Among more than a thousand fillies and mares catalogued to go under the hammer at the Tattersalls December Sale will be a former record breaker when she last went through the ring. Magical Romance, lot 1508 on the first day, and now aged seventeen, was sold for 4.6 million guineas at the same sale thirteen years earlier.
On that occasion the daughter of Irish 2000 Guineas and Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Barathea and the Haydock maiden winner Shouk, who was in foal to Pivotal, attracted bids from the likes of Angus Gold, representing Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, and John Ferguson, representing Sheikh Mohammed, before the hammer fell to agent James Wigan’s successful bid, which was then a world record for a broodmare or broodmare prospect and made her the most expensive thoroughbred sold in Europe at the time.
Wigan was bidding on behalf of Lady Rothschild, having already gone to 3 million guineas at the previous day’s session for that season’s Sun Chariot Stakes winner Spinning Queen. Lady Rothschild died in January at the age of eighty-three, and the December Sale will see the start of the dispersal of her Waddesdon Stud bloodstock by The Castlebridge Consignment. Spinning Queen will therefore also return to the Tattersalls ring, while Magical Romance (in foal to Nathaniel, whom Lady Rothschild also owned and bred) is joined in the sale by one of her daughters, Aflame (by Shamardal), along with another Group 1 winner, the 2014 Pretty Polly Stakes winner Thistle Bird. The Waddesdon Stud dispersal also includes two half-sisters to Nathaniel out of the excellent broodmare Magnificient Style whose other winners included Nathaniel’s sister Gran Heavens, winner of the Irish Oaks, and the Fillies’ Mile winner Playful Act.
A 125,000 guinea yearling, Magical Romance was a Group 1 winner herself when a shock winner of the 2004 Cheveley Park Stakes, much the most important of her three wins at two over six furlongs. She failed to make much of an impact in Group 1 company at three in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, Oaks and Nassau Stakes and found things no easier when dropped in both trip and class for a seven-furlong listed race on her final start.
While Magical Romance’s own three-year-old season was anti-climax, her close relative Alexandrova (by Barathea’s sire Sadler’s Wells) enjoyed a brilliant classic campaign in 2006 which was very timely for Magical Romance’s date at Tattersalls. Already a smart two-year-old (beaten a short head in the Fillies’ Mile), Alexandrova was the dominant three-year-old filly over a mile and a half, winning the Oaks by six lengths, the Irish Oaks by four and the Yorkshire Oaks by three and a half.
Alexandrova has gone on to have a fine record as a broodmare. As well as the Group 2 winners Alex My Boy (Prix Kergorlay) and Somehow (Dahlia Stakes), she had a third pattern winner in 2019 when her three-year-old daughter Happen (by War Front) won the Group 3 Athasi Stakes at the Curragh. Her grandson Aspetar also did well earlier in the year, winning the Grand Prix de Chantilly and Preis von Europa.
Magical Romance, on the other hand, hasn’t achieved the same heights at stud or come close living up to her price-tag, though with eight winners to her name (the latest being the two-year-old filly Wren, a daughter of Raven’s Pass, in a seven-furlong maiden at Kempton) from ten foals to have raced, she has been a reliable producer.
In fact, Magical Romance’s broodmare career had got off to an inauspicious start when the Pivotal foal she was carrying at the time of her sale, arrived prematurely the following December, meaning she became a yearling within just weeks of her birth. Named Liel, she ran six times without success in 2010 when officially a four-year-old.
The only one of Magical Romance’s foals to date to have gained black type is the Sea The Stars gelding Tall Ship who won a couple of listed races after his export to Australia. But Magical Romance became the grandam of a Group 1 – and classic – winner in 2019 when Channel, the result of a mating between Nathaniel and Magical Romance’s daughter Amor Magic, won the Prix de Diane. Amor Magic, by Dansili, won a seven-furlong maiden at Kempton as a two-year-old and was carrying Channel when bought by Kilcarn Stud for 170,000 guineas at the 2015 December Sale.
One of the underbidders for Amor Magic had been Luca Cumani who was naturally keen to buy back into a family he knew well as trainer, breeder and owner. Magical Romance’s grandam Souk (by Ahonoora), trained by Cumani, won twice over seven furlongs in his Fittocks Stud colours and earned black type from third place in Doncaster’s Sceptre Stakes.
Souk’s first two foals, both fillies, were Puce and Shouk, by son and father Darshaan and Shirley Heights respectively. Shouk produced eight winners in all, and besides Magical Romance and Alexandrova already mentioned, they included Alexandrova’s brother Masterofthehorse who finished third in the 2009 Derby. Fittocks Stud sold Shouk for 80,000 guineas at the December Sale as a seven-year-old in 2001. Her unraced daughter Seguir A Star (by Galileo), consigned by Highbank Stud, is lot 1646 in the December Sale.
Puce won the listed Harvest Stakes at Ascot and finished third in the Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster for her trainer/breeder whose colours were also carried to success by her daughter Pongee (by Magical Romance’s sire Barathea, whom Cumani also trained) in the Lancashire Oaks (also second in the Yorkshire Oaks at four). The pick of Pongee’s eight winners to date is Pinzolo, a Newmarket listed winner for Godolphin considered good enough to contest the Derby, and her latest is three-year-old filly Swansdown (by Dubawi) who won a mile handicap at Newcastle in November (Cumani’s former assistant William Haggas took over the training of that filly following Cumani’s retirement from training at the end of 2018).
Puce was eventually sold by Fittocks for 750,000 guineas at the December Sale in 2006 when she was thirteen. By then, she had also produced Platonic, a filly by Zafonic whose story has already been told here at thebreedingshed in 2015. Platonic’s granddaughter Chicquita, winner of the Irish Oaks, became another in the filly to break a sale-ring record when selling to Coolmore for six million euros at Goffs in 2013.
Since then, Chicquita’s close relative Magic Wand (by Galileo), herself a 1.4m Arqana yearling, has recently become another top-level winner for the family when winning the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington, adding to last year’s Royal Ascot win in the Ribblesdale Stakes. Magic Wand had contested the Melbourne Cup just days earlier, a race won the year before by her relative Rekindling; he’s out of another of Souk’s daughters Sitara.
A great deal has therefore happened in this family since Magical Romance last went through the ring at Tattersalls in 2006. That may be academic now for Magical Romance herself, given she’s now aged seventeen and in the twilight of her stud career, but it could make the Nathaniel foal she’s carrying, particularly if its a filly, a hugely valuable asset in future.