Aidan O’Brien’s Magical looks to cement superstar status in Juddmonte

Five-year-old mare looking to make it a record seven wins in the race for her trainer

Up to now Magical has largely played second-fiddle in the superstar stakes but Wednesday’s Juddmonte International could see Aidan O’Brien’s star take centre stage.

However even if the mare gets the better of her four opponents in the prestigious York highlight then circumstances will still conspire against her.

Like everything else, this 2020 Ebor festival takes place behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic although a slight easing of restrictions means a limited number of owners can attend.

Nevertheless the week's action will be minus racing's most famous name of all as quarantine regulations mean Frankie Dettori is absent having opted to ride in France last weekend.


That the Italian voluntarily passed on one of British racing’s most prestigious events – citing better prizemoney at Deauville as a reason – further adds to an uncertain eve-of-Ebor mood.

Dettori’s old ally Enable also bypasses York and the chance of yet another clash with her old rival, Magical.

But even with the dual-Arc and triple-King George heroine absent, Magical still gets to be overshadowed this week by her younger stable companion, Love.

She is odds-on for Thursday’s Yorkshire Oaks after spectacular Classic wins at Newmarket and Epsom and it will be a major shock if she can’t confirm her route to the Arc in October.

It’s a tough lot for a top-notch talent such as Magical, a winner at the top-level on half a dozen occasions but still regarded by some as high-class trial-tackle for Enable rather than getting acclaimed in her own right.

Retired to stud at the end of last year, she was brought back to racing having wintered spectacularly well and has won both the Pretty Polly and the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh as a result.

Wednesday’s race looks like being a much more substantial test with Godolphin’s star Ghaiyyath topping the betting and the Guineas winner Kameko representing the Classic generation.

Dettori gave up the chance to ride the progressive gelding Lord North. But potentially the most significant selection decision of all is O’Brien’s call to rely solely on a five-year-old mare for what would be a record-breaking seventh win in the race for the trainer.

From Giant’s Causeway two decades ago to Japan last year, the Irish trainer’s previous winners have all been colts. This is a race that can cement a stallion’s career so 2020 appears to be unusual in lots of ways.

Arabian Queen sprang a 50-1 shock when beating Golden Horn in 2015 and is the only filly/mare to win the Juddmonte in over 20 years.

Magical is joined in the gender battle by the three-year-old outsider Rose Of Kildare in what could ultimately turn out to be a straightforward exercise in trying to pass out Ghaiyyath.

The Godolphin star is all but certain to try and dominate from the front. Whether the five-year-old Magical is capable of overhauling him will be a fascinating prospect in any circumstances.

O'Brien and Ryan Moore will team up earlier with Mogul in the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes.

The Irish trainer is seeking a fourth win in the traditional St Leger trial where Mogul will attempt to back up his success in Goodwood’s Gordon Stakes last time.

“We were happy with him at Goodwood. He’d clearly come forward with each of his runs,” O’Brien has said. “I don’t think we’re viewing him as a Leger horse. All going well he could go for the Grand Prix de Paris after this. A mile and a half might be as far as he wants to go.”

Four days of York will be shadowed by four days of Killarney’s August programme where the €40,000 Kingdom Gold Cup highlights Wednesday’s action.

Tony Martin’s Golden Spear ran third in the race a year ago behind David’s Charm and has another crack at it on the back of a fine effort at Galway.

Golden Spear belied 66-1 odds to finish third to Princess Zoe in the big amateur contest when running on notably well at the finish.

Martin has engaged the promising apprentice Dylan Browne McMonagle to claim 7lbs off and that could prove the difference.

Jessica Harrington, who runs One Voice against Love on Thursday, sends three runners to Killarney.

They include Barbados in a conditions event while Zero Ten, a daughter of Galileo, makes her debut in a three-year-old maiden that also includes Rekindling’s half sister Kalakaua.

In other news, Aidan O’Brien has seven of the 18 entries left in Saturday’s Futurity Stakes at the Curragh as he goes in pursuit of a fifth win in a row in the Group Two contest.

The champion trainer has won the Futurity 13 times in all, including with star names such as Hawk Wing, Gleneagles and the subsequent Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck in 2018.