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Fairy can lift old monkey off my back

IT'S not very often I'd put a monkey (€500) on a horse, so when it happens the event gets deeply engraved into the hippocampus -- the part of the brain responsible for memory.

When looking at the entries for Leopardstown this weekend, I had a flashback to the 2002 Irish Champion Stakes -- a race I remember vividly for a number of reasons.

It was the first time my Canadian girlfriend (now wife) had gone to watch horseracing and I was eager to impress. It was also the first time I had put a large amount of dough on a horse in the 'new' euro currency.

I figured Mick Kinane and Hawk Wing wouldn't let me down, so I confidently swaggered up to the bookmaker and handed over 10 crispy fifties. It was all the money I had in the world, but I was certain the bookie would be only minding it.

To my surprise, he barely batted an eyelid taking the bet. The horse was 8/11, after all, and I soon realised that I wasn't the only one having a hefty wager.

Internet betting was an infant back then, so the betting rings of Ireland were buzzing. It was the early days of the Celtic Tiger and people like me couldn't hold on to a bob for five minutes.


We went up to the stands to watch the action unfold and two minutes and four seconds later this red-faced fool had to get the Nokia 3210 out to call the brother and ask him for a lend of the taxi fare home.

Looking back, it was actually a cracking race and Hawk Wing was pipped on the line by Grandera, with a certain Lanfranco Dettori doing the steering on the latter.

Ten years have passed, but we will be back up again for the 2012 renewal and, as it happens, Frankie is also back in town riding SNOW FAIRY (5.45). While I cursed Dettori a decade ago, I'll be cheering him on today, with Ed Dunlop's mare likely to go off in the region of 2/1.

Today's favourite, Nathaniel, is being trained with the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in mind, so connections won't want him to have too hard a time in Ireland.

John Gosden has suggested that the colt may not be at his peak, although the market isn't buying it and the four-year-old still remains strong in the betting. He's consistently performed well at the top this year and it's hard to find faults. But, at 5/4, his price is simply too short in what's likely to be an extremely competitive affair.

Snow Fairy is equally as consistent and it's ages since we've seen her race in anything lower than a Group One.

In her latest 11 races at that level, she's almost always won or been placed and her victory at Deauville last time proved that she's over an injury, which kept her away from the racetrack for the previous nine months.

Both William Buick and Frankie Dettori will have to do a helicopter dash across the Irish Sea to get to Dublin as both have assignments in the Betfred Sprint Cup (3.25 Haydock), with Buick's mount ORTENSIA a worthy favourite at 9/4.


A son of Galileo, MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT caught the eye when second to the useful Kirthill in a class two handicap at York last time. He tends to get distracted, but a visor helped his cause on that occasion and is fitted again today. Take him each-way at 12/1.

• Last week's each-way selection was placed at 20/1.


3.25 Haydock: Ortensia

4.45 Kempton: Lyssio

5.45 Leopardstown: Snow Fairy

4.15 Ascot: Martin Chuzzlewit (e/w)

Irish Independent