Prebble stunned as Fairy descends from the heavens
Brett Prebble looked to his left, then to his right and then pressed the button on Irian in the HK$20 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup yesterday - but the devil was sitting right behind him and even knowing Snow Fairy was there would not have helped as the filly produced a stunning finishing sprint to swamp him.
'I can't believe anything could have come from behind me and beaten me,' was Prebble's stunned response to the Ed Dunlop-trained three-year-old's effort to snatch the lead on the line and land a remarkable fourth Group One in four different countries this year - England, Ireland, Japan and Hong Kong.
'I'm lost for words,' said Dunlop after a performance under Ryan Moore that announced Snow Fairy to the world as a superstar.
'She's been very good against her own sex, but now she has done it against colts as well, so she must be one of the best fillies in the world on that performance. Without meaning any disrespect to the race, I did think we'd had our day in Japan - to see her beat colts like that surprised me.'
After Snow Fairy's devastating Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup win in Kyoto last month over 2,200 metres, the temptation for Dunlop and the filly's owners was to press on to the Japan Cup, but that temptation was passed up for more than one reason.
'It did come up very soon for her after the Kyoto race and I felt it would be better to give her the extra time and come for this race instead,' said Dunlop. 'But we also decided to come for the 2,000m race rather than the 2,400m because we needed to find out if she would be as good at that distance.
'If she was able to win this at 2,000m, then there were a whole lot more options for her than if she was a 2,400m horse only. I suppose now we can look at the Dubai World World but there are plenty of other options.'
For Dunlop, it was a second international win at Sha Tin, with Ouija Board's 2005 Vase win putting him on the score sheet, both times with sensational females.
'Well, that's just a coincidence really that they were both fillies, but I am lucky to have owner-breeders who give me nice fillies and then want to keep them in training as they get a little older,' he said.
Moore, after disappointments earlier in the day on well-fancied Crystal Capella in the Vase and Paco Boy in the Mile, admitted he had lost faith on the home turn, with a relatively modest pace and a margin to make up on the leaders that made the job for Snow Fairy appear forlorn.
'She's very special. I can't think of too many fillies that could have done that today,' Moore agreed.
'The pace was okay to the first turn, then they slowed and I had to go a length further back than I'd hoped. I wanted to to be where Vision D'Etat was, not behind him, but I also didn't want to be deep. I wanted to give her a chance to show that brilliant turn of foot she's shown us before. I didn't think she could win it on the turn.'
But Snow Fairy was the only horse at the meeting to break 22 seconds for her final 400m, spoiling the party for Irian, Prebble and John Moore.
'I think a few people were amazed how little we did with her here,' said Dunlop. 'I didn't gallop her and she didn't gallop in Japan either. She hasn't had a gallop for seven weeks. The key to her is that she is not the biggest filly in the world but she has got the biggest heart.'
The last word
'I thought she had no chance when we were turning in but she quickened up so well. She's got a marvellous turn of foot. Absolutely fantastic to have done that day. She is very special - a machine.'
Snow Fairy, jockey Ryan Moore
'He's run a super race again. It's taken a really good one to beat him.'
Irian, jockey Brett Prebble
'He's a very brave horse. Never gives up. He kept on going to the end.'
Packing Winner, jockey Olivier Doleuze
'He missed the start and I had to settle in an awkward position. He did not accelerate as well last year.'
Vision d'Etat, jockey Olivier Peslier
'He's had a long season. I was there to win my race but he just emptied out on me. This is a tough race for a three-year-old. He's still a good horse and will show it next year.'
Planteur, jockey Frankie Dettori
'He was held up when it counted and he ran a terrific race.'
Super Satin, jockey Douglas Whyte