Jessica Harrington looks to make up for lame Los Angeles Olympics in Breeders' Cup

Jessica Harrington looks to make up for lame Los Angeles Olympics with Breeders’ Cup victory at Santa Anita

  • Jessica Harrington is hoping Albigna can win Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf
  • The trainer returns to Santa Anita for the first time since the 1984 Olympics
  • Harrington has become focused on Flat racing and has 63 Irish wins this year
  • Albigna has won three of her four races, including the Prix Marcel Boussac

The last time trainer Jessica Harrington was at Santa Anita things did not go to plan but the Irish trainer is hoping to put the record straight with Albigna in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on Friday.

Harrington was part of the Irish three-day event team which took part in the Los Angeles Olympics when the show jumping phase was staged in the centre of the Santa Anita track.

Harrington said: ‘It was great fun but it did not exactly go to plan. My horse went lame just before the completion. I still enjoyed and I walked in the opening ceremony. I never thought I would be coming back here as a trainer.’

Jessica Harrington is striving for success with Albigna in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

Harrington is best known for her successes in jumps racing, including the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup with Sizing John.

But her team has had an increasing focus in Flat racing in recent seasons and she has had 63 Irish Flat wins this year.

Harrington, whose crop of two-year-old fillies also includes Cheveley Park Stakes winner Millisle, was denied a first Breeders’ Cup runner last year when outstanding Alpha Centauri was injured. Like her, Albigna carries the colours of the Niarchos family.

Albigna has won three of her four races, most recently the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp on Arc day. Her only poor run came in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and she was found to be in season after finishing sixth to Love.

Harrington lifts the Gold Cup with jockey Robbie Power at Cheltenham back in March 2017

Harrington lifts the Gold Cup with jockey Robbie Power at Cheltenham back in March 2017

Harrington said: ‘She showed a good turn of foot at Longchamp on (very soft) ground we didn’t even think she would handle. Her first two runs in Ireland had been on good, good to firm ground.

‘There are a lot of new things for her to face but she is a very well-balanced fully.’

The concern with Albigna, who has a pedigree full of stamina, is whether she is quick enough for the challenges of this tight California track.

Better equipped may be Roger Varian-trained Royal Ascot and Rockfel Stakes winner Daahyeh in a race won only once – Chriselliam in 2013 – in 12 runnings by European challengers.

Trainer Karl Burke is also expecting Living In The Past to show form more akin to her Lowther Stakes winning form than her fifth in the Cheveley Park Stakes when she went off too fast.

Trainer Karl Burke (left) is expecting Living In The Past to return to form in California

Trainer Karl Burke (left) is expecting Living In The Past to return to form in California

We have a better record in the Juvenile Turf, winning eight out of 12, four of them going to runners trained by Aidan O’Brien.

He carries the flag again with Arizona who like two of his trainer’s winners – George Vancouver (2012) and Mendelssohn (2017) – was placed in the Dewhurst Stakes.

Simon Crisford’s A’Ali heads the European challenge in the opening Juvenile Turf Sprint but Frankie Dettori’s mount is drawn wide and will do well to cope with US speedballs headed by Wesley Ward’s Kimari.

She was beaten by Raffle Prize in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot but will be much better suited to the quicker conditions.

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