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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.