Moore partners Magic Wand for O’Brien’s assault on $5m Cox Plate

Master of Ballydoyle also saddles all but one of a dozen entries in the Vertem Futurity


For the second weekend in a row Ryan Moore will be on Group One duty in Australia for Aidan O’Brien when teaming up with Magic Wand in Saturday morning’s $5 million Cox Plate.

Moore skipped last Saturday’s Champions Day programme at Ascot in order to ride Ten Sovereigns in the Everest sprint in Sydney.

It proved costly because after finishing last in the world’s richest turf race, the English jockey had to endure watching on as Magical landed the Champion Stakes.

Considering O’Brien has all but one of the dozen entries left in this Saturday’s Vertem Futurity, the odds appear to favour the likelihood of another Ballydoyle Group One success at Doncaster.

To confirm his embarrassment of two-year-old riches, the Irish trainer also has seven of the 13 entries left in another juvenile Group One contest on Saturday, the €250,000 Criterium De Saint-Cloud in Paris.

Moore is staying Down Under, however, and moving to Melbourne for Australia’s most coveted weight-for-age race which he landed in 2014 with Adelaide.

He was the last horse to win the Moonee Valley highlight prior to Winx’s unprecedented four-in-a-row in the 10-furlong heat.

The latest Ballydoyle contestant will be Magic Wand who has been favoured with a stall-three draw around the famously tight track and is as low as 9-1 with some firms behind the Japanese favourite, Lys Gracieux.

Magic Wand’s record of just two wins from 18 starts has attracted local attention in Melbourne where the six-time Group One runner is impressing in preparations to try and break her top-flight duck.

‘Franked the form’

“She is taking on good horses all the way through ,” explained O’Brien’s representative, TJ Comerford, to local media. “Magical has franked the form (Magic Wand was second in the Irish Champion Stakes). She’s very straightforward, no problems with her.”

Magic Wand’s stable companion Hunting Horn is set to also run on Saturday in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup.

On Friday, action resumes at jump racing’s spiritual home in Cheltenham but it is the time of year when the flat’s horizons go very much international.

Aidan O’Brien has indicated Magical will lead a strong Ballydoyle team into next week’s Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.

She is likely to line up in the Fillies & Mares race while the Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck will tackle the Turf.

Circus Maximus (Mile) and Tango (Juvenile Fillies) could be joined in the raiding party by the Juvenile Turf possibles, Arizona, Wichita and the Royal Lodge winner Royal Dornoch. Fairyland is a likely contender for the Sprint.

O’Brien has been a Breeders’ Cup stalwart over the years with a dozen winners at American racing’s showpiece event.

Potential Cup contenders

However, he’s still searching for a first Melbourne Cup and his hopes this time will rest on the three-year-old Il Paradiso on the first Tuesday of November.

Joseph O’Brien famously landed “the race that stops a nation” two years ago – beating his father with Rekindling – and has a number of potential Cup contenders including Master Of Reality and Twilight Payment.

It isn’t just the O’Brien’s who are pursuing hugely lucrative pots in Australia, though.

On Saturday week, Curragh-based Michael O’Callaghan is targeting I Am Superman at the inaugural $7.5 million Golden Eagle race at the Rosehill track in Sydney.

The almost-one-mile event is a target too for O’Brien’s Never No More, while British trainer Richard Hannon has sent Beat Le Bon. Ten Sovereigns is still among the nominations for the race which is run over just short of a mile and is worth more than the Melbourne Cup.

On the same card O’Brien’s Antilles will take his chance in the $500,000 Rosehill Gold Cup.

In comparison, the prospect of Sunday’s Group One action at Longchamp feels relatively routine.

Debut over fences

Early entries for the €350,000 Prix Royal Oak include Dermot Weld’s Falcon Eight while O’Brien has options for the seven-furlong Criterium International.

At home Ballydoyle has nine of the 16 entries left in Saturday’s Group Three Eyrefield Stakes at Leopardstown’s final flat fixture of 2019.

Sunday’s National Hunt programme at Galway could see the Grade One-winning hurdler Battleoverdoyen make his debut over fences in a Beginners Chase. Gordon Elliott’s star hasn’t run since being pulled up in the Ballymore at Cheltenham in March behind City Island.

Lustown Baba won the €120,000 Forans auction race final at Naas on Sunday but isn’t being allowed rest on any laurels and will line up under a 6lb penalty in a Navan nursery on Wednesday.

Trainer Willie McCreery uses a 5lb claim but in the testing conditions conceding over a stone to Colin Keane’s mount Myrcella could prove a tough ask.

Donnacha O’Brien is on Full Moon Magic in a later handicap and that one’s last run at Thurles suggests a longer tip should be no trouble.

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