09/08/2012 3:24PM

Leopardstown: Snow Fairy shows kick in Irish Champion Stakes

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Snow Fairy hurt a tendon in her leg last winter while preparing for a race in Hong Kong, but she has come back from that injury at least the equal of the horse she was before it.

Snow Fairy won her comeback race Aug. 19 at Deauville in France, the Group  1 Romanet, but bagged a bigger prize Saturday at Leopardstown in Ireland, out-kicking Nathaniel to capture the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes by 1  1/4 lengths.

The Irish Champion being part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, Snow Fairy’s win earned her a fees-paid berth into the Breeders Cup Turf. Her trainer, Ed Dunlop, talked after the race like Snow Fairy’s connections would send her to California this fall, though whether for the BC Turf or Filly and Mare Turf he did not specify. Dunlop won the Filly and Mare Turf in 2004 and 2006 with Ouija Board.

Snow Fairy rated comfortably in fourth as Daddy Long Legs set a quick pace for his better-qualified stablemate, St Nicholas Abbey, with Nathaniel racing second, several lengths behind in the early going. Daddy Long Legs led down the back straightaway and partway around the race’s one full turn, but Nathaniel closed in and moved aggressively to the front under William Buick a little less than a half-mile from the finish. Racing at top flight at the head of the home straight, Nathaniel soon was confronted by Snow Fairy, who turned her legs over more quickly than Nathaniel and sped past in the final furlong. The winner, second-favorite to Nathaniel, was timed in a fast 2:00.92 seconds for 1 1/4 miles on good-to-firm going.

Snow Fairy, a 5-year-old Irish-bred mare by Intikhab, was a bargain auction purchase. She won for the ninth time in 21 starts, with seven of those wins – three in East Asia – having come at the Group 1 level.

Last year’s BC Turf winner, St Nicholas Abbey, turned in a creditable performance to finish third, beaten three quarters of a length by Nathaniel at a distance probably a quarter-mile short of his best. Light Heavy, Born to Sea, and a spent Daddy Long Legs completed the order of finish.

◗ At Haydock Park in England, Society Rock captured the Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup by three-quarters of a length over Gordon Lord Byron. Bated Breath finished third and favored Ortensia came home 12th. Ortensia was said by her connections to have cut her right fetlock in the the six-furlong race.