Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor's 4-year-old filly Magical (IRE) took command two furlongs out and defeated stablemates Magic Wand (IRE) and Anthony Van Dyck (IRE) for a 2 ¼-length victory under jockey Ryan Moore in Saturday's $1.441 million, 1 ¼-mile QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown. Magical's victory earned her an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf through the international Breeders' Cup Challenge.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien saddled the first three finishers in the race, while claiming his eighth Irish Champion Stakes.
The Breeders' Cup Challenge is an international series of 86 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will be held at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California on Nov. 1-2. As part of the benefits of the Challenge series, Breeders' Cup will pay the entry fees for Magical to start in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf. Breeders' Cup also will provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
Magical, a bay daughter of Galileo (IRE) out of the Pivotal (GB) mare Halfway to Heaven (IRE), joins George Washington (BRZ), Crystal Ocean (GB), Lys Gracieux (JPN), Enable (GB), Bricks and Mortar, Acclimate, Annals of Time and Spanish Mission as the “Win and You're In” qualifiers thus far for the Longines Turf.
Magical, who was runner-up to Enable (GB) in last year's Longines Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs, won her fourth race in seven starts this year. She returned to the winner's circle today after tough defeats against Crystal Ocean in the “Win and You're In” Prince of Wales's Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot on June 19 and then to Enable in the Coral Eclipse (G1) at Sandown on July 6, and again in the “Win and You're In” Darley Yorkshire Oaks (G1) at York on Aug. 22. Magical won the Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1) at The Curragh earlier this year.
Sent away as the 11-10 favorite in the eight-horse field of the Irish Champion, Magical tracked comfortably behind pacesetting stablemate Hunting Horn (IRE) through the first mile before being roused by Moore and sending her to the front with two furlongs remaining. Both the 4-year-old filly Magic Wand, ridden by Seamie Heffernan, and the 3-year-old Anthony Van Dyck, who won the Investec Derby (G1), tried to stay close, but were no match for the winner.
The 5-year-old Japanese mare Deirdre (JPN), winner of the Nassau Stakes (G1) at Goodwood, came on strongly to finish fourth. She was followed in order by Headman (GB), Madmoon (IRE), Elarqam (GB) and Hunting Horn.
Magical covered the 1 ¼ miles in 2:06.49 over a course listed as good.
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