Friday 23 February 2018

Dunlop has grounds for optimism over Fairy's St Leger tilt

Martin Kelly

THE weather could decide whether Ed Dunlop's star filly Snow Fairy bids for further Classic glory in the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster next month.

The three-year-old showed an electric turn of foot to win the Oaks at Epsom in June and was even more impressive when following up in the Irish equivalent.

She lost no caste in defeat when second to the vastly more experienced Midday in Thursday's Yorkshire Oaks, and Dunlop is keen to head to Town Moor on September 11 if conditions are in her favour. "We came there with half a chance but then Midday quickened for a second time, which is always the hallmark of an exceptional filly," Dunlop said.

"There was certainly no disgrace in being beaten by a filly of Midday's quality -- she has won four Group Ones, including a Breeders' Cup, so all credit to her. I have certainly not ruled out the possibility of running in the St Leger.

"Doncaster might well come up softer than the Knavesmire did, but the final Classic is still on the table for the time being and we will monitor the well-being of the filly and the Yorkshire weather over the next fortnight or so."

Tom Queally, meanwhile, is convinced Sariska would have had her work cut out to beat Midday, even if she had left the starting stalls.

Heading into York's Group One contest, the pair had met on three occasions and each time Sariska had come out on top, but Midday pulled one back as Sariska stood still at the gates.

Midday's trainer Henry Cecil said in the aftermath that it was the four-year-old's best-ever performance and Queally is fully supportive of that view.

"People will say my job was made easier by Sariska refusing to race and I honestly had no idea what had happened in the stalls," the jockey said.

"I was obviously trying to keep an eye out for her as I saw her as the main danger and I took a peep with two (furlongs) to run and couldn't see her. But I wasn't going to look around for too long as I had a race to win.

"Whatever will be, will be, and while those people might think my job was made easier, I reckon Sariska would have had to be at her very, very best -- probably better than she's ever been before -- to give us something to think about, let alone beat us."

Irish Independent

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