Appleby hoping Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes can provide next Magic moment in Newbury's Group 1 showpiece
Charlie Appleby, who landed the first big handicap of the 2019 Flat Turf season in Britain winning the Lincoln, has set his sights on capturing the season’s first older horse Group 1 prize with emerging miler Mythical Magic at Newbury on Saturday, 18 May - Al Shaqab Lockinge Day.
The Godolphin colt, who made his breakthrough at pattern level with an impressive win in the Group 2 Zabeel Mile in Dubai in February, is the trainer’s only entry in the Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes.
He is one of 34 horses engaged in the £350,000 prize race, the fourth leg of the Qipco British Champions Series, which has attracted Group 1 winners Accidental Agent, Romanised, Suedois, Without Parole, Billesdon Brook, Laurens, Magicaland One Master.
Godolphin horses have won the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes eight times - beginning with Cape Cross in 1998 - and four of the last six renewals, but Appleby has yet to train the winner of the race himself.
Mythical Magicwas a highly regarded two-year-old who last raced in Britain when finishing third in the 2017 Horris Hill Stakes, now run as the Worthington's Stakes, at Newbury.
He ran twice during the Dubai Carnival, finishing second to stablemate D’bai over 7f, before easing to a three lengths triumph in the Zabeel Mile from another Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes entry Century Dream.
Appleby has had his eye on the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes for Mythical Magic: "He was second to D’bai in the Al Fahidi Fort and then he won the Zabeel Mile well, beating Century Dreamand two others of ours, First Contact and Wootton. We stopped him after that with a view to returning to the UK to run him in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes."
“He is an Iffraaj horse that I always thought a lot of as a two-year-old. He has just been a big unit who took time to mature. Luckily we have been able to give him time and now is his chance to repay us. I feel he fits the bill well for a race like the Lockinge.”
Appleby believes his impressive Lincoln winner Auxerre is not ready for a challenge like the Lockinge: “I would rather build Auxerre’s confidence at a lower level and build him up gradually. It’s a big step from a handicap off 100. Realistically he needs to find another 14lb plus to be in the Lockinge.”
Last year Aidan O’Brien saddled Rhododendron to become the first filly for 11 years to win the Lockinge and this year’s prize has drawn a stellar group of females, headed by Magicaland Laurens.
Laurens, trained by Karl Burke, had Magicalback in fourth when she captured the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown, one of four Group 1 triumphs last year, after which Magicalmoved up in trip to win the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares, and finish second behind Enable in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
As well as Magical, O’Brien has entered Amedeo Modigliani, Le Brividoand I Can Fly.
The race will also be the target of Accidental Agent, who finished sixth in last year's running before going on the land the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Accidental Agent is trained by Eve Johnson Houghton: “That will be the starting point. He had a little setback at the end of last year and it’s taken him time to get over it. He will probably need his first run, but he has done well physically and he loves a straight mile.”
The full list of entries can be seen here.
The QIPCO British Champions Series:
QIPCO British Champions Series showcases 35 of the UK’s finest Flat races, including six of the world’s top 12. The Series features at all of the UK’s most iconic Flat festivals, from the Derby and St Leger, to Glorious Goodwood and Royal Ascot, presenting unparalleled, quality racing across 10 of the country’s finest racecourses.
The Series exhibits world-class sporting action across five different categories – Sprint, Mile, Middle Distance, Long Distance and Fillies & Mares.
Five top-class races mark the climax of the Series on the Ultimate Raceday, QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 19th October, where the world’s best compete at the nation’s richest raceday.
The QIPCO British Champions Series shines the spotlight on the best horses, the best jockeys and the best racecourses, so that millions worldwide can follow the finest Flat racing.
For tickets to QIPCO British Champions Day on Saturday, 19 October go to britishchampionsday.co.uk