Past Winners » Snow Fairy


Message of 26th May

The top end of the Oaks market is looking a little shaky to me. It looks like Rumoush is favourite by default. While I am sure she will be better over further than a mile (she did win the Fielden Stakes over nine furlongs), she could only finish seventh in the Guineas. This year’s Guineas was obviously a strange race, with the field splitting up into two groups and those in the far side group having no chance, but I am not certain about the quality of the race as a Classic on the whole. Special Duty did win it, and she did follow up by winning the French Guineas, but that was a messy slowly-run race, and she was only the second best filly at best, possibly the third best, in it. Also, the fact that Jacqueline Quest was first past the post at Newmarket makes the form a little suspect to me. Fair play to Henry Cecil’s filly for doing so well, but she wasn’t that unexposed going into the race, she wasn’t like Makfi in the 2000 Guineas, she had raced four times and she had been beaten all ends up in the Nell Gwyn.

Rumoush was second of those who raced on the far side, but she was beaten by Music Show, and Music Show was beaten on merit in the Irish Guineas on Sunday. The Guineas is traditionally a very good pointer to the Oaks, but it may not be so good this year.

Aviate was all the rage after she won the Musidora, and she was brave in going through the gaps late on to get up and snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat, but I thought that there was an overreaction to that win, as there often is when horses win like that, getting up late on after looking like they were going to be unlucky in defeat. She actually got the run of the race, she went around the inside the whole way, she got cover up the home straight, and she got the gaps just in time. Compare her run to runner-up Gold Bubbles, who was free early on, raced three wide around the home turn and never had any cover the whole way up the home straight, and it looks like Jim Bolger is preferring to allow Akdarena represent him in the Oaks, not Gold Bubbles. Also, Henry Cecil wasn’t that bullish about Aviate afterwards, you got the feeling that he was more disappointed with Timepiece’s defeat in the Lingfield trial than he was happy with Aviate’s win at York. On top of that, she is not a certain stayer, and I am happy to pass her by at 11/2.

Timepiece is still in the picture despite that defeat. The Lingfield Oaks Trial was a strange race, they went very fast early on and Timepiece chased the pace, leaving herself vulnerable to something that raced out the back, like Dyna Waltz, to deliver a sucker punch, which she did. I wouldn’t give up on Timepiece, but I wouldn’t be backing her either at 7/1.

Remember When is interesting, the Aidan O’Brien filly, after her run in the Irish Guineas. She stayed on really well in that contest to finish fourth, and she is a three-parts sister to Dylan Thomas, so she should improve significantly for stepping up to a mile and a half. That said, she is still a maiden, not many maidens win the Oaks, and she is very short now at no better than 12/1.

Akdarena looked good in winning her last two, but she looked a bit tricky on her penultimate run, flashing her tail in front. She was happier on her last run, but she may have been a little flattered by the visual impression that that created, the time of the race wasn’t good. Also, it may be that she has to lead, she could sulk if she didn’t get to lead, and it is difficult to lead all the way over a mile and a half at Epsom. On top of that, the occasion could get to her, the preliminaries may be difficult for her, and she is not for me at no better than 12/1.

The two most interesting fillies for me at the prices are Sajjhaa and Snow Fairy. Sajjhaa carried a tall reputation into her racecourse debut at Sandown last Thursday, and she didn’t disappoint. She missed the break, she had to race wide on the outside all the way down the back straight to gain a position, and she was wider than ideal around the home turn, but she travelled like a good filly throughout, and when Dettori got lower in the saddle and asked her to pick up, the response was really impressive. She quickly came clear of her field and was eased to a seven-length win.

On the negative side, this was only a maiden, it wasn’t a great maiden, and the time of the race wasn’t that impressive, well above Racing Post par and over a second slower than the 0-85 handicap that was run over the same course and distance a half an hour earlier. For all her potential, odds of 16/1 about her for the Oaks are tight enough.

I prefer Snow Fairy at the same price. She wasn’t given an entry in the race, but Ed Dunlop confirmed yesterday that she will be supplemented. She didn’t look top class last term as a juvenile, but she did progress nicely through the season, finishing a close third behind Sent From Heaven in a Group 3 contest run over seven furlongs at Goodwood on her penultimate run (you can easily forgive her last run last season on very soft ground), when she finished best of all and just failed by a nose and a short head, giving the impression that she would benefit from a step up in distance as a three-year-old.

She proved that on her only run this term in the Height Of Fashion Stakes, the old Lupe Stakes, when she was stepped up to a mile and two furlongs. She stumbled at the start, but was soon into a rhythm out the back, she travelled best early in the home straight and then picked up impressively when Eddie Ahern asked her to take it up off Deirdre and come clear.

The Lupe isn’t that accurate an Oaks pointer any more, but Love Divine won both races in 2000 and Rising Cross won the Lupe in 2006 before finishing second in the Oaks, so it isn’t that bad, and this year’s renewal of the Lupe looked right up to scratch. I still think that runner-up Pipette is a high class filly, I still think that she is under-rated, she still sets a higher standard than is generally appreciated in my book, and Snow Fairy beat her well in the Lupe.

The Ed Dunlop-trained filly handles Goodwood well, which augurs well for Epsom, a similarly contoured track, even though one is left-handed and the other is right-handed. Also, it is a huge positive that Dunlop has decided to supplement her to the Oaks, he knows what is required to win one, having done so with Ouija Board in 2004. Moreover, it looks like Ryan Moore has been booked to ride her, which is massive, firstly because Moore is happy to commit to her this far out, and secondly because she will have the assistance of just about the best rider in the business on the day. She is a definite intended runner in the race, and she is worth backing this morning at 16/1.

Message of 4th June

The Oaks is wide open. I wouldn’t be surprised to see any one of four or five others win it. However, I think that Sajjhaa and Akdarena are shorter than they should be. Sajjhaa was impressive in winning her maiden, and she could be top class, but this is a huge step up, it wasn’t the best maiden in the world and the time of the race wasn’t great. She is a lovely filly, but 6/1 for the Oaks on your second start is crazy. Meeznah was at least as impressive in winning a maiden that was at least as good as Sajjhaa’s on her only start this season, and she is a 33/1 shot. I thought that the 16/1 that they quoted about Sajjhaa after she won at Sandown was tight enough.

Akdarena has been well backed in the last week, and the form of her last run in the Blue Wind Stakes against the older fillies is solid, but the time of that race wasn’t good, and I worry about her temperament. She flashed her tail a lot on her penultimate run, and it looks like she has to lead. It is going to be difficult to lead all the way in a 15-runner Oaks. She wears blinkers and a tongue tie, and there is a chance that it will just all be a bit much for her.

I am very happy with Snow Fairy at 16/1. All the reasons for backing her nine days ago still hold true. I still think that her Lupe Stakes win has been under-played, and she overcame a bad stumble at the start to win. She showed a really smart turn of foot to come away from the talented Pipette, the time of the race was faster comparatively than Rewilding clocked in winning the Cocked Hat Stakes later in the day, and she stayed on really well all the way to the line. It was her first attempt over 10 furlongs, it was her first step beyond seven furlongs, and she seemed to improve markedly for it. Connections thought enough of her chance to supplement her to the race, and Ryan Moore thought enough of her to commit to her from a long way out. He is a huge addition.

Her draw in stall 15 is not ideal, but she still has a huge chance. The draw won’t be that important if they go fast early on, which they should do with such a big field and Akdarena and at lest one potential Ballydoyle pacemaker in it. Hopefully Moore will be able to get Snow Fairy in and settled back in the field and not too far off the rail before they start to turn at the seven-furlong pole. The fast pace should suit her come-from-behind style well, and it is easy to see her running a big race. While you could make a case for a lot of her rivals, she shouldn’t be a 16/1 shot.