Snowfall burst into the Oaks picture for Aidan O’Brien at York on Wednesday with a resounding front-running victory under Ryan Moore in the Group 3 Musidora Stakes.
Sent off at 14/1, Snowfall dictated matters from the outset under Ryan Moore and although challenged from all sides up the straight, continued to maintain a relentless gallop to pull clear and cross the line three-and-three-quarters of a length to the good of the favourite Noon Star. Another well fancied filly, Teona, was another half-length back in third despite not having helped herself by pulling hard in the early stages.
Snowfall had looked exposed during a lengthy campaign as a two-year-old, winning just once in seven starts and failing to trouble the judge in two outings in Group 1 company. However, she appears to have done well physically from two to three and is bred to thrive over middle-distances as an older horse, being by Deep Impact and out of Best In The World, a Group 3-winning Galileo sister to Arc heroine Found.
“She was always held in high regard,” Ryan Moore told Racing TV. “Things didn’t quite happen for her at two. Everyone always felt that when she stepped up in trip she’d be a better filly – she’s a Deep Impact and out of Best In The World, and it’s the family of Found.
“She ended up in front – that was just the way it happened, she doesn’t have to be there. She’s very uncomplicated and the ground is ok for her but I think she’ll be happier on a faster surface. She’s a scopey filly and feels like there’s better to come.
“Today’s race looked a good trial beforehand. She put her stamp on the race and I’m sure she’ll be in the mix for the Oaks.”
Bred by Roncon, Chelston Ire & Wynatt, Snowfall becomes the latest successful chapter in the association between the late Japanese supersire Deep Impact and Coolmore, previously to the fore through Saxon Warrior, September and Fancy Blue. Saxon Warrior and Fancy Blue both struck at Classic level for the Coolmore partners and Snowfall is now priced as short as 4/1 to follow suit in next month’s Cazoo Oaks at Epsom.
Starman impressive on return
Starman was cut into 5/1 for next month’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot after making a winning return in the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes.
David Ward’s homebred son of Dutch Art looked potentially top-class last season when winning his first three races, including the Listed Garrowby Stakes at York, before finding the soft ground against him on his final start in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot.
On Wednesday, memories of that low-key ending to 2020 were banished as Starman turned in an impressive performance, taking it up under Oisin Murphy a furlong out before holding the late challenge of Nahaarr to win by a head. At the line, these two rapidly progressive sprinters had three-and-a-quarter lengths to spare over the third Oxted.
Trainer Ed Walker is naturally looking forward to a crack at the Diamond Jubilee Stakes with Starman and envisages his stable star to be even more effective on quicker ground.
“The bottomless ground at Ascot found him out last year,” Walker told Racing TV. “There’s cut in it today – William Derby and his team have done a magnificent job with the track, it’s in beautiful condition. But it’s on the slow side of good. He coped with that but I think he’ll be better on proper quick ground.”
He added: “Take nothing away from the runner-up but Oisin said that he got there a fraction early and he didn’t do a lot in front. “Perhaps off a stronger pace, he could be even better.
“He was so big at two that we didn’t do a lot with him. And Covid last season pushed him back again and he didn’t start until July. But he’s done nothing wrong since then. Ascot is the next plan. I put him in both the King’s Stand and Diamond Jubilee and I’ll have a chat with David and Sue Ward about it. But I think we’ll go straight to the Diamond Jubilee.”
Starman was bred by David Ward out of the winning Montjeu mare Northern Star, whose first foal, Sunday Star, was Group 3-placed for the breeder. He becomes the 15th Group winner for Cheveley Park Stud’s stalwart stallion Dutch Art.
There was sad postscript to the race with the death of last year’s Jersey Stakes winner Molatham, who suffered heart attack in the wash down area.