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Saturday 18 August 2018

Think in the frame for shot at Arc

SNOW Fairy put it right up to So You Think but the Aidan O'Brien-trained, Australian-imported champion rose to the top and justified both his lofty reputation and short-priced favouritism in what proved to a magnificent contest in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

As with most big winners to emerge from the mighty Ballydoyle, future Group One engagements are not scarce and where connections go next is still up in the air.

Wherever So You Think pitches up next, the competition is set to be fierce, but he has choices in four countries and three different continents this season.

A return to his one-time homeland of Australia appears extremely unlikely, while the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe has to be a serious contender now as the Epsom Derby winner Pour Moi -- also Coolmore owned -- has been retired.

A trip to Paris on the first weekend of next month would see So You Think face another battle with last year's Arc winner Workforce -- who he has already overturned this season -- but it would be a step up to 1m4f.



Powerhouse

Should the ground come up soft in France, the Arc would all but be ruled out, but that will have to be a relatively late call.

One of the most intriguing clashes Flat racing would see for some time would be if So You Think ends up in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Champions Day, where he would likely meet another powerhouse in Frankel.

The two colts are the most talked about in training this season and certainly two real champions that would have So You Think's speed, which is often talked about by connections, tested to the very highest level.

Also on Champions Day at Ascot, the English Champion Stakes would be on the agenda -- and one of those races will certainly be the plan if Paris is shelved.

Seamie Heffernan, who modestly described his post at Ballydoyle as "a position to fall in for opportunities", was full of praise for the colt who he described as "king of the road" when riding him.

Although it looked for just a stride or two that Snow Fairy might cause a major upset, Heffernan declared that he was always confident of victory.

"He idled a bit in front and I was always sure I was going to hold Frankie (Dettori). He even gave a bit of a blow."

O'Brien admitted that the quarantine issues would restrict any plans to return to Australia, but confirmed "nothing is ruled in or out".



Comfortable

"He's an unusual horse as he could come back to a mile, or go a mile and a quarter," he said. "He has never tried a mile and a half but with Pour Moi out of the Arc, that is a possibility and the door is open."

"It was a long time since he ran so that is always a bit of a worry obviously, and we didn't want to commit five-furlongs out. Seamie gave him a great ride. He said he always felt comfortable."

This is a horse who may not race on next year, with a lucrative stud career beckoning, but he has the credentials to end this season on a massive high.

Top marks go to Leopardstown and whoever decided that Champion Stakes Day should follow in the footsteps of the Punchestown Festival by making the meeting a twilight card. A crowd of 8,289 attended the meeting.

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