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Dublin: 15 °C Sunday 18 August, 2019
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3 Jessica Harrington horses to keep an eye on at Royal Ascot

The Kildare trainer is looking for her first winner at the ‘Olympics of flat racing.’

Torcedor (left, orange) could give Jessica Harrington yest another Gold Cup, this time on the flat.
Torcedor (left, orange) could give Jessica Harrington yest another Gold Cup, this time on the flat.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

AS SEASONS GO, Jessica Harrington’s national hunt one was special.

The Kildare-based trainer took home the Cheltenham, Punchestown and Leopardstown Gold Cups with Sizing John and secured victory in the Irish Grand National thanks to our Our Duke.

Tomorrow, Royal Ascot gets underway, and Harrington is hoping to secure her first win at the Berkshire venue’s most high-profile meeting.

And she could even add another Gold Cup to her collection.

Here’s how Jessica and Kate Harrington see their three big chances this week:

Brother Bear (4/1) – Coventry Stakes – Tuesday, 3.05pm

Colm O'Donoghue on Brother Bear Colm O'Donoghue wins on Brother Bear Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Jessica: He came in and was doing nicely and then, at the beginning of April, he grew a bit so we backed off him.

When he ran the first time, we actually did fancy him and he was very good and he then went and confirmed that promise at the Curragh when he had a bad draw, hung out in the middle of the track on very soft ground, and still won very well.

Kate: He did his final bit of work yesterday (Wednesday, 14 June) so you’d think that might have taken something out of him but no, nothing seems to faze him.

He really is a cracking colt and has proven that on both his starts so far.

Torcedor (10/1) – Ascot Gold Cup – Thursday, 4.20pm

Torcedor ridden by W.M. Lordan (left, orange colours) leads the field home to win Torcedor ridden by W.M. Lordan (left, orange colours) leads the field home to win Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Jessica: It’s very exciting. He’s a horse I got last autumn from David Wachman when he retired from training with a view to go jumping. He’d been a very good three-year old but, as a four-year old, he completely lost his way with David.

I don’t know why but I think he was sick when he came to me. Then I discovered he needed a wind operation in January and then suddenly he started to come into himself.

I was actually working him with some jumpers before Cheltenham and I thought ‘oh, he’s going rather nicely’ so I put him in a race and he’s run twice for me and he’s won both times.

He’s never been beyond a mile and six furlongs, whether he gets two and a half miles, I don’t know, but he’s entitled to be there and we’ll see how it goes.

Kate: He has a great attitude, he’s very, very relaxed and I can’t see any way he won’t stay the distance myself.

We’ve upped his work, he’s been doing the long, steady bits of work.

Obviously, we’ve seen the speed over a mile and half and a mile and six and I really think we’ve got him fit enough for the longer distance.

Alpha Centauri (9/4) – Albany Stakes – Friday, 2.30pm

Bank Holiday Monday Racing Fever - Naas Racecourse Alpha Centauri wins by a distance at Naas. Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

Jessica: She hasn’t done anything wrong, we’ve always liked her. She’s a real exception to the rule as she’s a great big filly. She’s actually heavier than a lot of my jumpers.

She came in and always did everything very easily and that’s why I ended up running her at the end of April and she then went and won very easily. The listed race back at Naas was the obvious step to take her and won that very easily too.

Look, I don’t know how good she is but she’s done everything within herself so she’s really very exciting.

Kate: When she first arrived into the yard last year, you’d never have thought she’d have a run under her belt at this stage, let alone be heading to Royal Ascot on the back of two wins.

She’s very, very exciting and what plays into her strengths is that she’s so much bigger than any other two-year old at this time of year and she’s just so laid back, if you were to go into her stable there she’d probably just be rolling around so that’s a good sign.

After an incredible jumps season, Jessica Harrington looks to conquer flat racing’s blue riband meeting

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Steve O'Rourke

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