It’s gonna be tight in Pretty Polly Stakes

TOP-CLASS fillies Midday and Snow Fairy will lock horns for a second time in a mouthwatering Stobart Ireland Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh this afternoon.

Henry Cecil’s five-time Group One winner Midday emerged triumphant when the pair clashed in last year’s Yorkshire Oaks and has looked at least as good as ever so far this year.

After winning the Middleton Stakes at York on her seasonal reappearance, she found only St Nicholas Abbey too strong in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

The one year younger Snow Fairy enjoyed a fantastic Classic year, winning the English and the Irish Oaks before signing off with top-level victories in Japan and Hong Kong.

The British raiders very much take top billing in this weekend’s 10-furlong contest, but Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Midday’s owner Khalid Abdullah, is not writing off the other participants.

“It should be a good race. Midday and Snow Fairy might look the big two but there are plenty of others in there and these things never turn out to be two-horse races,” said Grimthorpe.

“It’s a tough race as you would expect. Midday has done well since Epsom, she’s in good form and she seems to have thrived this year.

“She ran well in the Coronation Cup and she’s coming back to take on her own sex again this weekend.

“We’ll get this race out of the way before we finalise any plans, but hopefully she’ll go back to Goodwood for the Nassau Stakes.”

Snow Fairy has not run since December, having suffered a minor setback when being prepared for a trip to Dubai early this year.

Dunlop is pleased to have his star filly back on the track — but firmly expects her to need the run.

He said: “This is not the be all and end all. It’s a logical starting point and it’s against her own sex.

“Midday has beaten us the only time we’ve taken her on (in the Yorkshire Oaks), and the advantage with fitness will obviously help her.

“I feel Snow Fairy got better as the year progressed and a mile and a quarter probably suits her better than a mile and a half, although she’s adaptable.

“We’re looking forward to it, but we’re under no illusions. It’s going to be very competitive.

“She’s won an Irish Oaks out there. If it’s decent ground, it will make it a very interesting race.”

Johnny Murtagh takes the ride for the first time, but is no stranger to Dunlop-trained fillies, having ridden Ouija Board to finish third in the 2004 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

“It’s very exciting to be riding a filly like her. I can’t wait to sit on her for the first time,” said Murtagh.

“She’s top-class. It’s her first run of the year but Ed’s horses are in really good form and he’s very happy with her.

“With Midday in there as well, it should be a good race. It’s great for racing that these older mares are still in training.”

Aidan O’Brien’s major hope is three-year-old Misty For Me, winner of the Irish 1,000 Guineas at the track before placing fifth in the Oaks at Epsom.

Jockey Seamie Heffernan said: “She ran well enough in the Oaks but I was a little bit disappointed. I’m not sure she really handled the track.

“She’s won a few times at the Curragh so we know she’ll like the track much better, but it’s a strong race. I’m just hoping for a good run.

“I couldn’t say she didn’t stay a mile and a half at Epsom, but you’d imagine this mile and a quarter would be her best trip. I always thought a mile was a bit tight for her.

“Midday and Snow Fairy are classy fillies and they are battle hardened. I think if we can get close to them it will be a great run and if we could beat them, it would be brilliant.”

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