Friday 22 November 2019

'Fairy' tale's happy ending proves the experts wrong

It's funny how this old racing game works sometimes. I remember when Cristina Patino consulted with me and Tony Tarry -- who used to own Islanmore Stud in Limerick, where Mrs Patino's horses are bred and reared -- about breeding from a mare called Fantasy Girl some years ago.

Fantasy Girl was no good and she was small, so Tony and I, the 'experts', flatly advised against it. Sure enough, her first progeny was useless, and then she produced Big Bad Bob, which won eight races and is now a top sire at the National Stud. Shortly after that she threw Woodland Dream, a winner at Leopardstown for Jessica Harrington in 2005.

Just two years later, Woodland Dream's first foal was born -- Snow Fairy. If the 'expert' view had been adhered to, then a superb racing mare that has won six Group Ones in the Curragh, Epsom, Deauville, Japan and Hong Kong might not even exist.

Originally, because she trained the dam, Jessie was meant to train Snow Fairy. Dick Brabazon had already broken her in on the Curragh, but then another horse that was intended for Ed Dunlop picked up an injury, so we sent him Snow Fairy instead. That's the luck of the draw, I suppose, and Snow Fairy did actually spend two months at Jessie's this year, when she enjoyed the tranquillity of the Wicklow mountains for her road work.

After picking up quite a serious leg injury in the Far East in the winter, she came back here to be treated by a Celbridge-based vet called John Warwick who, along with Mrs Patino, never stopped believing that Snow Fairy would run again.

Granted, expert advisors such as myself doubted that she would, which is why everyone was so overjoyed when she beat a stellar field in typically determined style on her re-appearance in France last month. There are times when it is nice to be wrong.

Tomorrow we head to Leopardstown for another tilt at the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes.

Snow Fairy went down to So You Think in 2011, and I don't think I've ever known a horse get such a reception from the crowd for being beaten.

She is just a real fighter and, if the ground is quick at Leopardstown, there's no reason why she shouldn't go close for Frankie Dettori again.

Wonderful

I walked the track on Tuesday morning and it was in wonderful condition, so all we need now is for it to stay dry.

My day job is as a director at BBA Ireland. We are a bloodstock agency that does everything from commissioned purchasing to horse insurance and shipping.

Next week, the yearling sales begin. We'll have people on the ground at Keeneland, Tattersalls at Fairyhouse and Newmarket, Goffs here in Kildare and Arqana in France. Right now, our pedigree analysts are poring over the catalogues. When you get a catalogue, you are getting the vendor's take on a horse, so it's up to us to try and identify any gaps or updates that might give us an edge over our competitors.

Because we are based in Ireland, we are at a slight disadvantage from the point of view of sourcing clients. Ireland is a world leader in producing quality bloodstock and that is why so many high-profile owners breed and keep their horses here.

Our job, essentially, is to sell that produce, but we have had to become more international in our sourcing of clients since the economic crash. At the end of the day, you are not going to run into a Qatari prince on the High Street in Naas.

Of course, meetings like tomorrow's and Sunday's Moyglare Stud Stakes card at the Curragh, showcasing exceptional horses and top-class racing, are the ultimate shop window. There's nowhere else I'd rather be over the next couple of days.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend, check out www.goracing.ie

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