Magical Ninth For O’Brien

Irish Champion Stakes Thriller

 If you get into a battle with Magical you better bring everything you’ve got because she’s a formidable force and proved it once more in the Irish Champion Stakes on Saturday.

Having been beaten by fierce rival and pre-race favourite Ghaiyyath at York last month, the five-year-old mare exacted revenge by winning a straight fight against Charlie Appleby’s star in the showpiece race on Day One of Longines Irish Champions Weekend.

Magical and Seamie Heffernan winning the Irish Champion Stakes

The victory, Magical’s second consecutive success in the 2000m bout, means Aidan O’Brien extends his record as the leading trainer in the race with his ninth triumph.

But O’Brien reserved all his praise for the sire of Galileo highlighting how, in the heat of battle, there are very few better than her.

“What she wants is to always eyeball a horse in battle,” O’Brien said. “Seamie [Heffernan] was happy to make the running today, if William [Buick] was going to go then Seamus was going to go and keep her interested. He gave her a brilliant ride.

“She’s one serious mare, when you get into a battle with her. It’s really when you get into a battle with her when you really see what she can do.

“We’re learning about her all the time. If you get away from her she gets a bit lazy, if you get into a fight with her very few will eyeball her. That’s what she did with the colt.

“She’s a great filly. It wasn’t a big field but my god they were good horses in it.”

Ever the fast starter, Ghaiyyath took to the front in the early running deploying his legendary cruising speed to good effect.

But it didn’t take long for O’Brien duo Magical and Japan to enter the fray, as the front three pulled away from the rest.

With not long to go it became a straight shootout between Magical and Ghaiyyath, one which saw Buick ease O’Brien’s star away to double up at Leopardstown.

The victory gave veteran Seamie Heffernan another high-profile success in what has been an outstanding season for the 48-year-old.

Having already won the Irish 1,000 Guineas with Peaceful and the Irish Derby with Santiago in 2020, Heffernan crowned a third prestigious Irish showpiece win of the year – with the focus now turning to a potential crack at the Breeders’ Cup.

O’Brien added: “We were very happy after York with what she was able to do. She just lost interest a little bit.

“I think so [she’ll have a crack at the Breeders Cup]. Something like that would suit her really well.

“But this is a massive race. Of all the European races, prestige-wise, this is probably one of the most, if not the most.

“It’s the highest rating race over a ten-year period and it comes out on top of all the races. All the high rating horses turn up here.

“It’s the perfect place on the calendar, the perfect ground, the perfect mile and a quarter the perfect distance.”

  • Bradley West – Horse Racing Ireland

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