Magical Lagoon holds on for Irish Oaks honours

Trainer Jessica Harrington landed her second Classic as Royal Ascot winner Magical Lagoon toughed it out in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks at the Curragh.

The race looked Magical Lagoon’s to lose following the withdrawal of long-time ante-post favourite Emily Upjohn, but the Ribblesdale Stakes scorer was made to work hard for her first Group One success with Aidan O’Brien’s Toy pushing her all the way to the line.

Travelling smoothly as she tracked the outsider Show Of Stars who led the field along, it was the 5-4 favourite who loomed large and took over at the two-furlong pole. And she showed all her stamina and battling qualities to first repel eventual third Cairde Go Deo and also win the prolonged duel with the runner-up.

“It’s wonderful to win one Classic, to get two is absolutely amazing,” said Harrington, who took the Irish 1,000 Guineas with Alpha Centauri in 2018.

“She’s such a game filly, she only does as much as she has to do. She’s just a lovely filly to train for Mr Zhang.

“I kept looking at what was behind her but I knew she’d keep staying, she stayed very well in Ascot. They probably didn’t go as quick as they did in Ascot and she just ran a great race.

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“Shane was in the right position and kept going forward. He rode a super race and she kept finding and finding.

Shane Foley and connections celebrate winning the Juddmonte Irish Oaks with Magical Lagoon at Curragh racecourse
Shane Foley and connections celebrate winning the Juddmonte Irish Oaks with Magical Lagoon at Curragh racecourse (Brian Lawless/PA)

“It’s only her third run this year and I’d say she’ll improve again. She’s in the Yorkshire Oaks and after that I haven’t really made a decision.

“I’d love to keep her in training next year. I hope so because Galileo’s progeny improve and her brother was a much better four-year-old than three-year-old.”

When asked how she felt after hearing of the withdrawal of Emily Upjohn on Friday due to travel difficulties, she added: “I was terrified because suddenly I’d become favourite.

“Before we were the underdogs and I love being the underdog and having a go at them, but it’s worked out great.”

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