Trainer Aidan O’Brien has a superb record in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup and Magical looks a worthy long odds-on 1/4 favourite with William Hill to further enhance it with victory in this year’s renewal of the 1m 2f contest at The Curragh on Sunday (15;00).
The Ballydoyle handler has won the race a record seven times courtesy of Black Sam Bellamy (2003), Powerscourt (2004), Duke of Marmalade (2008), Fame and Glory (2010), So You Think (2011 and 2012) and Lancaster Bomber (2018).
In Magical, he has a filly who was a smart juvenile and produced some cracking efforts last season at the highest level.
After shaping well when a three-length fourth to Laurens following a break in the Group 1 Matron Stakes at this venue when badly hampered at a crucial stage, the daughter of Galileo ran much better than the finishing position suggests when 10th of 19 to wonder filly Enable in the Arc at Longchamp.
Magical was held-up well at the rear of the field, before keeping on in eye-catching fashion steadily down the wide outside to be nearest at the finish and beaten just over five lengths.
Given how the race panned out it was a terrific effort, and Magical then got back to winning ways next time up at Ascot when staying on strongly to beat Coronet in the Group 1 Champion Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot.
As good as ever this season
That victory booked her a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs and a rematch with Enable in the 1m 4f Turf.
The pair battled it out from the two marker with the dual Arc heroine asserting close hom to score by just three-quarters of a length in a thrilling finish.
Magical was then given a deserved 161-day break and has looked as good as ever in winning both her starts this season.
In the first of those at Naas, she travelled ominously well throughout before asserting inside the final furlong and drawing readily clear to easily beat stable companion Flag Of Honour by 4 1/2 lengths in the Group 3 Alleged Stakes.
Magical then accounted for the same rival in the Group 2 Mooresbridge Stakes over this course and distance earlier in the month when scoring cosily by 1 1/2 lengths in a muddingly run affair.
Those wins have earned her a Magical a rating of 122, the highest in the field, and puts her 5lb clear of old foe Flag Of Honour. She also receives 3lb from that rival, so on adjusted official ratings comes out 8lb clear.
It makes Magical impossible to oppose, despite her cramped odds, and this looks her’s for the taking en route to tackling more Group 1 assignments.
Flag Of Honour the forecast choice
The aforementioned Flag Of Honour once again looks booked for second place behind Magical, so is the obvious one for straight forecast backers.
This four-year-old is a tough and consistent sort who has won five of his 14 career starts and is three from four at this venue.
The first of those victories came in the Group 2 Curragh Cup over 1m 6f, where Flag Of Honour made virtually all the running and stayed on well when pressed inside the final furlong to score by 1 1/2 lengths.
He then dug deep under a penalty next time up to just hold Twilight Payment by a neck in the Irish St Leger Trial.
Flag Of Honour then enjoyed his finest hour when securing glory in the Irish Leger itself, when again making all and running out a comfortable 2 3/4 lengths winner over Irish Derby hero Latrobe.
An official rating of 117 makes him second best behind Magical, and puts him 9lb and upwards clear of the three other runners.
That suggests something will have to go seriously wrong for O’Brien not to secure a 1-2 in this, but it’s impossible to make a case for Flag Of Honour getting the better of Magical based on their clashes this season.
All his best form has come over 1m 6f and this trip is far too sharp for the son of Galileo, who is a 6/1 shot with William Hill to cause an upset.
Connections are clearly keen to secure some decent placed prize money in a Group 1 over it, however, as it will increase his value as a stallion.
Hard to make a case for remaining trio
Mustajeer, a 25/1 chance with Ladbrokes, was well-beaten by Magical when seventh of eight in the Alleged Stakes, but has since run well to finish runner-up in a Group 2 over 1m 6f at Navan.
He is another not sure to be suited by the drop back to 1m 2f, but could give Flag Of Honour something to think about as regards second place.
Verbal Dexterity is third best on ratings and stuck to the task well last time out when runner-up in a Group 3 over 1m at Leopardstown, but this is far tougher and his odds of 20/1 with Coral reflect his chances.
The five-runner field is completed by the Fozzy Stack trained four-year-old colt Zibha, 33/1 with BetVictor, who is a useful sort but looks to be flying too high and a rating of 104 gives him a mountain to climb to play any sort of role in this.