Record-breaking Alpha Centauri gives Jessica Harrington her first ever Royal Ascot winner in style in the Coronation StakesRecord-breaking Alpha Centauri gives Jessica Harrington her first ever Royal Ascot winner in style in the Coronation Stakes (AFP Photo/Glyn KIRK )
London (AFP) - Alpha Centauri put on a performance fit for a queen in the Coronation Stakes in front of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II at Royal Ascot on Friday in a new track record time.
The Irish 1000 Guineas winner put her fellow English and French Guineas champions Billesdon Brook and Teppal to the sword in scorching to a six length victory to give the 'Queen of Irish racing' Jessica Harrington her first Group One win at the celebrated racing carnival.
The 71-year-old was giving the Greek shipping owners The Niarchos Family their third win in the race in their famous blue colours and light blue cross belts.
It was another remarkable chapter in her training career which has seen her capture 44 Grade One races over jumps and hurdles including the 2017 blue riband of the jumps The Cheltenham Gold Cup with Sizing John.
"I thought will it ever happen to win a Group One here and today was now or never," said Harrington, beautifully decked out in all white.
"She is absolutely amazing, got a great temperament."
Those adjectives were close to the ones her daughter Katy, who works at the stables, summed up her mother with.
"She's amazing," she said.
"They broke the mould when they made her!"
Harrington's victory summed up a great day for septuagenarian trainers.
Michael Stoute, 72, extended his record for overall Royal Ascot winners to 78 capturing a rare race he had yet to win the Group One Commonwealth Cup with Eqtidaar.
The years too rolled back in the last when 78-year-old David Elsworth, like Harrington a master of the jumps principally with the extraordinary grey Desert Orchid, won the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes with the well gambled on favourite Dash of Spice.
"I am not sure I will have many more opportunites to win here," said a visibly emotional Elsworth, whose first winner at the meeting came in 1980.
- 'Trained by a genius' -
Eqtidaar owed his victory due to an inspired ride by 2016 champion jockey Jim Crowley.
Eqtidaar drifted across the track as the finishing line beckoned but Crowley -- having a far more enjoyable experience in the limelight than earlier this month when he was attacked from behind by Brazilian Raul de Silva and suffered a split lip in a weighing room fracas -- had enough in hand to hold off Sands of Mali.
For Crowley it ended a frustrating run of three runners-up places this week.
"I always thought this was one of the best rides of the week for me," said Crowley.
"The fact the horse is trained by a genius explains why I was so confident!"
Godolphin's resurgence this season continued as Old Persian captured the race known as the 'Ascot Derby' the King Edward VII Stakes.
For trainer Charlie Appleby and Norwegian jockey William Buick -- the same duo who combined with Godolphin to win the Epsom Derby with Masar -- it was their third win of the week.
Even more pleasing would have been the ease with which Old Persian held off the trio trained by great rival recordbreaking Irish handler Aidan O'Brien, who has for years left Godolphin chasing shadows.
Mark Johnston took the opener the Albany Stakes for two-year-old fillies with Main Edition and earned a quote of 16/1 for the English 1000 Guineas next year.
It was the second win of the week for both jockey James Doyle -- who had won the Prince of Wales's Stakes on Poet's Word to secure Stoute the all-time record for Royal Ascot winners on Wednesday -- and Johnston.
The Yorkshire-based Scotsman, who is less than 100 winners off the all-time United Kingdom trainers record of 4,193 presently held by the retired Richard Hannon Senior, said his winner is useful but refused to speculate about the prospects for the Guineas next May.