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Believe In Love bounces back for Stanerra Stakes success

Roger Varian’s Believe In Love returned to her best for a decisive victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Stanerra Stakes at Leopardstown.

The British challenger, penalised for last year’s Saint-Cloud success at this same Group Three level, had to concede 3lb and upwards all round and was sent off a 9-2 shot in a field of six.

She also needed to bounce back to form after losing her action and eventually finishing a distant last of seven in the Bronte Cup at York on her only previous start this season.

But Believe In Love, delivered from off the pace by Ronan Whelan, proved well up to the task as she hit the front in the final two furlongs and out-speeded her rivals to win by a length and a half from Federica Sophia.

Favourite High Heels set out to make the running, closely attended by a second British challenger in Sherbet Lemon – but they both faded out of contention.

Whelan, who was riding Believe In Love for the first time, said: “She did that well. Roger told me to draw a line through the last day, and not to even look into it.

“He said her homework had been very good, he was very happy with her and that’s why she was here.

“She travelled smoothly and picked up like a nice filly when I gave her the office. She’s probably only doing enough in front.”

Believe In Love relished a very testing surface at Saint-Cloud last October but had also struck on significantly quicker ground – as she did again here.

The winning jockey added: “She seems versatile ground-wise.

“(Roger) also said to me that last year she only came into her own at this time of year, so she should have a nice end of season to look forward to.”

Believe In Love holds several big-race entries over the coming months – including the Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood, for which Betfair cut her to 9-1 from 12-1 following her latest success.

Leopardstown mission for Sherbet Lemon

Sherbet Lemon will bid to bounce back from Classic disappointment in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Stanerra Stakes at Leopardstown.

Archie Watson’s filly earned herself a crack at last month’s Cazoo Oaks at Epsom with victory in the Lingfield trial, but could then finish only ninth behind the brilliant winner Snowfall.

Sherbet Lemon steps up in trip but down in class for Thursday evening’s Group Three feature in Ireland – and hopes are high that she can make the trip from Britain worthwhile under record-breaking rider Hollie Doyle.

The daughter of Lemon Drop Kid is owned by Apple Tree Stud, which is managed by former leading National Hunt jockey Robert ‘Choc’ Thornton.

He said: “You’ve got to be hopeful.

“She bombed out in the Oaks a little bit – but I’d put that down to immaturity, I think.

“This is an easier assignment. Archie is happy with her, which is the main thing, and we’ve got Hollie on board.

“Fingers crossed she should go and run a big race and go very close, I hope.”

The three-year-old, one of two British challengers along with Roger Varian’s Believe In Love, will be sporting cheekpieces for the first time.

Thornton added: “Archie wanted to put the cheekpieces on. I don’t think there’s any issues attitude-wise, but they might just sharpen her up a little bit.

“People don’t like putting cheekpieces on mares, but I’ve got no issues with it – it’s better to go and win a race with a sheep on their head than finish second without!”

Aidan O’Brien’s pair High Heels and Glinting and the Dermot Weld-trained Federica Sophia also feature in an eight-strong field.