Pretty Polly perfection for Magical as O'Brien star demolishes rivals on return
Her opposition might not have been of the calibre she is accustomed to but the manner in which Magical obliterated her rivals in the Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes felt like a physical manifestation of the rationale behind her return to training.
When a spike in temperature ruled her out of the Breeders’ Cup last November, retirement beckoned for the dual Champion Stakes winner. She was pencilled in for a spring rendezvous with No Nay Never, but, as she was subsequently wound down in Ballydoyle, O’Brien says he witnessed a physical development in her that prompted a rethink.
"She's very exciting and always has been," O'Brien said after welcoming back his fifth winner of the Group 1. It was also a fifth top-level success for the mare.
"She got stronger over the winter and that's why the lads brought her back. We'd always be talking to them and the plan was for her to be covered by No Nay Never, but when we told them that they made the decision.
"Something just happened with her over the winter. She transformed. Usually you see that sort of improvement from three to four, but she made it from four to five. The power really came into her body."
Already the u-turn is starting to look pretty inspired. Sent off at odds of 2-5 here, Magical was entitled to win, but the manner in which she stamped her authority over her four inferior rivals was visually arresting.
The race was run in a howling wind as another deluge descended on the Curragh plains, but Magical never blinked. Sent to the front from the get-go by Seamie Heffernan, she ground the field remorselessly into submission.
The winning distance was four and a half lengths from Cayenne Pepper, who is bound for a tilt at the Juddmonte Irish Oaks next, yet that did not nearly reflect the extent of her superiority.
A mare who has given Enable as much to think about as almost any other horse over the past couple of years is unequivocally back. More than that, though, she might just be better than ever.
All the marquee Group 1s from 1m2f to 1m4f will be open to her now. The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes for which Paddy Power introduced her at 3-1, is the likely next port of call, with stablemate Japan being targeted at next Sunday's Coral-Eclipse.
"She has been working really well," O'Brien said following her return after a 253-day layoff.
"She is very good over ten furlongs and gets a mile and a half as well, so all those races are open to her now. I don't think it really matters to her, but the King George is the obvious race to look at now."
Heffernan, who along with O'Brien was completing a treble on the day following the partnership's heroics in the Irish Derby on Saturday, suggested afterwards that Magical, whom he was riding for the first time, is as good a horse as he has sat on.
That is quite a statement from a 47-year-old who has thrown his leg over the likes of Galileo, High Chaparral, Yeats and Dylan Thomas. Much like her rider, then, Magical is clearly thriving with age.
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