn Colm O’Donoghue’s mount showed a blinding turn of foot to power away from top opposition, storming to a six-length victory in a new track record. Mark Johnston’s Threading (7/1) ran a great race to finish second, and the in-form Sir Michael Stoute’s Voracious (14/1), on her seasonal reappearance, deserves plenty of praise for holding on to third, just ahead of Billesdon Brook (9/2).

“This is absolutely fantastic,” beamed Harrington, better known for heroics with Cheltenham Festival heroes such as Moscow Flyer, Jezki and Sizing John, among others.  “She was my last runner this week, so I thought ‘it’s now or never’. She has a fantastic temperament and is so easy to train. She won a long way, didn’t she?”

Although she has never race beyond a mile, Alpha Centauri holds entries in top races this season at distances of up to a mile-and-a-half, suggesting that connections feel the Niarchos Family-owned star should stay further. An entry later in the season in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes over 10 furlongs at Leopardstown catches the eye, but no decision has yet been taken about whereshe goes and at what distance she will next appear.

Wherever she goes, Harrington’s tremendously exciting filly will take her growing fan club with her, and potential clashes against the likes of Without Parole, Saxon Warrior, and possibly the Derby winner Masar will surely fire the betting markets later in the season.

Paul Alster

Written by Paul Alster

Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.