So You Think keeps Snow Fairy at bay
Report: Leopardstown, Saturday
Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1) 1m2f, 3yo+
SO YOU THINK added his nameto the stellar list of horses who have won the Irish Champion Stakes when he saw off Snow Fairy in a thrilling finish to the Red Mills-backed Group 1 at Leopardstown on Saturday.
The betting suggested 1-4 favourite So You Think would ease to his third Group 1 triumph since joining Aidan O'Brien, but 6-1 shot Snow Fairy, a dual Oaks winner for Ed Dunlop last year, gave his supporters a scare when she rallied under Frankie Dettori.
However, So You Think, who claimed the scalp of last year's Derby and Arc hero Workforce in the Coral-Eclipse, last time, gamely held on for Seamie Heffernan to record a half-length triumph.
Plans for the ex-Australian superstar remain unclear and Paddy Power and William Hill left him unchanged at 5-1 for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, while connections also mentioned the possibility of a mouthwatering clash with the mighty Frankel in the Qipco-backed Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in October.
O'Brien said: "We think he can take more racing and he's ready for a busy campaign. Nothing's definite, but he could drop to a mile for the QEII or go for the Champion Stakes [on the same day.
"There's also the Arc to consider. Nothing's decided."
Although O'Brien claimed that "nothing had been ruled in or out" a return to Australia to try and win a third Cox Plate appears unlikely.
"We'll wait and see but the quarantine restrictions and the gallops facilities at the quarantine station in Victoria are not ideal, " O'Brien said.
John Magnier, who owns So You Think with his Coolmore partners Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, added: "He's the kind of horse we're spoiled for options for. He could run in the mile race at Ascot or mile and a quarter and the Arc.
"We're not going to be rushed into a decision."
John Magnier will not be rushed into making a decision for next racePICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Reflecting on the performance, O'Brien, who has now won the Irish Champion seven times including with So You Think's sire High Chaparral (2003), Dylan Thomas (2006 and 2007) and Cape Blanco last year, said: "It's a long time sincehe ran. We gave him a good break since the last day and we were a bit worried about that.
"We knew he'd be there to be shot at and Snow Fairy would stalk and that they would have her spot on.
"He was veryprofessional when she put it up to him. He's getting more relaxed and mature and you could see that in the parade ring.
"We'll go home and discuss what we do next but he can do anything because he cruises through his races.
"He's an incredible specimen, big and powerful and an unbelievable thoroughbred to look at."
Snow Fairy, who raced against the rail in third, tracking So You Think, has not won since landing the Hong Kong Cup in December, but Dunlop was delighted.
"I'm very proud," he beamed. "She's bounced back and that was arguably the best run of her life."
The consistent Famous Name again ran with credit to fill third, six lengths behind the front two.