Magical and Mogul give Aidan O’Brien a formidable hand as he goes in search of a seventh victory in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
It is 18 years since High Chaparral provided the Ballydoyle handler with his first triumph in the mile-and-a-half contest. Twelve months later, the same horse dead-heated with Johar in an epic finish.
O’Brien has since added to his tally with St Nicholas Abbey (2011), Magician (2013), Found (2015) and Highland Reel (2016) and appears to have an excellent chance of adding to his tally at Keeneland on Saturday.
Magical has previous at the Breeders’ Cup, having pushed the great Enable to three-quarters of a length in this race two years ago.
She was set to be retired after winning last year’s Champion Stakes at Ascot, but returned for another campaign and has won another three Group Ones to take her top-level total to seven. She finished third when defending her Champion Stakes crown three weeks ago.
“Magical was going to go to No Nay Never, but at the start of the year the lads had a chat. We said how well she had done over the winter – physically she really changed – and we felt it was worth letting her have another year,” said O’Brien.
“We’re delighted we made that decision. We felt it was right as she was sound and her mind was very good.
“We started to race early in the year and she went from race to race. She’s an amazing filly and we’re lucky to have her.”
Stablemate Mogul has not been seen in competitive action since running out an impressive winner of the Grand Prix de Paris in September, having since missed an intended outing in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe due to a well documented issue with contaminated feed.
“He’s in good form. Obviously, he’s had a busy year. I suppose his last run was his most impressive when he won the Grand Prix de Paris on a bit of nice ground,” O’Brien added.
“He travelled very well, quickened well and we were pleased with how he came out of the race.”
Dual Group One-winning filly Tarnawa bids to provide Dermot Weld with his very first Breeders’ Cup success.
The Prix Vermeille and Prix de l’Opera heroine also had the option of running in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, but instead takes on the boys in the longer of the two races.
She will be ridden by Colin Keane, because intended partner Christophe Soumillon was ruled out on Friday after testing positive for Covid-19.
Weld said: “She’s equally as effective over 10 furlongs and a mile and a half.
“I think she’s very tough, sound and genuine, so is well suited to the Breeders’ Cup. Most importantly, she’s a stayer with speed.
“I think in this difficult year, great credit must be given to the Breeders’ Cup for their organisation and help and their ability to put on the fixture. They really need great credit for what they’re achieving.”
Enable’s trainer John Gosden is this year represented by Lord North and Mehdaayih.
Lord North won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot earlier in the summer, but finished tailed off on his return to the Berkshire circuit for last month’s Champion Stakes.
Mehdaayih, meanwhile, has raced just twice in 2020 thus far, most recently finishing fourth in Ascot’s Qipco British Champions Fillies And Mares Stakes.
“The Champion Stakes was unfortunately run on a quagmire, which wasn’t a lot of help to Lord North nor Magical,” said Gosden.
“We’d had record rain in October, so both with the Arc in Paris and on Champions Day at Ascot, you were running in the deepest ground I’ve ever seen. It was drying out ground, which becomes very sticky and gluey.
“Prior to that Lord North ran a lovely race to finish third in the Juddmonte International at York, having previously won the Prince of Wales, and we’re looking forward to running him here.
“Mehdaayih ripped her back when she ran in the Prince of Wales’s (finished sixth), so she had a long time off and we only just managed to get her back for Champions Day.”