Snow Fairy takes Champion Stakes at Leopardstown

Snow Fairy stole the show at Leopardstown with an emotional victory over fellow British raider Nathaniel in the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes this afternoon.

Snow Fairy takes Champion Stakes at Leopardstown

Snow Fairy stole the show at Leopardstown with an emotional victory over fellow British raider Nathaniel in the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes this afternoon.

Ed Dunlop's globe-trotting mare settled nicely for Frankie Dettori and always looked to have Nathaniel covered as he was driven to overhaul pacemaker Daddy Long Legs rounding the bend.

John Gosden's Nathaniel (13-8 favourite) was in front and kicked on entering the straight, but Snow Fairy (15-8) quickened smoothly to take closer order and was always on top as the line approached, claiming the Group One prize by a length and a quarter.

Gosden had warned beforehand that Nathaniel has been trained with the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in mind.

St Nicholas Abbey ran a gallant race as he tried to close in third.

Dettori, who had made the dash to the Dublin track in a helicopter from Haydock with Nathaniel's jockey William Buick, was deputising on Snow Fairy for the injured Ryan Moore.

He had also ridden Snow Fairy 12 months ago when Dunlop's star found only So You Think too good.

The Italian's delight was clear as he performed his famous flying dismount, much to the appreciation of the crowds surrounding the winner's enclosure.

Snow Fairy had only recently returned from a serious leg injury when winning the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville, and was taking her Group One haul to a magnificent seven.

Dettori, winning his fifth Irish Champion, said: "Usually I don't notice these things, but I could hear the crowd really get behind her and the roar when she crossed the line.

"The crowd at Leopardstown are fantastic. I've had some great days here.

"It's all about the filly, she's so popular. Everyone was delighted to see her win like that in a fighting finish. She got a tremendous cheer.

"She's a popular as Kauto Star over jumps and for racing we need superstars like that. She's small but she comes with a big punch!

"All the credit goes to Ed and the team for bringing her back after her serious injury, this race has been won by some great champions and she is one of them.

"It has been an honour to be on her again. Ryan said be patient and she'll quicken when you ask her. Ryan has been a gentleman, a great help."

Dunlop said: "I've lost my voice. I'm relieved for the horse more than anything, the owner and for Frankie who's obviously now won on her.

"Ryan Moore has won six out of six on her, so Frankie needed that. This filly is simply unbelievable."

Asked where the win stood among his career achievements, Dunlop said: "No disrespect to the others, but I think this is the best - to beat some of the best colts around and to break the track record, coming back from a major tendon injury, it doesn't get better than this.

"She showed an amazing turn of foot again. This is the third time I have had a go at this race, so this is very nice on my CV.

"A lot of her rehabilitation from injury was done here (Ireland) and I can't tell you how many people have helped us. It doesn't get much sweeter."

On future plans, Dunlop said: "We've always said this year we will take each race at a time after the injury she has had.

"She seems fine after the race, she's in the Arc, she's in the Champion Stakes - obviously Frankel is in that and that is a different level entirely.

"We'll see. I've said before I'd like to go to the Breeders' Cup, she hasn't done that and I'd love to take her to America and maybe win in a sixth country."

Looking to the Arc, Stan James cut Snow Fairy to 8-1 third-favourite from 14-1, with spokesman Joseph Burke saying: "Snow Fairy was magnificent. She ran a cracker here last year when she finished second to So You Think before going on to run third in the Arc and on that basis she'd have every chance in this year's renewal.

"We've pushed out Nathaniel from 7-1 to 9-1 as she clearly has the beating of him. As Frankie said, she broke his heart there today."

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