Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin/Goodtosoft.co.uk
Snow Fairy returned to Leopardstown and the Irish Champion Stakes one year after a narrow defeat at the hands of Aussie superstar, So You Think, to go one better with a magnificent victory and notch up her seventh victory at the highest level in her fourteen consecutive race at the top. In doing so, Snow Fairy broke the track record, stopping the clock in 2.00.92 for the ten furlongs and contributed to a clean sweep of the Irish Group 1 races of the weekend for the English raiding parties. As the exceptional five year old daughter of Intikhab returned to the winners enclosure, Ed Dunlop stood proud and speechless at the enormity of the ever growing list of achievements of his stunning mare. "I've been lucky to win a few good races but to do what she did today is amazing. I'm a bit speechless" said Dunlop, "Frankie [Dettori] gave her a great ride, they went flat out and we were very much of the opinion that this time we'd take our time a bit. I said during the race that I thought the pace would suit the staying horses at the pace they were going but she's got an electric turn of foot. She's now won a Group 1 in Europe against colts, she's just an unbelievable horse. The horse of a lifetime, and I've had two now." In contrast, Dettori, who had just ridden his 198th Group 1 winner, ensured the celebrations began early with yet another exuberant flying dismount that has become a trademark as the winners continue to flow freely. "We know that she's got a good turn of foot and I used that weapon last" stated Dettori to the awaiting press, "We knew that Nathaniel was going to play his card early but the credit has to go to Ed [Dunlop]. She's had a serious injury but she's retained all of her ability" Dettori, who now shares his retainer for Godolphin with the up-and-coming duo of Silvestre de Sousa and Mikael Barzalona, rode the perfect race from a tracking position in fourth position. As Daddy Long Legs too charge at the head of affairs, scorching off five lengths in front of his rivals as the nominated pacemaker, Nathaniel and Jim Bolger's Light Heavy began to tow each other along in their own match race behind the wide-margin leader. As the left handed turn into the Leopardstown straight drew ever close, Snow Fairy looked to be travelling ominously well under a confident Dettori. Drawing to the outside of Nathaniel with a furlong to go, Snow Fairy used her electric turn of foot to readily ease past and stretch to a one-and-a-quarter length success to break the heart of the tough, strong willed Nathaniel and reward Dettori, Dunlop and the legions of fans who cheered her home with emphatic volume. St Nicholas Abbey, who tracked Snow Fairy the whole way, finished in third with Born To Sea, who drew to within two lengths of Camelot in the Irish Derby, far back in fifth.
"She's got better, I don't know why but she seems a better horse this year" said Dunlop, "All credit to the owner [Mrs Patino], it would've been easy to retire her but she was very keen on trying this operation [after the injury] and it's worked.".
The Breeders Cup and the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe remain on target as potential end of season targets for Snow Fairy, with an unlikely clash with Frankel in the QIPCO British Champions Stakes still under consideration.
Earlier on the card, the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Trial Stakes was readily won by Aidan O' Brien's Battle of Marengo, a previous eleven-length victor of a Gowran Park maiden. Making all on the front end, Battle of Marengo looked in complete control heading into the final furlong, at which point Joseph O' Brien's saddle slipped back. A one-and-a-half lengths victor, O'Brien's colt is an exciting prospect who, whilst not confirmed for the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf as an immediate option, targets such as the Beresford Stakes (G2) and the Racing Post Trophy (G1) look potential late season targets for this son of Galileo.
Photos Courtesy of Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)