Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Watch: Magical justifies favouritism to land the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown

Magical, with Ryan Moore up, on their way to winning the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes during Day One of the Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown Racecourse in Dublin. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Magical, with Ryan Moore up, on their way to winning the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes during Day One of the Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown Racecourse in Dublin. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Magical landed a gamble to provide Aidan O'Brien with a remarkable 1-2-3 in in the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at a sun-baked Leopardstown as Japanese hearts were broken in a memorable feature on day one of Longines Irish Champions Weekend.

Visitors from the Land of the Rising Sun enjoyed temperatures north of 20 degrees if not necessarily the race itself as Deirdre, the first runner from Japan on Irish soil, finished a cruelly unlucky fourth under Oisin Murphy.

That said, it was all about Magical, if not O'Brien. The champion trainer enjoyed a four-timer and, after winning the feature €1.25m feature for the first time since 2011, he suggested another clash between Magical and Enable was a fight connections felt they could win.

Enable has memorably beaten Magical all four times they have clashed but O'Brien is not giving up. "The plan was always that she would go to the Arc next," he said, that entailing another clash with Enable. "This filly ran against her last year (in the Breeders' Cup) and was only beaten three parts of a length," he said.

"It was more or less the same at Sandown and after we gave her a break this summer she changed into a different filly. When they met at York last time she was just ready to start off again."

The well-backed Magical, 11-10 favourite, was perfectly positioned throughout under Ryan Moore to pounce coming into the straight and establish a race-winning move, though backers of Deirdre will wonder what might have happened had she enjoyed a clear run.

She was caught in last place and, pulled out by rider Murphy, flashed home to finish fourth. Magical would surely have won this in any event, with stablemates Magic Wand and Anthony Van Dyk filling the placings. Murphy and the passionate Japanese racegoers, meanwhile, making their maiden visit to Foxrock, were left wondering what might have been.

O'Brien and Moore took the opening Listed Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes with Blissful and the pair doubled up when Mogul stamped his class on the KPMG Champion Juvenile Stakes. Indeed, so authoritative was the performance of Mogul, there is already talk of him being a major Derby contender in 2020.

"Ryan was very complimentary when he came in," O'Brien said. "A Classic horse, we would have thought."

Bookmakers, all of whom make Mogul favourite for next year's Investec Derby, were not disagreeing.

It was win number three for Ballydoyle when Norway, zero from six throughout a season that had promised more, benefitted from a superb Seamus Heffernan ride to take the The Paddy Power Betting Shop Stakes.

An O'Brien also won the other Group 1 on the card, the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes, but it was not Aidan this time, son Joseph taking the honours with 10-1 chance Iridessa. She ran around in the closing stages as hot favourite Laurens folded, Aidan's Hermosa going down gamely in second place.

Father was the first to congratulate son, who said: "I'm over the moon. She had a look when she got to the front but she was the best filly on the day."

The best filly bar Magical.

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