All the hot views as Alpha Centauri bids for fifth consecutive Group 1 win
Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes | Group 1| fillies and mares, 3yo and up | 1m (outer track) | RTE2/ATR
Alpha Centauri has lit up the season with an unbeaten run of Group 1 victories and on Saturday Jessica Harrington’s brilliant filly will be attempting to stretch her haul of major successes to five back at Leopardstown, where she will be guaranteed a huge reception.
Since landing the Irish 1,000 Guineas in May, the powerful daughter of Mastercraftsman has trounced her rivals in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket, and, most recently, the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville last month, when taking on male opposition for the first time.
Big in size and reputation, she has answered all the questions asked of her, and in some style. Back on home soil and against her own sex here, she and Colm O’Donoghue will face six rivals as they seek further glory in what has been a fantastic year for connections.
Harrington reports her stable star in excellent shape as she bids to make it five Group 1 wins in as many months. She races left-handed for only the second time in her career – she was unsuited by the heavy ground when disappointing over seven furlongs on her Leopardstown reappearance in April.
It’s been onwards and upwards ever since, and Harrington said: “Everything has gone well with Alpha Centauri’s preparation. She's really thrived since her win at Deauville. It’s difficult to know whether she’s been improving from race to race but she's certainly maintained her form and, hopefully, will continue to do so.
“We were very pleased with her when she did her final bit of work during the week and we couldn’t be happier.”
Laurens in tip-top form
Sixth in the Yorkshire Oaks last month, Laurens drops to a mile for the first time since finishing second in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket in May and trainer Karl Burke reports her in top form for this test.
Burke said: "Obviously the favourite [Alpha Centauri] is a very good filly and we'll have to raise our game as we're meeting her on home ground and over her trip.
"But Laurens is in the best form we've had her in all year. She had a little canter on the track this morning. The boys said it was quick enough for her, but that was on the inner track, so hopefully there will be a bit more juice in the outer track, which they will be racing on."
O'Brien chasing a hat-trick
Successful with Alice Springs in 2016 and Hydrangea a year ago, Aidan O'Brien runs Clemmie, Happily and Magical as he bids for a hat-trick in the event.
Favourite for the 1,000 Guineas before meeting with a setback and missing the Newmarket Classic, Clemmie has finished behind Alpha Centauri three times this season and got closest to Jessica Harrington's star filly when third in the Falmouth Stakes.
O'Brien said: "Clemmie has come forward with every run. We think she's progressed since the Falmouth and the better the ground, the more it will suit her.
"Magical hasn't had the clearest of runs this year, with different little problems, but she won a Group 2 well at the Curragh last time and we've been very happy with her since.
"We're putting blinkers on Happily as she can be quite lazy and, hopefully, they'll help her. She's run well in Group 1s and is in good form."
Dream opportunity for Channon
Runner-up in a Group 3 over a slightly shorter trip at Tipperary on her most recent start last month, Dan's Dream, who missed an engagement at Doncaster on Friday, represents Mick Channon.
The trainer's son and assistant Jack said: "She bounced back to form last time after things hadn't gone her way at Goodwood and Newbury. We're hopeful she might be able to chase home Alpha Centauri and get a Group 1 placing."
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