Tag Archive for: Snowfall

Dual Classic winner Snowfall suffers fatal pelvic injury

Aidan O’Brien’s multiple Group One winner Snowfall has been put down after suffering a pelvic injury.

Having only won one of her seven races as a juvenile, she blossomed at three and notched up four successive victories, including three Group Ones.

She won the Musidora at York by almost four lengths but was overlooked by Ryan Moore in the Oaks at Epsom in favour of Santa Barbara, but the Frankie Dettori-ridden Snowfall bolted up in the Classic by 16 lengths.

While not able to match that margin in the Irish equivalent, she still won by eight and a half lengths and followed up in the Yorkshire Oaks.

That was her last win as she was beaten by Teona in the Prix Vermeille, finished sixth in the Arc and third on Champions Day at Ascot.

No decision had been taken on whether the four-year-old would remain in training this year or head off to stud.

“It’s very sad news, terrible,” said O’Brien.

“The lads were thinking of keeping her in training but they hadn’t quite made up their minds, it was very possible.

“She had a pelvic injury in her box. Sometimes pelvic injuries go the right way or they can go the wrong way, unfortunately this one went the wrong way.

“It’s very sad and I feel very sorry for the lads, for Derrick (Smith), Michael (Tabor) and John (Magnier).”

Snowfall seeking to regain winning thread on Champions Day

A late decision to reroute Snowfall from the Champion Stakes to the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes appears to offer Aidan O’Brien’s dual Classic heroine a fine opportunity to return to winning ways at Ascot.

Love’s defection from the mile-and-a-half contest prompted a change of plan from Ballydoyle, while La Petite Coco, who beat Love at the Curragh, is another who will not be in action.

So brilliant in the Oaks, Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks, Snowfall has since suffered defeats in the Prix Vermeille and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, finishing sixth in the latter. She does, however, set a stiff standard if running up to her brilliant best.

O’Brien said: “Snowfall ran well in the Arc. The ground was very soft and there wasn’t much pace. We took our time on her, but we probably expected there to be more pace in the race.”

Snowfall is joined by La Joconde, a daughter of Frankel who ran her best race of the season two starts ago when third in the Vermeille.

“She was just beaten in the Vermeille and was a bit disappointing the last day over a mile and a quarter,” said O’Brien of Hollie Doyle’s mount.

“She obviously prefers a mile and a half on good ground and has been in good form since.”

Albaflora got closest to Snowfall at York, running a fine race to be beaten by four lengths.

Suited by cut in the ground, the Ralph Beckett-trained four-year-old has not run since that effort on the Knavesmire in August.

Beckett said: “She put in a terrific effort to finish second behind Snowfall in the Yorkshire Oaks.

“She has run well at Ascot in the past, which is a positive. She is in really good shape so I am hopeful of a good show.”

La Petite Coco’s connections are still represented, by the Andrew Balding-trained Invite.

A Listed winner at Chester last month, the Team Valor-owned three-year-old is another well suited by easier underfoot conditions.

Balding said of the ex Marco Botti runner: “She’s not exactly an extravagant worker, but I liked what I saw when she won at Chester on her only start for us.

“That was nice to see and she’s obviously a filly with plenty of ability.”

Eshaada, who was narrowly beaten in the Ribblesdale Stakes at the Royal meeting, takes her chance for Roger Varian, with Oaks runner-up Mystery Angel in action for George Boughey.

O’Brien not concerned by prospect of soft ground in Arc for Snowfall

Aidan O’Brien is unlikely to be using soft ground as an excuse should Snowfall fail to add to her already illustrious record in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The Deep Impact filly has looked head and shoulders above her generation this season – until last time out when she met with a shock first defeat of the campaign in the Prix Vermeille over the same course and distance she faces at the weekend.

Since a 16-length demolition of her rivals in the Oaks she has been among the favourites for the Arc, with an eight-length triumph in the Irish version coupled with a four-length success at York cementing her position.

However, she lost her spot at the head of the betting with a rather lacklustre showing in the Vermeille when she failed to catch Roger Varian’s improving Teona.

With the ground softening up in Paris it could turn into more of a stamina test – and O’Brien thinks that would suit Snowfall.

“I was worried about going to Epsom on soft ground, but obviously we saw what she did there. I think she’s a filly who stays very well and gets the trip well,” he said.

“Soft ground catches out some horses, but it doesn’t catch her out. Obviously she acts on it given what she did at Epsom. I don’t think she’s ground dependent, I don’t think it really matters too much.”

He went on: “We know that she handles soft ground and we know that she handles fast ground. On her Epsom run you’d say she might be better with a bit of ease.

“Looking ahead, it might be on the soft side, but I couldn’t see that it was going to be heavy or anything. I don’t think it’s to her advantage if it’s soft, but I don’t think it would be a disadvantage either.”

And of her eclipse last time out he said: “We were delighted with her run and we were delighted that we ran her because we saw how she behaved on better ground on a track like Longchamp and that is always an advantage before a big race.”

O’Brien is also planning to run Love, who was strongly fancied for last year’s race only to be ruled out when the ground went heavy.

Love was a game winner of the Prince of Wales's Stakes
Love was a game winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (David Davies/PA)

“I think she’ll be fine on soft, but she’s a very good mover so the better the ground the better it would suit her,” said O’Brien.

“She’s a year older now. We’d planned on running her unless the ground was going to get very bad and hopefully I don’t think that is going to happen.”

Love was also surprisingly beaten on her most recent outing, albeit attempting to give 10lb to the 110-rated La Petite Coco and only going down by a short head, meaning she lost little in defeat.

“Everything has been good since, we used it as a prep for the Arc, she went around a right-handed bend like Longchamp and she seems to have come out of the race very well,” said O’Brien.

Broome is O’Brien’s third-string, but a high-class one as the winner of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and second in the Prix Foy last time out.

“He was kept in training at five specifically for the Arc. We kept him at a mile and a quarter earlier this season, then went up in trip for the first time at Saint-Cloud and we were delighted with that run, he ran a very good race,” said O’Brien.

“He went to Ascot (King George) and ran well, but missed the kick and ended up a bit further back than we thought. We were then delighted with his run in the Arc trial.

“He gets the trip very well, he’s very uncomplicated and handles all types of ground. He’ll be ridden forwards like always, you can let him bowl along.”

When pressed for his views of the opposition, O’Brien said: “Tarnawa is a very good filly, she’s proven over the trip so you have to have the utmost respect for her.

“The way we go into every race is we totally respect every horse and try to have our own horses as well as we can. The opposition is very good.”

Adayar and Snowfall added to Arc field

Classic winners Adayar and Snowfall have, as expected, been supplemented for Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.

Connections of Derby and King George hero Adayar, who is trained by Charlie Appleby, and Aidan O’Brien’s Snowfall, winner of the English, Irish and Yorkshire Oaks, stumped up the 120,000 euros fee to be added to what is shaping into a stellar renewal of the autumn showpiece.

Adayar’s stablemate Hurricane Lane, winner of the Irish Derby and St Leger, remains in the reckoning along with the Dermot Weld-trained Tarnawa, a multiple Group One winner who was edged out by St Mark’s Basilica in the Irish Champion Stakes last time.

Tarnawa is among the leading lights
Tarnawa is among the leading lights (Niall Carson/PA)

O’Brien also has last season’s star filly Love and Broome in the Group One highlight, for which 16 remain in contention following Wednesday’s forfeit stage.

Alenquer from William Haggas’ yard, the Richard Hannon-trained Mojo Star and Roger Varian’s Teona also represent British interests while Bubble Gift, Sealiway, Baby Rider and Raabihah form the home defence.

Torquator Tasso is a German hope, with Japan set to be double-handed with the Takashi Saito-trained Chrono Genesis, the mount of Oisin Murphy, and Deep Bond for Ryuji Okubo.

Deep Bond warmed up for the race with victory in the Prix Foy over the course and distance earlier in the month when ridden from the front by Cristian Demuro.

However, he will be ridden by Mickael Barzalona in the Arc and the rider was on board for a gallops spin on Wednesday morning.

Speaking via an interpreter, Okubo said: “Cristian couldn’t ride for various reasons and I was surprised that Mickael Barzalona was free in the race.

“It will depend on the weather (how Deep Bond is ridden). There is rain forecast over the weekend, so the ground is going to be a little bit softer than it was on the day of the Prix Foy.

“Everything will really depend on the pace of the race and also the draw.

“In Japan he doesn’t usually run from the front, he usually drops in behind the leader and obviously on Sunday we will have to think how that will pan out, but we wouldn’t want to have Chrono Genesis just sitting behind.”

Jean-Claude Rouget’s Raabihah had the option of running against fillies in the Prix de Royallieu – but the decision to aim for gold was taken to see if she could better last year’s fifth place behind stablemate Sottsass.

“It is similar to Sottsass in a way as he was third in the Arc and came back to win it. Like him, she appeared not the same horse in the spring as the year before, but it is hard for them to come back after tough races at three. She has been prepared for this race,” said Rouget.

“It was her work last week which convinced us to take the Arc route. She worked with Coeursamba (French 1000 Guineas winner) and that work was decisive.

“I’m not in the habit of talking up my horses, but she deserves her chance. It’s more my decision than the family or Angus Gold (racing manager), but they followed me so I hope I don’t disappoint them. She will go to stud next year, but could have one more race somewhere this year.”

O’Brien happy with Snowfall and Love as Arc bid looms

Aidan O’Brien remains keen to saddle both Snowfall and Love in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday week.

Brilliant in winning the Oaks at Epsom, the Irish Oaks at the Curragh and the Yorkshire Oaks, Snowfall has long been considered a major contender for Europe’s premier middle-distance contest.

And while the daughter of Deep Impact suffered a shock defeat at the hands of the Roger Varian-trained Teona in the Prix Vermeille earlier this month, O’Brien remains optimistic ahead of the ParisLongchamp showpiece.

“She came out of the Vermeille very well – we’re very happy with her,” O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing on Wednesday.

“It was lovely for her to go round the track and we saw the way she coped with it. The ground was quick and we know that she’s very comfortable on soft ground.

“She’s a filly who gets a mile and a half well and it (Vermeille) was more of a trial.

“Frankie (Dettori) was very happy with her. Obviously she didn’t win, but I think her last six furlongs were the quickest of any horse in the race – she was really quickening and was going forward.

“Often in the trial, you’re better to get beat and things not go right than win and everything go right.

“She worked well this morning and we’re very happy with her at the moment.”

Love winning the Oaks at Epsom last season
Love winning the Oaks at Epsom last season (Bill Selwyn/PA)

Love was in a similar position to her stablemate Snowfall 12 months ago, having won the 1000 Guineas, the Epsom Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks – but missed out on a run in the Arc due to the prevailing testing conditions.

A year on, the Galileo filly is set to line up with plenty to prove following three successive defeats – most recently being touched off by La Petite Coco in the Blandford Stakes at the Curragh.

“We were delighted with her run (in the Blandford),” O’Brien added.

“The winner was rated 110 and she gave her 9lb, so it was a serious run – on ratings, it wasn’t far off her best.

“We went to the Curragh as a trial for the Arc and we think she’s really gone the right way since then.

“If the ground was nice, we were always planning on going to the Arc with her.”

Dettori confident Snowfall can thrive at ParisLongchamp

Snowfall aims to make it a perfect five out of five for this season in the Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

Aidan O’Brien’s filly is looking to cement her position as favourite for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe by winning her fourth successive Group One.

With Ryan Moore in action at the Curragh, Frankie Dettori has once again been called up by O’Brien, just as he was at Epsom for the Oaks.

Snowfall has followed a similar path to another great filly Dettori rode, Enable, in winning at Epsom, the Irish Oaks and then the Yorkshire Oaks – and the Italian can see the comparison.

“Snowfall is a champion. We can say that the ground was testing and that the opposition was average in the Oaks, but she won by 16 lengths – a record,” he said.

“She reminds me of Enable at the same age. I have ridden Snowfall just the once and the impression was amazing.

“At the Curragh she didn’t have to force her talent and, in the Yorkshire Oaks, she trotted up. It’s difficult to pinpoint her limits as she has won so easily each time.

“She had no problem in adapting to Epsom’s contours, so I think that ParisLongchamp won’t be a problem for her either.”

O’Brien also saddles Ioritz Mendizabal-ridden French Oaks winner Joan Of Arc, while Hollie Doyle rides La Joconde, just as she did when finishing third in the Yorkshire Oaks.

Snowfall was much too good for her rivals in the Yorkshire Oaks
Snowfall was much too good for her rivals in the Yorkshire Oaks (Nigel French/PA)

Of Snowfall, the Ballydoyle handler said: “Everything has gone well with Snowfall.

“We were delighted with her the last day at York and everything since then has gone well.

“The plan was, if she came out of that race well, to go for this race and it all seems fine at the moment.”

British hopes are carried by Roger Varian’s Teona, who was behind Snowfall in York’s Musidora Stakes and at Epsom, but has since returned to winning ways at Windsor.

Andre Fabre’s Burgarita, who was second to Thursday’s hugely impressive Doncaster winner Free Wind last time, also features.

Bolshoi Ballet bids to get back on the winning trail in the Prix Niel
Bolshoi Ballet bids to get back on the winning trail in the Prix Niel (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Prix Vermeille is one of three Arc trials on the card, with O’Brien represented by Bolshoi Ballet in the Prix Niel and Broome in the Prix Foy.

Bolshoi Ballet was a beaten favourite in the Derby at Epsom earlier in the year and has subsequently run twice in America – winning the Belmont Derby but finishing only fourth in the Saratoga equivalent.

“I thought Bolshoi Ballet ran very well at Saratoga, they went very fast for the first couple of furlongs but he ran a solid race. He’d won over 10 furlongs the time before and it was just a little shorter,” said O’Brien.

With a career-ending injury suffered on Friday morning ruling David Menuisier’s star filly Wonderful Tonight out of the Prix Foy, the biggest threat to Broome appears to be Jerome Reynier’s Skalleti.

Runner-up to Addeybb in last year’s Champion Stakes at Ascot, the six-year-old is unbeaten in four starts this year and tests the water over a mile and a half for the first time this weekend.

Reynier said: “It will open up some more options if he does stay a mile and a half. The Champion Stakes is definitely his main target this year, but we could be thinking of the Sheema Classic in Dubai with him next year if he’s happy with this trip.

“His full-brother Skazino is turning into a really good stayer, so we think our horse should be staying a mile and a half, especially when his running style means he can relax out the back.

“We’re quite hopeful. He needs a prep run before the Champion Stakes and rather than running in the Prix Dollar two weeks before this year, the plan is that he will go straight to Ascot after this.”

Prix Vermeille beckons for Snowfall

Aidan O’Brien’s Snowfall will head next to the Group One Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp as she seeks to continue her flawless three-year-old campaign.

The Deep Impact filly has been all-conquering this term, taking the Group Three Musidora Stakes before striding to a memorably emphatic 16-length victory in the Oaks at Epsom in June.

She then won the Irish Oaks at the Curragh by eight and a half lengths, and last month added the Yorkshire Oaks.

Snowfall’s next assignment is likely to be in France – bidding to give O’Brien a first success in the  Prix Vermeille, with stablemate Love also a possible runner in the same contest.

“At the moment we’re going to the Prix Vermeille with Snowfall,” said the Ballydoyle trainer.

“Love is also in that and is also in the Blandford (at the Curragh on Irish Champions Weekend). We’re kind of letting Love sit there at the moment, without putting her under any pressure, then we can put her in to wherever.

“She’s sitting there for all those big races next weekend, but she doesn’t have to go anywhere.

“She’s a filly we’re trying to keep for nice ground, and obviously the season is long and goes right into December.”

Love was last seen finishing third in the Juddmonte International at York’s Ebor meeting, six and a half lengths behind the brilliant Mishriff – before which she was also third in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Love will run only when conditions suit her
Love will run only when conditions suit her (David Davies/PA)

“The Juddmonte was a bit of a messy race for her,” added O’Brien.

“She’s a filly that likes a high tempo, and we felt we didn’t get that either in the King George or at York.

“She’s a very low action and puts her head out and tries very hard. Usually with those type of horses, it’s very hard for them to get out of the soft ground.

“We want to mind her and will only run her when it suits her.”

O’Brien also provided an update on plans for Santa Barbara, who has collected two Grade One wins in America this summer – in the Belmont Oaks and the Beverly D. Stakes.

“We’re very happy with her – she’s really starting to get it together,” he said.

“She obviously loves nice ground and she loves a flat, fast track.

Santa Barbara is a dual Grade One winner in America this summer
Santa Barbara is a dual Grade One winner in America this summer (PA)

“She’s a great traveller – that’s what she’s always shown us here.

“She’s in good form, and the plan is that she might go away for a racecourse gallop and then she might go back to Keeneland for a fillies’ race over nine furlongs – that is about four or five weeks away.

“We obviously have an eye on the Breeders’ Cup with her, and we just want to get a run into her between then and now.”

On English soil, O’Brien is considering sending a handful of runners to Doncaster for the Cazoo St Leger.

“We have plenty of possibilities,” he said.

“We have a lot of those horses that ran in (the Great Voltigeur at) York, and I’d imagine that is where it’s going to come from.

“We have the horse Frankie (Dettori) rode (Sir Lucan). We could have three or four in it.”

St Mark’s Basilica ‘on track’ for Irish Champion Stakes

Aidan O’Brien’s multiple Group One winner St Mark’s Basilica is on course to recover from a small setback and return to action in time for the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on September 11.

The three-year-old has won his last four races – all at Group One level – beginning in the Dewhurst last season.

This term he has landed the French Guineas, French Derby and the Coral-Eclipse, beating Addeybb and Mishriff – but he was forced to miss the Juddmonte International after a cut on his hind leg caused by a lost shoe became infected.

St Mark’s Basilica was brilliant in the Coral-Eclipse
St Mark’s Basilica was brilliant in the Coral-Eclipse (Nigel French/PA)

“St Mark’s Basilica is on the right road. It’s a case of all good so far and we’re on track,” said O’Brien.

O’Brien also had news of his two star fillies – Snowfall, currently favourite for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and Santa Barbara, who has won her last two starts in America and is set to head back out there.

“Snowfall is working towards the Prix Vermeille at the moment and Santa Barbara might go to Keeneland for a race in about six weeks. She has taken her trips to America very well, she loves it,” said O’Brien.

Snowfall in August delights York racegoers

Superstar filly Snowfall continued her relentless march towards Paris in October with another demolition job in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.

While trainer Aidan O’Brien insists the daughter of Japanese ace Deep Impact has always been held in high regard by those closest to her at Ballydoyle, her juvenile form suggested she was nowhere near the top of the yard’s Classic brigade.

A comeback trial win in York’s Musidora Stakes put her in the picture, but few could have envisaged the jaw-dropping 16-length thrashing she would give her rivals in the Oaks at Epsom, while she was similarly stunning in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh.

Snowfall was the 8-15 favourite to complete a treble last achieved by the brilliant Enable four years ago on the Knavesmire and produced another sensational performance that left even her trainer wondering just how high her ceiling of ability lies.

O’Brien said: “She’s a very exciting filly, isn’t she?

“She’s getting very relaxed and is really going to be ready for the autumn.”

Although her odds made this latest task seem a formality, on paper at least this was a far from straightforward assignment for Snowfall, with a multiple Group One-winning older filly in David Menuisier’s Wonderful Tonight representing her biggest test to date.

Just for a moment rounding the home turn it looked as if Ryan Moore had given his big rival plenty of rope, but Snowfall made up the ground in a matter of strides before finding a gear few thoroughbreds possess to leave both Wonderful Tonight and the rest trailing in her wake.

Connections of Snowfall following another sensational performance
Connections of Snowfall following another sensational performance (Nigel French/PA)

“She was very responsive when Ryan asked her to go there,” O’Brien added.

“Ryan said he saw William (Buick, on Wonderful Tonight) gone and when he asked her (Snowfall) to go with William he ended up being there in two strides.

“I think she caught Ryan out a little bit when he asked her to quicken.”

Just like Enable in 2017, Snowfall’s big aim will now be to beat the boys in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.

But while Enable headed straight for Europe’s premier middle-distance contest off the back of victory at York, O’Brien raised the possibility of his filly getting an early taste of the Paris air in an Arc trial next month.

He said: “I’ll have to talk to the lads (owners) and see what they want to do, but we could go to the Arc trial in Longchamp. If we want to have her run in between now and the Arc, that’s where she’ll go.

“This filly has always been exceptional. She’s not ground dependent, trip doesn’t bother her and she has a great mind and relaxes.

“She has really kept thriving since the last day. Physically she’s got very strong and has gone way up on the scales as well.”

It is hard to believe now, but Moore decided against riding Snowfall at Epsom in June in favour of stablemate Santa Barbara.

He was back on board at the Curragh, though, and it is a measure of just how impressive she was in completing the Oaks hat-trick that the usually reserved Moore was left wondering if he has ever enjoyed such a thrilling moment in the saddle.

Moore said: “The race started falling apart at the five-and-a-half (furlong marker) really, but as soon as I asked her to go after Wonderful Tonight she got there very quickly.

“She gave me an exceptional feel from the four down to the two and the race was over very quickly.

“Today, the performance was as good as anything I’ve felt.

“She definitely felt like today she was better than when I rode at the Curragh. Hopefully that’s a good sign and she continues to do that into the autumn.”

Snowfall in June, Snowfall in July and now Snowfall in August – it will be a brave man who bets against Snowfall again dominating the headlines on the first Sunday in October.

Snowfall dazzles again in Yorkshire Oaks

Snowfall gave another brilliant display when adding the Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York to her two Classic victories this summer.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained filly surged away from the opposition in the final two furlongs to land a third Group One after completing the English and Irish Oaks double in spectacular fashion.

The race went to plan for the O’Brien camp through the early stages, with stablemates La Joconde and Divinely occupying the first two places in the early stages and keeping the gallop honest.

Wonderful Tonight, considered the main rival to the 8-15 favourite, tried to stamp her authority on matters but the faster ground was against her and she could not quicken.

Snowfall was going easily and cruised into the lead in the hands of Ryan Moore to seal it in a matter of strides. Albaflora finished well to claim second place, with La Joconde third.

O’Brien said: “She’s a very good filly and has always done everything very easy.

“She quickens very well and now she’s laid back, she’s starting to really thrive and put on weight.

“She’s going to be really ready for the autumn, I think. She travels very well, gets there very easy and then waits.

“We always thought she was good. Last year was a bit of a mess with everything and she was probably rushed a bit too much.

“She did very well over the winter and she’s by Deep Impact out of a Galileo mare, so she’s got a very good pedigree and was always going to get better.”

Snowfall now heads the market for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and O’Brien added: “I’ll see what the lads want to do, but it’s very possible she could take in another run (before the Arc).

“We’d be very happy to take in another run, I’d imagine. It depends what the lads want to do – whether they want to go to an Arc trial or go straight to the Arc.”

“I’ll see what the lads want to do, but it’s very possible she could take in another run (before the Arc).

“We’d be very happy to take in another run, I’d imagine. It depends what the lads want to do – whether they want to go to an Arc trial or go straight to the Arc.”

Of Albaflora, Ralph Beckett said: “I’m chuffed to bits. There was a great deal of discussion whether we were even going to run (because of the ground), but she was really well and thriving at home. When the ball is at your feet you have to kick it.

All smiles for connections of Snowfall
All smiles for connections of Snowfall (Nigel French/PA)

“We didn’t win, I’m not sure we ever thought we were going to but I was pretty sure she’d run well if things went our way. She enjoys being ridden like that.

“To go and do that today when she’s really a soft ground filly as well is great. We’ll relax and then have a think about where next.”

Wonderful Tonight was fourth under William Buick, but David Menuisier was taking positives from her run.

He said: “William’s report was that she’s not the same filly on good ground as she is on soft. I told him before the race if he felt she wasn’t going on it to look after her. The plan today was to give her a good blow before the next step with the Arc as the target, and that’s what we did.

“I’m really happy with the run, considering the conditions were not in her favour so I think there was no harm done.

“Last year when she ran in the Vermeille on good to firm ground she ran a similar race to today, we know when the ground gets softer she can easily improve by 10 lengths or more. She’s basically the same filly she was last year on this sort of ground and that is why I’m not disappointed.

“We had to give it a go as I wanted her to have two races before the Arc as we saw at Goodwood that when she gets fresh she is keen.

“She switched off lovely today after a furlong and a half so she’s done nothing wrong, it’s just when it comes to the crunch she can’t find the gears whereas on soft she has another two gears – that’s the difference.

“Her next race will be at Longchamp, but it could be the Prix Foy rather than the Prix Vermeille because the fillies are better than the colts this year!”

Snowfall out to add Yorkshire Oaks to her Classic double

Snowfall bids to continue her faultless campaign by providing trainer Aidan O’Brien with a sixth victory in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.

It is 15 years since O’Brien’s Alexandrova added to her wins in the Oaks at Epsom and the Irish Oaks at the Curragh with a dominant display on the Knavesmire, and Snowfall will be a very short price to repeat the feat on Thursday.

Alexandrova was actually beaten in York’s Musidora Stakes in the spring of her three-year-old campaign, whereas Snowfall landed that recognised trial before winning by 16 and eight and a half lengths respectively to complete her Classic double.

The daughter of Japanese ace Deep Impact appeared to have her limitations exposed in Pattern company as a juvenile, but O’Brien is not surprised by the progress she has made since then.

“We always thought the world of her last year, but it never worked out,” the Ballydoyle handler told Racing TV.

“From the minute she started this year, everything has gone well, so far, and the lads are all very happy with her.

“She looks very good at the moment. She’s straightforward, relaxes and quickens and also looks like she gets a mile and a half very well.”

Snowfall has also proven herself tactically versatile – dominating from the front in the Musidora, before scything down her rivals both at Epsom and the Curragh.

O’Brien added: “She won at York, making the running herself, and in the Oaks, Frankie (Dettori) ended up dropping her in. We saw what she did there, and at the Curragh Ryan (Moore) took his time on her, and she quickened very well.

Wonderful Tonight is unbeaten in her last four races
Wonderful Tonight is unbeaten in her last four races (John Walton/PA)

“She comes on the bridle at the right time of the race. We haven’t had many by Deep Impact – but they have great minds, they quicken, and they seem to get better.”

The biggest threat to the odds-on favourite is David Menuisier’s stable star Wonderful Tonight.

A dual Group One winner last autumn, the four-year-old has picked up where she left off – landing both the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Lillie Langtry at Goodwood in impressive style.

She has plenty on her plate, conceding a 9lb weight-for-age allowance to Snowfall, with Menuisier viewing this race as a stepping-stone to her ultimate target – the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp in October.

“If she gets beaten by something on good ground, I won’t lose any sleep,” said the Sussex trainer.

“She’ll run a good race, and it’s another step towards the Arc – that’s how we see it. It will be interesting.

“We don’t really look at the opposition. We’re just looking at our own race and ticking the boxes we want to tick on the road to the Arc.”

John and Thady Gosden’s Loving Dream and the Roger Varian-trained Eshaada renew rivalry in the Qipco British Champions Series contest, having finished first and second in the Ribblesdale Stakes at the Royal meeting.

“She has won a Group Two, and it’s only fair for the filly to run in Group Ones,” John Gosden said of Loving Dream.

“We’re perfectly aware of the quality of the field. But she has done nothing wrong in her career.

“She’s a very genuine filly, and it’s nice to run in a Group One rather than carrying a penalty elsewhere.

“We’ll be hoping for a bold effort from her.”

With just three career starts under her belt, Varian is confident there is more improvement to come from Eshaada.

He said: “Eshaada is still very lightly raced and looks a high-calibre filly.

“I thought we were a touch unlucky when she was beaten at Royal Ascot. Take nothing away from the winner, who won nicely, but we were done no favours by a wide draw – and we covered a lot of ground that day.

“We’d thought the Ribblesdale was the race for her, and it nearly was.

“Eshaada is big and rangy, and she’s got middle-distances written all over her.”

Snowfall and Wonderful Tonight set for Yorkshire Oaks clash

Snowfall will face Wonderful Tonight as she bids to bring up an Oaks treble in the Darley-sponsored Yorkshire version on the Knavesmire on Thursday.

Aidan O’Brien’s Snowfall has improved out of all recognition this season for being stepped up in trip. She began her three-year-old campaign with a very impressive victory over 10 furlongs at York in the Musidora and has since won two Classics.

Firstly she powered through the rain to win the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom by 16 lengths before adding the Irish Oaks, where she triumphed by eight and a half lengths.

She will, however, face by far her toughest test to date in David Menuisier’s popular four-year-old Wonderful Tonight – herself a dual Group One-winner last season.

This term she has won the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Lillie Langtry at Goodwood.

Wonderful Tonight sets a high standard but she must concede a 9lb to Snowfall.

William Buick will maintain his partnership with Wonderful Tonight
William Buick will maintain his partnership with Wonderful Tonight (John Walton/PA)

Menuisier had alternative options in France for Wonderful Tonight, but has decided to head for the Knavesmire.

He said: “Obviously I’m hoping there’s a bit more rain, but if the ground is good we’ll give it a go.

“I’ve been in Deauville for four or five days and I’ve found that the ground is pretty chopped up. The weather forecast is not that positive for downpours and I’m sure the ground will be better in York than it is in Deauville.”

Menuisier revealed a fortnight ago that he had booked leading French jockey Olivier Peslier to ride Wonderful Tonight in October’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, with William Buick – who has steered her to her last three victories – likely to be required to ride for Godolphin.

The Newmarket-based Frenchman had hoped Peslier would also be available to partner his stable star in her prep races for Europe’s premier middle-distance contest, but Buick will be on board on Thursday.

Explaining the reasoning, Menuisier added: “William has been riding her in the UK first of all and Olivier just had a little operation yesterday (Monday) – he had to get a little chip removed in his knee.

“Olivier is actually sidelined for a week or 10 days and I’m delighted to have William on board on Thursday.”

O’Brien also runs Irish Oaks runner-up Divinely and La Joconde.

John and Thady Gosden run their Ribblesdale winner Loving Dream and she will meet Roger Varian’s Eshaada once again, who was second to her at Ascot.

Owner Kirsten Rausing runs the Ralph Beckett-trained Albaflora rather than Sir Mark Prescott’s Alpinista, who was second to Love in the race last year.

Andrew Balding’s Sandrine is the star attraction in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes.

Sandrine and David Probert have struck up a good relationship
Sandrine and David Probert have struck up a good relationship (David Davies/PA)

She has been very impressive to date in winning the Albany at Royal Ascot and the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket, striking up a good partnership with David Probert.

Ismail Mohammed’s Zain Claudette and the Stuart Williams-trained Desert Dreamer dominated the finish to the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot and clash again.

Hello You has her first start for David Loughnane since leaving Beckett, while Karl Burke’s Illustrating is another likely contender given the way she won at Goodwood.

Snowfall on the radar for York

Snowfall is one of 10 fillies left in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York on Thursday.

Brilliant in the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom when winning by 16 lengths, she followed up when winning her second Classic in the Irish Oaks by eight and a half lengths.

The daughter of the late Deep Impact already has a win at York to her name when taking the Musidora Stakes in May.

Her trainer Aidan O’Brien has also left in Love, last year’s Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks winner. She was last seen finishing third in the King George at Ascot behind Adayar.

Divinely, the Irish Oaks runner-up, is a third possible for Ballydoyle, with La Jaconde another.

David Menuisier’s Wonderful Tonight would be a fascinating runner should she be given the green light.

Having ended her three-year-old season with a brace of Group One wins she has won at Ascot and Goodwood so far this term – but there must be sufficient cut in the ground to enable her to run.

Owner Kirsten Rausing has Sir Mark Prescott’s Alpinista, who has won all three of her starts this season including a Group One in Germany, and Albaflora, trained by Ralph Beckett.

John and Thady Gosden could run Loving Dream, winner of the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot, while Roger Varian’s Eshaada, second in the Ribblesdale, could take her on again. Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Bharani Star is another possible.

Sandrine will head the market for the Lowther Stakes
Sandrine will head the market for the Lowther Stakes (Tim Goode/PA)

The Rausing-owned Sandrine is one of 17 fillies in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes.

Winner of the Albany at Royal Ascot, the Andrew Balding-trained youngster followed up in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes and must shoulder a 3lb penalty.

Zain Claudette and Desert Dreamer could meet again having dominated the finish of the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot, while Hello You could have her first start for David Loughnane.

Monday Musings: The Middle Distance Ranks Are Massing

Until Wednesday evening in Paris it was all plain sailing for Aidan O’Brien, writes Tony Stafford. He could pick his Group 1 spots for the rest of the year with his team of Classic colts and more plentiful top fillies and wait to see what presumably ineffectual opposition Europe’s other major stables would be able to throw at them.

But then along came Hurricane Lane, only third to lesser-fancied stable-companion Adayar in the Derby at Epsom but subsequently a workmanlike winner in the face of a good late challenge by English-trained Lone Eagle (Martin Meade) in the Irish Derby at The Curragh.

Neither run could have prepared us for the Frankel colt’s storming performance on Bastille Day (14 July) as he ripped away the home team’s barricades <couldn’t help myself> beating the Prix du Jockey Club also-rans with possibly more ease than St Mark’s Basilica had managed a month earlier.

Die-hard traditionalists have already been put in their place in France. In the old days the Jockey Club was 2400 metres (12 furlongs) in line with Epsom and The Curragh and was reduced to its present distance of 2100 metres in 2005.

That move coincided with the moving up to a mile and a half of the great Fête Nationale celebration race on a movable feast of an evening card at Longchamp. The Grand Prix de Paris, until the arrival of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1920, had been the most prestigious and valuable race in France and was run over 3000 metres (15 furlongs), and even 3100 metres for a shorter intervening period.

In 1987, though, it was reduced significantly in distance to 2000 metres (1m2f) and it was at that trip that Saumarez won the 1990 race prior to his victory in the Arc that October. Previously trained to place in the Dee Stakes at Chester by Henry Cecil, Saumarez made Nicolas Clement, who had recently taken over the stable when his father Miguel died, the youngest-ever trainer to win France’s greatest race.

It works for France because, as Hurricane Lane showed so eloquently, a horse could run in and even win either or both the Epsom and Irish Derby, or indeed the Jockey Club, and there would still be time to prepare him for the Grand Prix.

That is just what Charlie Appleby did with such skill and the most notable element of it was how much he had in hand of the William Haggas colt Alenquer whose form with Adayer in the Sandown Classic Trial over ten furlongs in the spring appeared to give him a collateral edge on Hurricane Lane.

Alenquer not only beat Adayer on the Esher slopes but afterwards comfortably won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot. But he was put in his place as Hurricane Lane stormed <that verb again!> six lengths clear of Wordsworth, first home of the O’Brien trio. It looked at first appraisal a major improvement on The Curragh but closer inspection reveals that Wordsworth had been beaten slightly further in his home Classic.

So where does that leave Adayer? Well, according to a conversation Charlie Appleby had with a friend who visited his luxurious stables in Newmarket before racing on Saturday, Adayer is fancied to run a very strong race as he faces up to last year’s O’Brien Classic superstar, Love, in Saturday’s King George.

The filly has the edge in the market after her comeback win over an inadequate ten furlongs in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot but Appleby, mindful that the weight-for-age scale favours three-year-olds, is by all accounts confident he will do so. Love concedes 8lb to the Derby hero while William Muir and Chris Grassick’s Coronation Cup hero Pyledriver gives him 11lb. Ascot is also the probable target for Lone Eagle.

Like O’Brien, Appleby is a modest man who often deflects praise to the people around him. Indeed as my friend left, Charlie said, “If you couldn’t train horses from here, where could you?”

Guesses that maybe St Mark’s Basilica might step up in distance on Saturday have been scuppered by his trainer’s single-mindedly pointing him towards the Juddmonte International. Those three days in York next month will also feature the next step towards the stars of Snowfall, following in the footprints of Love from a year ago by taking in the Yorkshire Oaks.

By the way, Jim, get my room ready! I’ll see how my first day back racing on Saturday at Ascot goes and then I might take the liberty of giving you a call. Where have I been? Too busy with all this Covid lark, mate, but I have been thinking of you!

However short a price Love was on what was to prove her last run of 2020 after the easy wins in the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks, the latter by nine lengths, 4-9 will be looking a gift if that is available about Snowfall. Could be 1-5!

Many felt the exaggerated superiority, indeed a UK Classic record-winning margin of 16 lengths, could in part be ascribed to the very testing ground at Epsom. Just as many were predicting that on faster ground in Saturday’s Irish Oaks she might go for economy.

Leading two furlongs out under Ryan Moore, delighted to be riding her for only the second time – he was on board for the shock Musidora win at York on May 12 three weeks before Epsom and that Frankie Dettori benefit – she drew away by eight-and-a-half lengths in majestic style.

As we know, the Coolmore boys like all the boxes ticked and the opportunities covered, but I can categorically tell you that they did not expect her to win at York. Even when she did, the beaten horses’ connections were dreaming up reasons why you could not trust the result.

After all she was rated only a modest 90 on the back of her juvenile exploits, the most memorable apart from winning a small maiden race was the mix up when she wore the wrong colour hat when well behind in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket last autumn.

After the Epsom and Curragh regal processions there is only one place you would consider for a soft-ground loving but equally comfortable on quicker turf three-year-old filly of her status - the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. It took me a while – having discarded my European Pattern Races 2021 book with hundreds of others in advance of a hoped-for downsizing move – to work out why she had not been one of the dozen O’Brien horses entered for the Arc.

Six older male horses – Mogul, Broome, Armory, Serpentine, Japan and Inisfree (where’s he been for 20 months?) – are supplemented by Love. The five three-year-olds are the colts St Mark’s Basilica, along with domestic Classic flops Bolshoi Ballet, High Definition and hard-working Van Gogh whose dance in four Classics (the UK and Irish Guineas, when third behind Mac Swiney, and French and Irish Derby) brought that one positive result.

That left room for one filly and, considering Santa Barbara took until last week to gain Grade 1 winning honours in the New York Oaks while four of her supposedly inferior female counterparts beat her to it, the evidence is there. They did indeed think she was far and away the best.

At least that was the case until 3.15 p.m. on the afternoon of May 12. The Arc closed at France Galop’s HQ around four-and-three-quarter hours earlier.  Now they have to wait until September 27 to get her in and pay a heavy penalty to do so.

In all, 101 horses made it. I am sure that date is writ large on the Racing Office wall and, if she enjoys another exhibition round back at the Yorkshire track she first consented to tell her trainer and owners how good she is, the supplementary entry will be made. Chances to win the race do not come along very often.

For all his and his owners’ successes in big races around Europe and in the US, the Arc has proved elusive. Two victories, with four-year-olds Dylan Thomas in 2007 and the brilliant filly Found five years ago, leave him still with a blank to fill. No Ballydoyle three-year-old has won the race since the days of Vincent O’Brien, who took the first of his two Arcs with Alleged in 1977. His second win, doubling up for Lester Piggott the year after followed Ballymoss in 1958, showed once again just how tough a race it is to win.

As mentioned, two O’Brien fillies are entered, Love and Santa Barbara. The latter might continue to make up for her earlier limitations in the Nassau Stakes next week but, as we know, a trio of Classic-winning alternatives, Joan Of Arc, Mother Earth and Empress Josephine, are equally qualified to step in and possibly pick up the Goodwood fillies’ Group 1.

Meanwhile Kevin Ryan has been exploiting the early juvenile Group contests in France with Atomic Force. Beaten first time out and gelded before a win in a small race at Hamilton, Ryan took him to Longchamp last month and he won Group 3 Prix du Bois nicely.

Returning yesterday for the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin, he started 2-1 on and bolted up. He will probably return for the Prix Morny at Deauville next month. Having watched that win the Sky Sports Racing team suggested the Nunthorpe might be an option given how much weight juveniles get from their elders. This year though that could be a hot race if newcomers on the Group 1 sprinting scene like Ed Walker’s Starman and Tim Easterby’s flying filly Winter Power turn up.

- TS

Snowfall pours it on at the Curragh for Oaks double

Snowfall gave another blistering performance to became the 15th filly to complete the English/Irish Oaks double at the Curragh.

Aidan O’Brien’s filly had blitzed her rivals at Epsom to win by a record margin of 16 lengths and she produced a similar display on home soil in the Juddmonte-sponsored Irish equivalent.

Having scared off a lot of the opposition, Snowfall was the 2-7 favourite and she did not disappoint.

The early running was made by one of her three stablemates, La Joconde, in the eight-runner line-up, with Nicest and Willow close up.

Ryan Moore had Snowfall just off the pace until the field turned for home and it was not long before she made her move – and once she hit the front two furlongs out there was only going to be one outcome.

Snowfall opened up and was simply away and gone from the others, scoring by eight and a half lengths to provide O’Brien with a sixth triumph in the race.

Divinely was second to give the Ballydoyle handler a one-two. Nicest, trained by O’Brien’s son, Donnacha, was half a length away in third.

Snowfall was cut to 4-1 from 5-1 for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with Coral and 4-1 from 11-2 with Paddy Power.

O’Brien said: “She’s very smart and she has a lot of quality.

“We purposely let her down a little bit from Epsom because the season is going to roll on and it was soft ground at Epsom.

“The plan was to come here, go on to the Yorkshire Oaks and then she’d be ready for the autumn.

“I’m delighted with her and she’s done very well from Epsom physically, she’s got very big and strong.

“Ryan said she has a lot of speed. She goes very strong and she finishes out very well.

“We’ll go one race at a time now, the Yorkshire Oaks first.”

On her two-year-old form, O’Brien said: “She’s a filly that always had a lot of natural ability and we had to get her to relax a little bit so we didn’t worry too much about it as we were always concentrating on switching her off.

Snowfall looks a picture at the Curragh
Snowfall looks a picture at the Curragh (PA)

“Things went against her. Her first run was over five and a half furlongs in Navan and Mother Earth was second.

“Then she came back here to a maiden and Seamus (Heffernan) nearly fell off her. That’s why it took a few runs to win a maiden and it might have been a blessing in disguise as she became very mature and grown up from it mentally.

“Because she was busy early in the season it might have took its toll at the end of the season – even though she was perfect mentally, physically she had a good few runs.

“Herself and Mother Earth ran in the Fillies’ Mile and we were nearly siding with her over Mother Earth. That’s what we always thought of her.

“She’s a home-bred for the lads as well, she has some pedigree.

“We always thought fast ground was her thing and I was very worried in Epsom about her with that ground.”