Alpine Star emulated her half-sister Alpha Centauri (the winner in 2018) when storming to victory in the G1 Coronation Stakes.
The three-year-old Sea The Moon filly, homebred by the Niarchos Family, was making her first start of 2020 and was off the bridle from some way out. Responding gamely to Frankie Dettori, Alpine Star took up the running entering the final furlong and kept on strongly for a four and a quarter length victory over American challenger Sharing (Graham Motion/Oisin Murphy), who stayed on well from off the pace.
Speaking from her base in County Kildare, Jessica Harrington said: “It is absolutely amazing because I am sitting here, I can’t go racing, and watching it on the telly is very hard. I could not believe it because she was the only horse in the field that hadn’t had a run this year, but she is amazing. She is a half-sister to a complete superstar, Alpha Centauri, who gave me my first Royal Ascot winner. She was just amazing today, she did it so easy.
“She is very laidback and nothing like Alpha Centauri, who was a great big, very imposing filly. This filly is not very big, she is not a great colour – a little bit of a mealy chestnut. If you saw her trotting around in the string, you wouldn’t pick her out, but she has the most wonderful attitude.
“Frankie was probably squeezing her along before she turned in but every time you give her a squeeze, she will come for you. You are definitely very nervous when you are watching it the whole way from Ireland and it’s unbelievable.
“It is sad for Shane (Foley) that he isn’t allowed to come over and ride, but we are in very strange times. It is a very strange Ascot and I am absolutely thrilled to have a winner there. I only sent over three horses and I am delighted with how they all ran. It is a strange year and something that we will probably never forget.
“This was the plan and I don’t know about the next plan. I will talk to Maria [Niarchos-Gouaze], Electra [Niarchos] and Alan [Cooper] and then we will see what happens.”
Richie Galway, Harrington’s son-in-law was present at Ascot. He said: “It has been tough, obviously, and Jessie’s had a bunch of really lovely three-year-old fillies that she has been waiting to unleash, and had continually to reassess her plans. It has worked out brilliantly for Alpine Star. She initially might have gone to France for the Guineas, but when that wasn’t feasible, Royal Ascot is such a huge week for the Niarchos family that that was obviously the next plan. It’s just fantastic that it has worked out so well.
“Alpine Star is a straightforward filly. Jessie sends anything that she runs at Ascot to stay with her great pal Nicky Henderson in Lambourn, he has been hugely helpful and he is going to claim credit for this! They have a fairly tried and tested routine, and the filly is straightforward – she’s very relaxed, very easy to handle, travels very well, so from that point of view the only logistical issue is that unfortunately Jessie, Emma, Kate and the Niarchos family – and Shane; Frankie Dettori, what a sub to have, and amazing that he hasn’t won a Coronation Stakes before, brilliant to get him – but the amount of work that Shane Foley has done on the filly at home has made today possible. It is a shame for the owners and for Jessie and the rest of the team that they cannot be here, but listen, they’ll celebrate it like they are [here].
“I don’t know whether she will go to the Oaks. Today was plan A. Frankie Dettori’s feedback, which we will take into account, is that he feels she will stretch to 10 furlongs but whether she will stretch to 12, I am not sure. She is a very relaxed filly; she hits a little flat spot, she battles, she sticks her neck out and she tries. I think probably she is at her best when ground is good. While she will mature, I am not sure if she really wants good to firm ground; they were perfect conditions for her today. But we will leave plans to the maestro.
“I get to stay away from the mother-in-law and sister-in-law for 14 days now [in quarantine]; we will get two weeks’ gardening done when I get back. Again, it’s awkward and a pain, but we are just delighted with the efforts everyone has made to get racing up and running, and we are happy to adhere to any protocols and gladly do it.”
Frankie Dettori was winning his first Coronation Stakes, meaning Newmarket’s July Cup is now the only British G1 race he has not won.
Dettori, enjoying a 29.25/1 day five double, said: “I really fancied Alpine Star. I didn’t want to jinx it, so I kept quiet. Jessie approached me about 10 days ago when she knew that Shane (Foley) couldn’t fly here. I kept it quiet and knew she was an exciting ride. I asked John Gosden for permission to ride the filly and he said yes.
“Everything went to plan in the race. I had a decent draw. I hit a flat spot and I got the split on the fence and then the rest was history.
“I am delighted for the Niarchos family. This was my first ride for Jessie. Shane Foley rang me this morning to discuss the ride, it has been a team effort and I am delighted for everyone.
“It has taken 30 years to win all the Group Ones, but I can say that I have really conquered Royal Ascot now – I am delighted for all the people concerned.
“This was missing, Royal Ascot means a lot to me, the Coronation, I have been riding here for 30 years, but for some reason I have never managed to get on the right horse. Jessica and the Niarchos family offered me this ride a while back.
“I was very excited about the ride, I had a good draw, a good split, the filly was beautifully prepared by Jessica, she showed a good turn of foot, and I am thrilled, thrilled.
“She will definitely get the mile and a quarter, she did all her best work at the end, the mile and a half? I really don’t know, I will leave to Maria Niarchos and Jessie to talk about.
“I would say at the moment the mile and quarter be her best distance, but I will leave that to Jessie. She is a wonderful filly, and she won in good style by four lengths, so you have to say she is up there with the best fillies around at the moment.
“When I started on Tuesday with a second in the Queen Anne, I thought ‘Oh it could be one of those weeks’.
“But as the week’s gone things got better, today was a big tick off my boxes, of my career to win the Coronation. We start on Tuesday and think, ‘Oh, it is going to be a long five days’, but it goes like a flash.
“The racing has been second to none and I hope the people at home have really enjoyed it because it has been tremendous racing this week.”
Oisin Murphy, who partnered the second-placed Sharing, commented: “Sharing is a champion on really fast turf and she didn’t get her conditions.
“Everyone should be very proud and hopefully it persuades Graham Motion to have more horses here next year – it was a massive performance.
“She was the best juvenile filly on turf in America last year and is a huge, physical filly.”
2.25pm Coronation Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series)
- Alpine Star  Jessica Harrington IRE 3-9-00 Frankie Dettori 9/2
- Sharing  Graham Motion USA 2-9-00 Oisin Murphy 16/5
- Quadrilateral  Roger Charlton 3-9-00 Jason Watson 2/1 Fav
2nd Royal Ascot win for trainer Jessica Harrington
72nd Royal Ascot win for jockey Frankie Dettori