Tag Archives: Snow Fairy

The Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1)

I was there when Grandera pipped Hawk Wing by the slimmest of margins. When I walked out of the room in the top of the stand the hairs on the back of my neck had refused to go down. Distracted I walked too quickly bumping into an individual whose excitement levels were even higher than my own. With adrenalin pumping through my veins having witnessed a magnificent contest I just about got my head up to apologise to Sheik Mohammed.

That’s the capability of this race, it produces epic encounters in Indian summers. Galileo and Fantastic Light, High Chaparral and Falbrav.

This year Nathaniel comes to Leopardstown having won an Eclipse and going down so bravely in attempting to retain the King George when Danedream got the better by a nose. He displayed all the quality suggested in his maiden run when Frankel stretched a 1/2 L beyond him and maturity now only adds that extra ingredient to bring out the best in him.

Snow Fairy is an absolutely wonderful mare. Her classic season included two Oaks, Epsom and the Curragh as well as Group 1’s in Japan and Hong Kong. Last year was a little frustrating for connections having to wait until a return to Kyoto for the defence of the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup before registering her first win. She was also placed in the Nassau, here in the Irish Champion Stakes, the Arc and the Champion Stakes. This year she hit the ground running taking the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville three weeks ago from the Gosden inmate Izzi Top.

The home defence in a race where the home team have dominated over the last ten years falls to St Nicholas Abbey. Again he’s a cracker of a racehorse. Two Coronation Cups and a Breeders Cup Turf in the bag. Again maturity has played it’s part showing the quality displayed in winning the Racing Post Trophy as a two year old has stood the test of time. Granted we watched Frankel pass him as if he wasn’t there at York in the Juddmonte though he battled for second only to lose out by a nose to Farhh. He’s never won over 10f albeit his first real attempt was at York so its intriguing Aidan asks him to come out here for another crack at the distance.

Born To Sea disappointed behind Famous Name in the Royal Whip having previously improved from race to race. John Oxx will be hopping that was an aberration and he can return to the road of improvement. The 2 L defeat to Camelot on desperate Curragh ground in the Irish Derby was a very good performance where he had Light Heavy 9 L further adrift.

Daddy Long Legs began the year in great style nailing the UAE Derby at Meyden in March. A trip to Kentucky for the Derby backfired and he was brought back to headquarters for the Irish Guineas where he finished a 2 L fourth to Power. He was brought back to the States for the Secretariat where tactics didn’t work out and he finished last.

The sun has shone for more than a week over Leopardstown and with the moisture retained from the summer deluge we’re guaranteed a beautiful surface. This should set up an enthralling duel when they turn into the straight. A more prominently ridden St Nichloas Abbey off a strong pace will fight it out. With him on the bend will be a closely knit field . Nathaniel, Snow Fairy and Born To Sea will chase but pace will tell and on the run to the line the stretching St Nick will just hold off the by the shortest of margins the sustained effort of Snow Fairy.

Indian summers again. No Sheik Mo to bump into, pity.

Recommendation : St Nicholas Abbey 4/1 win

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Champions Day

Time.

Too fast, the season goes.

Champions Day ends the show, one last performance before the circus packs up to leave town. QIPCO, the new ringmaster, and what a good job they did, made a £13m investment in the British Champion Series featuring 35 Pattern races.

It began on Guineas Day and now we’ve reached the bookend, the last £3m comes up for grabs. It’s the big bang as opposed to previous years whimpers, 5 Pattern Races, the Long Distance Cup, Sprint Stakes, Fillies and Mares, The QE11 Mile and finally the Champion Stakes.

You heard the one about the horse who beat the train?

Don’t be such a clown you thought. Horses don’t beat trains. Yeah, we had our clown all right, the big entertainer on which every circus depends.

Time.

The 1m 37.3s he took to run the mile at Newmarket was slow by 1.8s. Oh, how the clock lies. No account taken of the way he blew away his rivals, the psychological damage done in the first 5 F where he literally ran them off their feet. Faster than Lochsong they say.

Time.

Sectioned, the clock underneath the saddle cloth.

Faster or slower than Lochsong, who cares, the eye didn’t lie at Newmarket or later at Ascot. It didn’t lie at Goodwood either where Canford Cliffs got the best view of his enormous posterior, a distant 5 L view. It’s hard to see on his return to the Ascot mile what will be different. No disrespect to the seven who bravely oppose but their running for place money. Frankel was the clown all right. He’ll leave the ring to rapturous applause.

Tension will rise as the tightrope comes under spotlight. Expect to hear the drum roll as they load the gates in the Champion Stakes. It’s a cracking field, not far off the Arc.

Time.

It will matter, not in the sense of the clock but in the sense of the season.

Many of these have been on the go throughout and may not have enough left for one last crack of the whip. Pity, it won’t come from Richard Hughes. Those timed for an autumn campaign, kept fresh, there the ones to think of. So You Think? I hear you say. There’s no doubt his Arc run was very good and had the draw been kinder, well we’ll never know. It’s only two weeks since Paris and this may just be too soon for him having been on the go since early May.

In front of him at Lonchamp was Snow Fairy overturning the Irish Champion Stakes run. Her season as expected is improving with every run. The ground will be good but not her favoured fast. Another good show will have her plum ripe for eastern promise on quick surfaces that will be tailor made.

Green Destiny is going the right way. A lack of experience at this level means a huge step up while Ransom Note and Sir Putra are depending on the rest running below par. The 5 year old Cirrus Des Aigles must hold the title of best gelding in the world. 1/4 L defeats to Sarafina and Goldikova and last time out a neck to Byword testify to his well being. Twice Over, his confidence rebuilt a second time by Sir Henry try’s to win it for the third successive time. His early season form is behind him and his International success over Midday was well ground out.

Nathaniel can’t be faulted. The King George winner had to miss the Arc because of the fast ground. He is unlucky in having to meet good conditions at this stage of the year. If only it was soft. The well travelled Wigmore Hall returns from Canada where he took the Northern Dancer rattling off a quick Woodbine track. If only it was fast.

Casamento, most damaged by Frankel, is back on the recovery road. A Group 3 at Lonchamp in September was well timed. Then there’s the return of a Prince. The policy shift of Godolphin in housing two year olds in Ireland paid rich dividends with Casamento winning the Racing Post Trophy last year.

A year on and payback may come again. This fella pressed all the right buttons at Rosewell House and an ultra smooth Killavullan Stakes win last October confirmed the vibe. Policy dictated the transfer as a three year old to Mahood Al Zarooni where patience has been the key. He was reintroduced at Newbury in September over 9 F and clearly the eye was firmly based here. Kept fresh, the son of Shamardal unbeaten in three will love the ground.

Time.

The healer. The tragedy of Rewilding and now fresh hope for a new Prince in the affections of Dubai.

In the high wire act it’s got to be Frankie for the triple somersault dismount.

Daddy, when will the circus come back? Next year son, next year.
So son, who was your favourite? Oh, daddy, I liked the clown best.

Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes (Group 1)

The glorious week closes with this fillies and mares Group 1. The race has been robbed a little with the absence of Misty For Me who has been withdrawn due to the good to firm ground.

It leaves a field of six headed by Midday and Snow Fairy. The clash of these mares would ordinarily have been enough to set the pulses racing but the fact that the Misty For Me beat Midday six lengths at the Curragh means we’ve lost that element of intrigue.

Midday’s defeat at the Curragh was due to a lacklustre performance where she just didn’t fire, the reason may simply have been an off day. Her level of consistency up to that especially when pitched against her own sex, has been exemplary. She is a winner of five Group 1’s including this race in the last two years, a Prix Vermille, a Breeders Cup Fillies and Mares and a Yorkshire Oaks. Add that she was only denied a head in the Oaks by Sariska and you get some idea of how good and consistent she has been over the last few years.

Snow Fairy boasts a similar reputation and profile. A year younger than the Henry Cecil mare she has already amassed four Group 1’s. An Epsom and Curragh Oaks last summer encouraged a trip out east where reputation and bank balance were further enhanced with two great performances in the Queen Elisabeth II Commemorative Cup in Kyoto and the Hong Kong Cup in December.

Crystal Capella also joins the line up having been a runaway winner of the Princess Of Wales Stakes at the Newmarket July meeting. She has not won at top level yet but a add pair of Pride Stakes and her Group 2 total comes to three. She’s a six year old with little mileage on the clock and we have yet have to see the best of her.

Field Day, Principle Role and Barefoot Lady make up the backup team with the latter representing the classic generation. Third in the Coronation at Royal Ascot entitles her a place in the line up here. That was an improvement on a good Guineas run cementing the decent impression given as a juvenile. In receipt of weight for age allowance, she’s not without a squeak.

The market is having difficulty dividing the principles and that is easy to understand. When they met over a mile and a half at York last year Midday came out on top. However, although those Oaks wins were over the same trip Snow Fairy displayed a very exciting turn of foot over this 10 furlong trip out east last autumn and this may prove the deciding factor.

December in July, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

The Coronation Cup

This is one to relish. Midday and St Nicholas Abbey head a small field supported by Indian Days, Clowance and Dandino.

The latter proved himself a very capable handicapper prior to his step into pattern company. He had a run in the St Leger and then went to the Japan Cup where he was not beaten far. Two wins this season including a Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes brings here in top form. His stable companion Indian Days was four lengths behind is likely to improve on that performance. Clowance defeat of Poet in the St Simon Stakes now looks good after The Brigadier Gerard but a preference for some give in the ground will surely be against her. You would expect these three will play a supporting role in this particular drama where the leading man and the leading lady will take centre stage. Who will command that stage is the question.

Midday’s form has been top class with her own sex. A super win against Snow Fairy at York was last years highlight before being touched off in The Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs . Her comeback in the Middleton Stakes this spring showed her well-being promising another super season in front of her. She’s a winner of five Group 1’s including two Nassau Stakes, a Yorkshire Oaks, a Prix Vermille and a Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita in 2009. Her one blot in the copybook is not taking the honours when meeting the colts. Not that she’s had many opportunities. The only time she ventured out of her own sex was at Epsom in April 2009 when beaten in a listed race by last years Arlington Million winner, Debussy. It’s very interesting that Henry Cecil has chosen to return to the track for another crack at the boys.

St Nicholas Abbey brings an altogether different profile. This fella looked like a natural successor to Sea The Stars, as if you could such a successor, at the beginning of last year. As a two year old his Beresford Stakes win marked him out but his Racing Post win showed us something special. He was installed winter favourite for the Guineas only to flop trailing in sixth. Off course that flop was behind Makfi, Dick Turpin,Canford Cliffs, and Xtention who have since bagged seven Group 1’s over a mile since. Maybe its time to forgive him, though there wasn’t much sympathy for him after failing to sparkle on his comeback at the Curragh in April.

The excitement he generated as a two year old was reiginited in Chester’s Ormonde Stakes. A pulverising preformance when winning by nine lengths looked like he was back to his spectacular two year old days. Lets hope this continues for this lightly raced colt and we see a few more days of his brillance.

Who wins at Epsom today is not the issue. Its the style of the leading man and lady that will set the pulses racing. One to relish all-right.