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Monday Musings: The Apples of Charlie’s Eye

I finally made it to Ascot on Saturday, my first visit to a racecourse since the last day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, writes Tony Stafford. As I drove the last few miles the excitement was almost making me breathless and I was delighted that by waiting until there was an element of normality, my trip was just as I remembered all those wonderful big-race summer afternoons.

The best part, apart from seeing a great winner of a very good King George, was the thing that I, as a now very senior citizen, always regarded as my private, exclusive club. When you’ve been racing in a sort of professional role you get to know hundreds, probably into the thousands, of people in the same narrow environment.

When loads of them stop to ask, “How are you? Long time, no see!” and variations of those sentiments having been stuck mostly at home for 16 months, it is so energising. I always used to say, “Most people my age probably see half a dozen people a day if they are lucky. I go racing three or four days a week and see maybe an average of a hundred or more that I know.”

And Ascot on Saturday was as normal as it ever was. Bars, restaurants and boxes open and fully extended, the always beautifully attired Ascot crowds basking in the better than predicted weather and fast ground befitting the middle of summer.

One person who didn’t make it was the “You’ve been pinged!” trainer of the brilliant Adayar, Charlie Appleby, who had neglected to do what people increasingly have been doing, removing the app from their phones.

Not too many Derby winners have followed their Epsom success with victory in the same year’s King George. It was more commonplace in the first 50 years of the race’s existence after its inauguration in 1951. But in this century, until Saturday only Galileo, Adayar’s grandsire via Frankel, had managed the double.

Appleby therefore made it four mile and a half Group 1 wins since the beginning of June with his two Frankel colts, the home-bred Adayar and his stablemate Hurricane Lane, the Irish Derby and Grand Prix de Paris hero, bred by Philippa Cooper’s Normandie Stud.

Both horses won maidens in the last part of October, Hurricane Lane on debut and Adayar second time out. Both therefore were far less trumpeted at the beginning of this season when again Hurricane Run started with more precocity, indeed until he finished third to Adayar, the apparent third string at Epsom, he was unbeaten.

Adayar’s juvenile victory came in the Golden Horn Maiden at Nottingham, the race name being awarded to the great Derby winner the year after his Classic triumph. Previously it was known as the Oath Maiden Stakes in honour of the 1999 Derby hero owned by the Thoroughbred Corporation, who won the same maiden to get his career on the go the previous autumn.

I thought I would have a look at Charlie Appleby’s 2021 three-year-old complement courtesy of Horses in Training. Charlie had 70 horses of that age listed at the start of the season, 21 fillies and 49 male horses. Of the 21 fillies, eleven are by Dubawi, also the sire of 27 Appleby colts and geldings. Surprisingly, as many as 12 were already gelded at the start of the campaign and at least a couple more have subsequently experienced the unkindest cut.

Appleby had three colts by Dubawi as major candidates for the 2,000 Guineas: Meydan Classic winner Naval Crown, who beat Master Of The Seas that day; Master Of The Seas himself, who went on to win the Craven Stakes; and One Ruler, runner-up to Mac Swiney in the 2020 Vertem Futurity, also went to the Guineas. Master Of The Seas did best, losing out in a desperate thrust to the line with Poetic Flare and, while that Jim Bolger horse has gone on to run in both the Irish (close third to Mac Swiney) and French (easy winner) Guineas, and then dominated the St James’s Palace Stakes, we are yet to see Master Of The Seas again.

Another Dubawi colt to do well has been Yibir, winner of the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket’s July meeting, while the geldings Kemari (King Edward VII) and Creative Force (Jersey Stakes) both at Royal Ascot have been to the fore.

It is noticeable that several of the gelded group have been either difficult to train or simply very late developers.

Meanwhile, the five-strong team of Frankel sons have been nothing short of spectacular. It will be of great satisfaction for the organisation that Adayar is out of a Dubawi mare and not an especially talented one.

What of the other three? One, Magical Land, has been gelded. He won the latest of his seven races for Appleby and has an 80 rating. The others have not been sighted this year. Fabrizio, placed as a juvenile, is a non-winner but Dhahabi is an interesting horse I’d love to see reappearing.

At 3.1 million guineas this half-brother to Golden Horn carried plenty of expectations. He won on debut and, last time in the autumn, was third to One Ruler in a Group 3 at Newmarket. Just the five Frankels, then, and I bet Charlie wishes he had a few more. The list of juveniles shows 48 sons and daughters of Dubawi and 11 by Frankel.

For many years the ultra-loyal and ever agreeable Saeed Bin Suroor was the only and then the principal Godolphin trainer. His stable is now increasingly the junior partner with half of the 140-odd complement listed as four years of age or older, and many of these are probably more suited to the structure of racing in Dubai over the winter. Saeed has three Dubawi three-year-old colts and one filly this year, but none by Frankel. The juveniles listed reveal one by each stallion.

How ironic that in the year of Prince Khalid Abdullah’s death in January, the all-conquering owner of Juddmonte Farms never saw the crowning of Frankel, already the greatest racehorse certainly of the past half-century, as a Derby-producing sire.

He will surely progress again from this situation and, now with Galileo also recently deceased, is in position as the obvious inheritor of his sire’s pre-eminence.

The other younger contenders will take time to earn their prestige and it can only be good for racing that a horse that went unbeaten through 14 races has made such a statement at the top end of the sport.

To win his King George, Adayar had to see off the challenge from the tough Mishriff, stepping forward from his comeback third to St Mark’s Basilica in the Eclipse Stakes. His owner, Prince Abdulrahman Abdullah Faisal, was one of the people I’ve known for half a lifetime that greeted me on Saturday. Also, Adayar had to consign Love to her first defeat for 21 months. The concession of so much weight to a younger colt by an older mare – 8lb – is never easy, but her race didn’t go as expected either.

Her pacemaker Broome missed the break and then only gradually moved into the lead. In the straight Love looked poised and then Mishriff tightened her up on the outside as Ryan Moore was beginning to move her into a challenging position. Having to change course, as the Coolmore filly did halfway up the short Ascot straight, is never the recipe for success.

It is fair to say, though, that Adayar would have won whatever. It will be interesting to see how Appleby shuffles his pack. Someone suggested the St Leger. If you wanted to make Adayar a jumps stallion, that’s what you would do. He won’t go anywhere near Town Moor in September. With due deference to the fifth Classic, he will have much bigger fish to fry.

- TS

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.”

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.

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

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.”

Love and Audarya may head for rematch at Goodwood

Love and Audarya could be in line for a rematch of their epic Royal Ascot clash in the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood next month.

The pair feature among 29 fillies and mares for the July 29 showpiece, having been separated by just three-quarters of a length in their Prince of Wales’s Stakes tussle last week.

Aidan O’Brien’s dual Classic winner Love came out on top – but Breeders’ Cup heroine Audarya pushed her all the way, on what was the seasonal reappearance for both.

After the race, James Fanshawe mentioned the Prix Jean Romanet – which Audarya won last season – and the Nassau as potential options for his daughter of Wootton Bassett.

Updating on plans, the Newmarket trainer said: “Audarya has only been doing steady canters since Royal Ascot, but she seems very well.

“The Prince of Wales’s Stakes was her first run of the year, so you are never totally sure what to expect – and the same applied to Love obviously – but I was just really pleased with her performance and the way she has come out of the race.

“She has a couple of other entries beforehand, but the Qatar Nassau Stakes is a really nice race to aim for. Thanks to the support of Qatar, the prize-money is fantastic, and it usually throws up a good clash between the three-year-olds and the older fillies and mares.”

Snowfall was magnificent in the Oaks
Snowfall was magnificent in the Oaks (John Walton/PA)

O’Brien has a formidable eight-strong team in total, with Love joined by Classic winners Snowfall, Mother Earth, Joan Of Arc and Empress Josephine.

Snow Lantern is a notable entry for Richard Hannon after her fine runner-up effort in the Coronation Stakes.

Also in the potential line-up is the William Jarvis-trained Lady Bowthorpe, who was second in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes after being beaten by only Palace Pier in the Lockinge.

Love pleasing O’Brien following Royal return

Love has bounced out of her triumphant return to action in last week’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes in fine form.

Last year’s 1000 Guineas, Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks winner had been off the track for 300 days, but proved without any doubt she retains all her ability.

In beating James Fanshawe’s dual Group One heroine Audarya and stablemate Armory at Royal Ascot, Love was setting herself up for what Aidan O’Brien will be hoping is another lucrative campaign.

“Love is good. We’re happy with her,” said O’Brien.

“Obviously she’s done very little since Wednesday, she’s only back cantering again now, but we’re very happy with her.

“To do that after a long break, we were delighted. She hadn’t had a run since the Yorkshire Oaks so we were delighted.

“Anything over 10 furlongs or a mile and a half is her all over. She’s in the mix for all those types of races now, anything over that trip.

“It’s great to have her started again and now we can look at all those races.”

Love is entered in the Coral-Eclipse, Falmouth Stakes over a mile, King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the Irish Champion Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe currently.

St Mark's Basilica won the Dewhurst under Frankie Dettori
St Mark’s Basilica won the Dewhurst under Frankie Dettori (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

In St Mark’s Basilica, O’Brien has a three-year-old who has already won the French 2000 Guineas and Derby to add to last season’s Dewhurst success.

“St Mark’s is in the mix for the Eclipse, something like that will be the plan for him,” said O’Brien.

“I’d have thought the Eclipse, the Juddmonte and the Irish Champion are all the races we’ll be looking at for him.

“I think at the moment we’re happy to keep him at 10 furlongs, but obviously he could drop back. I think that’s the sort of plan we’re thinking of at the moment.”

Monday Musings: Of Long Days and the Classic Generation

June 21st is upon us. The longest day was to be the freest day until the timid medical advisors to the UK government put the wind up them with fears that the D variant – the virus formerly known as Indian – would cause another surge in infections, writes Tony Stafford.

Well it has, averaging around 10,000 a day for the last week or so, but they are testing many, many more nowadays. Anyone prepared to go anywhere near a racecourse will have enjoyed the experience of things up their nose or aimed at their tonsils.

Since mine were removed in 1952, the year of the Queen’s ascent to the throne – rewarded with a nice ice cream <me, not the Queen> as I recall – I would only be eligible for the nose job, but apparently it’s very much an officialdom-rich environment.

While the infections have risen, the numbers dying most emphatically have not, an average of ten a day for the last week when the “roadmap” was hastily and negatively redrawn. With massive numbers of older people fully vaccinated you wouldn’t expect many deaths, but the silly old advisors want it both ways.

As I’ve said numerous times, I won’t go until everyone is free to go everywhere. I contented myself with a Saturday night day-early Father’s Day celebration with my three 40-plus children and a selection of their issue. Lovely it was too.

So on to the summer and of course from tonight the days will shorten inexorably by three minutes for each of the next 182 and then the semi-cycle will start again the other way round. We’ve already had Royal Ascot and ten of the 12 spring/summer European Classic races – only Ireland’s Derby and Oaks remain in that part of the calendar, and then the St Legers in their various forms and degrees of credibility.

The Irish have won eight of the ten, Jim Bolger picking up the 2,000 Guineas with Poetic Flare and his domestic version with Mac Swiney. Poetic Flare’s demolition job in the St James’s Palace Stakes certainly puts him well ahead among the mile colts this year.

The two Classics decided so far and not to have been won by the Irish have been the Poule D’Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000) won by Coeursamba, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, and  the Derby (Adayar, Charlie Appleby).

The remaining six have all been hoovered up by Aidan O’Brien and the Ballydoyle team and each of them boasts combinations of the increasingly complex Coolmore pedigrees.

Five individual horses have been involved in those all-important Classic victories, and four of them are fillies. I contend that St Mark’s Basilica, despite his workmanlike victory in the French 2,000 (Poulains) and a more comfortable Prix Du Jockey Club success, both under Ioritz Mendizabal, is vastly under-valued in official terms. He beat a big field in Chantilly and his female stable-companion Joan Of Arc (by Galileo, <really?!, Ed?>) was similarly too good for another large field of home fillies in yesterday’s French Oaks, the Prix de Diane. This time Coeursamba finished only 11th.

On Sunday Aidan relied on a single runner in a field of 17 and the 16 home defenders were no match for another Mendizabal mount who won by just over a length from the fast-finishing Fabre-trained and Godolphin-owned Philomene, a daughter of Dubawi.

That made it single-runner O’Brien challenges in three of the four French Classic races to be run so far – unplaced Van Gogh joined St Mark’s Basilica in the Jockey Club.  Therefore three wins and a close second (Mother Earth, ridden by Christophe Soumillon) in the French 1,000. That new-found minimalist approach also extended to Epsom and the Derby where Bolshoi Ballet, the favourite, was left as their only runner having been initially one of six expected to turn out.

Three of the four fillies in question improved markedly on juvenile form, the exception being 1,000 Guineas winner and then Pouliches runner-up Mother Earth, who had already earned her 111 rating for her second place in the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf race at Keeneland last November and remains on that figure despite her Classic exploits. She ran another game race in third in much the most testing ground she has faced in Friday’s Coronation Stakes at Ascot behind Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free.

Joan Of Arc took a rating of 105 into the Irish 1,000 and was Ryan Moore’s choice for the race but Seamie Heffernan got up on the line that day aboard Empress Josephine (101) in a private duel between two Galileo fillies. She clearly improved on that yesterday while Emperor Josephine was assessed at 109 after her win.

But the biggest eye-opener was Snowfall, the 16-length Oaks winner at Epsom who went into her prep in the Musidora at York on an official mark of 90. That was upped to 108 after her Knavesmire romp but even so she was still believed by insiders to be second-best among a more normal Oaks quintet behind lightly-raced Santa Barbara, now beaten favourite in both this year’s fillies’ classics in the UK.

It seems to me a master-stroke of fudging by the BHA to restrict Snowfall’s latest mark to 120, not merely because that is 2lb lower than Enable after her Oaks defeat of Rhododendron – what that champion did after Epsom has nothing to do with the assessment - and also 1lb less than Adayar.

The give-away for me is to suggest that Mystery Angel, rated 100 after her fourth (four lengths back) in the Musidora had only equalled her York mark. That ignored she made the running at Epsom in a much bigger field and still had the resources left to stay on and retain second 16 lengths behind the Frankie Dettori-ridden winner, finishing well ahead of a trio of considerably more highly-rated fillies.

If the medical advisors who keep us wearing masks and touching fists rather than shaking hands are timid, they have nothing on the BHA men who fear giving too high a rating to a Classic winner, even one who has set a record winning distance for any UK Classic in living memory and beyond.

Snowfall has made the first big statement that she might be a challenger to Love, her predecessor as an outstanding Oaks winner and star of the stable’s slightly disappointing Royal Ascot, as the season progresses. Love, dropping back two furlongs after a ten-month absence since the 2020 Yorkshire Oaks, made all to win the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.

A third female deserving of mention in that elite grouping must be the David Menuisier-trained four-year-old filly, Wonderful Tonight. She got first run on Broome to win Saturday’s Hardwicke Stakes in style despite its being her first appearance of the year. Her French-born Sussex-based trainer has the Arc, where she has a good chance of getting the soft ground she favours, as her main target.

Broome may not have won but earlier that afternoon his close relative by Australia, the two-year-old Point Lonsdale, won the Chesham Stakes, a race often reserved for the best of the earlier O’Brien juveniles. Ryan had a battle keeping him straight, first going right and as they got close home, more markedly left, but they had enough in hand to beat the Queen’s promising colt Reach For The Moon – Sea The Stars/ Gosdens / Dettori – by half a length.

We had wondered why she chose Saturday to make an appearance. That highly-encouraging performance and the good run later of her King’s Lynn in the Wokingham made it a bit more like Royal Ascot, even when viewed from Hackney Wick. Hopefully, Your Majesty, you and me (and many others besides) can be there for the whole five days in 2022.

The astonishing thing about all four female Coolmore Classic winners is that at no time did anyone at Ballydoyle, and certainly not the trainer nor the owners, believe any of them was within hailing distance of Santa Barbara. My guess from Epsom was that the favourite probably did not stay the mile and a half under the conditions and in the quirky way the race was run, up the stands side with all the direction changing that inevitably happens.

I’m looking forward to seeing her, in what still will be only her fourth race and with a highly-creditable close fourth to Mother Earth at Newmarket on her record, in a suitable race over ten furlongs. The Nassau would be nice, but maybe she won’t be the only one from her stable appearing in that Goodwood Group 1.

 

Bookmakers hold sway after two days of Royal Ascot

Bookmakers were still ahead after day two of Royal Ascot, even with Love obliging for favourite-backers in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

Aidan O’Brien’s magnificent filly saw off Breeders’ Cup heroine Audarya in an epic battle, returning as the 11-10 market leader.

But she was the only winning favourite – and even victory for the ever-popular Frankie Dettori came through 22-1 chance Indie Angel. There was another 22-1 winner in Chipotle, while Hunt Cup victor Real World was sent off at 18-1.

Coral’s David Stevens said: “Love was not what we needed in the Prince of Wales’s, as plenty of punters kept the faith in the filly despite her long absence.

“However, Real World’s victory in the Hunt Cup could hardly have been bettered, while Indie Angel was that rare thing – a Frankie Dettori winner at Ascot that the bookies could cheer!

“With Wesley Ward drawing another blank, overall it’s been a winning Wednesday for us, although with Frankie and his old ally Stradivarius to come in the week’s biggest betting race, the Gold Cup, we’re not cracking open the bubbly just yet.”

Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield said: “We kept Love onside, but she still proved very popular in the feature which was a pretty bad result for the layers. However, the bookies soon took revenge when Real World, who was friendless because of his draw, chinned ‘the jolly’ in the Royal Hunt Cup and it was a second winning day for the books.”

Nicola McGeady for Ladbrokes agreed, as a gamble on Kaboo in the Windsor Castle went astray and just the one winner for Dettori floored the inevitable multiples.

She said: “Two days down and there are no complaints from us. We had a cracking result in the Royal Hunt Cup, the massive gamble on Kaboo failed to land, while victories for Quick Suzy and Kemari were also welcomed.”

Love all heart and class in Prince of Wales’s Stakes

Love had to battle hard for a triumphant return in what proved to be an epic renewal of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Aidan O’Brien’s dual Classic heroine was back on a racecourse for the first time in 300 days, since completing a clean sweep of three 2020 victories when she added the Yorkshire Oaks to her 1000 Guineas and Oaks successes.

In the absence of Lord North, who would have been her market rival but was pulled out of his attempt to defend his crown here because of fast ground, 11-10 favourite Love made all – but had a fight on her hands all the way up the straight as James Fanshawe’s Breeders’ Cup winner Audarya launched a persistent challenge.

But Love would not be denied and was on top at the line by three-quarters of a length from Audarya, who was also having her first run since last year, with O’Brien’s second-string Armory third.

Ryan Moore had the winner settled in front, with Audarya and My Oberon pulling hard behind, and Love’s relaxed demeanour – on the fast ground which suits her so well – helped her keep enough in hand when she needed it in the final two furlongs.

O’Brien was full of praise for Love’s tenacity, as a daughter of Galileo – and Moore’s successful tactics.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said.

“We were a little bit worried coming here today, because she was prepared for a few runs and didn’t get to run.

“To come into a race like this without a run was a big disadvantage.

“She has all the attributes of a Galileo. When you really want them – I knew watching Ryan’s body language, the mare was galloping with her head on the ground, and she was only waiting for Ryan to say ‘come on’.

“I knew when he did that, she would find for him – and that’s exactly (what happened). She gives all, this filly.

“That’s an unbelievable trait, and probably the most important trait in any thoroughbred – and she has it in spades, multiplied by 10.”

Love lived up to all her trainer’s expectations.

He added: “She gives everything. There’s nothing left, nothing spare – whatever you want she’s there to answer all the time.

“She was vulnerable today, at the distance – and making her own running, as the race came together there was no pace in it.

“Ryan did a great job, doing enough for her to win and at the same time not doing (too much) because he knew Armory was going to be coming from the back, and was prepared for the race.

“It was brilliant really. He gave her a great ride, and it’s a pleasure and a privilege to have her.”

A return to Ascot for next month’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes appears to loom large for Love – although the shorter Eclipse at Sandown is also a possibility.

“The lads (owners Coolmore) will decide what they want to do,” said O’Brien.

“Obviously she has all the options, the King George, an Eclipse, all those kind of races.

“You’d think hard about the King George, see how she is. If the ground was nice, high summer – after being round the track here – they are the type of races to suit her.

“She definitely has to be in the reckoning for a King George – but we’ll see shortly.

O’Brien does not discount a meeting later this year with this year’s Oak winner Snowfall.

“Obviously, come the autumn, if they decided to do that it’d be unbelievable – and we’d be delighted, really,” he said.

Love was O’Brien’s 75th Royal Ascot winner, putting him level with the great Sir Henry Cecil.

Jockey Ryan Moore collects the trophy from the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall after winning the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes on Love at Royal Ascot
Jockey Ryan Moore collects the trophy from the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall after winning the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes on Love at Royal Ascot (Steven Paston/PA)

He was characteristically humble about the achievement, with a filly who has already reached great heights and has potential for much more.

“We feel very privileged to be in that position – we’re a small part of a big team, and very grateful to everybody for everything,” he said.

As for Love’s possible future status as one of Ballydoyle’s all-time best, he said: “I think she could (be).

“She’s fresh now – and probably to her advantage, she hasn’t had the miles in that bad ground early on in the year, which can often affect them late.

“So she’s probably had an ideal preparation into the summer and autumn – she’s very versatile and genuine. Anything is possible with her now.”

Fanshawe was equally proud of Audarya, who looks set to be major player again this season wherever she goes.

The Newmarket trainer said: “We were absolutely thrilled with the way she ran. It was a very solid run and proves she’s progressed again.

“Love is a very good filly, but it looked at the furlong pole like we were going to give her a race. William (Buick) reported the pace wasn’t that strong. We may head for the Romanet or the Nassau, and keep her to her own sex.”

Royal Ascot day two – All you need is Love?

As the Beatles once sang, all you need is Love – or is it?

Last year’s Classic star is the headline act on day two at Royal Ascot as she has her first outing since a demolition job in the Yorkshire Oaks in the feature Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

Soft autumn ground scuppered an Arc run for Aidan O’Brien’s filly, but she had been one of the stars of 2020 after following up her 1000 Guineas success with a wide-margin verdict in the Oaks at Epsom.

Aidan O’Brien pitches her into a hot renewal of the Group One highlight and all eyes are sure to be on Love as she tries to pick up where she left off after 300 days on the sidelines.

The supporting races are obviously of the highest calibre too, with speed of the essence in the opening Queen Mary Stakes for two-year-old fillies before stamina comes to the fore in the Queen’s Vase.

The Duke of Cambridge Stakes has attracted a notably strong field of older distaff milers while the Royal Hunt Cup is always a spectacle as 30 runners charge down the straight mile in search of handicap riches.

Another bumper seven-race card is rounded out by the Windsor Castle Stakes and the Kensington Palace Stakes, a new handicap event over a mile confined to fillies aged four and upwards.

Lord to reign again?

Lord North was victorious in last year's Prince of Wales's Stakes
Lord North was victorious in last year’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Megan Ridgwell/PA)

Lord North surprised a few when winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes last year, but his subsequent form has shown that victory really was not out of turn. Now a five-year-old and running for John and Thady Gosden, Lord North made a stellar start to his 2021 campaign with victory in the Dubai Turf at Meydan in March. Certainly the opposition moves up another notch here, with not only Love in opposition, but also her stablemate and Cox Plate second Armory, plus Breeders’ Cup victor Audarya for James Fanshawe in what could be one of the heavyweight match-ups of the week.

Ward wonders

Wes Ward's juveniles always draw Ascot attention
Wes Ward’s juveniles always draw Ascot attention (Julian Herbert/PA)

American trainer Wes Ward has a rich history in the juvenile races at Royal Ascot, stretching back to his inaugural success with Strike The Tiger in the 2009 Windsor Castle Stakes. He appears to have another live one for that Listed heat this year in filly Ruthin, who has been all the rage following a smart all-the-way success in a Keeneland maiden on her racecourse bow in April. Added to the handler’s two-year-old riches is Twilight Gleaming, who contests the opening Queen Mary Stakes. She booked her Ascot ticket with a seven-and-a-half-length maiden win at Belmont last month, and has crack American rider John Velazquez in the plate.

Bowthorpe fairytale to continue?

Lady Bowthorpe has been in flying form in 2021
Lady Bowthorpe has been in flying form in 2021 (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Lady Bowthorpe ran the race of her life to chase home Palace Pier in the Lockinge Stakes last month and back against her own sex in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, her many supporters will be hoping Group Two gold awaits. Owned by Emma Banks, co-head of Creative Artists Agency’s London office, which counts the likes of Kylie Minogue, Katy Perry and Florence and the Machine on the client list, the five-year-old has hit new heights this term and a Royal win would prove a fine fillip for trainer William Jarvis.

Girl power

Onassis and Hayley Turner after winning the Sandringham Stakes in 2020
Onassis and Hayley Turner after winning the Sandringham Stakes in 2020 (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Hayley Turner wrote her name into the Ascot record books with victory on Onassis in last year’s Sandringham Stakes and she is reunited with her old ally in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes. The duo’s length-and-a-quarter success meant Turner became the first female jockey to ride more than one winner at the Royal meeting, having previously struck aboard Thanks Be in the same race in 2019. Onassis went on to win two Listed races last term and after retirement plans were scrapped, the top team are ready to go again at Group Two level.

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.

Love leads the way as eight stand Wales’s ground

Dual Classic heroine Love is among eight confirmations for Wednesday’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Aidan O’Brien’s filly has not been seen since winning the Yorkshire Oaks by five lengths in August, having previously dominated her own age group in both the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Oaks at Epsom.

The daughter of Galileo missed an intended tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October on account of soft ground, meaning she will be making her first appearance in 10 months if she lines up for the feature event on day two of the Royal meeting.

O’Brien, who has previously won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes with Duke Of Marmalade (2008), So You Think (2012) and Highland Reel (2017), has also confirmed Armory for this year’s renewal.

The latter looks ready for a return to the top level judged on his impressive comeback victory in last month’s Huxley Stakes at Chester.

Ante-post lists are headed by John and Thady Gosden’s defending champion Lord North.

The Dubawi gelding failed to replicate his impressive performance of 12 months ago during the remainder of his 2020 campaign, but was back to his brilliant best when landing the Dubai Turf at Meydan in March.

Addeybb (left) winning the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot
Addeybb (left) winning the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The William Haggas-trained Addeybb filled the runner-up spot behind Lord North 12 months ago before returning to Ascot in the autumn to win the Qipco Champion Stakes.

He is set to renew rivalry following another successful stint in Australia and could be joined by stablemate My Oberon.

David Simcock’s stable stalwart Desert Encounter, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Sangarius and James Fanshawe’s star mare Audarya are the other hopefuls.

The latter has been off the track since winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland in November.