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Galway Day 2 review: 'Magic Chegaga cost €12,500. That was the start of the journey'

The mare’s journey through the race was far less eventful than her journey to the races.

Magic Chegaga ridden by Colin Keane, with Trainer Brian Duffy pose for a picture alongside Mark Flanagan (right) while celebrating winning the fourth race during day two of the Galway Races.
Magic Chegaga ridden by Colin Keane, with Trainer Brian Duffy pose for a picture alongside Mark Flanagan (right) while celebrating winning the fourth race during day two of the Galway Races.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

MAGIC CHEGAGA cost €12,500. That was the start of the journey. Goffs February Sale 2021, online, because everything was online in February 2021.

Brian Duffy liked the four-year-old filly, a Moyglare Stud filly who had won her maiden for Dermot Weld, and he called Richie Walsh of the Magic Lads Syndicate, told him about the filly, asked him if the syndicate would be happy to give the €12,500 for her. Richie Walsh was off playing darts in Milton Keynes at the time. Kick on, he said.

Tom Gibney trained Magic Chegaga in 2021. She won on her first run for him and for the Magic Lads Syndicate, Oisin Orr wearing the green and gold colours, the Meath 1988 jersey, a nine-furlong handicap at The Curragh on Irish Derby weekend 2021. Narrowly beaten at Killarney next time, she won at Naas too on her third run for her new connections. Three runs, two wins and a second, and already she had almost twice her price tag in prize money.

She joined Brian Duffy this year, winning a handicap at Limerick on her second run, before going back to The Curragh on Irish Derby weekend at the end of June and running the progressive Bay Of Bengal to a neck. Galway was always going to be next.

Brian Duffy trains four horses, and he sent two of them to Galway on Tuesday in two different horse boxes. One of the horse boxes over-heated on the road from Trim that goes to the west, so they stopped at a church in Rochfortbridge just across the border into Westmeath, and the two horses continued their journey to Galway together.

The mare’s journey through the race was far less eventful than her journey to the races. Smartly away, she travelled well early on for the silk-smooth Colin Keane. The champion jockey allowed her to drift back in the field a little as the early pace increased in intensity, and she settled into a nice racing rhythm behind the red-hot pace, on the outside of runners with clear sailing to her left and options all over the place.

Seventh as they raced down the hill, she moved up into third place on the run to the home turn, and she hit the front as they straightened up with a furlong and a half to run.

She was immediately challenged to her left by Casanova, rider Adam Caffrey wearing the familiar red and black Dooley Thoroughbreds colours that had been carried to victory in each of the last three renewals of the race. But Magic Chegaga found more when her rival got close, she had enough in reserve to see off the gallant challenge from Ado McGuinness’ horse, going on to win by a half a length in the end.

“There’s a great bunch of lads from home involved in this mare,” Colin Keane told Racing TV afterwards. “So it’s brilliant to win a big pot for them. My father was fortunate enough to train plenty of winners for Brian Duffy and Frankie Duffy over the years. And Mark Flanagan is a big part of their team and our team. They’re very close to us.”

It was in this race in 2013 — then the Topaz Mile — that Keane rode one of the first big winners of his career on Brendan Brackan for his boss Ger Lyons. The young rider claimed 5lb then, but the ride that he gave Brendan Brackan nine years ago was one of confidence and nous, not wholly dissimilar to the ride that he gave Magic Chegaga on Tuesday: travel into your race on the outside of runners with options, hit the front on the crown of the home turn and kick on up the hill. Brendan Brackan won by eight and a half lengths. Keane also won the Colm Quinn BMW Mile three years ago on Saltonstall, the first of a hat-trick of victories in the race for trainer Ado McGuinness.

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“I couldn’t believe the position we got after we had gone one furlong,” said the rider. “The way we were stretched out, no one was hassling us, it was smooth the whole way. If anything, they didn’t bring us far enough, she only does enough when she gets there, but when she felt them coming, she rallied again for me, and thankfully she held on.”

Brian Duffy raced three horses last year, his first season with runners, and two of them won. This year, he has raced just two horses thus far, and Magic Chegaga has now won two of her four races. More than that, the Colm Quinn BMW Mile is one of the most competitive handicaps on the Irish flat racing calendar, the traditional feature on the second day of the Galway Festival, and now Brian Duffy is on the roll of honour.

“I thought we had a little chance coming down,” said Richie Walsh. “We had the champion jockey. Nobody told him what to do, it was his gig, whatever he wanted to do. And he turned it into magic. Colin Keane, Brian Duffy and Mark Flanagan, the man who looks after the horse. Three great guys. They won it. We’re just lucky enough to be involved.”

The journey continues.

About the author:

Donn McClean

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