Aidan O’Brien plans to follow a tried-and-tested route with Magician after the dual Group One winner left it late to claim the High Chaparral European Breeders Fund Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh.
The master of Ballydoyle had saddled the previous four winners of the Group Three contest in Fame And Glory, So You Think, Windsor Palace and Camelot.
Fame And Glory and So You Think returned to the track to win the Tattersalls Gold Cup on their next start, and O’Brien is confident there is plenty of improvement in Magician ahead of his tilt at the same Group One prize on 25 May.
Winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Breeders’ Cup Turf as a three-year-old, Magician finished a disappointing sixth on his return in the Dubai Sheema Classic in late March.
Sent off a 2-13 favourite for his return to Irish action, the Galileo colt was settled at the rear of a five-runner field by the trainer’s son, Joseph, and still had plenty of work to do at the top of the home straight.
Jim Bolger’s 2011 Dewhurst winner Parish Hall, disappointing in two previous starts this year, set sail over a furlong out and for a brief moment it looked as though the bird had flown. However, Magician eventually found top gear and wore him down to take the Group Three prize by a neck.
O’Brien snr said: “I nearly got a heart attack looking at him [before the race]. He was away in Dubai and things didn’t go right for him. We gave him a little rest and he had a good tummy on him today. He’s going to come back here for the Tattersalls Gold Cup. He’s in a good place now and Joseph was very happy and said he won snug.”
Runaway Cork winner Alkasser took a step up to Listed class in his stride with a smart display in the Power European Breeders Fund Tetrarch Stakes. Dermot Weld’s charge won by six lengths in Mallow little over a fortnight ago, but was a 10-1 shot for this far tougher test.
The Jim Bolger-trained Focus On Venice made a bold bid for home on the far side of the track, but Alkasser wore him down inside the last of the seven furlongs to win by three-quarters of a length. Bolger’s second string Intensical made late headway to grab third spot, but favourite Shining Emerald was unable to make his presence felt.
Meanwhile, Paul Hanagan enjoyed a highly-successful Bank Holiday with a 280-1 five-timer at Warwick. The dual champion jockey set the ball rolling on Rise Up Lotus (2-1 joint-favourite) for Charlie Hills in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies Stakes. He followed up on Ed McMahon’s 11-4 favourite Where The Boys Are in the TurfTV Handicap, but picked up a two-day riding ban on 22 and 23 May for careless riding in the process.
Hanagan put that behind him to complete a quickfire hat-trick on Ixelles Diamond (9-2) in the Quantum Manufacturing Fillies’ Handicap for his former boss, Richard Fahey. His last two winners were in his role as retained jockey to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum. After sauntering home by five lengths on the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Munaaser (11-8 favourite) in division two of the Breeders Backing Racing EBF Maiden Stakes, he drove Sahra Al Khadra (10-11 favourite) to a nose verdict in the racinguk.com Handicap.
Hanagan’s bid for a six-timer in the last came unstuck as the McMahon-trained Gold Class had to settle for fifth behind Jazri in the Dine In The 1707 Restaurant Handicap.