Albigna will break new ground for Jessica Harrington when she becomes the trainer’s first ever runner at the Breeders’ Cup on Friday.
Having represented Ireland at European, World and Olympic level during her days as a three-day event rider, Harrington has since established herself as one of the sport’s great dual-purpose trainers during a career spanning 30 years.
She is the most successful female trainer at the Cheltenham Festival, where her triumphs include two Queen Mother Champion Chases with the mighty Moscow Flyer, a Champion Hurdle with Jezki and the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Sizing John.
In the last couple of years in particular Harrington has become increasingly potent on the Flat – claiming her first Classic success with Alpha Centauri in last season’s Irish 1,000 Guineas and saddling almost 30 two-year-old winners in 2019.
Albigna has very much been of the show the star of the show this term – winning two of her first three starts and proving a disappointing effort in the Moyglare Stud Stakes was merely a blip when claiming top-level honours in the Prix Marcel Boussac in Paris.
Harrington has returned to California for the first time since taking part in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and is delighted with how Albigna has taken the long journey from Ireland.
She said: “Albigna travelled very well and is very relaxed. She arrived here in good form, has eaten up and did a little walk around the parade ring and saddling boxes just to help get her acquainted with her surroundings.
“This is my first Breeders’ Cup runner, even though I was here when the Breeders’ Cup started for the Olympics in 1984. It’s a lovely place, that hasn’t changed, and it’s great to be back.”
Albigna is one of seven European challengers in a 14-strong field for the Juvenile Fillies Turf, live on Sky Sports Racing.
Aidan O’Brien saddles Tango and Etoile, his son Joseph is represented by Unforgetable, while British hopes are carried by Karl Burke’s Living In The Past, Shadn from Andrew Balding’s yard and the Roger Varian-trained Daahyeh.
The latter has won the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Rockfel at Newmarket this season and steps up to a mile for the first time.
Varian said: “She’s got a good profile for the race and we’ve been thinking about coming here for some time.
“She has some of the best two-year-old fillies form in Europe and if she can translate it to the mile, racing round bends for the first time, she looks to have a strong chance on paper.”