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Frankie Dettori has described Snowfall as the easiest British Classic winner he has ever ridden after Aidan O’Brien revealed his his brilliant triple Oaks heroine had to be put down this week, dealing Ballydoyle the cruellest of blows on the cusp of the 2022 Flat season.

The high-class four-year-old, who ran out a devastating 16-length winner of the Oaks at Epsom under Dettori before going on to triumph in the Curragh and York equivalents, recently suffered a serious pelvis injury in her stable at Ballydoyle, O’Brien said.

Despite the veterinary team’s best efforts to save her, the battle was ultimately lost, with Dettori subsequently suggesting of her Oaks demolition that we might never “see a performance like that again”.

Snowfall finished sixth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe before running what proved to be her final race when third in the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot in October.

With St Mark’s Basilica already retired, she would have been expected to lead the line for the trainer’s older horses in 2022. More than that, as a daughter of Deep Impact out of a sister to the stable’s 2016 Arc winner Found, her value to Coolmore as a future broodmare was incalculable, with O’Brien indicating the plan had been to send her to be covered by St Mark’s Basilica in the spring.

“We are very sorry to report that our wonderful filly Snowfall sustained a serious injury a few weeks ago,” O’Brien told the Racing Post on Tuesday.

“Despite the best care and attention from our veterinary team and from our team here in Ballydoyle, her condition seriously deteriorated a couple of days ago and we were left with no choice but to take the heartbreaking decision to have her put to sleep.”

Of the nature of Snowfall’s injury, he added: “She damaged her pelvis. She was fed at lunchtime by one of the lads and when he went back to her an hour later she was lame in the box. Our vet John Halley thinks she did the splits in the box and injured her pelvis, but obviously we don’t know exactly how it happened.

“We did everything we could for her but it wasn’t to be. She is a massive loss to everyone here, from a racing and breeding perspective – she was such a high-class mare.”

Watch Snowfall’s stunning Epsom Oaks triumph here

A winner just once from seven starts as a juvenile, Snowfall began her Classic campaign with a bang when running out a decisive winner of the Musidora Stakes under Ryan Moore, before posting that record-breaking margin of victory in the Oaks under Dettori. Moore was back aboard for her emphatic Irish and Yorkshire Oaks victories, while Dettori stepped in for her Arc prep in the Prix Vermeille, when the partnership was stunned at odds of 1-5 by Teona.

Speaking on Tuesday, Dettori paid a rich tribute to Snowfall. “I’ve ridden 21 British Classic winners in my life but I have never ridden an easier one than her in the Oaks,” he said. “It was just unbelievable. I had the race won at Tattenham Corner. She was at her peak and just brilliant. She went through the field like a hot knife through butter.

“In this day and age, I don’t think we will see a performance like that again. I don’t expect to ever win another Classic like that in my life.”

He added: “She’s a massive loss for everyone and for the future she had in front of her. It’s very sad for Aidan, everyone at Ballydoyle and her owners. I pass on my condolences to all of them.”

Snowfall’s eight-and-a-half-length triumph in the Irish Oaks was the biggest winning margin in the race for more than 100 years, and she was also the first Japanese-bred winner of an Irish Classic. In all, she won five of her 14 starts and earned £885,696 in prize-money.

Recalling Snowfall’s three magnificent Oaks victories

Oaks, Epsom, June 4

Stablemate Santa Barbara was 5-2 favourite after her encouraging 1,000 Guineas fourth, but all the headlines were grabbed by Frankie Dettori’s runaway heroine, whose 16-length winning margin is the biggest in the history of the Oaks, which was first staged in 1779.

Towards the rear, the 11-2 shot made smooth headway and led two furlongs out before galloping clear to claim a record-equalling 40th British Classic victory for Aidan O’Brien.

Only Mayonaise, a 20-length winner of the 1,000 Guineas in 1859, has scored by a wider margin in a British Classic.


Irish Oaks, Curragh, July 17

Snowfall’s devastating Oaks triumph might have taken some by surprise, but the cat was well and truly out of the bag at the Curragh, where the 2-7 favourite proved a class apart once again.

Ryan Moore, Coolmore’s main rider, was back on board and had a routine task as his mount, held up behind the leaders, led after going easily two furlongs out and quickened eight and a half lengths clear.

Divinely gave O’Brien a one-two but, like the rest of the field, never looked like troubling the winner.

Yorkshire Oaks, York, August 19

A trip to the Knavesmire was next for Snowfall, whose latest success may not have possessed the wow factor she displayed at Epsom but still put her well ahead of the opposition.

The 8-15 favourite dwelt at the start but was soon moving powerfully in the hands of Moore, who nudged his mount along three furlongs out and quickly took command to score by four lengths from Albaflora.

The high-class Wonderful Tonight, an Arc fancy in many places before a career-ending injury, was a well-beaten fourth, albeit on ground she might have found too quick.