Racing: Time critical for Snipe's prospects

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The Independent Online
RUN No. 6 for Snipe Hall at Newmarket today, which may mark the closing stages of the race to compress her ability into a short career, writes Richard Edmondson.

The fingers of John Wharton, the filly's trainer, have been blackened by the programme book and he now fears that the career of Snipe Hall, who runs in this afternoon's Cherry Hinton Stakes at Newmarket, is almost over less than three months after it started.

'I've looked through the alternatives and there's nothing suitable apart from this race,' he said yesterday. 'I could wait to the Lowther Stakes (at York), but all these would all be there again, and probably more, and it's not often you get a Group race with only seven opponents.

'I can't see her winning a Group race as a three-year-old, if she's going to win a Group race I think it's going to have to be this year, and now she's Group-race placed and she's won a Listed race, it's going to be almost impossible for her next year.'

That Snipe Hall was out of the ordinary became clear during early-spring work as she disappeared into the gloom on Wharton's Melton Mowbray gallops. 'It was February time when we were working them in twos and threes,' the trainer said. 'She'd been working with two-year-olds that had run, Valiant Man for instance, and she was obviously quicker than him and he won at Kempton.'

In a team of just eight two-year- olds, Snipe Hall has been more than a standard bearer for her small stable. She has lifted the whole castle, with four victories and a second in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Along the way, the filly has been soothed by a day trip to Southwell. 'She got a bit buzzed up at Windsor so we thought we'd give her a day out at the races without actually having a race,' Wharton says.

'So we just took her to Southwell, led her up like a runner, put a saddle on her and just let her go out onto the course after racing. She had a hack down and a canter back again and it certainly helped. She didn't get so buzzed up when she went to Beverley.'

Despite Snipe Hall's achievements, there is little in Wharton's words to suggest that when she goes her remains will be preserved in a pot and visited with garlands. He tends to call her 'it'.

'It's quick,' he says. 'And she's been eating well and the blood is as good as it was last time. But it'll need a lot of luck tomorrow.' If Snipe Hall does provide John Wharton with his first Group success this afternoon, however, he may be moved to be a little more sentimental.

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