Albigna, Alpine Star on Classic Course

Albigna | Horsephotos

The Niarchos Family sophomore's Albigna (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}) and Alpine Star (Ire) (Sea The Moon {Ger}) returned from their winter break in good order and connections begin to look ahead toward Classic campaigns in 2020. Both fillies are trained by Jessica Harrington.

Winner of the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac and the G3 Airlie Stud S. last fall, Albigna finished fourth in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita. The daughter of Freedonia (GB) (Selkirk), who is the early favorite at 14-1 for the G1 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket [May 5], may also be targeted to the French equivalent in Paris.

“We could think about taking Albigna back to Longchamp for the [G1] French Guineas [May 10], but it's a little bit too early to be making firm plans,” said Alan Cooper, racing manager to the Niarchos family.

Alpine Star won her last two starts, including the G2 Debutante S. at The Curragh last August, and is likely to pursue a similar route to her stablemate.

“Both fillies had a nice break before Christmas and are now back with Jessie [Harrington] and in good form,” confirmed Cooper. “Both of them have Group 1 entries and will be kept apart. We'll see how they progress in their work and let Jessie decide if she wants to run either of them in a trial. Obviously, Albigna would have a Group 1 penalty were she to run in a trial, so that is something to consider.”

When asked about preferred distance for the Niarchos hombreds, Cooper added, “I think Albigna will be sticking to a mile, whereas Alpine Star could go a mile and a bit farther.”

Cooper also has high hopes for a trio of 3-year-old colts–Free Solo (Ire) (Showcasing {GB}), trained in Ireland with Harrington; Sir Michael Stoute-trained Highest Ground (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) in Britain and a French representative Ketil (Karakontie {Jpn}), conditioned by Pascal Bary. Free Solo won by five lengths at Leopardstown in July, while Highest Ground won his sole career start at Leicester in September. Rounding out the trio Ketil is the winner of two of three starts, including the most recent at Deauville in November.

“Free Solo is a horse Jessie likes a lot and he has big-race entries [including the Irish 2,000 Guineas May 23],” said Cooper. “We'll feel our way with him and take our time, but we have high hopes that he'll go up to a good level.”

“Highest Ground is a horse we hope will go down the Classic trial route. He is inexperienced, which is not ideal for an early-season Classic. We'll let Sir Michael bring him along and see where we end up. He could be entered for races like the G1 Prix du Jockey Club. [May 31]”

In regards to Ketil, Cooper added, “A horse we like in France is Ketil, who has won two of his three starts for Pascal Bary. He has big-race entries in France and we think he'll do well.

“We are still in the winter and I think we'll be a bit wiser about all these horses in another month's time.”

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