Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Curragh Classic: Snow Fairy can make history with a double

Every shake of the kaleidoscope has brought a fresh pattern to the season's hierarchy among three-year-old filly milers, with a different horse first past the post in each of the Group One races in the division.

On Sunday their middle-distance equivalents will square up in the Irish Oaks, a last chance to establish their own pecking order before they face their elders.

The field for the Curragh Classic will include the first three home in the Epsom original, with the connections of the winner, Snow Fairy, hazarding around a £36,700 late entry fee to prove that their girl is the best.

A year ago Snow Fairy was preparing for a run in a juvenile handicap and, though she progressed to better company before the end of her campaign, she had been given no fancy long-term entries.

But she certainly justified the first gamble by her trainer, Ed Dunlop, and owner-breeder, Cristina Patino, who paid £20,000 to add her to the Oaks line-up. She rewarded their faith tenfold with the top prize of £208,119, gained after a daring ride by Ryan Moore brought her home by a neck from Meeznah.

Snow Fairy has not only earned her entry fees but her place among the elite and at stake on Sunday is another quarter of a million or so, plus the bragging rights of becoming only the 13th filly to complete the English-Irish double in the 115 years both races have been run.

Dunlop, whose brilliant charge Ouija Board was the 10th six years ago, reports his current heroine ready for the fray after sparking under the reigning champion jockey, who will be in the saddle again on Sunday, in her latest work.

“She had an easy time for 10 days after Epsom,” Dunlop said yesterday, “but she is back in the swing of it now and Ryan was very pleased with her when he rode her this morning. She's not the biggest of fillies, but she has developed physically and she looks stronger. She's a very tough filly and I'm happier with her now than I was before Epsom.

“The Curragh is a very different test from Epsom, but I don't think it will disadvantage her in any way.

“The only negative might be if the rain comes, it might bring stamina doubts into play. But I stand by the fact that she has shown she can quicken.”

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