Day 2 of the July Festival at Newmarket is highlighted by the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at 3.35pm, where the brilliant Irish 1000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes winner Alpha Centauri bids to continue on her path to greatness for the darling of Irish racing, Jessica Harrington.
This daughter of Mastercraftsman began her flat racing career in May of last year, winning a 6f maiden at Naas, before following up over the same course and distance 20 days later, this time beating a better field by 5 lengths and rising. It was an effort which set up a tilt at the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot for the Niarchos family owned filly, a race she went off 2/1 favourite for on the day. Alpha Centauri ran a blinder in 2nd, but she was somewhat unlucky not to win. Nevertheless, connections knew they had a real tool on their hands and a horse to start dreaming about.
Alpha Centauri’s first encounter with soft ground was in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh back in September. Once again, she went off at 2/1 favourite, but was very disappointing on the day, simply not handling the conditions at all and time was called on her 2yo campaign after that. She returned to the track on soft ground in April of 2018, once again finding the ground too deep to show her best and as a result, she was a well-backed but overlooked by most 12/1 shot at the Curragh. But the now stronger, grown up 3yo filly moved beautifully on the better ground and ran out a convincing winner under regular partner Colm O’Donoghue, to land a famous Classic success for Jessica Harrington; far better known for her jumping success.
This sweet victory set up a crack at the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, to put right the disappointment of finishing 2nd at the meeting last year, and Alpha Centauri did not disappoint this time. She was quite brilliant in fact, smashing the track record on her favoured fast ground and proving herself to be a not just a progressive 3yo miler, but a young horse right out of the very top drawer. She was so good, the horse in 2nd (Threading, re-opposes here) also broke the track record, but she beat that filly by a ruthless 6 length margin.
If Irish 1000 Guineas was a realisation of Group 1 potential and the Coronation Stakes a coming out party, the Falmouth Stakes will be Alpha Centauri’s graduation. She has frightened off much of the opposition that could’ve made a stronger race of this, but the reality is Alpha Centauri will bolt up if in the same form she was at Ascot, or anything like it.
She’s one for us all to enjoy.
Earlier in the day, the 2.25pm Duke Of Cambridge Stakes has me facing a bit of a loyalty crisis. I tipped up and backed Main Edition at Royal Ascot, but my affections for La Pelosa – who finished a neck 2nd behind her – grew considerably after her effort here. She split two more experienced fillies’ and a pair I thought would be far better than her on the back of a low-key Kempton maiden win, but Charlie Appleby’s improving charge was somewhat unfortunate to not reel in the winner and I reckon she can reverse the form on just her third career start. She has a willing attitude and more than a hint of class.
I’ll be able to make peace with my Judas moment if La Pelosa wins. If Main Edition follows up and wins again, I’ll take the pinch in the knowledge Mark Johnston’s fast and talented 2yo did me a favour (one of very few horse that did!) at Royal Ascot and she owes me nothing.
Day 2 of the July Festival is a cracking day’s action, but a little tricky in terms of finding good value single bets, considering there are some fairly small fields. With that in mind, I’ll suggest a small stakes, Lucky 31 bet for the purposes of adding a little betting spice to the column and the Newmarket card on Friday.
Falmouth Stakes Day Lucky 31
Newmarket – 2.25 – La Pelosa
Newmarket – 3.00 – Wissahickon
Newmarket – 3.35 – Alpha Centauri
Newmarket – 4.45 – Hochfeld
Newmarket – 5.20 – Corrosive
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