Thursday 8 December 2016

O'Brien hints at Arc date for think

Published 05/09/2011 | 05:00

In the end, Saturday's Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes threw up as good a spectacle as anyone could have hoped for, and far better than many expected.

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The two proven Group One performers fought it out up the straight, with So You Think, the skinniest favourite in the history of the race at 1/4, fending off Snow Fairy and Frankie Dettori by half a length. Given that Dettori has twice thwarted Aidan O'Brien-trained odds-on shots in this, the Ballydoyle handler, not to mention punters seeking 25pc returns on their money, would have been forgiven some unease when the Italian's mount briefly appeared to be the one with the momentum a furlong out.

Just as he had done when denying Workforce in the Eclipse at Sandown, though, So You Think knuckled down to grind out a result. A fifth odds-on shot to land the money in the 10-furlong showpiece in six years, he was O'Brien's seventh winner here in the past 12 runnings, and a second-in-a-row for his rider Seamie Heffernan.

Having been below her best in her first two starts of the campaign, Snow Fairy fully justified Ed Dunlop's decision to have another cut off So You Think. She was a long way back when they met at Sandown, but stripped a lot fitter here.

After watching his stable star pull six lengths clear of Famous Name in third, Dunlop tipped his hat to So You Think by declaring that she had run the best race of her life.

As for the successful connections' post-race debrief, the only thing sure at this stage is that the imposing five-year-old is set for a busy back end, although one that won't include a return to Australia for the Cox Plate. Still, the question of where exactly So You Think might turn up next remains a topic of conjecture.

A drop to a mile for the QE II at Ascot in October is a possibility, with the English version of Saturday's event maybe a more suitable target on the same card. Those races come just a fortnight after the Prix de l'Arc in Longchamp and O'Brien seemed to lean towards that race slightly by pointing out that, "with the big horse, Pour Moi, out of the Arc now, that door is very open, so that's in the equation now as well."

Having finished a gallant third over two miles on soft ground in the Melbourne Cup last year, that So You Think is even being considered for the QE II, in which he would run headlong into the mighty Frankel, is remarkable.

Emulous highlight

of Weld double

There's no doubt that Emulous' emphatic three-length triumph under Pat Smullen in the Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes was the highlight of Dermot Weld's evening at Leopardstown. In denying the Ballydoyle pair Together and Misty For Me, the 9/2 shot was, surprisingly, supplying Weld with a first Leopardstown Group One.

However, there was a real glint in The Curragh maestro's eye after Galileo's Choice's convincing win in the Kilternan Stakes.

Running in Michael Smurfit's distinctive colours here, the five-year-old was a neck winner of a Galway maiden hurdle in July. Galileo's Choice followed that by hacking up over two miles on the Flat at Killarney and a pattern victory here over 10 furlongs further justified Weld's decision to enter him last week for the Melbourne Cup on November 1. "If I was to even consider the Melbourne Cup for him he had to win today," Weld reported after the Group Three.

"We've an open mind as to where to go with him. He'll either hopefully go to the very top over hurdles or we'll see what weight he gets in the Cup. He's also in the Irish St Leger next Saturday and I just wouldn't rule that out yet."

Akeed following familiar Stars route

Two years on from the day that Irish race-goers got their sole glimpse of Sea The Stars during his all-conquering three-year-old campaign, John Oxx secured the juvenile maiden in impressive style with Akeed Mofeed.

Fourth on an encouraging debut at the Dublin venue a month earlier, the Dubawi colt scorched five lengths clear from the odds-on Ballydoyle representative Athens.

Oxx subsequently nominated the Beresford Stakes at The Curragh in three weeks as Akeed Mofeed's next target. Lest we forget, Sea The Stars also finished fourth on his debut, before then obliging at Leopards-town en route to taking the Beresford.

From little acorns and all that.

Number

7 Year-on-year percentage increase in attendance at Leopardstown on Saturday. On its first try, the twilight experiment yielded a crowd of 8,289, though both the bookmakers and Tote figures were down a massive 16pc.

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"Lolly For Dolly told us she's ready for sales and stud y'day. Owner David Keoghan is so proud of her and she's given us all some g8 days out." -- Lucy Stack, daughter-in-law of trainer Tommy, reveals the retirement of this year's Royal Ascot winner yesterday after the four-year-old failed to land a blow in Saturday's Matron Stakes.

Irish Independent

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