So You Think easily held off the late challenge of Snow Fairy to capture the $1,008,500 Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) at Leopardstown Sept. 3.
The victory in the 10-furlong Champion over five rivals earned the son of New Zealand-bred son of High Chaparral an automatic berth in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) as part of the “Win and You’re In” series sponsored by the Breeders’ Cup.
Breeders' Cup will pay the $90,000 entry fees for the winning stable to start in the BC Turf and provide a $20,000 travel allowance to Louisville.
A field of six, four of them group I winners, went to the post in the Irish Champion, with So You Think sent off as the heavy 1-4 favorite. The Aidan O’Brien trainee was making his first start since July 2, when he defeated Workforce in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) at Sandown. He was looking to add yet another group I victory to his resume, which already boasted seven wins at the highest level.
With most of the wagering going to So You Think, the rest of the Champion field went off as overlays. Multiple group I winner Snow Fairy was the second betting choice at odds of 6-1. The Ed Dunlop trainee was partnered once again with jockey Frankie Dettori, who rode her in her previous start, a second-place finish to Midday in the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes (Ire-I) July 30.
O’Brien sent out two other challengers in the race in the form of group I winners Roderic O'Connor and Recital. Roderic O’Connor captured the Abu Dhabi Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) earlier this season, while Recital won the Criterium de Saint-Cloud (Fr-I) as a juvenile.
The field was rounded out by the ultra-consistent Famous Name, a Dermot Weld trainee who was a multiple stakes winner and had notched nine victories over the Leopardstown course, and Dunboyne Express, a stakes-winning son of Shamardal.
At the start it was Roderic O’Connor who went to the lead to set the pace under Joseph O’Brien. The pair opened up a three-length lead early on as they set a strong pace.
So You Think galloped along easily in second under Seamie Heffernan. Snow Fairy tracked them from third. Famous Name and Dunboyne Express raced in fourth and fifth, respectively, as Recital, who raced keenly under Colm O’Donoghue, brought up the rear.
Roderic O’Connor continued to show the way for much of the race. With two furlongs to go So You Think made his move, rolling past his stablemate and opening up a slight lead. Dettori was hard at work aboard Snow Fairy, and the daughter of Intikhab came charging up on the outside to challenge for the lead.
So You Think and Snow Fairy dueled through the final furlong, with So You Think holding off the filly to win by a half-length. It was another six lengths back to Famous Name in third, with Dunboyne Express taking fourth.
The final time for the 10 furlongs was 2:04.20 over the good turf course.
Plans remain unclear for So You Think, who has entries in several big races around the world. John Magnier, one of the partners who manage the horse, told reporters, “He could run in the mile race at Ascot (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes), the mile-and-a-quarter race (QIPCO Champion Stakes), or he could run in the Arc.”
Regarding a return trip to Australia for the Cox Plate (Aus-I), Magnier said, “You could never say never, but it’s not imminent.”
O’Brien added, “We’ll discuss things during the week now as to where he’ll go next. He cruises through his races and all options are open to him. He is an incredible specimen of a thoroughbred.”
So You Think races for the partnership of Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier, Dato Tan, and T. Yahaya. He was bred in New Zealand by M.J. Moran and Piper Farm Ltd., and is out of the mare Triassic, a stakes-winning daughter of Tights.