- Sire-Dam -
Alpha Centauri is the star system closest to the Solar System and as such headline writers were fairly unanimous in ranking the equine version’s runaway Coronation Stakes win at Royal Ascot as “out of this world”.
It was not much of an exaggeration, either, as the Irish 1000 Guineas winner powered home by six lengths in what was easily a course record time. She knocked more than a second off the previous best and there was no better performance during the whole of the Royal Meeting.
Timeform went as far as assessing her exhibition of power and pace as the best in a Coronation Stakes “for at least 25 years”.
Alpha Centauri’s rivals included Billesdon Brook, the QIPCO 1000 Guineas winner, and Teppal, winner of the French equivalent, not to mention Clemmie, the leading two-year-old. But, apologies in advance, the stars were aligned and she trounced them all under Colm O’Donoghue.
The Mastercraftsman filly, owned and bred by the Niarchos family and trained by Jessica Harrington, had previously landed the Irish 1000 Guineas and her only disappointing performances have been on a slow surface. Do not expect to see her on soft ground again any time soon.
“I was very nervous today as I know she is a great filly,” Harrington said. “It was rather nice going into the Irish 1000 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.
“She has a fantastic temperament and is very easy to train. Probably the key for her is that she is so relaxed – Colm said that was only doing a half-speed going up the hill. She is a big-striding filly and Colm didn’t want to break her stride at all.
“She only ever works on the bridle at home, but she did that sort of run in the Irish Guineas, when she had to go and catch the horse in front of her and then stayed on.”
Alpha Centauri confirmed herself head and shoulders above the other fillies of her generation with a dominant performance next time out in the Group 1 Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket.
A lack of early pace meant O’Donoghue decided to make his own running up the stands’ rail but it was clear from halfway that she had her rivals in trouble and nothing could get near her as she powered her way to a four-and-a-half length success.
“She had to do all the donkey work today, she had to make her own running, but Colm said they weren’t going quick enough for her so he decided to go on himself,” Harrington said. “She just has a very high cruising speed.
“The last twice we came into the races a bit under the radar but today was different, she was odds-on and I have been waking up in the middle of the night feeling a bit sick and I want to look at the race again because I didn’t really watch it.
“She’s just an amazing filly, she really is. She is so relaxed, stands there and has all the photographs taken and just goes away. I sometimes worry that she is almost too relaxed before races but that’s just her.”
It was a similar story in the the Prix de Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois against colts and older horses at Deauville.
Allowed to stride on with three furlongs to run, she won by two and a half lengths from Recoletos without being fully extended.
Alpha Centauri was 30-100 to extend her winning spree in the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes at Leopardstown but after getting upsides Laurens stumbled and faltered.
Within 24 hours it had been discovered that that she had suffered a chipped bone in her fetlock after a thorough examination at Fethard Equine Clinic.
Connections announced her retirement.
“I said to Maria [Niarchos] this morning ‘you’ve got to do whatever’s best for the filly’. She’s been on an amazing journey and it’s been a great summer for me,” Harrington said.
“She’s taken me to places I’ve never been before, she gave me my first Classic winner and my first Royal Ascot winner, so I have a lot to thank her for.”
And so say all of us.
BCS Career statistics
|Year||Wins-2nd-3rd||Prize money||Group 1 wins||Archived results|