Man O’War Stakes Pre-Race Favourite Set For Royal Ascot Appearance

Magic Wand went off as the well-backed favourite for the 2019 Man O’War Stakes at Belmont Park earlier this month, but the Aidan O’Brien charge was unable to secure top honours in the Grade 1 event at the New York track. The four-year-old, who has two victories to his name, has plenty of options going forward, but he is highly likely to return to action in the Group 1 Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Aidan O’Brien doesn’t send a huge number of runners to the US outside of the Breeders Cup, but he was double-handed going into the $700,000 event. However, neither Magic Wand, nor stablemate Hunting Horn, could get the better of eventual winner, Channel Maker.

It was the second Grade I victory for the Bill Mott-trained runner, who finished narrowly ahead of Arklow. Hunting Horn made all of the running, and a wire-to-wire victory looked likely for the talented four-year-old, but he was unable to sustain the pace and eventually came home in fourth place.

The County Tipperary-based trainer wasn’t able to replicate his 2011 success in the contest, but he already looks to have plotted Magic Wand’s path this summer. As well as an entry for the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh, the filly, who is out of Dansili, is likely to feature at Royal Ascot in June. The four-year-old is very well-travelled, having featured in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes at Gulfstream Park in January. He could only finish second to Bricks and Mortar, and is still searching for his first stateside victory.

The Prince of Wales Stakes is always fiercely contested, and has already attracted a number of high-quality entries. The field is likely to be significantly whittled down ahead of the 1mile 1furlong contest, but Sea of Class and Enable are currently positioned at the top of the ante-post betting market. Lah Ti Dar, who won narrowly at York’s Dante meeting on May 16th also features in the betting, and could be interesting over this slightly shorter trip.

The royal meeting is one of the standout sporting fixtures in the UK, and always provides five days of quality action on the turf. US trainer Wesley Ward is likely to send a number of runners to the Berkshire venue, whilst France, Japan and Australia are also likely to be represented. It gets underway on June 18th, 2019, with horse racing live streaming video broadcasts of all six Group 1 races. It is an unmissable meeting, and with over £13million of prize money available, many of flat racing’s biggest stars will be in attendance.

Magic Wand has just two victories from his first thirteen appearances, but one of those successes did arrive at Royal Ascot 2018,
with a four-length success in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes. He is likely to be primed for a big race, and will be representing a yard who have enjoyed plenty of success at this festival. Aidan O’Brien has trained over 60 winners at this meeting since 2002.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Magic Wand back on the Florida or New York circuit in the near future, but for now, he will be concentrating on events closer to home. O’Brien’s runner is likely to be taking to the Berkshire turf in June, and will be quietly fancied to put his Belmont disappointment firmly behind him.

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