International racing megastar So You Think retained their favouritism in the markets for next month’s prestigious Prix De L’Arc de Triomphe 2011 in France with a blistering win in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.
Formerly prepared in Australia by the legendary Bart Cummings, So You Think pleased his current trainer Aidan O’Brien with their fourth stakes victory from five attempts since joining the Irish horseman’s stables at the end of last year.
Backing up from their strong win over Workforce in the Group 1 Coral Eclipse Stakes (2018m) in July, So You Think, ridden by Seamie Heffernan, was again impressive in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes (2000m) holding off a late challenge by the Ed Dunlop-trained Snow Fairy to win by half a length and join an honours list that includes his sire High Chaparral.
O’Brien was initially concerned that the 63 day break between runs may have taken its toll on So You Think, but the dual Cox Plate champion looked as fit as ever with their gutsy performance to salute as the 1-4 favourite.
“It’s a long time since he ran, we gave him a good break and we were a bit worried about that,” O’Brien said.
“We knew he’d be there to be shot at and Snow Fairy would stalk and that they would have her spot-on.
“He was very professional when she put it up to him.
“He’s getting more relaxed and mature and you could see that in the parade ring.”
Where to next for So You Think is still being negotiated, but a return down under for vie for a third successive win in the weight-for-age championship of Australasia, the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 is looking less and less likely.
“We’ll discuss things during the week now as to where he’ll go next,” O’Brien said.
“There’s still concerns with quarantine and the training facilities there are not ideal for a big horse like him.
“He cruises through his races and all options are open to him.
“He is an incredible specimen of a thoroughbred.”
Owner John Magnier, Coolmore Racing’s head manager, confirmed that the 2011 Cox Plate was all but out of the equation.
“He’s the kind of horse that spoils you for choice,” Magnier said.
“A return Down Under is not imminent.”
Despite doubts O’Brien will pay up for So You Think at Cox Plate 2011 first declaration stage tomorrow, Luxbet futures betting has them as a $21 chance.
So You Think is more likely to target the iconic Prix De L’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) on October 3, for which they are the $4 favourite to win in ante-post odds, or take on the highly-rated Frankel at Ascot in either the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (1600m) or English Champion Stakes (2000m) next month.
The weight-for-age Breeders’ Cup (Turf) in the USA in November is also being considered, with So You Think’s versatility in regards to distance one of their “unusual” strengths according to O’Brien.
“He’s an unusual horse,” O’Brien said.
“He could come back to a mile or go (2000 metres).
“He has never tried (2400 metres) but with the big horse (Pour Moi) out of the Arc, that is a possibility – it leaves the door open.”
Wherever So You Think goes next and whatever race he contents, Australia’s No. 1 bookmaker Luxbet will have the best odds on him.
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