Magical epitomises everything that we have come to expect from a top Galileo runner. Enthusiastic, tough and sound, she continues to dance every dance for Aidan O’Brien, never giving up without a fight and quite often coming out on top. It says a lot for her constitution that she is now the winner of 12 races, seven of them at Group 1 level, and has been out of the first four only twice in 25 starts, with both occasions coming in the Arc.
The sadness is that Magical’s latest win over Ghaiyyath in Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes was played out behind closed doors. It was enough of a race to stir the emotions on TV; such a popular mare would undoubtedly have been the recipient of a rousing reception had paying racegoers been allowed to attend. But such is the current world and Flat racing is, after all, extremely lucky to have older mares of the calibre of Enable and Magical to ignite interest in the sport.
Magical is perhaps the greatest masterpiece in the story of her granddam Cassandra Go, who has become something of a living blue hen.
The grey daughter of Indian Ridge was bred by John McKay out of Rahaam, a Secreto half-sister to the Prix Thomas Bryon winner Glory Forever. Secreto, the 1984 Derby hero who was ironically Northern Dancer’s cheapest yearling to sell of 1982 at $340,000 on account of his less than perfect conformation, was one of the most high-profile additions to Calumet Farm in Kentucky during its later years under the turbulent tenure of J.T. Lundy. Come the autumn of 1988, Secreto was officially appraised at $75 million yet by 1992 had been moved on to Japan in a deal that valued the farm’s 50% stake at just $650,000.
Secreto did leave behind a 2,000 Guineas winner in Mystiko but as that collapse in value suggests, he was not a successful stallion. However, in Rahaam he did leave a broodmare of note and one that ensures his name remains prominent in pedigrees today.
“Cassandra Go’s career at stud has even surpassed her record on the track”
Bred by Calumet and Stephen Peskoff, Rahaam was trained by Sir Henry Cecil on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed to win a Newmarket maiden and hit the ground running at stud as the dam of Coventry Stakes winner Verglas, subsequently a popular stallion, in her second year at stud. Godolphin bred that son of Highest Honor but by the time Verglas had demonstrated his precocious talent in the spring of 1996, Rahaam was in McKay’s hands, having changed hands for Ir£20,000 the previous November.
Rahaam’s first foal for McKay was Cassandra Go. Sent to the 1996 foal sales, she was purchased by Joss Collins of the BBA for 82,000gns on behalf of Trevor Stewart. It was a particularly live family at the time since not only had Verglas represented the family to good effect but her first foal, Persian Secret, had also won the Listed Prix La Sorellina.
Stewart ended up buying back the filly at 200,000gns when she came under the hammer at the 1997 Tattersalls Houghton Sale. Yet that move turned out to be an incredible blessing in disguise.
Sent to Geoff Wragg and named in honour of London jeweller Cassandra Goad, Cassandra Go developed into an excellent sprinter, winning six of 17 starts including the King George and Lansdown Stakes as a four-year-old and the King’s Stand and Temple Stakes during an excellent season at five.
If anything, however, Cassandra Go’s career at stud has even surpassed her record on the track. Her first foal, the Green Desert filly, Neverletme Go, won twice for Stewart and later produced the German Listed winner Best Regards, by Tamayuz.
Two years later, the mare threw Theann, a €400,000 yearling purchase by John Magnier who carried Evie Stockwell’s colours to victory in the 2007 Group 3 Summer Stakes at York. The daughter of Rock Of Gibraltar has since become an accomplished producer herself as the dam of American Grade 1 winner Photo Call, another by Galileo, and Richmond Stakes winner Land Force, now standing at Highclere Stud. Photo Call, as a Grade 1-winning daughter of Galileo from a deep family, was unsurprisingly one of the highlights of last year’s Fasig-Tipton November Sale when sold for $2.7 million to Katsumi Yoshida of Northern Farm in Japan.
Cassandra Go later produced the high-class sprinter Tickled Pink to Invincible Spirit; that filly was one of the final stakes winners to be saddled by Sir Henry Cecil when successful in the 2013 Group 3 Abernant Stakes at Newmarket.
However, the mare’s best foal remains the Pivotal filly Halfway To Heaven. Foaled in 2005 and bought to join Coolmore for €450,000 by Demi O’Byrne at the Goffs Million Sale, Halfway To Heaven developed into a fine mile and mile-and-a-quarter filly for Aidan O’Brien, running third to Zarkava in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches before striking in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Nassau and Sun Chariot Stakes.
Halfway To Heaven has been exclusively matched with Galileo since her retirement to stud, and has therefore become a vital component in the rise of the Galileo – Pivotal cross, which today is responsible for 12 stakes winners (variations of it, particularly in the case of Frankel, have also been successful).
Three of those, including Magical, belong to Halfway To Heaven.
The mare’s first foal, Flying The Flag, won the Group 3 International Stakes at the Curragh and now stands at stud in South Africa. Her fourth foal, meanwhile, was Rhododendron, whose five victories for Ballydoyle included the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile, Prix de l’Opera and Lockinge Stakes. Now at stud, Rhododendron’s first foal is a colt by Deep Impact.
“Halfway To Heaven has been exclusively matched with Galileo since her retirement to stud”
Magical is the fifth foal out of Halfway To Heaven and is followed by a three-year-old sister, Heaven Of Heavens, who ran twice for O’Brien last year, and a yearling colt.
As for Cassandra Go, her story is far from over. Her 2016 filly by Invincible Spirit, Fantasy, was Group 3-placed during a busy career for O’Brien while she has a well-regarded two-year-old filly by Gleneagles named Holly Golightly in training with Ger Lyons. Hopes also run high for her yearling colt by Churchill.
Now aged 24, Cassandra Go remains in excellent health at Ballyhimikin Stud, where she boards on behalf of Stewart.
Stewart also has several daughters of his own out of the mare with which to continue building his family. They include Tickled Pink, whose Gleneagles daughter Missy Perfect won earlier in the year for Stewart in France. Tickled Pink also has a two-year-old Frankel colt named Corps Des Pages.
Another daughter, Allez Alaia, is a sister to Halfway To Heaven whose two-year-old Dark Angel filly set a sale record of 1.05 million guineas when sold to Shadwell Estate Company at Book 2 of last year’s Tattersalls October Sale. Now named Tarhib, she is in training with William Haggas.
The long-term future looks extremely bright for this developing family but in the meantime, Magical’s likely presence in some of the autumn’s Group 1 races remains something to look forward to.