Jessica Harrington admits Albigna’s high draw might not be ideal in Saturday’s Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas the Curragh.
The Zoffany filly will start from stall 13 of 15 runners in the mile Classic, but she has a handy advantage over her rivals on the ratings having enjoyed a fine juvenile career highlighted by Group One gold in the Prix Marcel Boussac.
Albigna was last seen finishing a creditable fourth at the Breeders’ Cup meeting and the in-form Harrington has high hopes of securing another victory in the race following Alpha Centauri in the same Niarchos family colours in 2018.
Harrington said: “She’s in great form, she’s going to be very fresh and well, but she has been away to the Curragh twice so at least she has been on the lorry and done a gallop away from home and I hope I have got her in very good form.
“She just didn’t quite get round the first bend (at Santa Anita), then she flew home. She ran great out there and came home from America really well. She did well all over the winter.
“Her draw is not great, but we will hope for the best.”
Aidan O’Brien fields two live hopes in Peaceful and So Wonderful, but the race will mark a special moment for his son Donnacha, who sends out his first Classic runner.
O’Brien is in his first season with a licence after quitting the saddle at the end of last year and he runs Fancy Blue, who transferred to his care after winning twice for his father in 2019.
He said: “She’s gone very strong and she’s grown a little bit, so she’s done very well from two to three. We’re very happy with how things have gone.
“She’s adaptable ground-wise, I wouldn’t mind a bit of juice as she bends her knee and won on slow ground at the Curragh last year. I’m not too concerned either way, but I’d be happy if it was good ground or around that.
“We don’t want it to be firm, but other than that we’re fairly happy.
“She’s a filly that on pedigree should suit 10 or even 12 furlongs and we’re kind of treating the Guineas as a little bit of a prep run for the Oaks.
“She’ll improve plenty fitness wise, but that’s kind of the long-term plan, going to the Irish Oaks.”
To add a further spice to the mix, Joseph O’Brien runs Brook On Fifth and New York Girl against his father and brother.
Ger Lyons has three runners in Even So, Roca Roma and Soul Search, while Michael Halford relies on Ridenza, winner of her only start in Leopardstown maiden last August.
Halford said: “She’s a beautifully-bred filly, by Sea The Stars out of a good mare we had called Raydara, who won the Debutante for us.
“She’s always shown us plenty from the very beginning and we always liked her, so it was no surprise she won at Leopardstown. Ronan (Whelan) gave her a beautiful ride on the day from a bad draw and she was very professional.
“Unfortunately for us and for her she returned to the unsaddling enclosure and was lame, it turned out she had fractured her pastern. She had an operation the next morning and stood in for a couple of months.
“She’s progressed really well since then, she took the operation really well and her recovery was good. We’ve brought her along slowly and she’s in very good form now.”
The 15-strong field is completed by Harrington’s Valeria Messalina, together with Katiba, Apricot Moon, Miss Myers and My Lucky Penny.