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Mastercraftsman’s Alpha Centauri Hammers Coronation Rivals

4th at RAS, Gr. Stk, £538,750G1 Coronation S. (7f 213y)Winner: Alpha Centauri (Ire), f, 3 by Mastercraftsman (Ire)

Alpha Centauri and Colm O’Donoghue |

By Tom Frary

Coming of age when winning the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas, TDN Rising Star Alpha Centauri (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) progressed again to provide trainer Jessie Harrington with a first Royal Ascot success in track-record time in the G1 Coronation S. Confidently-backed into 11-4 favouritism, the Niarchos homebred travelled with ease in behind the early leaders as the returning TDN Rising Star Veracious (GB) (Frankel {GB}) tanked along in front. Moving wide on the turn to travel up to that rival with two furlongs remaining, the grey was sent on by Colm O’Donoghue and pounded her opposition into the ground from there to beat the previous time by over a second in one of this race’s all-time great performances. At the line, there was a six-length margin back to Threading (Ire) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}) in second, with Veracious putting up a bold show 1 3/4 lengths behind in third on her seasonal debut. “The further she went the further she was going away,” her trainer said. “She’s a very big filly who weighs 520 kilos and physically she can’t get her feet out of the ground when it’s soft, so she wants this ground. It was a very good race with three Guineas winners in it and Colm said she was only half-speeding going up the hill. She has a fantastic temperament and that’s the key to her–she’s so relaxed and is a big-striding filly who only ever works on the bridle at home. I’ve got to sit down and talk to [racing manager] Alan [Cooper] and put her interests first, but we can dream now and plan and see where they want to take her.”

One of this meeting’s hotter favourites when beaten into second by Different League (Fr) (Dabirsim {Fr}) in the G3 Albany S. here 12 months ago, Alpha Centauri had previously established a smart reputation when dismissing the subsequent G3 Anglesey S. winner and G1 Phoenix S. third Actress (Ire) (Declaration of War) in the Listed Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies’ Sprint S. over six furlongs at Naas. At that point, the homebred probably needed further but she could only muster a fifth placing over seven furlongs in the G1 Moyglare Stud S. at The Curragh in September. Again floundering on testing ground when 10th on her return in the G3 Ballylinch Stud 1000 Guineas Trial over that trip at Leopardstown Apr. 14, she had conditions come in her favour for the Irish Guineas and was the only one able to run down Ballydoyle’s front-running steamroller Could It Be Love (War Front) in that May 27 Curragh Classic.

This contest featured the G1 1000 Guineas heroine Billesdon Brook (GB) (Champs Elysees {GB}) and G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches winner Teppal (Fr) (Camacho {GB}), as well as a fitter and fancied juvenile champion filly Clemmie (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) as well as some unexposed types with big reputations, but there was one dominant figure in the herd as she registered a third Classic victory in 2018 for her family. The Niarchos Family’s racing manager Alan Cooper said, “We have always been happy with the filly and Jessie lets the horses do the talking–there was nothing negative ahead of the race. She does the training and said everything was good and so you just have to take the chance. Going into the race we were very nervous, looking at the form of the others, but we’ve shown them all today. She travelled well and what happened today was amazing. It’s the Niarchos family’s third Coronation win and it is fabulous for our broodmares.” Of future plans, he was keen to pinpoint an obvious one. “I have to talk to Jessie and Maria and Electra [Niarchos], but there is a race at Deauville in the middle of August that the family sponsors, it might be an option,” he said referring to the Aug. 12 G1 Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Prix Jacques le Marois.

Threading had made her winning debut in the storm-hit Glorious Goodwood at which her stablemate Dee Ex Bee (GB) (Farhh {GB}) also enjoyed a successful introduction before winning the G2 Lowther S. and this was a strong effort on the back of an impressive win in York’s Listed Michael Seely Memorial S. May 18. “She’s not a really shiny, muscly horse at any time of the year, even now in midsummer, so in the winter and spring we couldn’t look at her and say she was taking time to come to herself,” trainer Mark Johnston said of the homebred who had been so disappointing in the Apr. 18 G3 Nell Gwyn S. at Newmarket. “I never pigeonhole horses on one or two runs and I’m not going to blame Newmarket for her defeats, given that it could have been something else–the [G1] Falmouth Stakes [July 13] will have to be considered. She was a very smart two-year-old and then produced a disappointing run in the spring. We simply put a line through it.”

Veracious was another talking point of the race, having been forced to make her 3-year-old debut due to a setback which ruled her out of the 1000 Guineas, and she also had a wide draw to contend with. Sir Michael Stoute was obviously taken many positives from the performance. “I am thrilled. She had a hold-up before the Guineas and it hasn’t been a very thorough preparation, so I am very delighted,” he said. Cheveley Park Stud’s managing director Chris Richardson also reflected on the daughter of the 2008 Coronation runner-up Infallible (GB) (Pivotal {GB}). “It was her first run of the year, so Sir Michael decided to let her use her stride and I’m delighted she’s run so well,” he said. “I’m sure that stepping her up in trip will mean we will see even more improvement. We were concerned that it would be too much for her today, but she was in cracking form for the Guineas until suffering a setback–she suffered a bone bruise–and she has a high level of ability.”

Alpha Centauri’s unraced dam Alpha Lupi (Ire) (Rahy), who also prodcued Ballydoyle’s Listed Golden Fleece S. winner and G2 Royal Lodge S. runner-up Tenth Star (Ire) (Dansili {GB}), has Miesque (Nureyev) as a second dam as does the recent G1 Prix du Jockey Club hero Study of Man (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}). East of the Moon (Private Account) captured the G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, G1 Prix de Diane and G1 Prix Jacques le Marois for this operation before throwing the G3 Prix d’Arenberg scorer Moon Driver (Mr. Prospector) and the dam of the G3 Horris Hill S.-winning sire Evasive (GB) (Elusive Quality) and last year’s G3 Brigadier Gerard S. winner Autocratic (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}). Alpha Centauri, who was adding another Royal Ascot victory to the family’s tally after Kingmambo (Mr. Prospector) in the G1 St James’s Palace S., is kin to a 2-year-old filly by So You Think (NZ) named Etoile Filante (GB) and a yearling filly by Sea the Moon (Ger).

Friday, Royal Ascot, Britain
CORONATION S.-G1, £538,750, Ascot, 6-22, 3yo, f, 7f 213yT, 1:35.89 (NTR), g/f.
1–ALPHA CENTAURI (IRE), 126, f, 3, by Mastercraftsman (Ire)
1st Dam: Alpha Lupi (Ire), by Rahy
2nd Dam: East of the Moon, by Private Account
3rd Dam: Miesque, by Nureyev
O/B-Niarchos Family; B-Niarchos Family (IRE); T-Jessica Harrington; J-Colm O’Donoghue. £305,525. Lifetime Record: 7-4-1-0, $760,840. *1/2 to Tenth Star (Ire) (Dansili {GB}), SW & GSP-Ire, GSP-Eng. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Threading (Ire), 126, f, 3, Exceed and Excel (Aus)–Chaquiras, by Seeking the Gold. O-Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum; B-Darley (IRE); T-Mark Johnston. £115,831.
3–Veracious (GB), 126, f, 3, Frankel (GB)–Infallible (GB), by Pivotal (GB). O/B-Cheveley Park Stud Ltd (GB); T-Sir Michael Stoute. £57,970.
Margins: 6, 1 3/4, 1 3/4. Odds: 2.75, 7.00, 14.00.
Also Ran: Billesdon Brook (GB), Clemmie (Ire), Coeur de Beaute (Fr), Aim of Artemis (Ire), Anna Nerium (GB), Teppal (Fr), Nkosikazi (GB), Whitefountainfairy (Ire), Adorable (Ire). Scratched: Capla Temptress (Ire). Click for the Racing Post result or the free catalogue-style pedigree. Video, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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