One of the Flat season's most successful globetrotters, Snow Fairy, has made it safely back to her Newmarket base after sustaining an injury in Hong Kong. But though the four-year-old filly is hors de combat, that is judged only a temporary setback and she is set to race again next season.
Snow Fairy, last year's Oaks heroine, has become a public favourite for her talent and determined attitude, in victory and defeat. She picked up five places in as many ventures in top company in Europe this term, including third places in both the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Champion Stakes 13 days apart, before a second successive success in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Kyoto, Japan, last month.
Cristina Patino's homebred, trained by Ed Dunlop, was being prepared for a tilt at Sunday's Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin when she picked up an injury to her left foreleg during a routine canter. Earlier this year, she hurt her right foreleg when in Dubai, a setback which kept her off the track until July, and her reappearance as a five-year-old is similarly not likely to be until the summer.
"Her injury will require a fair amount of time to heal," reported Dunlop yesterday, "but she's been examined by our vet and the decision has been made that she won't be retired. Mrs Patino has sportingly decided that she is prepared to give her every chance to return to the racecourse next year."
Snow Fairy's story is one of rags-to-riches romance; when offered for sale at auction as a yearling, a buyer could not be found, even at just €1,800. She has since earned more than £3.5m, including £1.5m this year.
The potential value of such as Snow Fairy was apparent last week in Newmarket, scene of an extraordinary spending frenzy as global high rollers invested in blue-blooded pregnant mares, the seedcorn of the business, with one day's trading alone in the Tattersalls auction ring producing turnover of £26.5m for 160 animals. The top individual price was the £2.5m given by the Coolmore partners for Sumora, whose attractions are that she is dam of the unbeaten juvenile Maybe, a half-sister to this year's Oaks winner Dancing Rain and is in-foal to Galileo.
Another of this year's high achievers, Frankel, yesterday added a unique accolade to his CV, becoming the first equine recipient of the discretionary President's Award at the 45th annual Horserace Writers' & Photographers' Association lunch in London. Others recognised included Tony McCoy (for the 13th time), Donald McCain, Sylvestre de Sousa, Sir Henry Cecil and, posthumously and emotionally, Michael Jarvis.
Chris McGrath's Nap Secret Edge (12.40 Fontwell) Came up against two very smart ones last time on ground quick enough and, well-regarded himself and with conditions to suit, can regroup against lesser opposition.
Next best Alexander Road (1.20 Sedgefield)
Suited by soft ground and a test of stamina over hurdles and has the size and scope to apply those qualities to fences.
One to watch A maiden victory, at the very least, looks a formality for Zaina (Gerard Butler) after her eyecatching debut effort in a maiden race at Lingfield on Friday.
Where the money's going Great Endeavour and Quantitativeeasing, first and second in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month, are sharing favouritism at around 6-1 for their rematch in Saturday's Spinal Research Gold Cup.