Best still to come from O'Brien's Magical

Breed the best to the best and hope for the best is an ideology that has been knocking around racing for years.

Best still to come from O'Brien's Magical

Breed the best to the best and hope for the best is an ideology that has been knocking around racing for years. The reasoning certainly bore fruit regarding the Aidan O’Brien-trained four-year-old filly, Magical.

She is by Galileo, who needs no introduction, out of Halfway To Heaven and is a clear case of breeding the best to the best, with a smashing outcome. At Naas last Saturday, Magical made an excellent seasonal debut when taking a Group 3, giving every indication she is one to follow this season.

We know Galileo was a great racehorse and continues to be a phenomenal stallion, but most will surely forgotten just how good Halfway To Heaven was.

She was also trained by O’Brien, winning four of her nine races. The daughter of Pivotal ran twice as a two-year-old, and seven times at three, before being retired.

Successful in a maiden as a juvenile at Leopardstown, her other three wins all came at Group level. At the Curragh in 2008, partnered by Seamie Heffernan, her first win at this level came when she landed the Irish 1000 Guineas.

Halfway To Heaven was part of a five-strong team for O’Brien that afternoon, with 13 runners going to post. Stable jockey Johnny Murtagh rode a filly called Kitty Matcham for O’Brien and she finished 10th.

Something else that caught the eye, when looking up the contest this week, was the fact Dermot Weld had two runners in the race, Mad About You and Caribbean Sunset.

They were promoted to second and third respectively, after original runner-up, the John Murphy-trained 66-1 shot Tuscan Evening had been disqualified and placed fourth.

What was interesting when it came to the Weld runners was the riding arrangements. Pat Smullen was aboard Mad About You, no surprise there, but Caribbean Sunset was ridden by one Ryan Moore.

After the Curragh, Halfway To Heaven, this time with Murtagh in the plate, beat Jim Bolger’s even-money favourite Lush Lashes by a head in the 10-furlong Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.

Lush Lashes, however, reversed the placings when beating her rival by about three parts of a length into third in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.

Undaunted, though, Halfway To Heaven regained the winning thread in Group 1 company when Heffernan guided her to a half a length victory in the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.

She rounded off her racing days in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, finishing seventh of 10, when a long hard season had obviously taken its toll.

Given how good she was on the racecourse, there was every possibility Halfway To Heaven would make a top-class broodmare and her union with Galileo was clearly a marriage made in Heaven.

In Magical they have produced a filly of the highest quality, with every reason to believe the best is still to come. She’s tough and durable, as evidenced by the fact O’Brien asked her to race no less than six times as a two-year-old.

Magical didn’t get kid-glove treatment as a three-year-old either and raced six times. Four of those outings were at the back-end of last season and emphasised here is a horse going forward at a rate of knots.

She was fourth to Laurens in the Matron Stakes at the Curragh, performed way better than her final placing would indicate when 10th

in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe, before taking the Group 1 British Champion Fillies and Mares Stakes at Ascot in October.

But it was Magical’s final outing last season that was the most revealing. In the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs she ran the brilliant Enable mighty close, going under by three parts of a length, with the third a further nine lengths away.

At Naas a week ago, there was so much to admire about the way Magical travelled through the 10 furlongs and especially in the manner she picked up in the straight.

To date, that win at Ascot last October is the only time Magical has done the business in a Group 1. Follow her over the coming months; I will be amazed if she doesn’t add considerably to her record at the top table.

We have given Racing TV some stick here in the recent past, buttheir efforts of late have been far more satisfactory.

Last Saturday they had to cover four meetings, which included Naas, the Scottish National at Ayr and some decent Flat fare at Newbury.

It was the same scenario last Sunday, they had four more meetings, including two from Ireland, Dundalk and Tramore. There was absolutely no cause for complaint and at no stage was any effort made to downplay Irish racing.

We know Irish racing authorities are very much on side and, for instance, the third contest at Dundalk last Sunday was delayed by two minutes, following a request from broadcasters.

It was the same story at Clonmel on Thursday, with the first race delayed by three minutes and the second by a minute.

Racing TV seem to have got the message and they won’t be in receipt of any more criticism, at least from this quarter, if the service we had last weekend continues to be provided.

Mind you their skills will be thoroughly tested this afternoon.

Racing TV has a whopping six meetings on its agenda, including Cork, although the fact Nottingham doesn’t start until 4.30 is a minor help.

There is now no chance of Rachael Blackmore being crowned champion jockey in Ireland, she is simply too far behind Paul Townend.

She has, however, ridden an unbelievable 86 winners, Davy Russell sits third on 77, but that still leaves her 17 adrift of Townend.

One statistic worth noting is Rachael has had more rides than anyone else this season.

She is racing towards a remarkable 600, her current total is 589, miles clear of the rest, and she will surely top that figure, as long as remaining injury free.

A couple of weeks ago we made the case here for Burrows Saint winning Monday’s Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse. There’s no reason for a change of mind now, especially with himself taking the ride!

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