Magical (128 from 125) has had the misfortune of being around in the Enable era, so she perhaps hasn't always got the credit she deserves, but she is a remarkably tough, reliable mare and was better than ever when getting her revenge on Ghaiyyath (remains on 133) in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday. Magical had been brushed aside by Ghaiyyath in the Juddmonte International, unable to lay down a meaningful challenge, but she never allowed her rival to build up an appreciable lead at Leopardstown, harrying him the whole way, and was able to turn the tables. Few horses are tougher or more consistent than Magical - she has run to a Timeform rating of 120 or more on 14 of her last 15 starts - and she gallantly stuck to her task in the straight, overhauling Ghaiyyath to win by three-quarters of a length to record a seventh win at the highest level. She also became just the second horse to win the Irish Champion Stakes on two occasions, following in the footsteps of Dylan Thomas, who was also trained by Aidan O'Brien.
WOW! Magical - a superstar for Ballydoyle.— Racing TV (@RacingTV) September 12, 2020
🏇 25 races🥇 12 wins
✅ 7 G1 victories🏆🏆 Irish Champion Stakes
🏆🏆 Tattersalls Gold Cup 🏆 Champion Stakes
🏆 Champion Fillies & Mares Stakes 🏆 Pretty Polly Stakes
😍 Over £4million
Magical takes out the Irish Champion Stakes again! pic.twitter.com/Wt1u7ucWqB
It was a weekend to remember for the O'Brien family. Aidan O’Brien was also successful at Leopardstown on Saturday with Monday (98p from 66p), who improved markedly to win the opening listed contest, and Irish Derby runner-up Tiger Moth (120p from 117p), whose smooth success in a Group 3 enhanced his lofty reputation, while he enjoyed Group 1 success with Mogul (120 from 119) in the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp on Sunday. O’Brien was winning that race for a third year in succession after victories for Kew Gardens and Japan, while he enjoyed further success on the card with Anthony Van Dyck (remains on 125), who dug deep to get the better of Stradivarius (remains on 130) in a slowly-run edition of the Prix Foy.
O'Brien's two sons, Joseph and Donnacha, were also celebrating top-level triumphs as Galileo Chrome (Joseph) won the St Leger, Thunder Moon (Joseph) landed the National Stakes and Shale (Donnacha) took the Moyglare Stud Stakes.
The St Leger was run at a strong tempo, so stamina was thoroughly tested, and that suited Galileo Chrome (122p from 115p), who stayed on powerfully inside the final furlong to edge out Berkshire Rocco (122 from 113), another suited by how the race developed. The bare form does not identify Galileo Chrome as a stellar winner of the St Leger, though in completing the four-timer he showed that he is clearly a progressive type and could have more to offer after only five starts. He could be a leading player in Cup races next season. In contrast, third-placed Pyledriver (remains on 123) and Hukum (120 from 121p) will be better suited by dropping back in trip having looked big threats over a furlong out.
Thunder Moon (120p from 106p) – who like Galileo Chrome was carrying the colours of Chantal Regalado-Gonzalez – leapt to the head of the betting for the 2000 Guineas with an authoritative victory in the National Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday. Thunder Moon had looked well above average when making a winning debut last month over seven furlongs at the Curragh – the same course and distance as the National Stakes – but it was still a bold call to tackle a Group 1 with such an inexperienced colt, particularly when you consider it was arguably the strongest two-year-old race of the season. Battleground – who had been such an impressive winner of the Chesham Stakes and Vintage Stakes – was a significant non-runner but the field of ten included leading lights such as Superlative Stakes winner Master of The Seas and Phoenix Stakes winner Lucky Vega, who had previously set the standard among the colts. The most obvious hard-luck story involved Lucky Vega, who met significant trouble between the final couple of furlongs, but Thunder Moon also had to overcome a difficult passage and was value for more than the winning margin of a length and a half. The impressive turn of foot that was such a feature of his debut success was once again on display, and, given what he’s achieved in two starts, he looks a top-class prospect.
Joseph O’Brien had gone close in the Moyglare Stud Stakes earlier in the afternoon but his Pretty Gorgeous (113 from 114p) had to settle for second behind Shale (114 from 105), who was providing Donnacha O’Brien with a first Group 1 winner in Ireland. Shale had beaten Pretty Gorgeous in the Silver Flash Stakes before the form was comprehensively reversed in the Debutante Stakes. However, the pendulum swung once again as Shale dug very deep to fend off a persistent challenger, impressing with how well she stuck to her task, recording a performance that has been bettered by only Prix Morny winner Campanelle among the juvenile fillies this season. Based on run style and pedigree - she’s a daughter of Galileo out of 1000 Guineas winner Homecoming Queen – the step up to a mile will suit, and she should carry on progressing.
Donnacha O'Brien had won Group 1s in Britain and France with Fancy Blue, but the French Oaks and Nassau Stakes heroine came up short in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday when unsuited by the drop back to a mile. The winner, Champers Elysees (120 from 112), provided Johnny Murtagh with a first win at the highest level as a trainer. She started the season by winning a Curragh handicap off a mark of just 86, but she has clearly improved a bundle and was an authoritative winner of the Matron, swooping down the outside to overhaul Irish 1000 Guineas winner Peaceful, who had raced closer to the strong pace. Champers Elysees wasn't Murtagh's only big-race winner over the weekend as Sonnyboyliston (118 from 111p), another rapidly improving sort, bolted up at the Curragh in what had appeared a competitive handicap on paper. Sonnyboyliston's rating of 118 is within 6 lb of the highest-rated three-year-old middle-distance colts, Serpentine and Mishriff, so he is clearly worth a crack at Group races.
Champers Elysees this season:— Racing TV (@RacingTV) September 12, 2020
🏇 Four races
🥇 Four wins
🏆 G1 Matron Stakes
🏆 G3 Fairy Bridge Stakes
🏆 Listed Corrib Fillies' Stakes@JohnnyMurtagh tastes Group One glory in the @coolmoreamerica Matron Stakes goes to Champers Elysees under @ctkjockey#LICW20 @LeopardstownRC pic.twitter.com/8bzUStC1ha
Derby winner Serpentine (124 from 124p) made an underwhelming return to action in the Grand Prix de Paris, finishing fourth behind Mogul, looking more about stamina than speed as he was unable to make major inroads having been settled in mid-field. A return to the front-running tactics that were so effective in the Derby could see him in a better light. Mogul, who had finished only sixth in the Derby but had since won the Gordon Stakes and finished third in the Great Voltigeur, readily prevailed by two and a half lengths in a well-run race, quickly assuming control once asked for his effort. He was an up-to-scratch winner of the race but will need to raise his game to make an impact in stronger Group 1s.
The Dermot Weld-trained filly Tarnawa (119 from 112) ran to a similar level as Mogul when landing the Prix Vermeille, showing a good turn of foot to draw three lengths clear in a race that posed a greater test of speed than stamina at the trip. That was a clear career-best effort from a filly who had twice struggled in Group 1s as a three-year-old. Raabihah (117p from 115p) remains a filly to be positive about despite suffering defeat at a short price as she would have been seen to better effect in a race run at a better tempo.
Tarnawa was one of two Group 1 winners on Sunday for Dermot Weld as he also scored with Search For A Song (120 from 119), who landed the Irish St Leger for a second year in succession. Her campaign had got off to a poor start, but she took a step back in the right direction when third over an inadequate trip in the Tattersalls Gold Cup last time, and she proved as good as ever on Sunday, overhauling Ebor winner Fujaira Prince inside the final furlong. She remains lightly raced over staying distances and looks likely to stay two miles.
At the other end of the distance spectrum, Glass Slippers (remains on 122) won the Group 1 Flying Five Stakes by half a length from fellow British raider Keep Busy without having to run up to the level that had seen her land the Prix de l'Abbaye last season. She'll now try to repeat that success at Longchamp but has Battaash standing in her way.
Other performances worth flagging up over Irish Champions Weekend include an authoritative four-length win for Jessica Harrington's Cayenne Pepper (115 from 110) in the Blandford Stakes at the Curragh, and a smooth success for her stablemate Cadillac (116p from 105p), who took the Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown. Cadillac had looked a hugely exciting prospect when scoring on debut and confirmed that impression on Saturday, producing a performance that places him behind only Thunder Moon and Chindit in the juvenile pecking order.
Chindit (117p from 111p) took his unbeaten record to three in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on Saturday, producing a performance that has been bettered by only Too Darn Hot and Dubai Destination among winners of the race this century. He is a straightforward sort with a good turn of foot, and he always looked to be getting the better of Albasheer (114p from 99P) inside the final furlong, though that inexperienced rival took a big step forward on his debut form and is clearly a talented sort.
2000 Guineas runner-up Wichita (remains on 124) bounced back to the sort of form he had shown at Newmarket, narrowly fending off the likeable One Master in the Park Stakes, while Stone of Destiny (110 from 104) impressed in the Portland, finding the big field and five-and-a-half-furlong trip bringing the best out of him.
Doncaster's St Leger Festival kicked off on Wednesday, with Foxtrot Lady (107 from 103), a half-sister to 2018 winner Dancing Star, making the breakthrough at Pattern level. She was rediscovering the sort of form she had shown as a three-year-old, but, given her overall record, it remains to be seen whether she can use it as a launchpad for something better.
The action stepped up a gear on Thursday, with Indigo Girl (101P from 94p) and Pista (115p from 103p) both posting notable victories in the May Hill and Park Hill respectively. The two-year-old Indigo Girl is a sister to Group 1 winner Journey and can be expected to come into her own over middle-distances next season, so it is encouraging that she was able to make such an impact at this stage of her career, while Pista didn't make it to the racecourse at two but is rapidly progressive and looks a strong stayer. She may benefit from stepping up to two miles.
Revolver (remains on 109p) has been one of the stars of the season, winning six handicaps to earn a shot at the Doncaster Cup on Friday. He didn't look out of place in Group company but was unable to make a big impact having been held up, and he had to settle for fourth behind Spanish Mission (remains on 118), who was making it two from two since switching to Andrew Balding's yard. He proved a class above his rivals at Doncaster and won by three lengths without having to improve.