By Jon Lees
Magical will contest the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita a week on Saturday despite having the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf as her nominated first preference target, her trainer Aidan O’Brien confirmed on Wednesday.
Investec Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck will lead Ballydoyle’s bid for a seventh victory in the 12-furlong Turf, in which he will be joined by Mount Everest, with Qipco Champion Stakes winner Magical tackling the the mile-and-a-quarter Filly & Mare alongside Fleeting and Just Wonderful.
O’Brien clarified his big race line-up after the release of the pre-entries for the 36th Breeders’ Cup World Championships – which will be shown live on Sky Sports Racing – following a visit to Ballydoyle by the Coolmore partners, John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.
Set to be represented in every turf race, O’Brien horses take up a sizeable portion of a European Breeders’ Cup contingent that could yield 30-40 runners over the two-day fixture, when star filly Magical could be making her final start.
“We have just had a meeting there with the lads,” said O’Brien. “Magical is going to go to No Nay Never next year and if everything is well, it will be the Filly & Mare Turf that she would run in.
“She is an incredible mare, a very special filly with an unbelievable constitution, unbelievable mind and powerful and strong. She’s been second to Enable that many times and we’ve had her ticking over with the autumn in mind.
“Everything has been good with her since Ascot. She will probably do something at the weekend and we hope she can stay healthy.”
O’Brien will run Fairyland and So Perfect in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and will have high hopes of Circus Maximus in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile, which Europe has won 15 times.
The Prix du Moulin winner will carry the colours of the Niarchos family, who will be seeking a seventh victory in the race.
O’Brien said: “He has been very good back at a mile and we were delighted with him the last day. The plan was always to go to the Breeders’ Cup Mile with him. We think the track and everything will suit him well.”
The trainer said the likely fast ground conditions will make all the difference to Anthony Van Dyck, who bounced back from a dismal run in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes to finish third to Magical in the Irish Champion Stakes.
He said: “The only time he blotted his copybook was in Ascot on soft ground when we shouldn’t have ran him. He’s a real fast ground specialist who gets a mile and a half well. He ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf as a two-year-old. We think the race will suit him well.”
O’Brien will have a busy first day of the two-day Breeders’ Cup meeting with King Neptune in the Juvenile Turf Sprint, three in the Juvenile Turf – Arizona, Fort Myers and Royal Dornoch – plus Etoile and Tango in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, for which Precious Moments is first reserve.
The trainer has not had a winner in the United States for two years, but hopes fast ground will be to his team’s benefit, especially the two-year-olds, such as Dewhurst Stakes runner-up Arizona.
“We were delighted with his run in the Dewhurst in ground he wouldn’t have been mad about,” said O’Brien.
“The faster the ground the better. He has plenty of experience and we think a mile will be no problem to him. We think he is a very high class horse.
“Fast ground is what Royal Dornoch loves as well. The Royal Lodge was his first step up to a mile. He is fast and very genuine, two very good traits to have.
“Fort Myers is a War Front with an unbelievable pedigree and should run a big race.”
O’Brien said Ryan Moore, Seamie Heffernan and Wayne Lordan will be aboard his runners, with son Donnacha unlikely to be able to do the weights of his runners.