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Magical Champions Day hat-trick bid is on; 16 stand ground for Champion Stakes

Mon 12 Oct 2020

Magical and Mishriff are two of 16 horses confirmed for the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

The brilliant mare Magical provided Aidan O’Brien with his first first victory in the 10-furlong showpiece 12 months ago, and will return to Berkshire after successfully defending her crown in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

O’Brien could also call upon Japan, Sovereign, Mogul and Derby winner Serpentine. Magical retains an entry in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes on the same card.

The John Gosden-trained Mishriff has emerged as a top-class colt this summer, claiming Classic glory in the Prix du Jockey at Chantilly before returning to France to win the Group Two Prix Guillaume d’Ornano in August.

Gosden could also saddle Lord North, who was a runaway winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and was last seen finishing third behind Ghaiyyath and Magical in the Juddmonte International at York.

The William Haggas-trained Addeybb was runner-up to Magical in last year’s renewal and will return in a bid to go one better.

Other contenders include William Muir’s St Leger third Pyledriver, possible French challenger Skalleti and Saeed bin Suroor’s Benbatl, who is also entered in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

Muir is delighted by the well-being of Pyledriver and is relishing dropping him back in distance.

The trainer, seeking a first Group 1 win after 29 years with a licence, said: “He’s getting stronger and is starting to retain his weight easier. His work has been good, the same as ever, and I’m very confident I’ve still got him at his best.

“I think if it hadn’t been for this type of year, we would probably not run him over a mile and a six in the St Leger. You can’t be dogmatic and say he didn’t stay because he ground it out, but that was his class. He wasn’t as effective because we took his gears and speed away from him. Martin Dwyer was sitting, waiting and having to hold him on to him when he wanted to kick.

“I’m not worried about the ground and the trip won’t be a problem. Straight after he won the Voltigeur, the jockey went on TV and said he had the pace to win a Group 1 over a mile and a quarter.”

Weekend winners Onassis and Jouska have both been supplemented for the six-furlong QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes.

Henry Candy’s Jouska was successful in Saturday’s Boadicea Stakes at Newmarket, while the Charlie Fellowes-trained Onassis landed Sunday’s October Fillies’ Stakes at Goodwood.

Hayley Turner, who has also won the Sandringham at Royal Ascot and a Listed race in France on Onassis this season, had feared that would be her last outing aboard the filly, but she will have another start before likely bowing out.

Fellowes said: “It’s a brave call, but she’s going to be retired and it will probably be her last ever run.

“I think she has loads of ticks in her favour – she’ll love the ground, she loves Ascot and if she can finish in the first four, it would do her pedigree an enormous amount.

“Her owners are very excited about having a crack at it, it will be her swansong and Hayley can ride. There are few options elsewhere, so we thought given she’d won £21,000 the other day, let’s have a crack.

“She’s got a phenomenal pedigree and is already worth a lot of money, but if she gets placed, she will take it to another level.”

The two supplementary entries mean there are 19 possibles in the Sprint, including Dream Of Dreams and Glen Shiel, the first two home in the Sprint Cup at Haydock.

The latter will be ridden by Hollie Doyle, who is seeking a first Group One win in what has already been a stellar year.

His trainer Archie Watson said: “I’ve been delighted with Glen Shiel since Haydock. His work into Ascot has been very good and I hope he can run another huge race.”

He is owned by Hambleton Racing and their racing manager Simon Turner said: “Glen Shiel’s excellent run at Haydock didn’t surprise us at all and fully justified the decision to pitch him in against the best.

“His owners lived every moment of that run and are counting down the days to Saturday.”

Silvestre de Sousa is jocked up on Andrew Balding’s Happy Power meaning the ride on Tim Easterby’s Art Power, in the same ownership, could be available if both run.

One Master, Oxted, Sonaiyla and the unbeaten Starman are others of note.

Stradivarius is among 15 in the Long Distance Cup after his effort in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Aidan O’Brien has left in Broome, Dawn Patrol and Sovereign, while Dermot Weld’s dual Irish St Leger winner Search For A Song would be a new rival for Stradivarius.

Magical has been left in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, but she also has the option of the Champion Stakes which she won last year.

There are 13 others in the Fillies & Mares including Laburnum and Passion, stablemates of Magical.

Ger Lyons’ Irish Oaks winner Even So, the Ralph Beckett pair of Antonia De Vega and Manuela De Vega and Ed Vaughan’s Dame Malliot are in the mix.

William Haggas’ Montatham heads the weights for the Balmoral Handicap.

Last year’s winner Escobar is also among the 43 left in.

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