Six set for Irish Champion
Raiders target Champion spoils
Last Updated: September 6, 2012 1:34pm
Snow Fairy: Adds zest to the Irish Champion
British duo Nathaniel and Snow Fairy feature among a small but select field of six declared runners in Saturday's Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
The 10-furlong Group One contest has been dominated by home-trained runners for the last decade, with Saeed bin Suroor's Grandera the last British winner in 2002.
John Gosden's Nathaniel heads the betting for this year's renewal.
Last year's King George hero made a fantastic seasonal reappearance when winning the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and was only narrowly denied by Danedream when defending his King George crown at Ascot.
Ed Dunlop's incredible mare Snow Fairy is seen as his biggest threat, having made a superb return to action in the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville a little under three weeks ago.
William Buick is the confirmed partner of Nathaniel, with Frankie Dettori replacing the injured Ryan Moore on Snow Fairy.
The pair will be in action at Haydock earlier on Saturday afternoon, before crossing the Irish Sea by helicopter.
Aidan O'Brien has won the Irish Champion Stakes a record seven times, and this year relies upon St Nicholas Abbey and Daddy Long Legs.
Multiple Group One winner St Nicholas Abbey was last seen finishing third behind the mighty Frankel in the Juddmonte International at York, while the three-year-old Daddy Long Legs has plenty to find on official ratings.
Imperial Monarch is a notable absentee from Ballydoyle.
Johnny Murtagh will ride Born To Sea for John Oxx, while Light Heavy from the Jim Bolger yard completes the line-up.
The Dermot Weld-trained duo of Famous Name and Princess Highway are also among those not declared.
Good ground is reported at the Dublin venue, with conditions expected to dry out further.
Racing Operations manager Nessa Joyce said: "The ground is good on both tracks, we're expecting further dry and bright weather up to Saturday.
"We're very happy with the ground at present; the heavy rain throughout the summer has helped the ground retain moisture naturally, even though we've had a week without rain."