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Love and Adayar clash in classic renewal of King George contest

Superstar filly Love and Derby hero Adayar lock horns in a mouth-watering renewal of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes.

The midsummer highlight invariably throws up a clash of the generations – and this year’s renewal at Ascot on Saturday is no exception, with Classic form from last year and this put to the test.

Aidan O’Brien’s Love dominated her rivals when completing a Classic double in the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks last season, while victory in the Yorkshire Oaks was supposed to set her up for a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The daughter of Galileo ultimately missed out on a trip to Paris – but having looked as good as ever when making a successful return in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, she is a hot favourite to provide her trainer with a fifth King George success.

O’Brien said: “We were delighted to be able to give her the run in the Prince of Wales. She ended up making the running, but she’s very straightforward and very genuine – and everything has gone well with her since.

“She’s very versatile – she had the pace to win a Guineas and seemed to get the Oaks trip very well.

“For any Flat horse, you want nice ground – and she’s a nice mover.”

The Ballydoyle handler has a second string to his bow in the form of Broome, who has won four of his six starts this season and was last seen breaking his duck at the top level in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud three weeks ago.

Broome (left) joins stablemate Love in the King George
Broome (left) joins stablemate Love in the King George (PA)

“He’s been running very well all year and gets a mile and a half well,” the trainer told Sky Sports Racing.

“He loves to bowl along. In an ideal world you’d like to get a lead, but he is a horse who likes an even tempo. We’d be delighted if someone gave him a lead – if not he’d bowl along himself, I suppose.

“He’s in good form and seems to have come out of his last race well.”

Adayar was the least fancied of three runners for Charlie Appleby in last month’s premier Classic, but could hardly have been more impressive in the hands of Adam Kirby.

That form has been boosted by stablemate Hurricane Lane, who has landed both the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris since finishing third at Epsom – giving Appleby hope Adayar can become the first horse since Galileo 20 years ago to complete the Derby-King George double.

He said: “It hasn’t been done since Galileo, so to take Adayar there is a huge occasion.

“What surprised us at Epsom was the turn of foot he showed halfway up the run-in, because we’d never seen it before. Post-race we analysed it, and Hurricane Lane probably wouldn’t have been able to quicken like Adayar did.

“We’ve seen what St Mark’s Basilica did for that generation in the Eclipse at Sandown, and now the three-year-olds go into the big-boy division over a mile and a half.

“I’d love to think he’s still developing. It will be interesting to see what the paddock watchers say on Saturday – but he looks fantastic, and I’d be confident if you didn’t know who he was you couldn’t pick him out as a three-year-old among the older horses.”

The other three-year-old in the six-strong field for the Qipco British Champions Series contest is the Martyn Meade-trained Lone Eagle, who was denied in the shadows of the post by Hurricane Lane in the Irish Derby a month ago.

Lone Eagle (left) fights out the finish to the Irish Derby with Hurricane Lane
Lone Eagle (left) fights out the finish to the Irish Derby with Hurricane Lane (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

With his rider Frankie Dettori bidding to add to a record tally of seven King George wins, hopes are high that Lone Eagle can etch his name on the illustrious roll of honour.

Meade said: “It’s all systems go, and we hope he can go one place better (than in the Irish Derby), but if we learned anything at the Curragh it was to put up with disappointment.

“It was just the worst thing, getting done on the line. He was so far clear two out, and we were just about reaching for the champagne at the furlong marker, so it was hard to bear.”

Mishriff enjoyed a hugely lucrative start to 2021 – completing a big-race international double with victories in the Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic.

He had to make do with minor honours in third on his return from a break in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown three weeks ago, but is expected to strip fitter for the run.

Thady Gosden, who trains Mishriff in partnership with his father John, said: “He’s doing well. It’s obviously a tough race – most of the top horses around seem to be heading there.

“He’s come on for his run at Sandown and goes there in good enough form.

“He obviously ran in February and March, and it’s a long time to keep them going all season, so we thought we best give him a break before the summer.”

Point Lonsdale impresses with Tyros triumph

Point Lonsdale had no trouble stretching his unbeaten record to three with a comfortable success in the Japan Racing Association Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown.

The Chesham Stakes scorer at Royal Ascot pulled clear of his four rivals in the straight to give trainer Aidan O’Brien an eighth straight win in the Group Three over seven furlongs and 15th in all.

The full brother to Group One winner Broome just had to be rousted along in the early strides by Ryan Moore to get a good position as Gabbys Girl set the pace.

Travelling better the further they went, the 1-8 favourite set sail for home two furlongs out and was not hard ridden to score by three lengths from the staying-on Maritime Wings with Unconquerable third of the five runners.

“We’re delighted with him. It was his first time to race around a bend and Ryan was very happy with him,” said O’Brien.

“He’ll probably go to the Futurity next. It was nice for him to get a lead there and he would have learned a bit more today.

Point Lonsdale after his Leopardstown success
Point Lonsdale after his Leopardstown success (Gary Carson/PA)

“That’s his ground, he’s a very low mover. He won in soft ground last time but that would have to be his favourite ground. He’s lovely and low and his head goes down.

“He was even a bit green when he got to the front here today.”

Point Lonsdale was cut to 10-1 favourite, from 12-1, for the Qipco 2000 Guineas and 9-1 favourite, from 10-1, for the Cazoo Derby with Paddy Power.

Six declared in classy King George

Hot favourite Love is set to face five rivals in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Last season’s 1000 Guineas and Oaks heroine made a successful return from 10 months off the track in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month and is a warm order to provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with a fifth victory in this weekend’s midsummer showpiece.

The Ballydoyle handler will also saddle the ultra-consistent Broome, who has won four of his six starts this season and was last seen breaking his duck at the top level in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud three weeks ago.

Adayar winning the Cazoo Derby at Epsom
Adayar winning the Cazoo Derby at Epsom (John Walton/PA)

The opposition is headed by Charlie Appleby’s Derby hero Adayar.

The Frankel colt was a surprise winner of last month’s premier Classic, but the form has been significantly boosted by his stablemate Hurricane Lane, who has won both the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris since finishing third Epsom.

The other three-year-old in Saturday’s field is Martyn Meade’s Lone Eagle, who was beaten a neck into second by Hurricane Lane in the Irish Derby four weeks ago.

David Menuisier has declared stable star Wonderful Tonight. The Newmarket-based Frenchman has expressed doubts about running his pride and joy on fast ground and will be hoping one of the forecast thunderstorms arrives in Berkshire.

The small but select field is completed by John and Thady Gosden’s Saudi Cup and Dubai Sheema Classic victor Mishriff.

The son of Make Believe can be expected to improve from his first start since his globetrotting exploits when third in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown three weeks ago.

Point Lonsdale tests credentials in Tyros Stakes

Aidan O’Brien’s next great hope Point Lonsdale puts his reputation on the line in the Japan Racing Association Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown.

The Australia colt maintained his unbeaten record in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot – beating Reach For The Moon, himself an easy winner subsequently.

Speaking after his Ascot win, O’Brien said of Point Lonsdale ‘I hope he’s a Classic horse that can go for the Guineas and the Derby’ – and he is already favourite for both those races.

He faces four rivals on Thursday – including the unexposed Maritime Wings, trained by O’Brien’s son Joseph, who was bought by Team Valor after winning at Leopardstown on debut.

“We’ve been happy with Point Lonsdale since Ascot – everything has gone well with him since,” said O’Brien.

“It was pretty soft at Ascot, and he likes nice ground. He’s a lovely-moving horse, so that should be in his favour this time.”

O’Brien is also represented in the other Group Three on the card, the Frank Conroy Silver Flash Stakes, by Prettiest – who finished a fair fourth in the Albany Stakes at Ascot.

The form of that race has subsequently been given a boost by the winner and second, who went on to finish first and third in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket.

“We were very happy with her run in the Albany,” said O’Brien.

“She came back quick enough after her maiden win – but we’ve been happy since, and everything has gone well with her.

“We didn’t think the step up in trip would be a problem for her.”

Ger Lyons is represented by Juncture, second on debut to O’Brien’s Contarelli Chapel before winning easily next time.

She is owned by Juddmonte, and their racing manager Barry Mahon said: “She’s a very nice filly and she’s training nicely. She won well on her last start, and now she’s stepping up to Group company tomorrow.

“It’s a small but very competitive field. Aidan O’Brien’s filly (Prettiest) is going to be tough to beat on her fourth in the Albany.

“We like our filly and we’re hoping she’s going to progress now in the second half of the year.”

O’Brien lining up three-strong challenge for Sussex prize

Aidan O’Brien could saddle a formidable three-pronged assault in his bid for a sixth victory in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

It is 21 years since the popular Giant’s Causeway provided the Ballydoyle handler with his first win in the prestigious Group One contest, a success he still recalls fondly two decades on.

The record-breaking Rock Of Gibraltar (2002), Henrythenavigator (2008), Rip Van Winkle (2009) and The Gurkha (2016) have all since added their names to the roll of honour in a race O’Brien ranks highly in the Flat racing calendar.

“Giant’s Causeway is a horse that would come to mind when you think of the Sussex. It’s a very difficult race to win,” said the trainer.

“It’s a very prestigious mile race. It’s the ultimate test really – it’s up and it’s down and it’s left and right. They have to have speed and stamina and they have to be very versatile.

“It can be the ultimate test of a miler, physically and mentally. It’s a very important race in the pedigree of a horse going to stud.”

O’Brien has Lope Y Fernandez, Order Of Australia and Battleground pencilled in as a potential runners in this year’s renewal.

Lope Y Fernandez was last seen filling the runner-up spot behind Palace Pier in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, while Breeders’ Cup Mile hero Order Of Australia opened his account for the campaign in the Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh last weekend.

O’Brien said: “Order Of Australia has come out of the race (on Sunday) well. He cantered today and yesterday and he’s very well.

“It’s very possible that he could go. Obviously when he only ran at the weekend, we’d like to get him back in full work for four or five days and do the right thing for the horse.

“We’re looking forward to Lope Y Fernandez. We have the choice of running here or going to the Lennox Stakes, but at the moment we’re thinking of the Sussex. He worked this morning and we were very happy with him.”

Battleground, who won the Vintage Stakes at the Qatar Goodwood Festival last summer, is a much bigger price than his two stablemates, having been well beaten on his latest outing in the Prix Jean Prat Deauville.

However, O’Brien feels he is better judged on his third place in the St James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting last month.

Battleground winning at Goodwood last summer
Battleground winning at Goodwood last summer (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He added: “He ran a very big race in Ascot. He was a little bit disappointing the last day, but he was drawn out on a wing and he’s a horse that likes to get cover.

“We’ve been very happy with him since and we think Goodwood will suit him – we think he’ll leave that run behind him and come right back to his Ascot run and better.

“It’s very possible that he could go to the Sussex as well.”

O’Brien is also set to be well represented in Tuesday’s Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup, a Group One contest he won twice with the legendary stayer Yeats in 2006 and 2008.

Santiago after winning last year's Irish Derby
Santiago after winning last year’s Irish Derby (PA)

Earmarked as possible runners next week are last year’s third Santiago, last season’s Derby winner Serpentine and Amhran Na Bhfiann. All three finished down the field in the Gold Cup last month, although the latter has since bounced back with victory in the Curragh Cup.

“We think coming back to two miles will help Santiago and Amhran Na Bhfiann the same,” said O’Brien.

“There’s a chance that Serpentine will run as well. We were thinking two of the three, we just haven’t decided yet which two.”

Thursday’s Group One feature at Goodwood is the Qatar Nassau Stakes.

With 1000 Guineas heroine Mother Earth set to wait for the Prix Rothschild at Deauville, in the mix from Ballydoyle are Irish 1,000 Guineas one-two Empress Josephine and Joan Of Arc. The latter has since won the French Oaks and appears the team’s chief hope.

O’Brien added: “The two fillies we were training for it (Nassau) are Joan Of Arc, who won the Diane, and Empress Josephine.

“Joan Of Arc has been progressing lovely all season and we’ve been looking at this with her for a good while.

“Empress Josephine could step up to a mile and a quarter to run it as well. That’s not definite, but it’s very possible.”

Love and Adayar top nine hunting King George honours

Superstar filly Love and Derby hero Adayar are among nine confirmations for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot.

A dual Classic winner last season having left her rivals trailing in her wake in both the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Oaks at Epsom, Aidan O’Brien’s Love made a successful return from 10 months off the track in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

O’Brien has also left in Broome, Japan and Mogul as he goes in search of a fifth King George success following the previous triumphs of Galileo (2001), Dylan Thomas (2007), Duke Of Marmalade (2008) and Highland Reel (2016), but Love is very much his chief hope.

Adam Kirby and Adayar winning the Cazoo Derby at Epsom
Adam Kirby and Adayar winning the Cazoo Derby at Epsom (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

With Coronation Cup winner Pyledriver taken out after suffering a setback, Love’s biggest threat appears to be the Charlie Appleby-trained Adayar, who was a brilliant winner of the Derby at Epsom in early June.

That form has been well advertised since by his stablemate Hurricane Lane, who was third in the premier Classic and has subsequently won both the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris.

Love will have to concede 8lb to Adayar due to the weight-for-age allowance.

Martyn Meade is set to saddle the narrow Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle, while the William Haggas-trained Addeybb and John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff could renew rivalry after finishing second and third behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

Connections of Mishriff are hoping he can improve from what was his first run since adding to his Saudi Cup success in February with victory in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March.

Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal, said: “I talked to John after Mishriff worked on Saturday and he was very happy with him. It has very much been left up to John where he runs next and, having discussed it with the Prince, Ascot looks the likely target.

“I thought Mishriff was a bit gassy at Sandown in the first half of the race, which happens to a lot of horses after some time off, and I just wondered whether he needed a race under his belt to get him spot-on. He seemed to run very well backing up from Saudi to Dubai.

“St Mark’s Basilica is clearly a very good horse and I think it is going to take a very good horse to beat Love on Saturday.

“We want to win a Group One in England with Mishriff and you can’t win one unless you run in them. He has beaten some very good horses from around the world and now is the time to see what he can do against the big battalions from England and Ireland in particular.”

The potential field is completed by David Menuisier’s stable star Wonderful Tonight, who enjoyed successive Group One wins last autumn and looked as good as ever when making a winning start to the current campaign in the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal meeting last month.

Monday Musings: The Middle Distance Ranks Are Massing

Until Wednesday evening in Paris it was all plain sailing for Aidan O’Brien, writes Tony Stafford. He could pick his Group 1 spots for the rest of the year with his team of Classic colts and more plentiful top fillies and wait to see what presumably ineffectual opposition Europe’s other major stables would be able to throw at them.

But then along came Hurricane Lane, only third to lesser-fancied stable-companion Adayar in the Derby at Epsom but subsequently a workmanlike winner in the face of a good late challenge by English-trained Lone Eagle (Martin Meade) in the Irish Derby at The Curragh.

Neither run could have prepared us for the Frankel colt’s storming performance on Bastille Day (14 July) as he ripped away the home team’s barricades <couldn’t help myself> beating the Prix du Jockey Club also-rans with possibly more ease than St Mark’s Basilica had managed a month earlier.

Die-hard traditionalists have already been put in their place in France. In the old days the Jockey Club was 2400 metres (12 furlongs) in line with Epsom and The Curragh and was reduced to its present distance of 2100 metres in 2005.

That move coincided with the moving up to a mile and a half of the great Fête Nationale celebration race on a movable feast of an evening card at Longchamp. The Grand Prix de Paris, until the arrival of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1920, had been the most prestigious and valuable race in France and was run over 3000 metres (15 furlongs), and even 3100 metres for a shorter intervening period.

In 1987, though, it was reduced significantly in distance to 2000 metres (1m2f) and it was at that trip that Saumarez won the 1990 race prior to his victory in the Arc that October. Previously trained to place in the Dee Stakes at Chester by Henry Cecil, Saumarez made Nicolas Clement, who had recently taken over the stable when his father Miguel died, the youngest-ever trainer to win France’s greatest race.

It works for France because, as Hurricane Lane showed so eloquently, a horse could run in and even win either or both the Epsom and Irish Derby, or indeed the Jockey Club, and there would still be time to prepare him for the Grand Prix.

That is just what Charlie Appleby did with such skill and the most notable element of it was how much he had in hand of the William Haggas colt Alenquer whose form with Adayer in the Sandown Classic Trial over ten furlongs in the spring appeared to give him a collateral edge on Hurricane Lane.

Alenquer not only beat Adayer on the Esher slopes but afterwards comfortably won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot. But he was put in his place as Hurricane Lane stormed <that verb again!> six lengths clear of Wordsworth, first home of the O’Brien trio. It looked at first appraisal a major improvement on The Curragh but closer inspection reveals that Wordsworth had been beaten slightly further in his home Classic.

So where does that leave Adayer? Well, according to a conversation Charlie Appleby had with a friend who visited his luxurious stables in Newmarket before racing on Saturday, Adayer is fancied to run a very strong race as he faces up to last year’s O’Brien Classic superstar, Love, in Saturday’s King George.

The filly has the edge in the market after her comeback win over an inadequate ten furlongs in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot but Appleby, mindful that the weight-for-age scale favours three-year-olds, is by all accounts confident he will do so. Love concedes 8lb to the Derby hero while William Muir and Chris Grassick’s Coronation Cup hero Pyledriver gives him 11lb. Ascot is also the probable target for Lone Eagle.

Like O’Brien, Appleby is a modest man who often deflects praise to the people around him. Indeed as my friend left, Charlie said, “If you couldn’t train horses from here, where could you?”

Guesses that maybe St Mark’s Basilica might step up in distance on Saturday have been scuppered by his trainer’s single-mindedly pointing him towards the Juddmonte International. Those three days in York next month will also feature the next step towards the stars of Snowfall, following in the footprints of Love from a year ago by taking in the Yorkshire Oaks.

By the way, Jim, get my room ready! I’ll see how my first day back racing on Saturday at Ascot goes and then I might take the liberty of giving you a call. Where have I been? Too busy with all this Covid lark, mate, but I have been thinking of you!

However short a price Love was on what was to prove her last run of 2020 after the easy wins in the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks, the latter by nine lengths, 4-9 will be looking a gift if that is available about Snowfall. Could be 1-5!

Many felt the exaggerated superiority, indeed a UK Classic record-winning margin of 16 lengths, could in part be ascribed to the very testing ground at Epsom. Just as many were predicting that on faster ground in Saturday’s Irish Oaks she might go for economy.

Leading two furlongs out under Ryan Moore, delighted to be riding her for only the second time – he was on board for the shock Musidora win at York on May 12 three weeks before Epsom and that Frankie Dettori benefit – she drew away by eight-and-a-half lengths in majestic style.

As we know, the Coolmore boys like all the boxes ticked and the opportunities covered, but I can categorically tell you that they did not expect her to win at York. Even when she did, the beaten horses’ connections were dreaming up reasons why you could not trust the result.

After all she was rated only a modest 90 on the back of her juvenile exploits, the most memorable apart from winning a small maiden race was the mix up when she wore the wrong colour hat when well behind in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket last autumn.

After the Epsom and Curragh regal processions there is only one place you would consider for a soft-ground loving but equally comfortable on quicker turf three-year-old filly of her status - the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. It took me a while – having discarded my European Pattern Races 2021 book with hundreds of others in advance of a hoped-for downsizing move – to work out why she had not been one of the dozen O’Brien horses entered for the Arc.

Six older male horses – Mogul, Broome, Armory, Serpentine, Japan and Inisfree (where’s he been for 20 months?) – are supplemented by Love. The five three-year-olds are the colts St Mark’s Basilica, along with domestic Classic flops Bolshoi Ballet, High Definition and hard-working Van Gogh whose dance in four Classics (the UK and Irish Guineas, when third behind Mac Swiney, and French and Irish Derby) brought that one positive result.

That left room for one filly and, considering Santa Barbara took until last week to gain Grade 1 winning honours in the New York Oaks while four of her supposedly inferior female counterparts beat her to it, the evidence is there. They did indeed think she was far and away the best.

At least that was the case until 3.15 p.m. on the afternoon of May 12. The Arc closed at France Galop’s HQ around four-and-three-quarter hours earlier.  Now they have to wait until September 27 to get her in and pay a heavy penalty to do so.

In all, 101 horses made it. I am sure that date is writ large on the Racing Office wall and, if she enjoys another exhibition round back at the Yorkshire track she first consented to tell her trainer and owners how good she is, the supplementary entry will be made. Chances to win the race do not come along very often.

For all his and his owners’ successes in big races around Europe and in the US, the Arc has proved elusive. Two victories, with four-year-olds Dylan Thomas in 2007 and the brilliant filly Found five years ago, leave him still with a blank to fill. No Ballydoyle three-year-old has won the race since the days of Vincent O’Brien, who took the first of his two Arcs with Alleged in 1977. His second win, doubling up for Lester Piggott the year after followed Ballymoss in 1958, showed once again just how tough a race it is to win.

As mentioned, two O’Brien fillies are entered, Love and Santa Barbara. The latter might continue to make up for her earlier limitations in the Nassau Stakes next week but, as we know, a trio of Classic-winning alternatives, Joan Of Arc, Mother Earth and Empress Josephine, are equally qualified to step in and possibly pick up the Goodwood fillies’ Group 1.

Meanwhile Kevin Ryan has been exploiting the early juvenile Group contests in France with Atomic Force. Beaten first time out and gelded before a win in a small race at Hamilton, Ryan took him to Longchamp last month and he won Group 3 Prix du Bois nicely.

Returning yesterday for the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin, he started 2-1 on and bolted up. He will probably return for the Prix Morny at Deauville next month. Having watched that win the Sky Sports Racing team suggested the Nunthorpe might be an option given how much weight juveniles get from their elders. This year though that could be a hot race if newcomers on the Group 1 sprinting scene like Ed Walker’s Starman and Tim Easterby’s flying filly Winter Power turn up.

- TS

Order Of Australia returns to winning ways in Minstrel heat

Breeders’ Cup hero Order Of Australia made the most of having his sights lowered in the Romanised Minstrel Stakes.

The four-year-old was a shock winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland in November before going on to finish sixth behind Hong Kong superstar Golden Sixty at Sha Tin.

Aidan O’Brien’s charge weakened out of contention on his return to action in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, but had far less on his plate back on home soil and was the 2-1 favourite under Ryan Moore.

Order Of Australia was soon bowling along in front and had kept enough in the tank inside the last of seven furlongs to repel the challenge of Njord by a length and a quarter.

O’Brien said: “His first run this year at Ascot was just a bit of a mess as they jumped out and they hacked. It was the first time we decided to sit him in, being his first run of the year.

“He has plenty of speed and he’s able to quicken. Ryan was happy going out if someone wanted to give him a lead and if not he was happy to make his own running. He is very straightforward.

Order Of Australia in the Curragh winner's enclosure
Order Of Australia in the Curragh winner’s enclosure (Alan Magee/PA)

“He’s made like a sprinter/miler – at halfway he really started to turn it on and Ryan gave him a good ride.

“He’s a horse that takes his racing well so we were thinking of coming here and then going for the Sussex Stakes. He has plenty of speed and gets a mile well.

“He’s a horse to look forward to and can go to America later in the year and maybe races after that as well.”

Love on target for King George date

Superstar filly Love remains on course for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Last year’s 1000 Guineas and Oaks heroine made a successful return from 10 months off the track in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month and is set to return to the Berkshire circuit for next weekend’s midsummer showpiece.

Speaking at the Curragh on Sunday, trainer Aidan O’Brien said: “The plan at the moment is that we’re looking at running Love in the King George. Mogul and Broome are also there, but Love is the most likely to run. Something else could run but I’m not sure just yet.

“Everything has gone well with her since Ascot.”

Love’s likely rivals include Charlie Appleby’s Derby winner Adayar, Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle and Coronation Cup victor Pyledriver.

Plans are less certain for O’Brien’s hugely-exciting colt St Mark’s Basilica.

St Mark’s Basilica stretches clear in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown
St Mark’s Basilica stretches clear in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown (Nigel French/PA)

Like Love a dual Classic winner, having won the French 2000 Guineas and the French Derby, the Siyouni colt comfortably beat his elders for the first time with an impressive display in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

O’Brien confirmed the Juddmonte International at York and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown as potential targets, adding: “The lads haven’t really decided yet what they want to do but York and Leopardstown would certainly be races we’ll be looking at.

“We’ll probably know more in another week where we are going.”

Concert hits winning note at the Curragh

Concert Hall followed in the hoofprints of esteemed stablemate Snowfall with a determined victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden at the Curragh.

Dual Oaks heroine Snowfall opened her account at the third attempt in last year’s renewal of this seven-furlong contest and Concert Hall was the 11-8 favourite to add her name to the roll of honour, having filled the runner-up spot at Fairyhouse less than a fortnight ago.

The daughter of Dubawi looked booked for minor honours again after being joined and headed by newcomer Voice Of Angels, but Concert Hall battled back against the far rail to prevail by half a length under Ryan Moore, with Shamiyana just a neck further behind in third.

O’Brien said: “Wayne (Lordan) rode her the first day around a bend in Fairyhouse and said when she was turning she got a bit lost and the winner got away on her.

“She’s tough and genuine and Ryan was very happy with her. The dam (Was) won the Oaks, so she should stay.

“We’ll look at one of the seven-furlong races with her, maybe the Debutante Stakes.”

The Ballydoyle handler doubled up with Order Of Australia in the Group Two Minstrel Stakes – a feat matched by his son Joseph O’Brien, who landed the next two races on the card.

I Siyou Baby and Declan McDonogh in the clear
I Siyou Baby and Declan McDonogh in the clear (Brian Lawless/PA)

I Siyou Baby justified 5-2 favouritism with a comprehensive success in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden in the hands of Declan McDonogh, after which 11-4 chance Emphatic Answer struck gold in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Handicap under Shane Crosse.

“She (I Siyou Baby) won well and is improving with each run. Hopefully she can keep progressing,” said the trainer.

“She ran well in Naas the last day and was just beaten. She’s improved again from that and liked the track.

“Emphatic Answer won well in Killarney the last day and had a little hold-up after that. She won well today.

“Her form previously was on softer, but we were always hopeful that being a No Nay Never she would have no problem with that ground and she really enjoyed it.”

Yarrawonga made it three winners on the day for Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore
Yarrawonga made it three winners on the day for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore (Brian Lawless/PA)

Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore went on to complete a treble on the card, with Yarrawonga (9-2) getting off the mark in the Cavalor Equine Nutrition Maiden.

O’Brien said: “He stays well and Ryan was very strong on him. He made plenty of use of him and he kept on well.

“We always thought he was nicer than he ran. He’ll probably stay further.”

Jessica Harrington’s 3-1 favourite Hell Bent gave weight and a beating to his rivals in the Sycamore Lodge Equine Hospital Handicap, with Shane Foley the winning rider.

Snowfall pours it on at the Curragh for Oaks double

Snowfall gave another blistering performance to became the 15th filly to complete the English/Irish Oaks double at the Curragh.

Aidan O’Brien’s filly had blitzed her rivals at Epsom to win by a record margin of 16 lengths and she produced a similar display on home soil in the Juddmonte-sponsored Irish equivalent.

Having scared off a lot of the opposition, Snowfall was the 2-7 favourite and she did not disappoint.

The early running was made by one of her three stablemates, La Joconde, in the eight-runner line-up, with Nicest and Willow close up.

Ryan Moore had Snowfall just off the pace until the field turned for home and it was not long before she made her move – and once she hit the front two furlongs out there was only going to be one outcome.

Snowfall opened up and was simply away and gone from the others, scoring by eight and a half lengths to provide O’Brien with a sixth triumph in the race.

Divinely was second to give the Ballydoyle handler a one-two. Nicest, trained by O’Brien’s son, Donnacha, was half a length away in third.

Snowfall was cut to 4-1 from 5-1 for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with Coral and 4-1 from 11-2 with Paddy Power.

O’Brien said: “She’s very smart and she has a lot of quality.

“We purposely let her down a little bit from Epsom because the season is going to roll on and it was soft ground at Epsom.

“The plan was to come here, go on to the Yorkshire Oaks and then she’d be ready for the autumn.

“I’m delighted with her and she’s done very well from Epsom physically, she’s got very big and strong.

“Ryan said she has a lot of speed. She goes very strong and she finishes out very well.

“We’ll go one race at a time now, the Yorkshire Oaks first.”

On her two-year-old form, O’Brien said: “She’s a filly that always had a lot of natural ability and we had to get her to relax a little bit so we didn’t worry too much about it as we were always concentrating on switching her off.

Snowfall looks a picture at the Curragh
Snowfall looks a picture at the Curragh (PA)

“Things went against her. Her first run was over five and a half furlongs in Navan and Mother Earth was second.

“Then she came back here to a maiden and Seamus (Heffernan) nearly fell off her. That’s why it took a few runs to win a maiden and it might have been a blessing in disguise as she became very mature and grown up from it mentally.

“Because she was busy early in the season it might have took its toll at the end of the season – even though she was perfect mentally, physically she had a good few runs.

“Herself and Mother Earth ran in the Fillies’ Mile and we were nearly siding with her over Mother Earth. That’s what we always thought of her.

“She’s a home-bred for the lads as well, she has some pedigree.

“We always thought fast ground was her thing and I was very worried in Epsom about her with that ground.”

Snowfall seeks Classic double in Irish Oaks

Snowfall bids for a second Classic in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks at the Curragh – with Aidan O’Brien pleased the public is seeing what he has long witnessed from her on the Ballydoyle gallops.

In seven runs as a juvenile, the daughter of Deep Impact managed just one victory – in a maiden at the Curragh – but O’Brien rated her highly enough to run her in four Group races, including two at the top level.

She finished out of the money in all of them, but it has been a completely different story this season.

On her reappearance at York in the Musidora, Snowfall made all of the running for a comfortable success – before Frankie Dettori took the ride in the Oaks, with Ryan Moore preferring Santa Barbara.

Of all Dettori’s many Group One successes, he has never ridden an easier winner than Snowfall – who came home 16 lengths clear.

“We were delighted with her at Epsom,” said O’Brien.

“She’s had a lovely run at York in the Musidora – and that set her up nicely for Epsom, obviously.

“Last year she was always showing a lot at home – that’s why she was running in all those good races – but obviously she has got stronger over the winter.

“Maybe she was a little bit weak or something last year, but we always liked what we saw at home.

“I know she’s been winning on soft ground, but we always thought that nice ground would suit her.”

Only eight go to post on Saturday – and O’Brien provides half the field, with Willow, Divinely and La Joconde completing his team.

“Willow won a nice trial last time out and she’s in good form – we’ve been happy with her since Naas,” he said.

Aidan O’Brien supplies four of the eight runners in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks - including odds-on favourite Snowfall
Aidan O’Brien supplies four of the eight runners in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks – including odds-on favourite Snowfall (Nigel French/PA)

“Divinely had a lovely run around Epsom and a nice run at Ascot, and she seems to have been in good form since.

“La Joconde won her maiden last time out, and she seems to be in good form as well.”

Donnacha O’Brien’s Nicest is bred for the job, out of an Irish Oaks winner Chicquita, while Joseph O’Brien is represented by Mariesque.

Ger Lyons runs Party House, with Fozzy Stack’s Ahandfulofsummers completing the field.

Japan holds on for narrow Meld Stakes verdict

Japan just clung on in a thrilling three-way finish to claim the Green Room Meld Stakes at Leopardstown.

Aidan O’Brien’s charge was dropping back to nine furlongs for his Group Three assignment – the shortest trip he had faced since his juvenile days.

However, the five-year-old rose to the task, racing handily for Ryan Moore as Snapraeterea set out to make all under Shane Crosse, before assuming control inside the final two furlongs.

Japan tried to stride on, but Maker Of Kings and Sinawann were both finishing with purpose from behind, forcing a photo.

The 15-8 favourite prevailed by a short head on the line, with Sinawann a further neck back in third.

“I was happy with him coming back in trip, I was probably in front too early really,” said Moore.

Japan (second right) just got the better of Crystal Ocean in the 2019 Juddmonte International
Japan (second right) just got the better of Crystal Ocean in the 2019 Juddmonte International (Nigel French/PA)

“He was just waiting there and he found more when the second came to him.

“The ground is beautiful and he showed plenty of speed throughout. I just felt I was in front too early on him.”

Japan won both the Grand Prix de Paris and the Juddmonte International as a three-year-old and Paddy Power left him as a 20-1 shot to regain his title at York next month.

Snowfall to face seven rivals in Irish Oaks

Snowfall will face seven rivals as she bids for a Classic double in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks at the Curragh.

Aidan O’Brien’s filly ended last season with just a maiden win to her name from seven starts, but has since improved beyond all recognition.

She reappeared in the Musidora at York, making all the running and scooting clear to win by almost four lengths.

In the Oaks at Epsom she was deserted by Ryan Moore in favour of Santa Barbara – but Frankie Dettori deputised, and the result never looked in doubt.

Snowfall breezed into contention before pulling a yawning 16 lengths clear of her pursuers, and is likely to take a great deal of beating again on Saturday.

O’Brien also runs Divinely, La Joconde and Willow – and arguably his stiffest opponents also come from within his own family.

His youngest son Donnacha runs Nicest, who put up a career-best effort last time out to be third in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot. Her dam Chicquita won the Irish Oaks in 2013, and she is by American Pharoah.

Donnacha’s elder brother Joseph O’Brien is responsible for Mariesque, a lightly-raced daughter of Lawman.

Ger Lyons’ Party House, another filly with just three runs behind her, and Fozzy Stack’s Ahandfulofsummers complete the field.

Snowfall on target for Oaks double at the Curragh

Snowfall will face a maximum of eight rivals as she bids for a Classic double in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks at the Curragh on Saturday.

Aidan O’Brien’s filly looked very impressive when winning the Musidora at York in May, but still headed to Epsom as the apparent Ballydoyle second-string.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori in the Cazoo Oaks, the daughter of Deep Impact turned it into a procession, winning by an astonishing 16 lengths.

She is set to be a prohibitive favourite this weekend.

O’Brien has also left in High Heels, Divinely, La Jaconde and Willow, the winner of an Oaks Trial last time out – meaning he has five of the nine possibles.

His youngest son Donnacha is responsible for the ante-post second-favourite, Nicest.

She is by American Pharoah out of an Irish Oaks winner in Chicquita so is certainly bred for the job.

Last time out she finished third in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot.

Joseph O’Brien has left in Mariesque.

Ger Lyons won the race last year with Even So and could run the supplemented Party House, beaten in two Listed races since winning on her debut.

Fozzy Stack’s maiden Ahandfulofsummers completes the list.