09/03/2011 4:00PM

Leopardstown: So You Think beats Snow Fairy in Irish Champion


So You Think won his third Group 1 race of the year, but his manner of victory in the Irish Champion Stakes on Saturday at Leopardstown in Ireland did not match up with his overwhelming favoritism in the race.

Challenged about a quarter-mile from the finish by Snow Fairy, So You Think could never shake clear of that filly, holding on to win by a half-length after an exciting stretch run.

So You Think settled into second place in the 1 1/4-mile Irish Champion as his stablemate, 3-year-old Roderic O’Connor, made the lead and set the pace. Jockey Seamie Heffernan let So You Think range up to engage the leader before the quarter pole and briefly took a clear lead before Snow Fairy came up to his flank to challenge. The result remained slightly in doubt, but So You Think held gamely, with Snow Fairy failing to gain on the winner through the final furlong. It was another six lengths back to Famous Name in third. Winning time over going rated good was 2:04.40.

So You Think, a 5-year-old New Zealand-bred by High Chaparral, was imported from Australia and turned over to trainer Aidan O’Brien late last year. He now has won 12 of his 17 starts and finished worse than third only once in an awesome career. In June, he was nailed late by the ill-fated Rewilding in the 1 1/2-mile Princes of Wales’s Stakes, but returned to take the measure of champion Workforce in his most recent start, the July 2 Eclipse Stakes.

Upcoming plans for So You Think are uncertain, but three races are possible: The Queen Elizabeth II at Ascot in October, where he could meet unbeaten 3-year-old Frankel over one mile; the 1 1/4-mile Champion Stakes at Newmarket; and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

◗ Emulous, making her first start in Group 1competition, easily won the one-mile Matron Stakes earlier on the Leopardstown card Saturday.

Trained by Dermot Weld and ridden by Pat Smullen, Emulous rallied from the back of an eight-horse field and finished three lengths in front of runner-up Together, with favored Misty for Me a one-paced third.

The runner-up and third-place finisher are trained by Aidan O’Brien.

◗ Dream Ahead prevailed over 15 rivals in a roughly run edition of the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup on Saturday at Haydock in England. Dream Ahead, ridden by William Buick for trainer David Simcock, came out a nose in front of Bated Breath with Hoof It a head back in third after a bumpy final furlong of the six-furlong sprint.