Magical leads Ballydoyle brigade at Dubai World Cup - GulfToday

Magical leads Ballydoyle brigade at Dubai World Cup

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Action from one of the prep races ahead of the Dubai World Cup.

Last year’s Dubai World Cup night saw a procession from the hugely talented Mendelssohn in the UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed and Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2) before targeting big races in America through his 3-year-old campaign.

Such was just another example of the powerful reach that Coolmore and Aidan O’Brien-led Ballydoyle have and 2019 could represent more of the same as the Irish titans assemble a team of established and future stars for the Dubai World Cup card.

Magical is perhaps the brightest of those and is gearing up for a tilt at the $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), a race that owner Coolmore won in 2013 with St Nicholas Abbey. The Galileo sister to three-time Group 1 winner Rhododendron has already achieved the same level of success, thanks to a victory in the British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes (G1). She followed this up by finishing three-quarters of a length behind the brilliant Enable in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) with a competitive field trailing far behind. She is likely to be joined in the race by stablemate Magic Wand, who has now finished second in three Group 1 races, most recently in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) at the end of January.

“Magical came through the winter well and the Sheema Classic looks a nice race for her,” O’Brien said. “Magic Wand ran well in America in the Pegasus Turf and she could target the same race.”

O’Brien is also likely to send the talented stayer Flag of Honour to prove himself against many of the top stars of the stamina world. A winner of three stakes as a sophomore last term, he was an impressive victor in the Irish St Leger (G1). He is targeting the $1.5 million Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors (G2) and goes there with a solid claim, especially if the son of Galileo improves into his 4-year-old season.

Another Galileo who could have a substantial 4-year-old year and is under Dubai consideration is Group 2 winner I Can Fly, who has proven herself at the highest level when second to Roaring Lion in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1). She is a prime candidate for the $6 million Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1).

“Flag of Honour is in the Dubai Gold Cup and he is in good form,” O’Brien continued. “I Can Fly is well and is likely to run in the Dubai Turf if she travels.”

It is often interesting seeing how Ballydoyle’s 3-year-olds develop over the winter and there are a few possible participants for the $2.5 million UAE Derby as O’Brien attempts to gauge whether or not he has a live candidate for another assault on the ‘Run for the Roses’ in Kentucky.

“Western Australia, Van Beethoven and Albuquerque will run in the Patton Stakes in midweek before a decision is taken about then running in the UAE Derby,” he said. “Sydney Opera House is also a possible for (the UAE Derby).”

Lost Treasure is a final interesting part of O’Brien’s equation. The three-part older brother to the talented Just Wonderful does not carry the same gloss as his high-profile stablemates, though he has displayed Group 1 ability and should not be ignored in the Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1)—a race his connections finished a fine fourth in last year with Washington DC.

O’Brien said: “Lost Treasure is entered for the sprint on turf and he seems in good order, as well.”

Overall, O’Brien has four wins from 38 starts on Dubai World Cup night. Three of those victories came in the UAE Derby.

In addition to highly rated Magical, the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic front is a fierce one, with Japan still looming large and plenty of local candidates set to audition on Super Saturday in the $300,000 Dubai City of Gold (G2). Canadian International (G1) winner Desert Encounter and Royal Ascot victor Old Persian lead the ratings in the 2410m turf affair, while Crowned Eagle, Spotify, Racing History, Prince of Arran and Marinaresco have realistic claims.

Meanwhile, top Australian sprinter Viddora brings an impressive resume and superb back-class into what is already becoming one of the more compelling races on Dubai World Cup night, the recently purse-doubled $2 million Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1).