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'Special' Alpha Centauri out to shine again as she tackles older rivals

Alpha Centauri and Colm O’Donoghue, winners of the Coronation Stakes
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3.35 Newmarket
Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes | Group 1 | 1m fillies & mares | 3yo+ | ITV3/RUK

Seven runners go to post for the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes, but for most it is a one-horse race and another inevitable coronation for star filly Alpha Centauri.

Before Royal Ascot there was uncertainty about the relative merits of the three-year-old fillies in Europe. Afterwards, the Niarchos family’s imposing grey stood head and shoulders above all others, having shattered the course record on her way to a six-length success in the Coronation Stakes.

Having won the Irish 1,000 Guineas before her Ascot victory, Alpha Centauri has her rivals on the back foot with Aidan O’Brien withdrawing three of his leading contenders, leaving the previously vanquished Threading from the Mark Johnston stable and O'Brien's Clemmie as the main challengers to the odds-on favourite.

Trainer Jessica Harrington said: "She was fantastic in the Coronation Stakes and she seems in great form since. I'm happy with her."

Jessica Harrington: "She was fantastic in the Coronation Stakes and she seems in great form since"
Alpha Centauri takes on older horses for the first time, but jockey Colm O'Donoghue heads into the race with his confidence in the filly sky high.

He said: "I’m very grateful to be riding her as she’s such a special filly. To be associated with her and to get to ride in the famous Niarchos silks is something special, for sure.

"She’s won the Guineas and the Coronation Stakes and they’re two of the biggest races of the season, so she just gives me so much confidence. I’ll be riding her with all that confidence and I’ll ride her like the special horse she is."

The rider added: "I don’t think she’s scared them off as such. Most of the horses go to the Coronation Stakes and then go for other opportunities and they drop away, more than anything.

"I’ll just be concentrating on my filly and hoping she brings her best."

Can anyone beat her?

Johnston: Don't be scared of one horse

While it would seem opponents would rather avoid Alpha Centauri than risk another beating, trainer Mark Johnston has doubled down with his efforts to defeat the favourite.

Threading won the race for ‘the rest’ at Royal Ascot, finishing second in the Coronation as she continues to try to recapture her exciting juvenile form.

Joining her at Newmarket is stablemate Nyaleti, who landed the German 1,000 Guineas in May and chased home Clemmie in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at the July festival last year.

Threading (silver silks) chases home Alpha Centauri

Johnston said: “The Coronation Stakes was a great run by Threading, bar the fact that one horse absolutely trounced her. Arguably things won’t be very different in the Falmouth, but I have a principle that I don’t run away from one horse.

“There's some hope that Threading can improve on her Ascot effort but the main reason for declaring her is that one should never run away from one horse.”

He added: “I don’t think the form of Nyaleti’s win in the German Guineas was particularly strong and it may have been overrated.

"That said, I also think many of Nyaleti’s other performances have been underrated, such as when she beat the Derby winner Masar at last year’s Royal Ascot, or when she finished half a length behind another Classic winner, Laurens.

“I would not be at all surprised if Nyaleti finishes in the first three and, in the longer term, this race fits nicely into her schedule en route to the Beverly D Stakes.”

Clemmie bids to restore reputation

Clemmie claimed the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes on this card 12 months ago on her way to being crowned champion two-year-old filly.

However, this year has been very different for the Aidan O'Brien-trained three-year-old. She was forced to miss the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket owing to a setback and has subsequently been thumped twice by Alpha Centauri.

Clemmie and Ryan Moore win last year's Duchess of Cambridge Stakes
On the plus side, O'Brien has won the last two runnings of the Group 1 with Roly Poly and Alice Springs, who went from strength to strength after scoring at Newmarket.

O'Brien said: "We're happy with Clemmie and she's made good progress since her run at Ascot. We thought she would come forward and we think she has. We're looking forward to seeing her running."

And what of the rest?

Saeed Bin Suroor, trainer of Arabian Hope
She finished third in the Falmouth last year and I'm confident this is the right race for her again. This will be her second run of the season and she needed the race last time. I feel she's been working well and that she's in good condition. I’m hoping for a better run. We respect Alpha Centauri, she is very good, but we believe our filly should take her chance.

Jack Channon, assistant to Mick Channon, trainer of Opal Tiara
If the Alpha Centauri who ran at Ascot turns up then the rest of us are running for places at best. Opal Tiara is in good nick and her work’s been good at home since she ran in Ireland. She’s in foal so this will be her last run before she’s retired to the paddocks. She’s been a great servant for us and hopefully she can put up a good performance on her last run.

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She just gives me so much confidence. I’ll be riding her with all that confidence
E.W. Terms
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