It’s rare to see consecutive Oaks winners race against each other but that will be the case this Sunday when 2010 winner Snow Fairy bids to defend her crown in the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup against this year’s heroine Dancing Rain.
Having won the English and Irish Oaks and finished runner-up to Midday in the Yorkshire version, Snow Fairy made her first successful intercontinental outing in the 11-furlong Grade 1 contest at Kyoto racecourse, winning by four lengths.
From there she struck again at the top level in the Hong Kong Cup before a stress fracture ruled her out of the Dubai International Racing Carnival. Hong Kong may well be the next destination for both fillies after this weekend.
The two Classic winners live approximately 100 metres apart in Newmarket, Dancing Rain being resident in William Haggas’s Somerville Lodge next door to Ed Dunlop’s La Grange Stables, the home of Snow Fairy.
By Intikhab, Snow Fairy was famously bought back as a yearling by her breeder Cristina Patino for just €1,800 at Tattersalls Ireland. With four Group 1 wins to her name, she has now amassed more than £2.8 million in prize-money.
Dancing Rain, a daughter of Danehill Dancer and a half-sister to the dam of Group 1-winning two-year-old Maybe, was sold for the loftier sum of €200,000 at Goffs to brothers Martin and Lee Taylor, and with the Oaks, German Oaks and QIPCO Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes to her name this year has already richly rewarded their investment.
Neither filly has had the smoothest preparation for Sunday’s race, however. William Haggas confirmed that Dancing Rain has had some heat in her front legs, while Snow Fairy has had an adverse reaction to insect bites, but both are still intended runners.
The contest is likely to provoke some friendly rivalry in at least one Newmarket family: Kevin Peckham, head lad to William Haggas, will be firmly in Dancing Rain’s corner while his son George, as Ed Dunlop’s assistant trainer, will be barracking for Snow Fairy.