Magical targets eighth Group One in Sunday’s Hong Kong Cup

Trainer Aidan O’Brien looking to end turbulent campaign on a high at Sha Tin

Aidan O’Brien’s Magical is looking to win an eighth Group One in Sunday’s Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin. Photograph: PA Wire.

Aidan O’Brien’s Magical is looking to win an eighth Group One in Sunday’s Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin. Photograph: PA Wire.

 

Aidan O’Brien hopes to bring a unique and turbulent 2020 campaign to a record-breaking conclusion in Hong Kong on Sunday morning.

The champion trainer has rewritten racing’s record books during 25 years in charge at Ballydoyle but Magical could secure a singular slot to herself if successful in the Longines Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin.

Victory in the feature event of the final major international programme of the year would mean an eighth Group One success for the mare, one more than illustrious names of the past O’Brien has had through his hands such as Rock Of Gibraltar and Yeats.

O’Brien’s two previous victories at the Sha Tin carnival came with another seven-time top-flight winner, Highland Reel. He twice won the mile and a half Vase in 2015 and 2017.

Mogul will try to emulate him on Sunday while O’Brien’s shock 73-1 Breeders’ Cup winner Order Of Australia lines up in the Mile where he will be joined by Ken Condon’s star Romanised.

The four Irish-trained runners are bidding to join an elite group of Hong Kong carnival winners from this country.

Jim Bolger’s Alexander Goldrun landed the 10-furlong Cup event in 2004 while Dermot Weld’s Additional Risk was successful at the very first international programme in 1991.

Ryan Moore has twice before won the Hong Kong Cup and been placed three times, including on Magical’s stable companion Magic Wand a year ago.

“Magic Wand was a super mare but Magical, you would think, would be a slight step-up on her. She brings stronger form,” the English jockey said.

It will be Magical’s 28th career start when she lines up for a race due off at 8.30 Irish-time and Moore added: “She’s been great for a long time and it’s fantastic that she’s here. The reality is they probably have her to beat.”

Magical’s enduring excellence has featured through a year that in addition to coronavirus has also seen the O’Brien team withdraw from the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe due to a contaminated feed problem and confusion over wrong horses being saddled for the Fillies’ Mile in October.

Moore himself has been dogged by speculation about his future as Ballydoyle’s No 1 rider but his position has been confirmed for 2021.

On Sunday, as well as Magical, he looks to have first-rate chances of another Vase victory if Mogul reproduces his Grand Prix de Paris form in the autumn.

Top French jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot maintains his association with Order Of Australia in a Mile which bookmakers rate local star Golden Sixty an overwhelming favourite for.

Romanised, winner of last year’s Prix Jacques Le Marois, and the previous year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas, has his final start before retiring to stud next year.

Regular rider Billy Lee again takes the mount and will break from stall four in a race due off at 7.50am.

A rare Sunday blank in Ireland means Fairyhouse is the sole weekend fixture where JP McManus’s Off You Go could be an answer to the featured €40,000 handicap chase.

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