Magical lived up to her name and took top billing on a superb weekend of racing right across Europe.
Magical was just that in a thrilling renewal of the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in which she turned York form with Ghaiyyath on its head.
Charlie Appleby’s Ghaiyyath arrived in Ireland with the title of highest-rated turf horse in the word following a thrilling summer which had seen him beat Enable in the Eclipse and add two other Group Ones.
However, whereas at York he was allowed an easy lead which he was not to relinquish, this time Magical and Seamie Heffernan never let him out of their sights, tackling William Buick’s mount fully two furlongs out and coming home three-quarters of a length to the good.
Magical became just the second back-to-back winner of the race after another Aidan O’Brien runner, Dylan Thomas.
“She’s a great filly. It wasn’t a big field, but they were all good horses in it. Armory (third-placed stablemate) ran an unbelievable race as well,” said O’Brien.
“It’s a massive race. Of all the European races, prestige-wise, this is one of the top, if not the top, because on ratings over a 10-year period, this nearly comes out on top of all the races.
“She has the choice of the Arc or the fillies’ race on the same day. It will depend on what the lads want to do with Love.
“The Breeders’ Cup could also suit her really well.”
O’Brien was also on the mark with Irish Derby runner-up Tiger Moth in the Paddy Power ‘Is It 2021 Yet?’ Stakes and Monday in the Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes.
It was a breakthrough day for Johnny Murtagh, who enjoyed so many big days in the saddle for the likes of O’Brien and is now on the mark at the highest level as a trainer.
His prolific filly Champers Eylsees won her fourth race of the season in the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes to give the trainer the quality of winner to go with his previous quantity.
“It feels great. I’m sick of everyone saying ‘you had such a great career as a jockey’ – that’s in the past and it’s the now I’m worried about,” said Murtagh.
“It’s been a brilliant year, but to win a Group One on Champions Weekend means everything. That’s why we get up in the morning.”
Champers Elysees could head to Newmarket for the Sun Chariot now.
At Doncaster, the Pertemps St Leger result which saw Joseph O’Brien’s Galileo Chrome succeed was almost written in the stars.
On Friday afternoon news broke that his intended jockey Shane Crosse had tested positive for Covid-19, forcing O’Brien to look elsewhere.
That he went with rising star Marquand came as no real surprise, and it was a victory well deserved given the youngster had lost the ride on then Derby favourite English King to Frankie Dettori earlier in the season – a blow he had taken with typical good grace.
In another twist Marquand had been booked to ride English King in the Leger, only for Ed Walker to decide to head to France instead.
Galileo Chrome’s improvement has been sparkling this season and he saw off Berkshire Rocco by a neck, with Pyledriver third.
Marquand said: “I can’t say how bad I feel for Shane Crosse – because we’ve all been in situations where things haven’t gone our way, and we’re both relatively young – so I can relate, and he’ll be sat at home in pieces, no doubt.
“I guess in racing it all comes back round. No doubt he’ll have his time, and I look forward to seeing him do it.
“To have my first Group One winner on UK soil in the St Leger for Joseph O’Brien who, when I as growing up was one of the best jockeys in racing, is mind-blowing.”
O’Brien now also has the favourite for next year’s 2000 Guineas after Thunder Moon ran out an impressive winner of the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.
His brother Donnacha won the Moyglare Stud Stakes with Shale, while Kevin Ryan’s Glass Slippers added to her Prix de l’Abbaye success when winning the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five.
Veteran Dermot Weld made it back-to-back Irish St Legers with Search For A Song and he was also on the mark at ParisLongchamp with Tarnawa in the Prix Vermeille.
John Gosden’s Stradivarius was beaten by last year’s Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck in the Prix Foy, but is still on target for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
“I was happy with the way he finished the race – his last furlong was his best furlong. In that respect he’s run a good trial for the Arc and that’s where he’ll be going,” said Gosden.
Source : Sky Sports