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Irish Champion Stakes

Irish Champions Weekend

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Irish Champions Weekend

The Irish Champions Weekend is a new two-day meeting featuring ten Group races (Five Group 1s) and will be run at Leopardstown on Saturday 13th September and the Curragh on Sunday 14th September, as a new event showcasing Ireland's two premier Flat racecourses.

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SNOW FAIRY SENSATIONAL IN IRISH CHAMPION STAKES

Snow Fairy wins the Irish Champion Stakes
Snow Fairy wins the Irish Champion Stakes

Click above to watch Snow Fairy winning the Irish Champion Stakes (Gr1)

(Image : RTE - Footage : Horse Turk)

RED MILLS IRISH CHAMPION STAKES (Gr1)

Leopardstown, Turf, 2012m

8 September 2012

Cristina Patino’sSnow Fairy (Ire) (Intikhab), second to So You Think (NZ) (High Chaparral) in Leopardstown’s G1 Irish Champion Stakes 12 months ago, would not be denied this time as she continued on her remarkable comeback from injury. Having served notice that she was at least as good as ever when winning Deauville’s G1 Prix Jean Romanet over this trip on her belated return last time August 19, the 15-8 second favorite notched up her seventh Group 1 in style to allay any concerns about her well-being.

Snow Fairy’s rise to prominence has been well-documented, but few expected she would ever be able to surpass her great predecessor Ouija Board (GB) (Cape Cross) in Ed Dunlop’s estimations. While her victories in the G1 English and Irish Oaks, the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup and G1 Hong Kong Cup at three marked her a class apart from her contemporaries, she still had a margin to close on Lord Derby’s stellar performer at that stage. She failed to fire instantly last term, but after roughing up the supposed certainty So You Think in this contest, she was third in the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp and the G1 Champion Stakes at Ascot in October. Back to winning ways when emulating her prior victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup at Kyoto November 13, she sustained a tendon injury before the Hong Kong Cup and had to chart the awkward path back to full fitness.

Despite her trainer’s understandable doubts ahead of her return in the Prix Jean Romanet, the manner of her dispatch of some top-class distaffers headed by the G1 Pretty Polly Stakes heroine Izzi Top (GB) (Pivotal) answered all questions. Left alone early by jockey Frankie Dettori as Daddy Long Legs (Scat Daddy) set out to stretch the field in favor of his stable companion St Nicholas Abbey, Snow Fairy always had dead aim on Nathaniel as that rival was committed on the front end by William Buick at the top of the straight. Body language told the story soon after, with the Italian sitting pretty as Nathaniel and St Nicholas Abbey’s riders got to work and, after brushing aside the eventual runner-up with just over a furlong remaining, Snow Fairy ran hard to the line to set a new track record.

“The race went exactly to plan and I didn’t realise how popular she is,” Dettori said after steering a fifth winner of this race. “The reception I got was unbelievable and the credit goes to Ed Dunlop and the team for bringing her back. She retains her will-to-win and class and she’s up there with the champions who have won this in the past. It’s an honour to be on her again and it was a great race - she made it look easy for me.”

“This is the best of her achievements, and it doesn’t get better,” Dunlop commented. “I thought we were plenty far enough out of our ground, but she showed an amazing turn of foot again. Ouija Board was second and she was beaten by So You Think here last year, so it’s great to have it on my CV. We’ve always said this year that we would take it one race at a time. She’s in the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp October 7 and the G1 Champion Stakes at Ascot October 20, but Frankel is in that and that is a different level entirely. I’d like to take her to the Breeders’ Cup, as she hasn’t done that, and winning a Group 1 in a sixth country may be a record.”

Courtesy of this win, the peripatetic runner secured a berth in the GI Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita November 3.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News

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ALL AT SEA

Johnny Murtagh
Johnny Murtagh

Johnny Murtagh

(Image : Irish Times)

IRISH CHAMPION STAKES (Gr1)

Leopardstown, Turf, 2012m

8 September 2012

Johnny Murtagh may have felt cast adrift when his long-standing riding contract with the powerful Aga Khan stable was severed last month, but trainer John Oxx has remained staunch to the rider, and has retained him for the mount on Born To Sea (the smart half brother to Galileo, Sea The Stars etc,) for Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes (Gr.1). It promises to be another grand advert for the quality of European racing this season, as it brings together a string of Group One winners including Nathaniel, Snow Fairy and Aidan O’Brien’sSt Nicholas Abbey, who will be looking to avenge his defeat at the hands of the superstar, Frankel, a fortnight ago at York.

The Irish Champion Stakes has thrown up any number of quite exceptional performers over the years, including: Sadler’s Wells (1984), Giant’s Causeway (2000), Fantastic Light (2001) who defeated Galileo, High Chaparral (2003), Oratorio (2005), Dylan Thomas (2006 and 2007), New Approach (2008), Sea The Stars (2009), Cape Blanco (2010) and So You Think (2011). Some honour roll! We have our own “almost-hero” of the same race right here at Summerhill in our new stallion, Traffic Guard, who went down a half length to the world’s top-rated three-year-old of 2008, New Approach, now Europe’s hottest young stallion with his first crop.

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SO YOU THINK SECURES IRISH CHAMPION STAKES

So You Think wins Irish Champion Stakes
So You Think wins Irish Champion Stakes

Click above to watch So You Think winning the Irish Champion Stakes (G1)

(Photo : The Guardian - Footage : RTE Two)

RED MILLS IRISH CHAMPION STAKES (G1)

Leopardsdown, Turf, 2200m

4 September 2011

The G1 Irish Champion Stakes, inaugurated in 1976 and run at Phoenix Park for a spell, really started to emerge as a leading staging post on the international calendar from the late 1990’s and has subsequently boasted some serious showdowns. Fantastic Light (USA) versus Galileo (Ire) and Dylan Thomas (Ire) against Ouija Board (GB) are just two of the recent clashes witnessed at Foxrock, and this year’s edition threatened to be substandard with just three rivals from outside Ballydoyle and only one of those with a success at the top level.

So You Think’s (NZ) (High Chaparral) position among the best that his stable had run in this contest was secured with a latest defeat of Workforce (GB) (King’s Best) when that rival was on one of his going days in the Eclipse. Whether his prior defeat by Rewilding (GB) (Tiger Hill) in the G1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot June 15 was a fair reflection of his merit is debatable, but it showed a vulnerability that was unexpected after all his Australian conquests and all the talk that accompanied his move to Europe.

Snow Fairy has been upstaged by the likes of Midday (GB) (Oasis Dream) on more than one occasion, so while she is not in the Ouija Board category yet, her presence in this line-up ensured there would be no saunter around for the favourite as there had been on his first two starts this term in The Curragh’s May 2 G3 Mooresbridge Stakes and May 22 G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup.

After a textbook first mile racing off an ideal tempo set by his Classic-winning stable companion Roderic O’Connor, So You Think was allowed no breathing space by the filly as soon as he was committed by Seamus Heffernan. For a few yards there were shades of Rewilding about her determined charge, but the long odds-on choice dug deep to maintain his advantage and deny the upset.

“He is getting more uncomplicated and idled a bit in front and gave a blow” Heffernan offered. “When you are on him, you are on the king of the road. Settling him was going to be a bit of a problem, but I was confident I could do that after the Eclipse. When he settles, he’d go over any trip.”

With the Irish Champion in the bag as expected, Coolmore’s John Magnier reflected on possible targets and gave a clear indication that a tilt at another Cox Plate was off the agenda. “You never say never, but it’s not imminent,” Magnier said of a possible return to So You Think’s old stomping ground. “He’s the kind of horse who spoils you for options, so what we’ll do I don’t know. He could run in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes or G1 Champion Stakes at Ascot October 15, or the October 2nd Arc. It will be one of those I guess, but we are not going to rush into a decision. He’s a good horse, Snow Fairy is a good filly, and it was a good race. He’s no different to what he was in Australia - we just wanted people up here to see what he was like, and it makes him a real dual-hemisphere horse, so he’s a rare type. Royal Ascot wasn’t one of our best days, but other than that, this horse’s record is there for everyone to see.”

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News

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