Colm O’Donoghue is heading to France this weekend full of confidence as Alpha Centauri takes on the boys in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
The undoubted star of the Flat season so far, the Niarchos family-owned three-year-old faces a new task, having proved herself head and shoulders the best filly in winning the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes and Falmouth Stakes.
This is all new ground for Jessica Harrington, who has celebrated her first Classic and Royal Ascot winner thanks to Alpha Centauri, and O’Donoghue is glad to be along for the ride.
“I’m looking forward to it, she’s in good form and came out of the Falmouth really well,” the jockey said.
“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.
“I hope the ground is as good as possible and then we’ll just see what happens.”
In the Falmouth Stakes, O’Donoghue decided to make all and his mount strolled to victory like an odds-on shot should.
“We were drawn next to the rail in the Falmouth and she’s such a straightforward filly I just wanted to keep it as simple as possible for her really,” said O’Donoghue.
“I knew I was sat on the best filly, so it just made sense to ride her like that.
“Going there this weekend we know she’s in good form, we’ll see how she travels over and if the ground is good as expected we’ll see what happens.”
The Irish challenge is lacking an Aidan O’Brien runner, but does have two challengers from Ken Condon’s yard, in stable stalwart Success Days and this year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas hero Romanised.
The latter needs to put a disappointing display in the St James’s Palace Stakes behind him.
“The two of them have been declared, they are in the same ownership,” said Condon.
“Everything has gone to plan with Romanised. They worked nicely last Tuesday together and I’m very happy with them.
“The straight mile and easier ground are important factors for Romanised and he should be suited better there than at Ascot. Last Sunday it was genuine good ground and I’d say it will be nice ground again.
“If he can run like he did at the Curragh then hopefully he’ll run a big race. He didn’t run his race at Ascot where the ground was very very quick. We won’t have many excuses on Sunday and the straight mile will suit him.
“Jessie’s filly is the outstanding horse in the field and the home defence is also formidable. We are under no illusions, but he’s in the best shape we can have him in.”
A top-class field is further strengthened by the presence of Eve Johnson Houghton’s Queen Anne Stakes winner Accidental Agent.
Sixth in the Lockinge Stakes, the Delegator colt was sent off at 33-1 for the Group One prize at the Royal meeting and defied the odds to beat Lord Glitters by half a length, with Sussex Stakes hero Lightning Spear in third.
Johnson Houghton said: “Everything has gone to plan with him since Ascot and we couldn’t be happier.
“We aren’t really bothered what the ground is like and we’re just really looking forward to it.”
The home team is led by Freddy Head’s filly With You, an easy winner of the Prix Rothschild last time out, although Andre Fabre’s Cascadian should not be overlooked.
Never out of the first two, there was nothing between him and Intellogent in the Prix Jean Prat last time and the pair meet again.
“Cascadian comes into the race in good form. The horse is very straightforward and has probably come on a bit again since his last race, but obviously faces a competitive field,” Fabre told www.godolphin.com.
“His ability and the strength of the three-year-old form is on trial.”