Colm O’Donoghue relishing Alpha Centauri reunion in Falmouth Stakes

Jessica Harrington’s filly bidding to complete Group One hat-trick

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Colm O’Donoghue is chomping at the bit to ride Royal Ascot heroine Alpha Centauri in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket on Friday.

The Jessica Harrington-trained filly turned what looked a red-hot renewal of the Coronation Stakes, which included winners of the English, Irish and French 1000 Guineas, into an absolute procession.

She smashed the track record previously set by Barney Roy and is an odds-on favourite to add a third Group One to her tally.

“Luckily I rode her the other morning, so I haven’t had to wait that long to get back on her,” said O’Donoghue.

“She came out of Ascot well, thank god, and seems in very good form so I’m very much looking forward to it.

“I was always very comfortable throughout the Coronation, it was just a matter of how the race unfolded. She’d always shown us an immense amount of ability so I wasn’t surprised she could travel through it like that.

“Obviously because of how strong the field that she beat looked, it was really very impressive.”

Having won her first two starts at two before going down narrowly in the Albany Stakes, Alpha Centauri was well beaten on her final start last season and her first run this year.

Initially those below-par efforts were explained away by soft ground, but O’Donoghue has another theory.

“I don’t put her defeats down to the ground. I think she was just so big last year, she was winning through pure ability but then started to develop,” he explained.

“Now she’s three, she’s got that strength to carry her frame. She’s very mature now, Mrs Harrington has given her all the time in the world and it has stood her in great stead.”

Harrington herself has been pleased with what she has seen since Ascot.

“She’s drawn one and she is in great form. The usual suspects have all turned up again,” she said.

Second in the Coronation was Mark Johnston’s Threading, albeit at a six-length distance.

“The Coronation Stakes was a great run by Threading, bar the fact that one horse absolutely trounced her,” said Johnston.

“Arguably things won’t be very different in the Falmouth Stakes – where if the two of them repeat their Ascot performances Threading will be second again – but I have a principle that I don’t run away from one horse.

“There is some hope that Threading can improve upon her Ascot effort but the main reason for declaring her is that one should never run away from one horse.

“It is obviously a concern that Threading’s two worst runs have been at Newmarket, albeit on the Rowley Mile rather than the July Course, and I have no idea why that might be.”

The Middleham handler also runs Nyaleti, who arrives on a hat-trick having won a Listed race at Goodwood and the German 1000 Guineas at Dusseldorf.

“I don’t think that the form of Nyaleti’s win in the German Guineas was particularly strong and it may have been overrated,” said Johnston.

“That said, I also think that many of Nyaleti’s other performances have been underrated, such as when she beat the Derby winner, Masar, at last year’s Royal Ascot, or when she finished half a length behind another Classic winner, Laurens.

“I will not be at all surprised if Nyaleti finishes in the first three on Friday and, in the longer term, this race fits nicely into her schedule en route to the Beverly D Stakes (in Chicago on August 11).”

Aidan O’Brien’s Clemmie will need to bounce back to her classy juvenile form, having been well beaten by Alpha Centauri in her two races to date this season.

Colm O’Donoghue relishing Alpha Centauri reunion in Falmouth Stakes

Newmarket 15:35, 13 July 2018

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