Heffernan on So You Think
Published 31/08/2011 | 05:00
SEAMIE Heffernan is to retain the ride on So You Think in Saturday's Irish Champion Stakes.
Duncan Ramage, racing manager to So You Think's part-owner Dato Tan Chin Nam, yesterday confirmed the jockey booking, ending speculation that Joseph O'Brien might step in.
He also revealed that the Australian import -- a best-priced 1/3 for the Leopardstown Group One in which he will face a maximum of three non-Ballydoyle-based rivals -- could have the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on October 2 as his next target.
After the horse's Sandown success under Heffernan in July, Aidan O'Brien had suggested that So You Think might instead return to Australia for a tilt at a third consecutive triumph in the prestigious Cox Plate on October 22.
But, after last Saturday's retirement of the Coolmore-owned Epsom Derby winner Pour Moi, the long-term ante-post favourite for the Arc, a gap appeared in the superpower's Longchamp team.
That vacancy now looks set to be filled in spectacular fashion, with one of the Flat's few blockbuster names pencilled in for the definitive middle-distance event. Certainly, not least in light of the paucity of opposition on Saturday, victory at Longchamp would be a fitting climax to So You Think's European odyssey.
Should everything go to plan at Leopardstown, he could then bid to become the third Irish horse in five years -- after Dylan Thomas (2007) and Sea The Stars (2009) -- to complete the Irish Champion-Arc double.
The 12-furlong French showpiece, for which So You Think contests favouritism at 5/1 with Sarafina and last year's winner Workforce -- a horse he beat comprehensively over 10 furlongs in the Eclipse -- "is still very much a consideration," Ramage said.
"The Cox Plate is still an available option, but if he were to run there, that would be his only race after Saturday and logic might dictate that it's better to choose the plan with more possible options. The decision will rest with Aidan and the team over there."
Of the booking of Heffernan, who won last year's Champion Stakes on Cape Blanco, he added: "He's unbeaten on him and he's been around Leopardstown a few times I'm sure, so there's no worries on that score."
Ramage nominated Ed Dunlop's Snow Fairy as the horse to fear on Saturday. Snow Fairy was 10 lengths behind So You Think on her seasonal debut when fourth at Sandown, before improving to finish second to Midday under Frankie Dettori at Goodwood.
While Dettori is expected to be on duty at Haydock on Saturday afternoon, Dunlop expressed his confidence that, because the Champion Stakes isn't due off until 6.45, the Italian would be able to get across in time to again take the mount.
With a largely dry forecast, watering was due to begin at Leopardstown yesterday to maintain what is being described as good to firm going.