Past Winners » Snow Fairy


I think Nathaniel is a little too short for the Irish Champion Stakes at no bigger than 13/8. He has solid claims, but it is possible to pick holes in his chance.

Firstly, there is the trip. He proved he was a top-class 10-fulong colt when winning the Eclipse, but two things about that race. Farhh aside, it probably wasn’t a vintage Eclipse. There wasn’t a horse of Snow Fairy’s calibre in the line-up. Also Sandown is a stiffer track than Leopardstown. While the Ballydoyle battalion could go a decent gallop on Saturday to set the race up for Imperial Monarch or St Nicholas Abbey, the fairly short home straight could count against Nathaniel. After John Gosden’s colt’s performance in the King George, just two weeks after his big Eclipse effort, it is hard to argue that he is not a better horse at a mile and a half.

Secondly, there is the ground. It was officially good to soft at Sandown, and at Ascot (as it was when he won the King George last year as well). It is currently good to soft at Leopardstown, but it is set to be sunny and dry in Dublin all week, it looks set to dry out by Saturday afternoon, and the race could be run on ground that is on the fast side of good. That will place more of an emphasis on speed than might be ideal for Nathaniel.

Thirdly, there is the travelling factor. This will be the first time Nathaniel has raced outside of England. It may not be significant, but it is a factor, especially when you are talking about a short-priced favourite who is taking on a strong home defence and a filly in Snow Fairy who is a proven traveller all over the world. All of those things into the mix, and Nathaniel is worth taking on at 13/8.

I am backing Snow Fairy at 3/1. Ed Dunlop’s mare is truly top class at both 10 and 12 furlongs, but she is probably even better over 10 furlongs as her two best Racing Post Ratings were achieved over 10 furlongs – in the Champion Stakes and in this race last year, when she was only narrowly denied by So You Think. So You Think was probably a better 10-furlong horse than Nathaniel is – he was two and a half lengths in front of Nathaniel in last year’s Champion Stakes – and he had the race set up perfectly for him in the Irish Champion Stakes last year, so Snow Fairy emerged with a lot of credit in only going down narrowly to him.

Snow Fairy herself was two lengths ahead of Nathaniel in last year’s Champion Stakes, and that despite having been caught up in behind So You Think and Cirrus Des Aigles from two furlongs out. Her authority over Nathaniel over this trip was clear that day, and she was also giving Nathaniel 2lb (weight-for-age minus sex allowance) which she doesn’t concede this year, so she is 5lb better off on Saturday having finished two lengths in front of him.

Snow Fairy has come out this year and proved herself to be as good as ever when winning the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville, and, given that she has improved quite considerably for her first run in each of her three previous seasons to race, it doesn’t make sense that there is such a discrepancy between her and Nathaniel in the market. At 3/1 or 11/4 she is over-priced in my book.