Newmarket or the Curragh? Harrington outlines Guineas plans for star fillies
Inside the war room of her Moone-based headquarters, Jessica Harrington has been busy drawing up plans for her top-notch three-year-old fillies, which will see Millisle head for the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on June 7 and Albigna tackle the Irish equivalent less than a week later.
Harrington made her Classic breakthrough in 2018 when Alpha Centauri won the Irish 1,000 Guineas, however, if the 73-year-old trainer is to add to her tally at the Curragh next month, she will not be able to celebrate on track.
Instead, Harrington will be adhering to the guidelines set out by Horse Racing Ireland on Saturday that no trainer over 70 will be permitted to attend racing. But that doesn’t mean the legendary trainer will be approaching next month’s Classic targets with anything other than military precision.
“They are going to go away this week and then we will decide who goes where. I just hope they get up and running on June 1 in Britain and, all being well, we have a provisional plan in place,” Harrington said.
“Millisle has won at Newmarket before and she could go there while Albigna might wait for the Irish Guineas. We also have Alpine Star, who I had hoped to run in France, but that looks like it is out, Valeria Messalina and Celestial Object as well – there are loads of other good fillies we are not quite sure where we are going with yet.
“Cayenne Pepper probably won't run until the Irish Oaks. For the time being at least, we are going to concentrate on home shores as it makes life easier with travel,” she added.
Harrington is philosophical about missing out on what could potentially be the most exciting month of her long and illustrious training career.
She explained: “I won't be allowed to go racing in any case because I'm too old! It won't worry me. As long as I'm allowed to go racing some time in the next three months I'll be alright. Let's just get the thing started and all of us pull together and, hopefully, in a few months' time, we will be in a much better place.”
Harrington added: “I'm not going to complain because I can't go racing – I'm just so happy that we have a date to look forward to and that I get to spend some time at my desk again planning races. It was so depressing sitting at the desk with nothing to plan over the past couple of months but it's great to get back to some form of normality.”
Shane Foley, who came into this season off a career-best domestic tally of 89 winners in 2019 as well as Group 1 victories aboard Millisle and Albigna, has been forced to choose one filly over the other and has opted to stay at home to ride the latter at the Curragh on June 12.
The man who knows Harrington’s horses better than anyone would not be permitted to ride at the Curragh on Guineas weekend if he were to have ridden at Newmarket on June 7 as Ireland is imposing a two-week quarantine on anyone entering the country.
Like Harrington, Foley is prepared to take the rough with the smooth, and is hopeful his decision to stay at home pays off in spades.
He explained: “It's looking like Albigna is going to stay at home and run in the Irish Guineas and, with the restrictions in place, I won't be going to Newmarket.
"Obviously it's disappointing and I would love to be going over to ride Millisle in the Guineas at Newmarket and then be back to ride in the Irish Guineas but we are just so delighted to be back racing that you won't hear me complaining about the situation. It's just not to be.”
Foley added: “It doesn't look like I'll be at Royal Ascot either because, with the time schedule, none of our fillies will be there because the Irish and English Guineas are just too close to the meeting.
“If Millisle didn't stay in the Guineas at Newmarket, she might go back for the Commonwealth Cup, but that's all hypothetical at the moment.
“I don't think it would be possible for any of our two-year-olds to run at Ascot either so, what I think you will see for the next month or so is trainers and jockeys concentrating on their own jurisdictions rather than international competition.”
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