Meet the Fox-Pitts’ grey mare with a ‘lethal’ buck, who is aiming for Cheltenham Festival glory after having a foal – Snow Leopardess

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  • Snow Leopardess lines up in the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase at Cheltenham Festival at 4.10pm this afternoon (15 March). She is a mare with a great back-story and one that many will be cheering on today, so what are the key facts you need to know about this talented mother?

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    1. Snow Leopardess is an 11-year-old mare (born on 28 March 2012).

    2. She is a fifth-generation home-bred, and was bred by William Fox-Pitt’s mother Marietta.

    3. Snow Leopardess is owned by Andrew Fox-Pitt, who is Marietta’s son and in whose colours the grey runs in, and trained by Cotswolds-based Charlie Longsdon.

    4. Snow Leopardess is by Martaline and out of Queen Soraya, who is by Persian Bold. Queen Soraya ran 13 times under Rules during her career – she was trained by Henrietta Knight and amassed more than £21,500 in prize money.

    5. So far, Snow Leopardess has won nine of her 25 career starts and has amassed over £248,500 in prize money to-date.

    6. Her biggest victory so far came in the Unibet Becher Chase over the Grand National fences at Aintree on 4 December 2021, when she became the first mare to win this race. In atrocious conditions – testing ground and strong winds – she jumped from fence to fence under jockey Aidan Coleman, who will also ride her in the Cross-Country Chase. The pair led from The Chair to the finish, and held on gamely from the Sandy Thomson-trained Hill Sixteen to win by a nose in the 3m1f race.

    7. Snow Leopardess was foaled and backed at Knowlton, the Fox-Pitt family home in Kent, before being sent to Flat trainer Ralph Beckett to learn to gallop, and then moved to her current trainer.

    8. Over hurdles, she won the mares’ final at Newbury and in October 2017, she won a conditions hurdle at Auteuil, but she was injured in the lorry on the way home. After that she went to Alice and William Fox-Pitt for rehab and Paul Roche had her in Ireland, swimming her in the sea off a pier. But the injury recurred and she was put in foal to Sir Percy. When she was being brought back to fitness after giving birth, the resulting filly – now a four-year-old called Red Panda – used to trot loose alongside her.

    9. Marietta says the birth of Snow Leopardess’s foal was the first time she had smiled since the loss of her husband Oliver in 2012.

    10. Snow Leopardess’s great-uncle, Le Djinn, won two Flat races, two hurdles, the Grand Prix de Bordeaux at Auteuil and the Melton Hunt Race. He also did Bramham three-day event with both Marietta and William.

    11. “Snow Leopardess knows how to buck. When we first started getting her going again in the school, she bucked my granddaughter clean off three times, so we had to do something different after that. She is odd because she’s hot but lazy, and normally hot horses are not lazy,” says Marietta.

    12. Charlie Longsdon said of this mare prior to her run in the 2022 Grand National, where she was pulled up: “If you give Snow Leopardess a day off, she’s pretty lethal – she can give some buck. She’s clearly queen of the yard, she’s bigger than most of the geldings, she knows she’s important. It’s very rare for any mare to come back after having a foal and then run in the National, but I think it might be inspiring to a few others.”

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