Alpha Attraction

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Alpha Centauri is the star attraction on Sunday | Racingfotos.com

By Tom Frary

Like the stars of the silver screen alighting on the Cannes Film Festival, the Niarchos Family’s Alpha Centauri (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) is the prime head-turner on display in Deauville on Sunday as she bids to extend her summer dominance in the G1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois. Guided to easy wins in the June 22 G1 Coronation S. and July 13 G1 Falmouth S. by Colm O’Donoghue following her breakthrough success in the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas, the homebred TDN Rising Star has ground conditions in her favour here and a comfortable cushion on ratings. “I’m looking forward to it, she’s in good form and came out of the Falmouth really well,” her rider commented. “Obviously she’s flying over there for the first time and group ones are never easy to win, but we are going there full of confidence.”

Taking on the colts for the first time and certainly the best older horses she has faced, this will provide a true measure of Alpha Centauri’s merit with the likes of the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas hero Romanised (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}), May 27 G1 Prix d’Ispahan winner Recoletos (Fr) (Whipper) and June 19 G1 Queen Anne S. scorer Accidental Agent (GB) (Delegator {GB}) in attendance. Whether the Royal Ascot victory of the latter was an aberration remains to be seen and in many ways the 4-year-old is the eternal underdog, but that contest is rock-solid and has stood up on several occasions subsequently. The 3-year-olds have been underwhelming so far when taking on their elders and of the Queen Anne vanquished Lord Glitters (Fr) (Whipper), Lightning Spear (GB) (Pivotal [GB}), Beat the Bank (GB) (Paco Boy {Ire}), Benbatl (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) and Suedois (Fr) (Le Havre {Ire}) have all shone a favourable light on the form. Trainer Eve Johnson Houghton is hopeful he can shake things up again, “Everything has gone to plan with him since Ascot and we couldn’t be happier,” she said. “We aren’t really bothered what the ground is like and we’re just really looking forward to it.” George Strawbridge’s ‘TDN Rising Star With You (GB) (Dansili {GB}) took the G1 Prix Rothschild over this course and distance two weeks ago and probably needs to improve again but her stamina at this trip should see her trying to chase down Alpha Centauri late.

Meade Out To Break Ballydoyle Stranglehold…

At The Curragh, the G1 Keeneland Phoenix S. features the June 19 G2 Coventry S. runner-up and G2 July S. winner Advertise (GB) (Showcasing {GB}), with trainer Martyn Meade bullish this week as he pondered taking on a generally beleaguered Ballydoyle stable. Phoenix Thoroughbred’s acquisition has the Coventry third Sergei Prokofiev (Scat Daddy), 13th The Irish Rover (Ire) (No Nay Never) and 22nd Indigo Balance (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) to confront again and commonsense suggests he should prevail. “He’s been in really good form and came out of Newmarket terribly well,” Meade said. “Any group one is hugely tough, so I don’t underestimate the task at all, but I think he’s got every right to be there on his past form. Obviously Mr O’Brien has got those four horses. I don’t know much about them apart from Sergei Prokofiev, whom we beat at Ascot. We’ve had a bit more experience with his race at Newmarket. I just hope we can hold him. That will be our main challenge, but Mrs Harrington’s got one there too. We’re certainly going there hopeful.”

Sergei Prokofiev, who had won by four lengths in the Listed Rochestown S. at Naas May 20, is on the return after an easy spell since Royal Ascot and given the recent stable form any kind of respectable showing will be welcome. “I’m happy with him and looking forward to seeing Sergei again,” commented Aidan O’Brien, who would probably be surprised to win a 17th renewal despite saddling two-thirds of the field. “He had a great run in Ascot and he’s a very fast horse, we always thought a lot of him.” ‘TDN Rising Star So Perfect (Scat Daddy) beat the subsequent G3 Silver Flash S. winner Skitter Scatter (Scat Daddy) in the July 1 G3 Grangecon Stud S. over this course and distance and will provide the first real measurement of how the 2-year-old fillies sit alongside the colts.

In Germany, the G1 Grosser Preis von Berlin at Hoppegarten is the target for Godolphin’s G2 Princess of Wales’s S. winner Best Solution (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) and the form of that July 12 Newmarket contest received a boost at Goodwood from Mirage Dancer (GB) (Frankel {GB}). “This is another step up for him after he won the group two at Newmarket,” Saeed bin Suroor commented. “It’s going to be tough, there are some nice German horses in there, but he has the class. It’s his favourite trip–a mile and a half–so we’ll so how he goes. The key to this horse is the ground, any rain in Germany this weekend will help him. He handled it a little bit quicker at Newmarket, but he’s definitely better when it’s soft.” He tackles last year’s winner Dschingis Secret (Ger) (Soldier Hollow {GB}), who regained the winning thread last time in the G2 Grosser Hansa-Preis at Hamburg July 1, last year’s G1 Deutsches Derby and G1 Preis von Europa hero Windstoss (Ger) (Shirocco {Ger}) and the July 8 G1 Deutsches Derby third Royal Youmzain (Fr) (Youmzain {Ire}).

 

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