TRAINER Jessica Harrington won her first Royal Ascot race on Friday when her Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas winner Alpha Centauri, one of three Guineas winners in the field, won the Group 1 Coronation Stakes by six lengths in a course record time of 1m 35.89s.

The Mastercraftsman filly, owned and bred by the Niarchos family, tracked the leaders in the early stages of the mile contest and showed a dazzling turn of foot at the two-furlong pole to spread-eagle the field and win from Mark Johnston’s Threading (7/1) back in second with Veracious (14/1) a further one and three-quarters of a length behind in third.

Harrington, a successful Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer, said of her maiden Royal Ascot success:

“First, I am relieved. I definitely was very nervous today as I know she is a great filly. 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.”

Harrington added that good ground is key to the filly’s success:

“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.”

When comparing the feeling of a top level success jumping compared with on the Flat, a delighted Jessica Harrington said:

“Any winner is a great winner, and to have a Grade 1 winner over jumps or a Group 1 winner on the Flat, it is the same feeling, it is fantastic. Flat racing is over quicker, which is great, jumping you’ve got to go three miles and two furlongs and over fences and it’s an awful lot of time and you’ve got to have an awful lot of heart jumping out of the mud.”

Winning rider Colm O’Donoghue, who became Harrington’s first jockey in 2016 when he left Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle Stables, said of his second ever Royal Ascot success:

“Alpha Centauri was awesome. Obviously, she has shown us all the potential before and we came into the race full of confidence on the back of the Guineas win. She travelled beautifully and moved great during the race. t am just very grateful to be riding her. Alpha Centauri has a lot of pace and is a top-class filly at a mile. She has a high cruising speed and can quicken off of that, as you saw today in beating the track record.”

-From Sportswire Ireland
-Photo by Irish Thoroughbred Marketing.