Accidental Agent rider Charlie Bishop undaunted at taking on Alpha Centauri
Charlie Bishop would not dream of underestimating Alpha Centauri, yet he is relishing the prospect of taking her on with Accidental Agent in Sunday's Prix Jacques Le Marois on what will be one of the biggest days of his career.
There was no pressure on Bishop when Accidental Agent inflicted a shock defeat upon a field that included established Group 1 performers such as Benbatl and Rhododendron in Royal Ascot's Queen Anne Stakes, since the four-year-old was a 33-1 chance.
However, as an established top-level winner himself now, Eve Johnson Houghton's stable star is as short as 6-1 for Sunday's Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard backed showpiece in a market dominated by Jessica Harrington's triple Group 1 winner Alpha Centauri.
Despite the task at hand, Bishop shrugged off any misgivings a jockey in his shoes might typically be feeling in such circumstances.
"I'm very excited about it, and obviously a lot more confident than we were going to Ascot," Bishop said. "We are well aware of how good Alpha Centauri is, but you can't be scared of one horse."
Bishop's stature has grown significantly following that Group 1 breakthrough and he feels he is riding better than ever.
He said: "I'm riding better horses, and that itself makes you ride better. I'm riding with more confidence, but confidence has never been an issue riding for Eve as she doesn't tie me down. She lets me do my own thing, which makes my job very easy."
Bishop is in top form, but so is his mount. "Accidental Agent is in fantastic form," he added. "As good, if not better, than before the Queen Anne. He's not flashy and wouldn't do anything to really impress you, but he'll still let you know when he's right and he's in great form right now.
"He's just absolutely flying, and while Alpha Centauri looks exceptional we won't mind at all if it comes up on the soft side, whereas it's not going to play to her strengths."
He added: "He did a nice piece of work with a lead horse when we took him to Sandown last Wednesday. We worked from the seven-furlong start and just cantered around the bend before working up the straight.
"It was mainly to get him away, because the ground has been so fast at home, and it was gorgeous ground as it was on the morning of a raceday and there was still dew on the grass."
While Bishop's experience of riding in France is limited, he is undaunted by the prospect.
He said: "I've had just a few rides in France when I was with Mick [Channon], but it's a straight mile for the Marois, just as it was for the Queen Anne, and I've watched a lot of races there.
"It looks a straightforward track and he's a hold-up horse so I'll ride him the same. If they all get in a battle trying to beat Alpha Centauri I can pick up the pieces."
He added: "The straight mile is key to Accidental Agent. The only reason he is a hold-up horse is because he likes space to get himself in rhythm and get himself organised. He has won around a bend, but that was at Kempton when he was rated 85 and he would have been thrown in.
"I'm really looking forward to it. It looks the perfect race for Accidental Agent between now and the QEII."
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