Galileo's Magical Denies Ghaiyyath In the Irish Champion

Magical downs Ghaiyyath in the Irish Champion |


There was a seventh group 1 success for Magical (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and a second renewal of Leopardstown's G1 Irish Champion S. on Saturday as the remarkable mare downed Ghaiyyath (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) in a sensational renewal of the 10-furlong contest. Intent on keeping close tabs on that 8-13 favourite from the outset, Seamie Heffernan placed Ballydoyle's relentless mare at his flanks and the closer they got to the straight the more it appeared that Godolphin's colossus would struggle to divert her attentions. Ranging alongside the visitor and locking on passing the two pole, she put her G1 Juddmonte International conqueror in the red soon after as William Buick drew the whip. Ahead with a furlong to race, the 9-2 second favourite may even have been idling thereafter as she earned a momentous 3/4-of-a-length success, with the fellow Ballydoyle outsider Armory (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) upping his game markedly to be only 1 1/4 lengths behind in third. “We were delighted that Ghaiyyath was coming over, as we wanted another go at him after York, where maybe we felt it didn't work 100% for us,” Aidan O'Brien commented after greeting his ninth winner of this prestige affair. “We were going to go with him today and sit 3/4 [of a length] off him for a solid even match. She eyeballed him all the way and when you do that, there's always a chance that the ones coming from behind will get you but we took a chance and let him and her match up all the way. There are no excuses here at this track and she's incredibly tough and genuine with speed and determination–she has everything and Seamie gave her a brilliant ride.”

In reality, for all of Ghaiyyath's many accomplishments, this was no surprise as Magical is part of a new era of the supermares which is due to go on and on. Her exhilarating display when winning the G1 Pretty Polly S. on her 5-year-old bow at The Curragh June 28 was up there with any of her previous efforts and showed why connections had opted not to cover her by No Nay Never until at least 2021. Coming to the fore last term with wins in the G1 Champion S. as well as this and also the G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup, she is a heavyweight wherever she goes around the world but is rock-solid on home soil and it was always going to take a monumental performance from Ghaiyyath to withstand her. This was her 13th start in Ireland and 10th success, with her reversals coming as a fledgling act at two and when fourth in the 2018 G1 Matron S. over an inadequate mile. Having won back-to-back renewals of the G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh July 26, she was three-lengths second at York Aug. 19 with Aidan O'Brien publicly wondering why the extra that he believed she possessed in the locker was not coming forward on the track.

Remarkably, Heffernan was riding Magical for the first time in the Pretty Polly and this was only his second opportunity to sit on the mare as Ryan Moore stuck with Japan (GB) (Galileo {Ire}). That extra that her trainer talked of may have been eked out in some part by the Ballydoyle stalwart in the saddle and by an opponent of the merit of Ghaiyyath, but the way she operated in the run to the line suggests she was still keeping something back. “I felt that the favourite knew we were there at the start and we were with him every step of the way today–he knew we meant business,” Heffernan explained after steering his third winner of this after the masterfully-ridden Cape Blanco (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in 2010 and So You Think (NZ) (High Chaparral {Ire}) a year later. “Some horses can disappoint you when they seem like champions in the morning, but she has probably never given everything and still won seven group 1s. She's very sound and up for it every day. She's a big and honest mare and to win a third one is massive for me–I work for a great team.”

Magical is likely to head back to ParisLongchamp on the first Sunday in October, having been a well-beaten fifth in the Arc last year. “I suppose we are learning about her all the time,” Aidan O'Brien added. “If you get away from her she gets a bit lazy, but if you get into a fight with her very few will eyeball her. Of all the European races, prestige-wise, this is one of the top, if not the top and every year all the high-rated horses turn up here. It has a perfect place in the calendar, perfect ground, perfect distance and Armory ran an unbelievable race as well. Magical has the choice of the Arc or the fillies' race [the G1 Prix de l'Opera] on the same day. It will depend on what the lads want to do with Love. The Breeders' Cup could also suit her really well. We think she gets a mile and a quarter real strong and at a mile and a half you probably have to ride more of a race on her. She can dish it out to anyone stride-for-stride at a mile and a quarter. Fair dues to Sheikh Mohammed and to Charlie for bringing Ghaiyyath–that's what makes these races. You win some and lose some–we get beaten all the time, but you have to compete and you can't expect to win everything. Ghaiyyath is a great horse.”

Connections of the runner-up could bypass the Arc, with Charlie Appleby saying, “I talked with William Buick afterwards, who said that it rode like a decent race and they have gone a good gallop. Turning in, Ghaiyyath was there with every chance but full credit to Magical, who is a multiple group 1 winner. They have produced another good duel up the straight, but she has come out on top this time. Ghaiyyath will have a short break now before we decide on our next target. We will make a call over the coming weeks and discuss everything before confirming where to go next with him.” Ryan Moore said of Japan, who ended up fifth having briefly threatened in early straight, “I thought off the bend he was going to run well, but he hasn't found the line today and it's disappointing. I was hoping he would run up to his 3-year-old form, but unfortunately he hasn't.”

Magical's dam Halfway To Heaven (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}) was successful in the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas, G1 Nassau S. and G1 Sun Chariot S. before being solely mated with Galileo to dramatic effect. Her triple group 1-winning daughter Rhododendron (Ire) owned the bragging rights prior to the arrival of this phenomenon, while she also threw the G3 International S. winner Flying the Flag (Ire). She is out of the triple group-winning sprinter Cassandra Go (Ire) (Indian Ridge {Ire}), who went close to a group 1 victory herself and whose other black-type winners include Theann (GB) (Rock of Gibraltar {Ire) whose daughter Photo Call (Ire) also by Galileo captured the GI First Lady S. and GI Rodeo S. Theann also produced the G2 Richmond S. scorer Land Force (Ire) by Magical's future husband No Nay Never, while Cassandra Go is kin to the G3 Coventry S. winner and G1 Irish 2000 Guineas runner-up Verglas (Ire) who excelled at stud. Also connected to the G1 Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter (GB) by Galileo's son Teofilo (Ire), Halfway To Heaven also has a yearling colt to come.

Saturday, Leopardstown, Ireland
IRISH CHAMPION S.-G1, €750,000, Leopardstown, 9-12, 3yo/up, 10fT, 2:05.08, gd.
1–MAGICAL (IRE), 132, m, 5, by Galileo (Ire)
1st Dam: Halfway To Heaven (Ire) (Broodmare Of The Year-Ire, MG1SW-Eng, G1SW-Ire, G1SP-Fr, $941,139), by Pivotal (GB)
2nd Dam: Cassandra Go (Ire), by Indian Ridge (Ire)
3rd Dam: Rahaam, by Secreto
O-Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier & Michael Tabor; B-Orpendale, Chelston & Wynatt (IRE); T-Aidan O'Brien; J-Seamus Heffernan. €435,000. Lifetime Record: Hwt. 3yo-Eur at 11-14f, Hwt. Older Mare-Eur at 9.5-11f, Hwt. Older Mare-Ire at 11-14f, MG1SW-Eng & GISP-US, 25-12-7-0, $5,219,464. *Full to Rhododendron (Ire), Hwt. 2yo Filly-Ire, Hwt. Older Mare-Eur at 7-9.5f, MG1SW-Eng, G1SW-Fr, GSW & G1SP-Ire, GISP-USA, $1,786,763; Flying the Flag (IRE), GSW-Ire & GSP-SAf, $195,702. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Ghaiyyath (Ire), 135, h, 5, Dubawi (Ire)–Nightime (Ire), by Galileo (Ire). (€1,100,000 Wlg '15 GOFNOV). O-Godolphin; B-Springbank Way Stud (IRE); T-Charlie Appleby. €150,000.
3–Armory (Ire), 129, c, 3, Galileo (Ire)–After (Ire), by Danehill Dancer (Ire). O-Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith; B-Coolmore (IRE); T-Aidan O'Brien. €75,000.
Margins: 3/4, 1 1/4, NO. Odds: 4.50, 0.62, 66.00.
Also Ran: Sottsass (Fr), Japan (GB), Leo de Fury (Ire). Click for the Racing Post result or the free catalogue-style pedigree.

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