With any talk of retirement plans consigned to the past
Magical is only getting better as she bids to defend her QIPCO Champion Stakes crown,
according to trainer Aidan O’Brien, writes Bradley West.
It was only less than a year ago, in a world much different
to the one we live in now, after winning this very race that the master of
Ballydoyle intimated the star mare would be entering retirement.
But, the daughter of Galileo was kept in training and has responded
with a stunning year that has resulted in three more Group 1 victories and a
career-best when beating Ghaiyyath, the world’s highest-rated turf horse, to
win a second Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown last month.
It is now seven Group 1 victories in all for Magical as she
gears up to lock horns once more with the rival she beat to the line at Ascot
last year, William Haggas’ Addeybb.
If she can see off the six-year-old plus a cast of fearsome
rivals then history will be created – with Magical set to become the first
horse to achieve three wins on QIPCO British Champions Day.
“We were delighted that the lads decided to keep Magical in
training this year and we feel that she came forward from last year,” O’Brien
“It's into the autumn that she usually starts to progress
and we saw that the last day at Leopardstown. This has been the target since.
She’s in good form and she ran in this race last year and loved it.
“It was a great race the last day, they went a nice even
pace and she was happy to make the running or get a lead. She’s a very solid
filly and tactically she can stand by herself, she doesn't depend on anyone
else to help her, she's very happy to plough her own furrow.
“She’s a great filly and we’ve seen how consistent she’s
been. She has run in all the top Group 1s since she was a two-year-old. A lot
of horses who train on to be [top] older horses don’t always compete at the top
as two-year-olds, but she has. There doesn’t seem to be any ceiling to her.”
Magical’s main rival from 12 months ago has also enjoyed a
strong year with two Group 1 victories in Australia in the spring before
finishing runner-up in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Among the others gunning to upset the headline act are star stablemates
Serpentine and Japan.
Both will be itching to get going after not running in the
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the latter has particularly impressed connections
in the run-up to Ascot.
He added: “We’ve been happy with Japan [since he had to miss
the Arc] and we think he’s in a good place; better than for his runs before.
“We are looking forward to seeing him run again. We were
really looking forward to the Arc with Serpentine and his prep for that was
very good – we felt he had moved up plenty from his prep run and done very well
physically, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“We’re very happy with him at home at the moment and it will
be interesting. He’s a very relaxed horse at home and doesn’t overdo himself,
but we think he has the class to cope with it [the drop in trip].”