Ballydoyle flagbearer So You Think was every bit the professional in the G1 Irish Champion Stakes (2000m) at Leopardstown on Saturday.
So You Think (NZ) had to fight off a determined challenge from G1 mare Snow Fairy before holding on to score by a half-length. He had been off the scene since winning the G1 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown July 2.
“We were a bit worried about the break,” trainer Aidan O’Brien said. “But he’s getting more mature. He’s an incredible specimen and an unbelievable looking thoroughbred.”
So You Think (5h High Chaparral – Triassic by Tights) enjoyed a perfect run into the lead from stablemate Roderic O’Connor (Galileo) before Seamie Heffernan went for home at the 400m pole. Snow Fairy momentarily appeared she could conjure an upset but the winner stayed on strongly.
“All options are open,” O’Brien said after saddling a seventh winner of this prize since the turn of the century. “He could go back to a 1600m or go up to 2400m so the Arc de Triomphe is in the equation. Wherever we decide to go, but it’s a privilege to have him.”
The Irish Champion Stakes has emerged as a leading staging post on the international calendar and has boasted some serious showdowns in recent years. Fantastic Light v Galileo and Dylan Thomas v Ouija Board immediately come to mind.
“He idled a bit in front and gave a blow,” Heffernan said. “When you are on him, you are on the king of the road. Settling him was going to be a bit of a problem, but I was confident I could do that after the Eclipse. When he settles, he will go over any trip.”
Coolmore owner John Magnier indicated another Cox Plate campaign was off the agenda. “You never say never because he’s the kind of horse who spoils you for options and we aren’t going to rush into a decision.
“He’s no different to what he was in Australia. He’s a real dual-hemisphere horse, so he’s a rare type and his record is there for everyone to see.”