The winner, bred by Coolmore, ironically beat a Coolmore-owned runner in Toy (5/1) by half a length with Cairde Go Deo (6/1) third for handler Ger Lyons and rider Colin Keane in the fourth Irish Classic of the season.
The winner, Magical Lagoon, in the ownership of Zhang Yuesheng, won the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot on her previous outing. This afternoon she showed real battling qualities as she went head-to-head with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Toy deep inside the final furlong.
Both fillies gave their all before Magical Lagoon eventually gained the upper hand near the wire. It was a 1-2 for former Coolmore stallion Galileo, as the runner-up Toy is by the same stallion and was also bred by the Coolmore operation. It was a clean sweep for the Coolmore stallions as the third placer, Cairde Go Deo, is by dual Irish and English Derby winner Camelot.
“She’s an amazing filly to train and I’m so lucky to have her,” winning trainer Jessica Harrington said in the unsaddling enclosure post-race. Harrington, who competed internationally in eventing for Ireland at European, World and Olympic Games, is the country’s most successful female trainer.
“She stays well, she loves bowling along,” the Commonstown Stud, Moone, Co. Kildare-based handler added.
The main talking point prior to this year’s renewal of the Juddmonte Irish Oaks was the announcement on Friday that the pre-race odd-on favourite and Cazoo Oaks runner-up at Epsom, Emily Upjohn, would not take her place in the starting line-up.
Trained in England by John and Thadie Gosden, Emily Upjohn, narrowly beaten by Aidan O’Brien’s Tuesday at Epsom, was due to fly to Ireland yesterday but the aeroplane organised to fly the three-year-old filly to Ireland failed to show up in time. The Gosdens then announced that the filly would not travel.
When asked today how she felt when it was announced that Emily Upjohn would be a non-runner in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks, winning trainer Jessica Harrington admitted:
“I was terrified. Suddenly I had become the favourite – before then we were the underdogs and I love being the underdog. (The pressure) doesn’t get any easier. The older I get, the worse it gets, I think. I’ll definitely enjoy this one.”
Looking ahead the successful handler expects the daughter of Galileo out of Night Lagoon to improve, stating:
“I think she’ll improve again. If she is kept in training next year, I think she will improve again.”
Harrington has won major races on the flat and over jumps including the Moyglare Stud Stakes, the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, Punchestown Champion Hurdle, Punchestown Champion Chase and Punchestown Gold Cup in Ireland.
She has also claimed the Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in England, as well as the Falmouth Stakes and Coronation Stakes on the level in Britain.
Harrington has also tasted flat racing success in France with Alpha Centauri in the Prix Jacques Le Marois (2018) and Albigna (2019) in the Prix Marcel Boussac. Jessica Harrignton took out her training licence in 1989 eventually taking over the training from her now deceased husband Johnny Harrington.
Photo: Magical Lagoon (David Betts)