Alpha Centauri flashes home to take fillies' Classic for Harrington
Another Group 1, another gamble landed. Alpha Centauri came with a late burst to pick up the pace-setting Ballydoyle third string Could It Be Love to take the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas for Jessica Harrington and Colm O'Donoghue.
It was a first Classic victory for Harrington, best known for her exploits training jumpers, and it clearly meant a lot to the trainer who now has Royal Ascot in mind for the Niarchos family's home-bred daughter of Mastercraftsman.
Harrington, whose only previous top level success on the Flat was achieved with Pathfork in the 2010 National Stakes, also at the Curragh, said: "It's a fantastic result. A dream come true. Our first Classic win after being placed in a few of them over the years. I'd put today on a par with winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Sizing John.
"Today is the first time since Alpha Centauri ran second in the Albany at Royal Ascot that she got fast ground and that would seem to be the key to her. She's a lovely filly and a very big one.
"We'll let the dust settle but I'd imagine the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot will be her next race."
Alpha Centauri is 6-1 (from 33-1) with Paddy Power for the Coronation and 5-1 with Ladbrokes for the same event. Ladbrokes make Harrington, whose Royal Ascot team will also include Gold Cup candidate Torcedor, 5-2 to break her duck at the meeting.
The trainer, the second woman to land the fillies' Classic following Frances Crowley who was successful with Saoire in 2005, added: "This win is certainly not all about me. A lot of work went into this win and the credit goes to everyone at home in the yard.
"I'm delighted for the owners. We have some lovely two-year-olds this season and they have been performing well."
O'Donoghue, riding his biggest winner since moving on from a long spell at Ballydoyle, produced Alpha Centauri with a late burst on the outside to run down the clear leader and land the spoils at 12-1, having been double that price earlier in the day.
Donnacha O'Brien led the field a merry dance on Could It Be Love and the 33-1 shot traded at short odds in-running before being collared late and beaten one and three-quarter lengths by Alpha Centauri.
Happily, the 5-4 favourite, finished third, as she had done at Newmarket, with Soliloquy fourth, two positions better than she achieved at Newmarket.
O'Donoghue said: "I don't think it was down to the fast ground. She has acted on slower ground, too, but doesn't want it too testing. It was a more a case of everything coming right on the day.
"She was drawn wide at Leopardstown on her first start of the season and the ground was very heavy. She had worked well since and we were very happy and quietly confident coming here today.
"But you never know going into a Classic. I'm just delighted everything worked out so well."
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com