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Snowfall and Love the stars among the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares entries

11 Oct 2021

Aidan O'Brien's Snowfall

Aidan O’Brien has retained both Love and Snowfall, along with possible pacemaker La Joconde, for a high quality £500,000 QIPCO British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes, but both also feature among his possible QIPCO Champion Stakes team.

No trainer has strength in depth among fillies and mares to compare with O’Brien, who won here with Hydrangea in 2017 and Magical in 2018 and has had fillies placed in both subsequent runnings. Either of his principals would take a lot of beating if given the opportunity here.

Love’s five Group 1 wins include the 2020 QIPCO 1000 Guineas and Investec Oaks, plus this year’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, but she was narrowly beaten by La Petite Coco under a penalty in a Group 2 at The Curragh and then missed the Arc for a second year running.

Snowfall won the Cazoo Oaks, Irish Oaks and Darley Yorkshire Oaks by a cumulative distance of almost 30 lengths before a surprise defeat in the Prix Vermeille and a respectable sixth in the Arc.

Whichever O’Brien elects to run here might not have it all their own way however, for Free Wind could hardly have impressed more when a seven-length winner of the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster last month and looks a worthy rival from the Gosden stable, which has also enjoyed two recent wins in this race, with Journey (2016) and Star Catcher (2019). 

The easy winner of what is sometimes known as the ‘Fillies’ St Leger’ has been beaten only twice in six starts and she is set to be partnered again by Frankie Dettori, who rode both of those previous fillies to victory at QIPCO British Champions Day.

John Gosden said: “We were thinking about the Prix Royallieu for Free Wind, and her owner Mr Strawbridge was over, but luckily we waited owing to concerns about the ground. She’s hopefully going to be better on a better surface.”

La Petite Coco, for whom success here would be a first at Group 1 level for up-and-coming stable of Paddy Twomey, is improving with every race and had won Listed and Group 3 races before her game defeat of Love on Irish Champions’ Weekend. 

Invite, who won a Listed race at Chester on her debut for Andrew Balding, is another interesting runner.

Balding, who has also confirmed Tribal Craft, said: “Invite is a candidate for the Fillies and Mares so long as the ground remains slow. She’s not exactly an extravagant worker but I liked what I saw when she won at Chester on her only start for us. That was nice to see and she’s obviously a filly with plenty of ability.”

Dermot Weld’s dual Irish St Leger winner Search For A Song would be another key runner, but she has also been confirmed for the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup, in which she was second last year.

Full entries: 

Albaflora (GB), Love (IRE), Search For A Song (IRE), Tribal Craft (GB), Eshaada (GB), Free Wind (IRE), Invite (IRE), Lady Hayes (IRE), La Joconde (IRE), La Petite Coco (IRE), Mystery Angel (IRE), Snowfall (JPN)