Jessica Harrington enjoys first Royal Ascot success

Alpha Centauri lived up to favourite tag in breaking track record in Coronation Stakes

Colm O’Donoghue celebrates winning the 4.20 Coronation Stakes on Alpha Centauri with the trophy and trainer Jessica Harrington at Royal Ascot. Photo: Paul Childs/Reuters

Colm O’Donoghue celebrates winning the 4.20 Coronation Stakes on Alpha Centauri with the trophy and trainer Jessica Harrington at Royal Ascot. Photo: Paul Childs/Reuters

 

Legendary Irish trainer Jessica Harrington fulfilled another ambition when Alpha Centauri gave her a first Royal Ascot success in Friday’s Coronation Stakes.

Four weeks after providing Harrington with a first classic victory in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Alpha Centauri put in a career best performance to smash her opposition by six lengths.

The 11-4 favourite’s dominance over a field that contained two other Guineas winners was emphasised by breaking the round mile track record by over a second.

It maintained Harrington’s remarkable recent career surge which in the last couple of years has seen her win both a Cheltenham Gold Cup and an Irish Grand National over jumps.

But the 71-year-old’s status as one of the sport’s finest dual-purpose trainers has been boosted yet further by Alpha Centauri’s exploits.

“Absolutely amazing,” was Harrington’s verdict on the performance. “I got very wound up. I was very nervous today. I know she’s very good. It was nice going into the Guineas under the radar. Today was different. She was favourite and we were there to be shot at.”

Nothing could beget a bead on Colm O’Donoghue’s mount, however. Threading ran on to be second with Veracious third and the English Guineas heroine Billesdon Brook in fourth.

“I thought Colm had gone on early enough but the further she went the further she went away,” Harrington said. “I’ve had Ascot winners but not a royal one and it’s absolutely fantastic.”

After Sizing John won the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup Harrington expressed the ambition of winning a classic on the flat. Just over a year later she ticked that box and concentrated instead on winning at Royal Ascot.

It’s worth bearing in mind at Aintree next April then that the remarkable Moone-based trainer has also made no secret of her ambition to win the Grand National.

Aidan O’Brien’s Sioux Nation started an 11-4 favourite for the Commonwealth Cup but could finish only 16th of the 22 runners behind the 12-1 winner Eqtidaar. It was a third success of the week for the record-breaking Sir Michael Stoute.

O’Brien was also out of luck in the King Edward VII Stakes as neither Rostropovich nor Giuseppe Garibaldi could overhaul Godolphin’s Old Persian.

Fairyland did best of the Ballydoyle team when third in the opening Albany Stakes behind the 7-1 winner Main Edition.

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