O’Brien aiming to get 2019 campaign off to a flier with Magic Wand

Royal Ascot winner to bid for Saturday’s inaugural $7 million Pegasus World Turf

Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien will attempt to get his 2019 campaign off to a multi-million dollar flier in Florida on Saturday when Magic Wand lines up for the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Invitational Turf.

The $7 million contest run over almost ten furlongs is the main support event to the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on a hugely lucrative programme at Gulfstream Park in Miami.

The third renewal of the dirt highlight has been cut in value from $16 million a year ago but the introduction of the new turf event has opened up a new opportunity for international horses.

O’Brien has decided to take up the challenge with Magic Wand, an impressive winner of last year’s Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot and subsequently runner-up in both the Prix Vermeille and the Prix de l’Opera.


Her last appearance of 2018 was when fourth in the Breeders Cup Filly & Mare behind Sistercharlie.

Magic Wand arrived at Gulfstream on Sunday night and O’Brien said on Monday: “She seems to have travelled well and the plan is to run.”

O'Brien added that Wayne Lordan rather than Ryan Moore will ride Magic Wand as the filly will carry only eight stone in the race. That is because she is set to get a 7lb weight allowance for not running on medication.

Lordan will also be on board O’Brien’s other Gulfstream runner, Hunting Horn, who lines up in a Grade Three over a mile and a half on the same card. They will be the first starters of the New Year for the world’s most successful yard.

A total of nine races on the Pegasus programme will be worth $16 million in total. However it is the new turf contest that will be the focus of most international attention with the Japanese star Aerolithe joining Magic Wand against a home team led by the versatile star Yoshida.

Magic Wand is a 7-1 shot with Paddy Power to break her duck at top-flight level. Yoshida, a Grade One already on both grass and dirt is their 7-2 favourite.

Accelerate is a hot favourite to land the big event on dirt which is being run for the third time.

Arrogate in 2017 and Gun Runner a year ago managed to win the Pegasus in addition to the Breeders Cup Classic over two months previously. Accelerate will attempt to repeat the same feat.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column