No Issue For Mastercraftsman’s Alpha Centauri In the Marois

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5th at DVL, Gr. Stk, €1,000,000G1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois (8f)Winner: Alpha Centauri (Ire), f, 3 by Mastercraftsman (Ire)

Alpha Centauri | Scoop Dyga

By Tom Frary

After the sparks had extinguished following Sunday’s G1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois, a “Win And You’re In” for the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs in November, the early debate about whether Deauville’s preceding rain would compromise Alpha Centauri (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) suddenly seemed trivial. While the Niarchos Family’s TDN Rising Star had so far failed to show the same level of intensity on an easy surface as she had on summer going, the way she sauntered through her boldest test suggests it is more a case that she has come of age now. In effectively using fellow TDN Rising Star and G1 Prix Rothschild winner With You (GB) (Dansili {GB}) as a lead horse, the increasingly popular grey emphasised her elevated status as Europe’s leading miler. Swamping that rival 500 metres from the finish, the 9-10 favourite was soon into the clear in customary fashion and there were 2 1/2 lengths between her and Recoletos (Fr) (Whipper) at the line as she provided her owner-breeders with a ninth renewal of the race they have so proudly sponsored since 1986. “She is just amazing,” their racing manager Alan Cooper said. “This is a race we dearly want to win, so to have success for the family with Miesque, East of the Moon and this one is special. “She is such a great filly and it was breathtaking.”

Prior to Sunday, Alpha Centauri’s record on ground softer than good read one win from three outings, with her form deteriorating markedly the heavier it became. The success, on good-to-yielding in the Listed Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies’ Sprint S. at Naas in May, was a five-length one over the smart G3 Anglesey S. winner and G1 Phoenix S.-placed Ballydoyle filly Actress (Ire) (Declaration of War) and her sire was impressive on heavy ground in the Irish 2000 Guineas. With the rain coming in insufficient amounts to give her rivals any kind of chance, she saved up all her venom by sleepwalking through the preliminaries and as soon as the gates opened was luminated as she had been in the May 27 G1 Irish 1000 Guineas, June 22 G1 Coronation S. and July 13 G1 Falmouth S. Able to follow With You’s tempo so easily at the head of the main stand’s-side group, she was comfortably within range of the pace set by Success Days (Ire) (Jeremy) who led a quartet up the middle of the track. As soon as Colm O’Donoghue pulled her out approaching the three-furlong marker, she was tanking to George Strawbridge’s talented homebred causing her jockey Aurelien Lemaitre to instantly set to a drive. While With You gave generously, it was to no avail and only the G1 Prix d’Ispahan winner Recoletos could give meaningful pursuit.

As Alan Cooper stated in his post-race initerview, Alpha Centauri’s success in this prestigious affair has momentous gravity for the esteemed Niarchos operation. One year after taking up the sponsorship, Stavros Niarchos watched this winner’s third dam Miesque (Nureyev) capture the first of two for herself and the long love affair with Deauville’s feature was sealed. The colts Hector Protector and Exit To Nowhere added two more editions in 1991 and 1992, before Miesque’s daughter East of the Moon (Private Account) made it five in 1994. Spinning World dominated in 1996 and 1997, but there had been a long wait since Six Perfections (Fr) (Celtic Swing {GB}) had masterminded an eighth in 2003. Now that she has fulfilled her main European ambition for 2018, Alpha Centauri may be able to enjoy a sojourn at home for the immediate future. “She is in all the major races in England, but now she has travelled over here we might not want to ask too much of her and she could stay in Ireland,” Cooper continued. “The Breeders’ Cup Mile is a race we would love to win again, but we’ll give her time and see how she comes out of this. We will just savour this moment.”

Trainer Jessie Harrington was relishing another landmark in her distinguished training career which is increasingly taking a more serious turn towards the flat. “She is such a relaxed filly I sometimes have to pinch myself,” she said. “I was a little bit anxious beforehand as to whether or not she would wake up, but once on the course she is a different proposition and travelled so well into the race. She’s been amazing throughout the season and I’m very proud. I must admit, I thought I must be mad bringing her here to take on colts and older horses. Once given her head, she just kept going away from them and when she does that you hope she’s not burning up too much energy because there are several possibilities now. She’s in the [Sept. 15 G1] Matron Stakes at Leopardstown, the [Oct. 6 G1] Sun Chariot at Newmarket and the mile at Ascot [the Oct. 20 G1 Queen Elizabeth II S.] and if she does make it through to the Breeders’ Cup, it will have been a very long season by then. She’s given me a few sleepless nights, I have to admit that, but it’s not quite like training Moscow Flyer as there are no fences to worry about!”

For Recoletos, this was a welcome return to form after his below-par showing when seventh in the G1 Queen Anne S. at Royal Ascot. “He has run a great race and all I can say is he did not run his true race at Ascot,” trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias said. “In my opinion, it was a shame because one hour before the race the stewards asked for a blood test on my horse and you can’t give injections to him easily. He is very delicate and it turned him upside down. When I came to saddle him, he was mad and that is the reason why he ran so badly.”

Alpha Centauri’s dam Alpha Lupi (Ire) (Rahy) never made the racecourse, so the record of her damline for those fillies to have run in this race remains at 100%. Far exceeding the achievements of her Listed Golden Fleece S.-winning and G2 Royal Lodge S.-placed half-brother Tenth Star (Ire) (Dansili {GB}), she is also a fourth generation Classic heroine along with the aforementioned East of the Moon and Miesque. The latter is the second dam of this year’s G1 Prix du Jockey Club protagonist Study of Man (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), who could be Breeders’ Cup-bound himself making for potentially a magical presence at the meeting for the Niarchos Family. Karakontie (Jpn) (Bernstein) was the latest member of this dynasty to score there four years ago and it is a family that never takes too long to throw up something high-class. Alpha Lupi’s unraced 2-year-old filly by So You Think (NZ) is named Etoile Filante (GB), while she also has a yearling filly by Sea the Moon (Ger).

Sunday, Deauville, France
PRIX DU HARAS DE FRESNAY-LE-BUFFARD JACQUES LE MAROIS-G1, €1,000,000, Deauville, 8-12, 3yo/up, c/f, 8fT, 1:34.27, g/s.
1–ALPHA CENTAURI (IRE), 121, 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 (IRE); T-Jessica Harrington; J-Colm O’Donoghue. €571,400. Lifetime Record: MG1SW-Eng & G1SW-Ire, 9-6-1-0, €1,356,328. *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–Recoletos (Fr), 131, c, 4, Whipper–Highphar (Fr), by Highest Honor (Fr). O/B-SARL Darpat France (FR); T-Carlos Laffon-Parias. €228,600.
3–With You (GB), 121, f, 3, Dansili (GB)–In Clover (GB), by Inchinor (GB). O/B-George Strawbridge (GB); T-Freddy Head. €114,300.
Margins: 2HF, 3HF, 1. Odds: 0.90, 13.00, 3.40.
Also Ran: Noor Al Hawa (Fr), Romanised (Ire), Intellogent (Ire), Trais Fluors (GB), Cascadian (GB), Success Days (Ire), Accidental Agent (GB), Zalamea (Ire). Click for the Racing Post result or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. Video, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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