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Eclipse in reckoning as Gosden considers Lord North’s options

John Gosden will consider upcoming options for Lord North after he missed the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Fast ground at the Berkshire track meant the five-year-old was denied the chance to defend his crown in the Group One showpiece, with his trainer taking the view conditions were too quick for his gelding – who was last seen winning the Dubai Turf in March.

An obvious next target would appear to the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, although that race has been marked out for the reappearance of brilliant stablemate Mishriff – and could even be a target for Queen Anne winner Palace Pier, should Gosden and son Thady opt to step him up in trip.

The Clarehaven trainer said: “I was hoping the ground would be all right for him, but it is too quick – as it was for William Haggas’ horse Addeybb. He will be doing the same. He’ll be looking at the Eclipse Stakes.

“We’re not afraid of running our horses against each other. I do like to see how they come 10 days after racing. Ascot to the Eclipse is always close. It would be 18 days for Palace Pier.”

Quick ground scuppers Lord North’s Ascot outing

Lord North will not contest this afternoon’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The five-year-old won the 10-furlong feature last year and had been set for a high-profile clash with dual Classic winner Love.

However, with the ground officially described as good to firm, trainers John and Thady Gosden have declared their charge a non runner.

Love returns in her ideal conditions for Prince of Wales’s

Love will finally get the chance to build on her perfect three-year-old season when she reappears in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Aidan O’Brien’s filly was favourite for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe until she was ruled out on account of the soft ground – before the contaminated feed scare which resulted in some of his string being unable to run in any case at ParisLongchamp in October.

Love, a Group One winner at two in the Moyglare Stud Stakes as well, was imperious last summer – winning the 1000 Guineas, Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks by an aggregate of 18 and a quarter lengths.

Several options this season have come and gone, with O’Brien waiting for her preferred quick surface – and she will have that in her favour on Wednesday.

“She’s been waiting to start back a while – and while the ground is right, we’re keen to get her started,” said O’Brien.

“Her other option was the Pretty Polly (June 27 at the Curragh), and we could have waited for that against her own sex – but by then the ground could have gone (soft) again.

“She’s in good form, she’s ready to start again.”

The Ballydoyle trainer also runs Armory, placed in both the Irish Champion Stakes and the Cox Plate last year.

Armory (left) was an easy winner of the Huxley Stakes
Armory (left) was an easy winner of the Huxley Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He returned to action with a stylish victory at Chester over the reopposing Sangarius.

“This race has always been the plan for Armory – and that is why he went to Chester, to get ready for it,” said O’Brien.

“We were delighted with him at Chester and we’ve been delighted with him since as well.

“Going to Chester, we were a little bit worried about how he’d handle the soft ground – but good, fast ground is what he likes and needs.”

The race forms part of the Qipco British Champion Series, and James Fanshawe agonised over whether to set his Breeders’ Cup winner Audarya such a stiff task first time out.

“It’s a tough introduction for her,” he said.

“But it would have been tough going to Ireland first time out too, and I wanted to keep her against her own age group (the Pretty Polly is open to three-year-olds).

“She seems really well and she’s very straightforward to train day to day, although she has a fairly prickly personality and appreciates her own space.

“She’s very tough and hardy, as she showed when losing only ten kilos on that long trip to Keeneland and back, via Chicago.”

My Oberon gave a good account in France last time out
My Oberon gave a good account in France last time out (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

William Haggas’ My Oberon and David Simcock’s Desert Encounter complete the field.

Haggas has been wanting to step My Oberon up in trip and said: “I’ve got my wish.

“He ran very well in France (third in Prix d’Ispahan) when his jockey (Ioritz Mendizabal) was very pleased with him. I think we’ll just wait a bit with him and see what happens.

“It looks a very good race, if they all pitch up in good form then we’re going to struggle.”

Haggas did have Addeybb engaged, but the forecast rain is not due to arrive until Thursday.

“We could have done with the race a day later for him. We’re thinking he might go for the Eclipse if the ground is fine,” said Haggas.

Lord North and Love set to serve it up in Prince of Wales’s

Lord North and Love will meet in a mouth-watering renewal of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

John and Thady Gosden’s Lord North was an easy winner of the Group One 12 months ago – and while he failed to reproduce that level of form in three subsequent outings last season, he was back to his best when winning the Dubai Turf in March.

Having his first run for 140 days, Lord North blitzed the opposition at Meydan, looking in a different league to some classy rivals.

The reappearance of Love adds plenty of spice to Wednesday’s race.

Aidan O’Brien’s Galileo filly went through her Classic season unbeaten, winning the 1000 Guineas by more than four lengths, the Oaks by nine and the Yorkshire Oaks by five.

O’Brien has been waiting for quicker ground to take the wraps off her this season, and now gets his wish.

Ballydoyle also field a very strong second string in Armory, impressive  in the Huxley Stakes at Chester. Ryan Moore rides Love, with Seamie Heffernan on Armory.

Love is about to make her long-awaited return at Royal Ascot
Love is about to make her long-awaited return at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

James Fanshawe’s Breeders’ Cup winner Audarya is another filly set to run for the first time this season, with William Buick in the plate.

Audarya is owned by Alison Swinburn, daughter of former trainer Peter Harris who enjoyed great success with the yellow, green and red silks.

“Audarya is the first really good one that Alison has had with me, and she’s loving it,” said Fanshawe.

“She’s an outstanding looking filly, with great presence, and we were excited by her early on. I thought she would win first time out (beaten a nose at 50-1) – and although it took her a while, she’s really stepped up since we went back to a mile and a quarter with her.

“She outstayed them in the Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland, and that was just one of those days when everything went right. ”

Sir Michael Stoute has called on the services of Colin Keane to ride Sangarius – while William Haggas relies on My Oberon rather than Addeybb, who would have preferred much softer ground and is the only absentee from the initial eight confirmations.

David Simcock’s veteran Desert Encounter completes the field.

Lord North rules for Dettori in Dubai Turf

John Gosden’s Lord North produced an irresistible surge down the outside to deliver a famous victory for Frankie Dettori in the Dubai Turf.

Lord North, an impressive winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in the summer, struck from well off the pace but was dominant in the final furlong of the Meydan straight.

Dettori, riding ostensibly for the new joint licence holders of Gosden and his son Thady but with the former’s name exclusively on the racecard as trainer in Dubai, was content to sit well behind the lead early on.

Once he asked Lord North to pick up the pacesetters, it was game over – and the 6-4 favourite was three lengths clear at the line, from Japan’s Vin De Garde, with Felix staying on into third for Oisin Murphy and Newmarket trainer Marco Botti.

Dettori said: “It was a nice pace. I followed William’s horse (William Buick, on Al Suhail). I had plenty of horse, and I know he stays really well.

“So I kicked him early, and he flew. I didn’t do much else after that – he did the rest.

“He was a handful in the early days, so he was gelded. He’s much more focused now, and he’s done nothing wrong.

“He’s a horse to go to war with in all the big races this year. Let’s try the Prince of Wales’s again … but I’m sure Mr Gosden will have a plan, and we’ll have lots of fun.”

The Italian added of his successful spell back in Dubai during the winter: “It’s not been so bad, has it?

“I love it – coming back to where I started years ago. Twenty-five years of the World Cup, and I think I’ve been at most of them – they have been tremendous memories.

“Long may it continue.”

Thady Gosden said: “He ran very, very well over a mile and a half (in the Breeders’ Cup Turf). (But) the drop down in trip definitely helped him.

“He was ridden similarly to Mishriff, sitting out the back and sent round the bend – and he picked up very well in the straight.

“He showed plenty of speed. As he’s got older, he’s got stronger, and he was fresh and well over here. He really loves his racing – you can see that enthusiasm when he attacks the ground.

“We’ll get him home and see how he takes the race. There’s a little bit of time to Royal Ascot still – so depending on what he tells us, he could have a run before or go straight to something like the Prince of Wales’s.

Dettori wary of Dubai Turf hopeful Lord North’s absence

Frankie Dettori admits Lord North’s lengthy lay-off is a concern in the Dubai Turf, but still expects the British raider to put his best foot forward at Meydan.

The five-year-old has been off the track since finishing a creditable fourth when trying a mile-and-a-half for the first time at the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland back in November.

Lord North, who landed the Prince of Wales’s Stakes for John Gosden at Royal Ascot last year, switches back in distance for Saturday’s Group One – but with the likes of David O’Meara’s Jebel Hatta winner Lord Glitters and the Godolphin pair of Al Suhail and Land Of Legends having had prep runs, Dettori thinks his 140-day absence could be a worry.

He told his Sporting Index blog: “He was by no means disgraced in finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf over 12 furlongs, and he now steps back to nine furlongs – which is the same distance he won the Cambridgeshire over in 2019.

“The concern is that he’s had almost five months off the track, but when I rode him on Thursday morning he felt in good shape.

“John (Gosden) is the best, and he showed with Mishriff in the Saudi Cup that he can get one ready for a big race like this despite the break.

“He’s the highest-rated horse in the race, so obviously goes there with a big chance – although horses like Lord Glitters, Al Suhail and Land Of Legends have all been running well recently and have to be respected.”

Lord North was due to run at Meydan last March before the Dubai World Cup card was called off because of the escalating Covid-19 pandemic.

Thady Gosden, who now trains in partnership with his father, added: “He actually came out last year, but unfortunately because of Covid the World Cup had to be cancelled. He came out, had a nice little holiday for three days and went back.

“He ran well at Haydock at the start of the year. He just didn’t handle the heavy ground at Ascot on Champions Day, but he’s got solid enough form and we’ll see.

“His mind is still on it, he still loves racing, so hopefully he’ll continue (to improve) and he looks well too.”

Simon Crisford’s pair of Court House and Epic Hero, plus the Marco Botti-trained Felix, complete a strong British challenge.

New Treasure represents the Dettori-Gosden axis in the UAE Derby, but he has a length and three-quarters to find with Pink Kamehameha on their recent Saudi Derby meeting.

Gosden said: “He ran well (in Riyadh), he’s a different type of horse to Mishriff (who ran in last year’s Saudi Derby) – different physically, but he ran well there. It probably wasn’t as competitive as the UAE Derby by any stretch of the imagination, but he comes here in good form.”

Ryan Moore rides Japanese runner Takeru Pegasus in the Group Two heat, with Soft Whisper and Rebel’s Romance representing Godolphin.

Dettori teams up with the Charlie Hills-trained Equilateral once again in the Al Quoz Sprint.

He rode the six-year-old victory on his initial Meydan run in January, but Andrea Atzeni was aboard when he won a Group two last time out.

Dettori takes over again in this six-furlong heat, but he is well aware Space Blues will take all the beating as Charlie Appleby’s charge seeks a fifth win on the bounce, encompassing last year’s Prix Maurice de Gheest.

He said: “He has a bit to find on ratings with Space Blues, but there’s no doubt he enjoys his time out in Dubai.

“Meydan is a very flat, slick track – and that suits him, because he likes to free-wheel along.

“Space Blues obviously stands out, but he’s going back in distance, so that has to be a question mark.

“All of Equilateral’s best form is over five furlongs, but given the nature of the track I’d be hopeful he can handle the step up in trip.”

Appleby hopes the fact Space Blues is now the “finished article” will offset the change in trip.

“It is a different ball game for Space Blues, taking on the real sprinters over a straight six furlongs, but we feel that he is the horse to beat,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.

“He was fresh and keen when he ran over this course and distance last year and ended up doing everything the wrong way round. He is a five-year-old now, and the finished article.”

Gosden’s two-pronged attack on Breeders’ Cup Turf

John Gosden is set to be double-handed in next week’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf with both Lord North and Mehdaayih likely to line up at Keeneland.

Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Lord North is only entered for the 12-furlong contest, but Mehdaayih was put in both that race and the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf over nearly 10 furlongs.

However, she is not among the first 14 contenders for that race at the pre-entry stage, so Gosden will instead look to run her in the longer event on November 7.

He said: “I think she’s going to be running in the mile-and-a-half Turf. At the moment she’s on the also-eligible (for the Filly & Mare), so we just made a commitment to run in the Turf over a mile and a half.

“She stays the distance very well and I’m perfectly aware it’s a high-class race but hopefully there might be a little less traffic problems with slightly less runners.”

Lord North finished last on deep ground in the Champion Stakes at Ascot on his latest run, but Gosden added: “We’re looking forward to running him, he worked nicely this morning with Frankie Dettori on him. The plane leaves Stansted on Friday.”

While Mehdaayih appears unlikely to run in the Filly & Mare, Gosden will still be represented by Terrebellum, winner of the Dahlia Stakes back in June and a narrow second in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.

Gosden told a Breeders’ Cup teleconference: “Her best run was probably in the Queen Anne, when she went down a head to a very good colt that Aidan trains. She’s in top form, ready for this race and she’ll then be heading to the breeding sheds afterwards.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has obviously presented extra difficulties in terms of global campaigning of horses this year, but Gosden underlined the effort put in by the Breeders’ Cup organisers to ensure European challengers could attend.

He said: “Everyone has gone out of their way to make it feasible for us, I’ve been most impressed with the protocols put in place and how helpful everyone has been.

“It’s not easy but my staff had Covid-19 tests yesterday, they were all negative so they will be planning to fly tomorrow as they’re not allowed to come on the horse plane and then be meeting the horses when they get to Keeneland.

“I’m sure there’ll be a lot of protocols on the ground, I know the jockeys aren’t allowed in the barn, so that will stop Mr Dettori trying to train them all – they’ll have to meet him outside!

“We just have to get on with it.”

While Gosden’s team will be in attendance, the trainer will not travel himself.

He added: “I’m not going to be travelling to Keeneland – I have a full team going, but I won’t be there myself sadly this year.

“At the moment I’ve got an awful lot to run here and I’ve got fabulous people going, so I’ll leave it to them and Mr Dettori likes to play trainer too, so he can do both jobs!”

Gosden bids fond farewell to magnificent Enable

John Gosden and his staff at Clarehaven waved goodbye to Enable for the final time on Thursday, as the great mare left for her new home at Banstead Manor Stud.

It had already been announced the dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner will be covered by Kingman, also owned by Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms operation.

The daughter of Nathaniel was retired last week, with connections resisting the temptation for one last hurrah at Ascot or at the Breeders’ Cup after the brilliant mare was bogged down by heavy ground bidding for a third Arc win.

Enable won the King George at Ascot for the third time in July
Enable won the King George at Ascot for the third time in July (Bill Selwyn/PA)

“Enable goes to the stud today, she’s just had a wind down after the Arc and actually it’s very pleasurable as she’s leaving happy and sound, very full of herself and very contented,” Gosden told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

“It’s wonderful to have had all that racing at two, three, four, five and six and retire her sound. Mr (Frankie) Dettori was here, popped the silks on and sat on her, like the old pictures we have in the yard.

“The ones you really love are the ones that try, give everything and want to work with you. She was the most fantastic filly for her sheer appetite and joy for training.

“It’s like working with people, when you have someone with a positive mindset it makes it more pleasurable.”

He went on: “Of course, she had an international following so I will probably sleep a little better now she’s gone as the weight of responsibility will be lessened somewhat.

“In a sense there was a bit of relief when the decision was made to retire her. We all know what happened in France, that’s life, there had been talk of Ascot but looking at the ground I’m glad we ruled that one out.

“The other option was to go to Kentucky, she’s won a Breeders’ Cup but Churchill has a longer stretch than Keeneland which suits her style of running, so while she is in great nick, we decided we’re not going to go any more.”

Palace Pier lost his unbeaten record on Champions Day
Palace Pier lost his unbeaten record on Champions Day (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Gosden endured a rare blank on Qipco Champions Day, which in part he put down to the testing conditions, but four of his beaten stars will be back for more next year.

“Palace Pier pulled a shoe off leaving the stalls and was quite sore, he hasn’t been ridden since. He probably did very well to finish third, but he’ll be all right for next year,” said Gosden.

“Mishriff will come back as well, he found the ground too deep. Lord North will hopefully be back and the great Stradivarius will try to win a fourth Gold Cup.”

Gosden also mooted his possible Breeders’ Cup squad.

He said: “At the moment we’re considering Lord North for the Turf, he hated the ground at Ascot. We have Terebellum, who didn’t run at Ascot thank goodness, she could go for the Filly & Mare and we’re also looking at that for Mehdaayih, who actually ricked her back in the Prince of Wales’s so has only had one run since.”