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Alpha Centauri out of this world in Coronation Stakes

22 Jun 2018

Jessica Harrington-trained filly thrashes rivals at Royal Ascot in course record time.

Connections of Alpha Centauri, including Harrington, second right, after the filly’s memorable success. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Jessica Harrington achieved her first Royal Ascot winner – not to mention QIPCO British Champions success – in style on Friday as Alpha Centauri powered to a runaway success in the Coronation Stakes.

The imposing filly, owned and bred by the Niarchos family, won the Group One feature by six lengths and in a course record time of 1min 35.89sec.

The Mark Johnston-trained Threading was her closest pursuer, with Veracious taking third. Billesdon Brook, the QIPCO 1000 Guineas winner, was fourth but Teppal, winner of the French equivalent, surrendered her unbeaten record – fading to be ninth.

Winner of the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Alpha Centauri  was one of three Guineas winners coming into the race, and on paper it looked a hugely competitive renewal. It proved anything but – Alpha Centauri looming upsides the leaders coming into the home straight under jockey Colm O’Donoghue and zooming clear.

“I definitely was very nervous today as I know she is a great filly,” Harrington said. “It was rather nice going into the Irish 1,000 Guineas as we were very much under the radar, she hadn’t run well on soft ground two runs before that – today we were there to be shot at.

“The ground is the key to her. As you see there, she is a very big filly – she weighs 520kg – and I think when she is on soft ground she physically can’t get her feet out of the ground. She just floats on top of the ground. What she wants is good ground, what she doesn’t want is heavy ground.

“Colm was very confident on her, she jumped well and settled great and when Colm turned in I thought ‘jeepers, he has gone very soon,’ but the further she went the quicker she went.”

A beaming Alan Cooper, racing manager to the Niarchos family, said: “I don’t need to tell you anything about Jessie – her record and her achievements tell you everything. It’s the Niarchos family’s third Coronation win and it is fabulous for our broodmares.”

As for future race plans, Cooper he added: “I have to talk to Jessie and Maria and Electra, but there is a race at Deauville in the middle of August that the family sponsors, it might be an option.”

O’Donoghue said: “Alpha Centauri was awesome. She travelled beautifully and moved great during the race. It am just very grateful to be riding her.”

Mark Johnston said he would consider the Falmouth Stakes for Threading, while Veracious may well be seen over further at some stage.