Snow Fairy set for return

 

SNOW FAIRY could be on her way back to Leopardstown for another crack at Saturday week’s Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes where it may be third time lucky for her trainer Ed Dunlop.

The prolific Group One-winning mare returned to action after serious leg problems with a fine success at Deauville 10 days ago and indications yesterday were that Snow Fairy will try to improve on last year’s second to So You Think in the €750,000 highlight – if ground conditions improve.

“She’s in great form and everything seems to be all go,” said Patrick Cooper, racing manager to Snow Fairy’s owners, Anamoine Ltd. “She is very ground dependant and if it is soft she can’t run.” He added: “Right now in Ireland it isn’t looking very good. Having said that, we are due to have good weather for the next week or so. If the ground is good she’ll probably go to Leopardstown. If she didn’t go there, the Prix Vermeille (September 16th) is the next obvious one.”

Success in one of Ireland’s most important races would be significant for Dunlop whose father, John, won the second renewal of the mile-and-a-quarter feature 35 years ago with North Stoke.

As well as finishing runner-up with Snow Fairy last year, Dunlop Jnr was also narrowly beaten in an epic race in 2006 where Ouija Board was just edged out by Dylan Thomas after a famous duel up the Foxrock straight.

It is 10 years since a horse trained overseas has emerged best in the Irish Champion but a strong cross-channel challenge looks likely this time with John Gosden already committing the Eclipse winner Nathaniel to the race.

John Oxx, a winner with Sea The Stars (2009), Azamour (2004) and Timarida (1996,) has already committed Born To Sea to running.

However, Curragh colleague Dermot Weld is pondering whether or not to keep his Ribblesdale winner Princess Highway for the following week’s Prix Vermeille or stay at home. “She is in the two races and we will make up our minds closer to the time,” said Weld for whom the Champion Stakes is the sole Group One contest he has yet to win in Ireland.

The Curragh hosts its own Group One action the day after the Champion Stakes when Ireland’s top race for juvenile fillies, the Moyglare Stud Stakes, is run.

Already likely to be supplemented into the race are Andrew Oliver’s Cherry Hinton winner Sendmylovetorose and My Special J’s who won the Debutante Stakes on her last start for first-season trainer Pat Shanahan.

“The original plan was to wait for the Prix Marcel Boussac but she was too well so we brought her back into training,” Shanahan said yesterday.

“There doesn’t look to be an outstanding filly this year and she’s beaten most of those in the entries. I know they think a lot of John Oxx’s filly (Harasiya) but we beat her fair and square. She’s American bred so you’d presume she will appreciate better ground,” he added.

Sendmylovetorose has been a revelation since an unhappy experience at Royal Ascot and could bid to stretch Oliver’s recent purple patch.

“Her shocking incident at Ascot helped the rest of the story slot into place. If she hadn’t have come out of the back of the stalls I probably wouldn’t have run her the following week at the Curragh when she won the Grangecon Stakes,” the Co Tyrone trainer said.

“Had we not been at Ascot we probably would have been lying at the back of the stalls at the Curragh and then we probably wouldn’t have even gone for the Cherry Hinton. Everything seemed to happen for a reason,” he added.

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