So You Think likely to duck QEII and Frankel
Arc or Champion Stakes could top the agenda after Leopardstown victory over Snow Fairy
The three trials over course and distance next Sunday can hardly fail to prompt a fresh assessment, but perhaps the key piece of form for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is already in the book. For Paris is under consideration for both So You Think and Snow Fairy, who shared such a terrific duel at Leopardstown on Saturday. And if the majority were mistaken, in expecting things to be easy for So You Think, then they should not compound that misjudgement by treating his half-length success as any kind of diminishment.
Even to those who had protested that she deserved more respect, the filly never quite looked like getting past the indolent winner and her connections may well be inclined to avoid So You Think next time. But Ed Dunlop, her trainer, admits himself "very tempted" by the Arc, and odds of 20-1 would look very big if So You Think were instead to wait for Ascot 13 days later.
Ostensibly, his options there include both the Qipco Champion Stakes, over 10 furlongs, and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, over a mile. The latter would expose him to that lightning bolt Frankel and so provide a persuasive test of the dauntless claims made for So You Think since he arrived from Australia. It seems fanciful, however, to imagine So You Think's owners at Coolmore looking for trouble of that order with this precious stallion prospect. At the same time, the onus is surely on them to explore something different in a horse they have confined to one distance since importing him to Europe. And, having lost Pour Moi to injury, Longchamp makes a lot of sense. Now that he is settling so well, the longer distance could draw better still from a horse whose most destructive asset is the ravenous length of his stride.
Wherever he goes next, it would be gratifying to think they might then dare to proceed to the Breeders' Cup Classic – especially if connections of Frankel persist in their intention of restricting him to barely 100 seconds of racing after July. The Classic would represent a bet to nothing for So You Think, in that failure to handle dirt would not take a cent off his stud value, whereas success would introduce him to a lucrative new market. The home defence looks by no means intimidating, while So You Think's relentless, powerful style makes him very eligible for dirt.
The Classic has long been a target for his stablemate, Await The Dawn, but he must regroup after returning from his York failure with a temperature. Three years ago, moreover, Coolmore showed their hunger for the Classic by running both Henrythenavigator and Duke Of Marmalade – when each might have started favourite for turf races on the same card.
In finishing second that day, Henrythenavigator produced one of few recent highlights in what has become a fairly chastening sequence of results at the Breeders' Cup. It will be fascinating, then, to see Coolmore's priorities in the meantime. The bottom line is that So You Think would start a much shorter price for the Champion Stakes than either of his alternative options – and it does carry a newly engorged purse. His owners must decide, however, whether they have still bigger fish to fry, against either Frankel or the French.
In his absence, certainly, Snow Fairy herself would be a legitimate contender for either the Arc or the Champion. Alternatively, she could just get So You Think out of her hair by taking on her own sex in the Prix de l'Opera.
It would be mesmerising to see what the Americans might make of Mick Easterby, were he to take Hoof It to the Breeders' Cup, but it sounds as though they must wait another year. Easterby, now eyeing the Prix de l'Abbaye, is contemplating an appeal against the "timid" decision of the Haydock stewards not to relegate Dream Ahead for interference in the big sprint there on Saturday. Hoof It was third, in a desperate finish, but the stewards were not satisfied that Hoof It lost sufficient momentum for Dream Ahead to have definitively improved his position.
If these equivocations seem instructive of the sprint division overall, then none are required in saluting the way David Simcock has seized the biggest opportunity of his career to date. Earlier in the summer, it seemed by no means evident that Dream Ahead had trained on, but this is now the fourth race Simcock has won in eight consecutive Group One starts with a colt who cost just £36,000 at the Doncaster Breeze-Ups.
* Chris McGrath's Nap
Circus Clown (4.20 Newcastle)
Improvement over hurdles made him look well treated on the Flat and he built on a comeback success when finishing clear of the pack last time..
* Next best
Seeking Magic (3.10 Bath)
Readily forgiven a disappointing effort on soft ground last time, having previously shaped as though he would reward connections' patience with an unlucky third at Kempton.
* One to watch
Miss Cap Estel (Andrew Balding) has a middle-distance pedigree and laid foundations for next year at Salisbury on Thursday, keeping on from midfield.
* Where the money's going
Gramercy is 20-1 from 33-1 with Paddy Power for the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup.
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