QIPCO British Champions Series: Mares and Fillies

Snow Fairy - leading contender to become British Champion filly

Concluding our consideration of the QIPCO British Champions Series we look today at the set of races for mares and fillies. Although there are many races where they can take on their physically stronger male counterparts at the top-level racing, the Champions Series comprises a group of seven races over a mile to a mile and a half where they can prove their ability against their own sex.

This is perhaps the most open of the five categories within the overall series, for in the five races to have taken place so far, fifteen different horses have filled the places. We need to remember here that the accolade of champion is not related solely to races within the series, because there is every possibility of the champion here being a horse that hasn't won a single race this season. That horse is the six-year-old Sahpresa.

Sahpresa’s rating of 118 was gained for her second behind Goldikova in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville last month, a race in which she beat Timepiece into third place. Indeed it was in the same race that Timepiece gained her current rating of 114. Yet in the Falmouth Stakes, which is one of the Champions Series races, Timepiece had beaten Sahpresa into second place. The Falmouth had been a slowly run race, in which Timepiece although winning, was only rated 108. It showed up too, just how difficult it is three-year-olds to compete with older horses, as the best places of them was fourth-place Joviality, whilst the other younger competitors filled two of the last three places. We’ll discount the recalcitrant and now retired Memory who refused to leave the stalls.

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In a similar position is Snow Fairy, who finished runner-up to Midday in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, a race in which Midday created her own little piece of history with a third win in the race. Midday doesn't feature in the mares and fillies championship, as she is under consideration in the middle distance category. For Snow Fairy this was a continuation of the outstanding form she had shown as a three-year-old. Then, she followed up wins in the Oaks and Irish Oaks with further success in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Japan, and the Hong Kong Cup, where she showed her ability against the colts. As trainer Ed Dunlop put it, "To do it against the colts for the first time in her life puts down was an exceptional horse, there can be no doubt over that."

The leading three-year-old fillies are Immortal Verse and Blue Bunting both rated 115. They have each won a group 1 mile race restricted to three-year-olds. In Blue Bunting's case this was the 1000 Guineas, and she improved substantially on her 99 ranking there when finishing fourth in the Oaks. She again demonstrated her ability over the longer distance when winning the Irish Oaks, the race in which she was rated 115.

In contrast, Immortal Verse has had just two races to date, winning them both. She at least has earned her a rating in one of the races that forms part of this series. The Coronation Stakes featured a father and son training double, with Robert Collet horse coming home clear of Nova Hawk, trained by son Rod. Earlier in the season immortal verse ran a poor race in the Guineas. Explaining this Collet said, "this is the best filly I have trained. At Newmarket they put a hood on her to enter the stalls and a was a lot of wind, which irritated her and she did not line up."

The final leading contender for the mares and fillies championship is Principal Role, third in the Nassau behind Midday and Snow Fairy. At one time Principal Role had been considered Henry Cecil’s most likely runner in the Nassau as Midday was under serious consideration for races elsewhere. In the event both took their chance and both proved well worthy of that opportunity.

With two races remaining in the series, the Yorkshire Oaks and the mares and fillies race on Champions Day itself, there are still opportunities to challenge Sahpresa as the leading horse in this category. Of the leading horses Blue Bunting is entered in both races, Snow Fairy in the Yorkshire Oaks, and Principal Role at Ascot. And as these horses seem to have been beating each other all through the season so far, it would be no great surprise if one of the principles from the Epsom Oaks, Dancing Rain or Wonder of Wonders, were to put in a late bid to be crowned British Champion amongst the mares and fillies. They are both in the possible line up for each of the remaining two races.

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