Magical headlining Irish Champions Weekend for O'Brien

Filly part of strong Ballydoyle team aiming for Leopardstown and the Curragh

  • Wednesday 14 August
  • News
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Aidan O’Brien welcomed the racing media, along with sponsors and camera crews, to his Ballydoyle base on Wednesday morning, where Magical worked as the 2019 Longines Irish Champions Weekend was launched.

The two-day meeting, held at Leopardstown on September 14 and the Curragh on September 15, features six Group One races, with the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown the highlight.

Magical has chased home star filly Enable three times and having failed by three-parts of a length in an epic Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs last November, was again the same margin behind John Gosden’s mare in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

The Galileo filly went over a mile on O’Brien’s famous ‘Ascot gallop’, moving past lead horse Barbados, himself second in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot, in the closing stages.

O’Brien said: “We gave Magical a break, but she is now ready to start back.

“The plan is for her to either go to the Irish Champion with or without a run.”

Stablemate I Can Fly won the Boomerang Stakes on Champions Weekend last year and the Matron Stakes probable comfortably breezed past the blinkered Squire’s Tale in her work.

O’Brien’s 71-horse opening lot included Grand Prix de Paris winner Japan, who is reported to be on course for the Juddmonte International Stakes at York next week, for which he has attracted ante-post support.

The Investec Derby third could then contest the Irish Champion, along with Epsom hero Anthony Van Dyck, who was taken through his paces by Donnacha O’Brien.

Sir Dragonet, fifth at Epsom, is an intended runner in Friday’s Royal Whip Stakes at the Curragh and also has Irish Champion Stakes possibilities along with a Prix Niel option.

Next week’s York fixture will feature on the agenda of July Cup winner Ten Sovereigns, who will take on Battaash in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes before O’Brien turns the colt’s attentions to the Flying Five Stakes on the big Curragh card.

Guineas winners Magna Grecia and Hermosa are both back on track, according to O’Brien.

He said: “Magna Grecia has had a good break and could run in the Irish Champion Stakes and has the option of then dropping to a mile at Ascot in October (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes).

“He wasn’t the same horse at the Curragh as the one at Newmarket, and Hermosa’s last race was also a non-event and I’d be very happy going back to a mile with her next time (Matron Stakes).”

Regarding Champions Weekend, the 21-times champion trainer added: “The weekend comes at the perfect slot on the calendar and is staged on two unbelievable tracks.

“The Irish Champion Stakes is a very tough race, one of the toughest, as you have to stay and be talented to win.

“We are so lucky to have the Curragh, which is second to none in the world. We go everywhere around the world and it has everything, the viewing, the atmosphere and the potential it has is incredible.

“We should appreciate it and be proud of it.”

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