Purchasing a potential champion at the sales is not for the faint of heart. Expensive purchases bring no guarantee of success.
Similarly, the best racehorses do not always make the best stallions. Frankel is certainly producing the goods in the breeding shed but, although Soul Stirring was his first Group/Grade One winner, his on-course rival, Nathaniel, has defeated him in the race to sire a first classic winner in the UK or Ireland.
Nathaniel’s daughter, Enable, was scintillating in the stormy weather at Epsom in the Oaks and confirmed her ability with a smooth victory in the Irish equivalent.
The last filly to complete the Oaks double was Snow Fairy (by Intikhab out of Woodland Dream (Charnwood Forest) ) who achieved the feat in 2010. Her greatest performance came in her final start when she defeated none other than Nathaniel in the Irish Champion Stakes. By this time, her status as an exceptional filly was assured.
Her auction history proves how difficult finding a champion at the sales can be.
Snow Fairy went through the ring for just 1,800 euros- the price of a used car – at the 2008 Tattersalls Ireland December Flat Sale and her breeder, Cristina Patino, decided to race her in her own colours. On her first start in June 2009, Snow Fairy finished third in what the Racing Post described at the time as a “modest maiden.” She would break her maiden in July but didn’t win again until that remarkable three year old season in 2010.
A brave victory in the Listed Height of Fashion Stakes, in which Snow Fairy stumbled badly at the break, convinced her owners to supplement her for the Oaks at a cost of £20,000. This seemed like money wasted with just a few furlongs to go.
Snow Fairy had one beaten swinging into the Epsom straight and was blocked by a wall of retreating horses. However, Ryan Moore deftly dodged the traffic and his filly battled past Meeznah and Remember When to take the Classic.
A laughably easy romp in the Irish Oaks followed to complete the double. The rest of Snow Fairy’s career sets a lofty standard for Enable to match.
Like Ouija Board, who was another Ed Dunlop star, Snow Fairy set out to conquer lucrative races in the East following her defeats in the Yorkshire Oaks and St Leger.
A change of scenery seems to have invigorated her as she sauntered clear in the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup at Kyoto before showing her trademark heart to seize the Hong Kong Cup by a neck at Sha Tin.
Snow Fairy successfully defended her Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup title the following year to become the first international horse to win two Group Ones in Japan.
It was her only victory as a four year old but she was placed in the Qatar Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe behind crack filly ,Danedream, and also finished third in the Champion Stakes that year.
Unfortunately, tendon problems truncated Snow Fairy’s career. She made a belated return as a five year old by winning the Darley Prix Jean Romanet in August at Deauville. She was disqualified as medication used to treat her tendon troubles was found in her system. However, Snow Fairy’s racing days ended in appropriate fairy-tale fashion with her determined defeat of Nathaniel and St Nicholas Abbey at Leopardstown. Although she is much better bred than Snow Fairy.