Less than two weeks after a grueling race in the Arc, Magical was the toast of QIPCO Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday with another display out of the top drawer.
According to jockey Donnacha O’Brien, his hardy partner never had to hit top gear to dispatch Addeybb and Deirdre in a Champion Stakes run on ground that most likely didn’t play to her strengths. In victory, she joined Triptych and Indian Skimmer among members of the fairer sex to have struck in both the Irish and British Champion Stakes during the same season and who knows, perhaps we will yet get to see her take her chance in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.
Magical’s Champion Stakes double pays immense credit to Enable, who has had the measure of the Coolmore filly on every occasion they have met. It is also to Magical’s credit, however, that she keeps bouncing back for more. In that, the mental and physical toughness often associated with Galileo’s stock is surely coming into play.
“Magical is an unbelievable mare,” trainer Aidan O’Brien told reporters following the Champion Stakes. “Every morning she wakes up with a total clean sheet, she never holds offence to nobody even if they upset her the day before. She just takes it on the chin and asks ‘what do you want me to do today? She is the ultimate racehorse – that is what she is.”
“Magical’s dam, Halfway To Heaven, has been ‘married’ to Galileo since her retirement from the track in 2009”
Magical’s victory on Saturday brought the number of European Group 1 races won by Galileo’s progeny in 2019 to 15. Along the way, there was Anthony Van Dyck’s success in the Derby, a win that placed Galileo on an equal footing with Montjeu and others dating back to the late 18th century as the most successful sire in the race’s history. Japan, Circus Maximus, Hermosa, Search For A Song and Sovereign have also flown the flag within the three-year-old crop while earlier this month, Waldgeist provided the stallion with a second Arc.
A mammoth prize-money haul of £11.7 million in Britain and Ireland places Galileo over £7.5 million clear of his nearest pursuer Sea The Stars, his half-brother, in the race to be champion sire. In Europe, his dominance is even more starkly illustrated, with a total of £15.8 million propelling him over £10 million clear of Dubawi.
There are always two sides to every pedigree, however, and for all that Galileo is the outstanding stallion of our time, you can guarantee that nearly every one of his progeny that sets foot on to a racecourse nowadays will have the assistance of a top dam. Magical is no exception as the daughter of a Classic winner from the thriving Cassandra Go family.
Magical’s dam, Halfway To Heaven, has been ‘married’ to Galileo since her retirement from the track in 2009. The mare hails from an accomplished family of fast horses but Halfway To Heaven stayed 1m2f well enough to win the Nassau Stakes, a victory that was sandwiched between wins in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and Sun Chariot Stakes.
With the assistance of Galileo, several of her foals have shown the ability to stay up to 1m4f when needed. Magical is one such animal as is her elder sister Rhododendron, winner of the Fillies’ Mile and Lockinge Stakes over a mile and runner-up to Enable in the Oaks. Another foal, Flying The Flag, was a Group 3 winner over 1m2f and is now standing at Bush Hill Stud in South Africa.
As that record shows, Halfway To Heaven has played her part in establishing Pivotal’s reputation as a premier broodmare sire. Cheveley Park Stud’s stalwart, who covered 52 mares this year at the age of 27, has long been regarded as a serious influence in that sector but matters this year have been taken to another level, with Magical one of eight Group 1 winners out of a Pivotal mare during 2019 alongside Hermosa, Advertise, Defoe, One Master, Fairyland, Love and Veracious. His daughters have forged a particularly good relationship with Galileo and his sons; think Hermosa, Love, Veracious, Cracksman and Hydrangea alongside the various progeny out of Halfway To Heaven.
Halfway To Heaven is the most accomplished foal to date out of Trevor Stewart’s wonderful mare Cassandra Go. Still going strong at the age of 23, Cassandra Go has been in Stewart’s ownership since her purchase as a foal through Joss Collins of the BBA. Stewart did attempt to sell the daughter of Indian Ridge as a yearling at the Tattersalls Houghton Sale in 1997, the year that her half-brother Verglas won the Coventry Stakes, but ultimately bought her back on a bid of 200,000gns.
The move turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Sent to Geoff Wragg, Cassandra Go found her niche as a sprinter following a brief flirtation with a mile, winning the Temple and King George Stakes before running second to Mozart in the July Cup.
“There are now a number of mares now in production within this family”
Today, the mare has become something of a blue hen, the high regard in which she is held finely illustrated by the sale of a Dark Angel granddaughter for a record 1,050,000gns to Shadwell Estates at Book 2 of last week’s Tattersalls October Sale.
In addition to Halfway To Heaven, her foals include Tickled Pink (by Invincible Spirit), one of the last stakes winners trained by Sir Henry Cecil when successful in the 2013 Abernant Stakes. Evie Stockwell’s Theann (by Rock Of Gibraltar), meanwhile, won the Summer Stakes for Aidan O’Brien and has since foaled dual Grade 1 winner Photo Call (another by Galileo) and Richmond Stakes winner Land Force.
Cassandra Go’s current three-year-old Fantasy (a sister to Tickled Pink) has also been Group 3-placed for Aidan O’Brien while an earlier daughter, Neverletme Go, is the dam of German Listed winner Best Regards.
With Halfway To Heaven, Magical, Rhododendron, Land Force and Fantasy on its books, this has come to be a family well known to Coolmore. But Cassandra Go’s half-sister, Listed winner Persian Secret, has also done her bit for Godolphin as the third dam of both their Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter and ill-fated Prix de Chaudenay winner Brundtland (bred by James Hanly). Another family member, two-year-old Darlington Hall, has also been Group 3-placed for Godolphin in Japan this year.
Naturally, there are now a number of mares now in production within this family, many of them deemed good enough for opportunities with the likes of Galileo, Dubawi and War Front. Halfway To Heaven herself has a colt foal on the ground by Galileo and was covered again this season by the supersire.
As for Rhododendron, she was one of a handful of mares tested in foal this spring to the late Japanese sire sensation Deep Impact. And with Magical’s stud career to come alongside that of a host of other young relations, this family will only become more powerful.