Aidan O’Brien senses 10 furlongs and soft ground may prove ideal conditions for Magical in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.
The versatile filly is bidding for back-to-back wins on British Champions Day, having won the Fillies & Mares race 12 months ago – after which she went down all guns blazing to Enable at the Breeders’ Cup.
Magical has been busy again this season and found Enable a tough nut to crack on more than one occasion – but victories in the Tattersalls Gold Cup and Irish Champion Stakes have seen her add to her Group One haul.
She finished fifth in this month’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the first time – in nine intervening outings – that she has been out of the first two since the same race last year.
O’Brien said: “She’s an amazing filly. She runs over different trips – all ground comes alike to her, and she comes out of her races great.
“Obviously she ran in the Arc, which wasn’t that long ago. But she seems to be in good form, and we’re looking forward to running her.
“We think on soft ground, 10 furlongs is probably her trip. She should be very comfortable at it on this ground anyway.”
O’Brien also runs I Can Fly – agonisingly beaten in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes last year, but with only a win at Dundalk to show for her efforts since.
“We think I Can Fly might like the ground,” said O’Brien, ahead of the showpiece event, which can be seen live on Sky Sports Racing.
“Her best run came this time last year over a mile on soft ground, but she has form over a mile and a quarter too. She’s in good form as well.”
There has been plenty of money for William Haggas’ Addeybb this week – but switching to the inner hurdles track may not be in favour of the mud-lover.
Haggas said: “We’re delighted the race is on and we’re delighted to be taking part. Obviously we hope it rains non stop from now until the race!”
“Magical is a high-class filly, and he’s got all on to beat her. He’s got a bit to find, but he’s a smart horse when the ground is soft.
“We’re going into the race fresh, but he’ll probably need to be if he’s going to win.
“He’s had a good preparation and he had a nice gallop at Newmarket last week, which will have benefited him.
“I’d say he’s a long-shot on form, but if he gets his conditions he could come into it.”
Deirdre was a surprise winner of the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood – and to prove that was no fluke, she then looked unlucky behind Magical in the Irish Champion Stakes.
Yoshitake Hashida, assistant trainer to Mitsuru Hashida, said: “She seems in very good form. She came out of the Irish Champion with no problems at all – so far, so good.
“She was unlucky at Leopardstown, and I think the most disappointed person was Oisin Murphy. It is a big day for Oisin, because he will be confirmed as the champion jockey – which is great.
“They have moved the race to the inside track, which is good. I think that is the main reason we have decided to run on Champions Day, instead of going to the Breeders’ Cup or something like that.
“We think she is in much better condition than she was at (Royal) Ascot – we think she is in really top condition now.
“We first met Magical in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and got a bit closer to her in the Irish Champion. We have had a nice break since the Irish Champion, whereas Magical has run another very good race in France.
“We would prefer faster ground, but I hope she can run a good race.”
Having come so close in so many Group Ones, John Gosden’s Coronet seemed destined never to win one – but she broke her duck on her penultimate start in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, and then followed up in the Prix Jean Romanet next time out.
She will head to the paddocks after this – win, lose or draw.
“We waited all that time for a Group One – and now she’s won two!” said Richard Evans, who manages Denford Stud, owners of Coronet.
“It’s more than we could have wished for – and this will be it, her last run.
“We’re just hopeful. She won’t mind soft ground – she wouldn’t want it too heavy, but she’s fine on soft.
“Obviously Mr Haggas’ horse (Addeybb) will love the ground, and Magical is in there, but we’d just be pleased to be in the frame – a win would be exceptional.
“We were only a length behind Magical last year, and hopefully they’ll be close again, but I think Magical and Mr Haggas’ are the two to beat – and there may be some surprise packages.
“A win would be fantastic and a great way to end her racing career. She’ll be fresh – she hasn’t run since winning in France, and Magical ran in the Arc, so it might come too soon.
“The good ones don’t come along too often, and it was nice that the decision to stay in training was rewarded.”