Ruby Walsh: Magical has been given the easy option but this is why we’re seeing small Group 1 fields

Just four run in the King George VI at Ascot on Saturday.

Ruby Walsh


Small Group 1 contest have been a bit of a feature of the return to racing since the Coronavirus pandemic. While the carefully-curated calendar normally spreads the most prestigious meets across the season, it’s all a bit truncated following the three-month layoff.

Racing fans would have loved to see Magical and Enable going head-to-head at the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at 15:35 at Ascot on Saturday, but the former will stay in Ireland and compete in the rearranged Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh on Sunday at 14:55.

And legendary jockey Ruby Walsh completely understands that Magical’s connections will be seeing the Tattersalls as the easier option and that we’ve still got some time to go before racing really returns to a normal schedule.

“It is disappointing we only have six runners in the Tattersalls at the Curragh on Sunday? Yeah, but it’s the reshuffle of the calendar, Tom,” Ruby explained on this week’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, “There are only a certain amount of good horses to go round.

“When the Tattersalls Gold Cup moved form the Irish Guineas weekend in May and didn’t go back in with the Guineas in early June, it was moved to here, it gave an option and, whatever way you look at it, everybody takes the soft option in life.

“Magical has a much softer option in the Tattersalls Gold Cup than she would have taking on Enable in the King George.

“Obviously, the Pretty Polly was in Derby weekend and I think because of the Coronation Cup and the Eclipse, trying to move everything around, there were going to be races that suffered and it just happens to be the Tattersalls Gold Cup on Sunday and the King George on Saturday.

“Numerically there’s just not enough horses to go round and it will be York in August before you get the bigger fields in Group 1s again.”

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