Heffernan ready for Champion assignment

SEAMIE HEFFERNAN is set to continue his association with So You Think in Saturday’s Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Heffernan has ridden the ex-Australian superstar in two of his four starts since the five-year-old switched to the care of Aidan O’Brien following the purchase of a majority share by Coolmore.

The duo have been successful in both those outings, winning a Curragh Group Three on the horse’s European bow before defeating Workforce in a thrilling face-off in last month’s Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

Ryan Moore was aboard for So You Think’s Tattersalls Gold Cup victory and his shock Royal Ascot defeat, but he was claimed to ride Workforce at Sandown and is now sidelined by injury.

That allows Heffernan to stay aboard the son of High Chaparral and Duncan Ramage, racing manager for part-owner Dato Tan Chin Nam, believes his likely presence in the saddle is far from a negative.

“Seamie Heffernan will be on him again this time,” he said.

“He’s unbeaten on him and he’s been around Leopardstown a few times I’m sure, so there’s no worries on that score. I think the horse has had an uninterrupted lead up and a good preparation and we’re not anticipating any complications.”

So You Think, a winner of seven Group Ones, was one of just six to stand their ground at the five-day stage for the 10-furlong heat.

Last year’s dual Oaks winner Snow Fairy is due to run and Ramage believes she is the main rival, despite the fact she was well beaten in the Eclipse.

“I’m not sure if he has scared off his rivals or if they just have other plans. It certainly looks like being a small field though,” Ramage continued.

“Snow Fairy would look to be the main rival, particularly if she’s racing as well as when I saw her in Hong Kong (winning the Hong Kong Cup) last year.

“I think she ran her best race so far this season last time (when second in the Nassau) and she is obviously a very good filly.

“You have got to be in it to win and that’s the tactic in Australia but I don’t know if it’s the same in Europe – people seem to be a little more defensive with their running plans.

“Good ground is best for good horses but he’s shown he can handle Australian fast and has won on soft, so the ground shouldn’t be a factor.”

Following the retirement of Derby winner Pour Moi, So You Think was promoted to favouritism with some firms in the ante-post market for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October, but plans have still to be made beyond the weekend.

O’Brien and the Coolmore team have also raised the possibility of heading back to Australia for the Cox Plate on October 22, a race So You Think has won for the last two years.

However, Ramage does not expect O’Brien to hurry any decision and connections will see how he fares at Leopardstown before making a call.

“(The Arc) is still very much a consideration. I believe after Saturday’s race, everyone will sit down and think about what the plan is,” he added.

“The Cox Plate is there and it’s still an available option but if he were to run there, that would be his only race after Saturday and logic might dictate that it’s better to choose the plan with more possible options.

“The decision will rest with Aidan O’Brien and the team over there.”

Ed Dunlop has confirmed Frankie Dettori retains the ride on Snow Fairy. Moore guided the filly to four Group One victories in 2010, but was unavailable for her two starts this season.

Johnny Murtagh was on board when the four-year-old finished a well beaten fourth in the Eclipse, while Dettori took the reins when she finished a highly creditable second to Midday recently in Goodwood’s Nassau Stakes.

Dettori will be in action for his chief employers Godolphin at Haydock in the afternoon, but as the major race in Ireland does not take place until 6.45pm, Dunlop expects the Italian to arrive at Leopardstown in time.

Snow Fairy has over nine lengths to make up on the reopposing So You Think on their run in the Eclipse, but Dunlop is sure his star performer has made giant strides fitness-wise since that run in early July.

“We knew she was going to need her Eclipse run very badly and she got very tired at the three-furlong pole,” he added. “She then stepped forward enormously to run well in the Nassau and Frankie said that she’d improve again and she still wasn’t 100% there.

“We’re very happy with her and I would like to think that she’s 100%. She’s trained well, but we’re under no illusions that So You Think is a very hard horse to beat.

“She’s a very fresh horse and has had no racing, so hopefully it’s onwards and upwards.”

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