Magical Lagoon pulls unlikely victory out of the fire in Ribblesdale Stakes
Magical Lagoon turned what looked a sure-fire defeat into an unlikely victory when she dug deep to get back past Sea Silk Road in a thrilling renewal of the G2 Ribblesdale Stakes.
Sea Silk Road (15/8F) appeared to have put the race to bed when hitting the front entering the final furlong, hitting a low of 1/20 in running. However, Tom Marquand’s mount drifted to her left, allowing the gutsy Magical Lagoon (11/4) to battle back under a strong Shane Foley drive. The winning margin was half a length at the line, with almost three lengths back to History in third.
Winning trainer Jessica Harrington said: “Magical Lagoon won a Group 3 as a maiden last year and she battled in that. I always knew that if she got into a battle, she’d be really tough. She’s a beautiful, powerful filly, she really is. She loves that quick ground – she really enjoys it.
“There were plenty of moments inside the final furlong when I thought she might be beaten – I was making an awful lot of noise and a show of myself watching it on the big screen!
“She’s very straightforward and just gets on with it. She’s very easy to train – she has a lovely temperament and is very relaxed about life. It is absolutely fantastic to get another Royal Ascot winner, it really is.
“The plan was to come here and then go to the Irish Oaks. All being well, that’s the plan. She’s a proper mile and a half filly.”
Foley, enjoying his first Royal Ascot winner, said: “I have been coming here for a long time now. I have knocked on the door with a couple of seconds, and it is the place you want to be riding. However, when you are not winning, it is not the place you want to be. I am just so grateful to everybody. I said to my wife earlier this week that if I was to have a Royal Ascot winner, it would be this week.
“This filly responds really well for pressure. The day she won at the Curragh, she was the same. She really fights for you and digs deep. The pace was on and she wasn’t travelling as nicely as I thought. I was happy enough and I was hoping William would take me into the race a bit better because this filly does not do a lot when she gets there.
“Mrs Harrington – what a trainer. Gold Cups, Champion Hurdles, Royal Ascot it doesn’t matter. A big mention to the owner Mr Zhang who has supported me for a long time and I’m just so happy to be able to repay him with a good winner.
“Magical Lagoon is a very good filly. She stays very well and only goes through the motions. I’m over the moon.”
Sea Silk Road’s trainer William Haggas said: “She ran well. She came to win and the other horse outstayed her, that was my take on the race. She has run a good race – we thought she’d prefer the ground and she did.
“It didn’t quite look like she is a real true stayer to me, maybe the other horse is… But she was only beaten half a length, so it was a commendable effort. It is only her fourth run, the other horse has run a few times, she’ll learn. She is a stakes filly.
“I haven’t a clue really where we go next. She is entered in a few places and it is whether it will be 10 furlongs or a mile and a half. We need to try and make her a Group winner and then onwards and upwards.
“The Yorkshire Oaks is quite a tough thing. I don’t think that will be on the agenda, maybe the Lyric Stakes at the track. The Prix de Malleret on July 14 might be possible. I need to work out whether she is a true stayer, but she should stay.
“When you get beat half a length you can make a bucket load of excuses, all of which are fairly creditable but, realistically, she did not run fast enough. That is why she did not win!”
Magical Lagoon (left) wins the Ribblesdale Stakes (credit: Megan Ridgwell)