Aidan O’Brien’s Magical can land Prince of Wales’s Stakes
Fascinating clash with Sea Of Class awaits at Royal Ascot with Enable absent
Ryan Moore onboard Magical comes home to win the Irish European Breeders’ Fund Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh Racecourse in May. Photograph: Peter Mooney/Inpho
Royal Ascot’s “Ladies’ Day” could come 24 hours early with Wednesday’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes for once appearing to be dominated by some elite fillies.
European racing’s Queen, the dual-Arc heroine, Enable, may be absent but the two rivals that pressed her closest in 2018 provide a mouth-watering prospect.
Aidan O’Brien’s Magical put Enable to the pin of her collar to win the Breeders Cup while Sea Of Class might even have been unlucky to just lose out in an epic Arc finish a month earlier.
For good measure the Group One-winning Japanese mare, with an Irish name, Deirdre, also lines up although that outsider’s main influence on the race might already have occurred.
Ascot’s authorities have moved the day two feature from its traditional fourth race slot in order to facilitate Japanese racing fans’ renowned appetite for watching their stars on the international stage.
Running the Prince of Wales’s Stakes 40 minutes earlier than normal allows the race to be viewed before midnight in Japan.
It’s yet another reflection of Royal Ascot’s global appeal in a week which sees the first worldwide Tote pool betting. Thirty different pools from 10 different countries, including Ireland, are merged and an estimated €100 million of liquidity could be generated during the five days.
In terms of Wednesday’s highlight the French star Waldgeist is a proven male Group One performer while Frankie Dettori will try to work his magic and get the admirable Crystal Ocean into a position to win for the first time at the top level.
Nevertheless they’re the sort of profiles that pale comparative to Magical and Sea Of Class in a race which traditionally has proved tough for the fairer sex.
Only The Fugue in 2014 has won the Prince Of Wales’s in the last dozen years and her victory was memorable too for a dramatic eclipse by the then reigning Arc champion Treve.
Magical also ran in last year’s Arc but stepped up from that to win here on “Champion’s Day” and then run a blinder in Kentucky.
Off an uninterrupted preparation she has maintained that momentum this season with three easy victories including last month’s Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh. O’Brien has used that route to good effect before with Duke Of Marmalade and So You Think.
In contrast Sea Of Class is returning to action. Undoubtedly brilliant after wins in the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks last year, doubts about a possibly brittle temperament looked to be banished given the gallant way she almost overcame adverse circumstances in that Arc.
But Magical looks a much more formidable proposition since that sole occasion they’ve clashed and looks to be at a career peak.
Kew Gardens successfully managed the quick turnaround from Epsom in this race a year ago although it could be O’Brien’s son Donnacha who winds up on the best Ballydoyle hope this time in Western Australia.
This one had sufficient juvenile quality to be placed behind Magna Grecia and Phoenix Of Spain over a mile in last year’s Futurity. However a step up in trip in Navan’s Yeats Stakes last time looked to suit him admirably and there should be more to come.
American trainer Wes Ward has become an Ascot fixture over the last decade and comes doubly represented in both the opening Queen Mary Stakes and the Windsor Castle Stakes which concludes day two.
Both his Queen Mary runners won on dirt at Keeneland on their debut. While they’re very much unknown quantities any horse that can win by 15 lengths over four and a half furlongs after blowing the start as Kimari did must be smart.
Ward’s two Windsor Castle starters landed their debuts at Belmont on grass and Johnny Velazquez’s presence on Foolish Humor looks a move worth noting.