Prix Vermeille remains an option for Snowfall ahead of Arc

Trainer Aidan O’Brien may choose to run star filly in Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown

Aidan O'Brien has said it is "very possible" the Arc favourite Snowfall will get an early sighting of the Longchamp track in next month's Prix Vermeille.

The spectacular Japanese-bred filly made it three Group One victories in a row in last week's Yorkshire Oaks after which O'Brien didn't rule out another race prior to her major target in the Arc.

Snowfall is a clear 5-2 favourite to land Europe's greatest all-aged prize in October, ahead of the Derby and King George hero Adayar.

"She could go straight to the Arc or, if she's going to have a run she'll run either in Leopardstown or at Longchamp.


“It’s very possible she could take in the fillies’ race at Longchamp [Vermeille] on the way,” O’Brien said on Monday.

Leopardstown's Irish Champion Stakes 24 hours earlier could become an option for Snowfall should the top Ballydoyle colt St Mark's Basilica not recover in time from the setback that ruled him out of last week's Juddmonte International.

However, O’Brien also said on Monday: “At the moment everything is going good with St Mark’s and we’re working towards Leopardstown.”

The Vermeille is a rare Group One blank for O’Brien but he has enjoyed a notably successful French campaign in 2021 with a trio of Classic victories and another Group One success at Deauville earlier this month through Mother Earth.

Dermot Weld landed last year's Vermeille with Tarnawa, who used it a springboard to score over Arc weekend itself and subsequently in the Breeders' Cup.

Prior to next month's glut of European Group One action, O'Brien will be in top-flight competition in the US this Saturday where Japan takes his chance in the Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga.

It will be a first trans-Atlantic start for Japan who won both the Grand Prix de Paris and the Juddmonte International in 2019 but has been beaten at the top level on seven occasions since.

On his last start the son of Galileo dropped to nine furlongs to land the Meld Stakes at Leopardstown in a tight finish.

Japan will return to a mile and a half for Saturday’s $600,000 turf test on the prestigious Travers Stakes programme.

O’Brien ran Idaho in the 2017 Sword Dancer but that horse could only beat one home.

“The plan is to go with Japan. I would imagine Ryan [Moore] will ride,” O’Brien confirmed.

Last year’s winner, the local star English Channel, is likely to try and defend the Sword Dancer crown.

In other news British racing’s rising star Baaeed, unbeaten in four starts to date, could also be on his way to Longchamp.

The William Haggas-trained star will tackle Group One company for the first time in the Prix Du Moulin on Sunday week.

Baaeed was a spectacular winner of a Group Three at Goodwood on his previous start but connections have elected to wait for Longchamp rather than return to Goodwood for this weekend’s Celebration Mile.

"He won well at Leicester [on debut] and if you'd said to me then he would be racing in a Group One in four races then yes of course that would be a surprise. But we always thought he was a horse with huge potential," said a spokesman for the Shadwell ownership.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column