Magical can cast a spell in a high-quality Naas feature
Curtain set to come down on Winx’s extraordinary career in Australia
Winx’s career is due to finish in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Randwick. If she wins, it will be a 33rd win in a row for Winx and a staggering 25th Group One success. Photograph: Bob Barker/AFP/Getty Images
Donnacha O’Brien on Latrobe wins The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh in June. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
The curtain comes down on Winx’s record-breaking Group One career in Sydney early on Saturday morning and closer to home 10 hours later is a Naas feature that looks top-flight in all but name.
A trio of Group One winners, including the 2018 Irish Derby hero Latrobe, line up in the Alleged Stakes.
Flat racing’s global scale is reflected in how Joseph O’Brien’s first classic winner as a trainer wound up 2018 finishing runner-up in a Flemington Group One in November before out of the money in Hong Kong a month later.
Now Latrobe is back on home ground taking on an old rival in Flag Of Honour who beat him in September’s Irish Leger.
However it is Aidan O’Brien’s other contender, Magical, who is rated to trump them all. An interrupted 2018 campaign saw Magical win at “British Champions Day” before running the superb Enable so close at the Breeders Cup.
It’s that global element which has helped racing relish Winx’s superb career in Australia where she is widely acclaimed as the best runner seen Down Under since the legendary Phar Lap.
That career is due to finish in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes run at the Randwick track at 6.05am Irish time.
If she wins, it will be a 33rd win in a row for Winx and a staggering 25th Group One. They include four in a row in the Cox Plate, Australia’s most prestigious middle-distance race.
It has earned Winx a higher official rating than the dual-Arc heroine Enable, a link to Magical’s appearance later in the afternoon.
She is one of five rides Ryan Moore has for O’Brien at Naas, the fifth meeting in Ireland the English jockey has ridden at already in 2019.
Magical returned from a lay-off to win a Group Two impressively at the Curragh las summer. Her 122 rating combined with high class form at ten furlongs should make her hard to beat.
“She’s just ready to start but we’re happy with what she’s doing,” O’Brien has reported. “We were delighted with her at the end of last year and she really got her act together.”
Moore is on Ballydoyle’s new recruit Le Brivido in the Group Three Gladness Stakes. Winner of the Jersey Stakes for Andre Fabre last year, and runner-up in the French Guineas, Le Brivido faces a tough task on his Irish debut.
The 2018 Irish Guineas hero Romanised will be ridden for the first time by Billy Lee and has to concede a Group One penalty.
Last year’s winner Psychedelic Funk can boast a 110 rating while last week’s Heritage Stakes victor Imagining may prove the toughest opponent of all.
Sunday’s flat action takes place at a somewhat beleaguered Dundalk where just 64 runners are declared for the seven races.
The Polytrack hasn’t been replaced in the dozen years since Dundalk opened and criticism continues to mount from trainers in particular about the quality of the surface.
Sheila Lavery is one trainer who has publicly declared her intention not to have runners at Dundalk until the surface is replaced, something track officials have indicated may not happen for some time.
Nevertheless both Aidan and Joseph O’Brien have declared runners for Sunday’ fixture and the 2018 course winner Rockfish could be interesting in first-time cheek-pieces in the mile and a half handicap.