Can Love Conquer All?

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Five-time Group 1 winner Love | Scoop Dyga

Customarily, when a Ballydoyle VIP attracts the kind of support that Love (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) has in the lead-up to Saturday's G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco S. at Ascot, it is more than a subtle pointer to the eventual outcome. Whether the filly who so readily dispatched of her peers in last year's G1 1000 Guineas, G1 Epsom Oaks and G1 Yorkshire Oaks has this inspiringly-crafted renewal “locked down” depends not only on the strength of the opposition but also on the volatile weather. A renowned “daisy-cutter” who had fast conditions in her favour when returning to garner the G1 Prince of Wales's S. at the Royal meeting here June 16, the chestnut could literally have the ground underneath her shift if the storms hit hard. Up to 13mm of rain is forecast overnight, which brings Wonderful Tonight (Fr) (Le Havre {Ire}) heavily into the equation and favours the 3-year-old colts Adayar (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) and Lone Eagle (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who already have the advantage of an eight-pound pull due to weight-for-age.

Love also has the question mark hanging over her concerning the kind of opposition she has so far faced, having met only four members of the other sex, all in the Prince of Wales's where her stablemate Armory (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) was just 1 1/2 lengths behind. Old-stager Desert Encounter (Ire) (Halling) was only 4 1/2 lengths back on that occasion and he is nowhere near this level these days, so it may be that the filly has something to prove here despite the positive vibes. “She ended up making the running in the Prince of Wales's, but she's very straightforward and very genuine and everything has gone well with her since,” Aidan O'Brien commented. “She's very versatile–she had the pace to win a Guineas and seemed to get the Oaks trip very well but we want nice ground as she's a nice mover.”

Ryan Moore has hit a seam with the stable's Group 1 runners in the past three weeks and added, “This is possibly a deeper race than the betting would have you believe. She was obviously an exceptional 3-year-old and we were delighted with her reappearance win in the Prince of Wales's S. here, as she wouldn't have been fully tuned up then. There could easily be more to come from her too and I think it is fair to say she is the one to beat if it stays fast. She is a top-class racehorse.”

If the weather turns, Christopher Wright's Wonderful Tonight will be poised to strike and after what happened in the course-and-distance G2 Hardwicke S. June 19 she will be a key member of the select party in the case of the ground easing significantly. This time last year, she was being put in her place by Valia (Fr) (Sea the Stars {Ire}) in ParisLongchamp's Listed Prix de Thiberville, but her subsequent ascension has been remarkable and she is a true elite performer now. Finding two stones of improvement through wins in the G3 Prix Minerve at Deauville in August and the G1 Prix de Royallieu back at ParisLongchamp and G1 QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares S. at Ascot in October, she showed the kind of acceleration when dealing with Broome (Ire) (Australia {GB}) in the Hardwicke that wins these kind of races.

“She has everything,” trainer David Menuisier said earlier this week. “The will to win and the strength. She's sweet but assertive. She knows what she wants in life and that translates to the track. She does everything actively, she's a busy bee. This filly, on very soft ground, does not need to make an effort when others do. Even when she's lacking fitness, that gets her there because the others get tired.”

While this race used to be the second port of call for winners of the G1 Epsom Derby after the Eclipse and Irish Derby, that is no longer the case and it came as something of a mild surprise when Charlie Appleby committed Adayar to the cause this year. There have been mitigating circumstances for the void of Derby heroes appearing here, with injuries and the weather intervening to scupper some best-laid plans. Of the trio who have tried the lauded double since the success of Galileo in 2001,  Kris Kin (Kris S.) managed a third placing in 2003 despite being one of the lesser Epsom winners since the turn of the century and both Workforce (GB) (King's Best) and Anthony Van Dyck (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) had excuses when finishing out of the frame.

Adayar looks at this stage to be one of the better blue riband heroes of recent times, with the form of his June 5 romp subsequently upheld by the exploits of stablemate Hurricane Lane (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) and others including the GI Belmont Derby winner Bolshoi Ballet (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). Until proven otherwise, the Appleby yard seems to have the two best middle-distance colts of their generation and now that Hurricane Lane has upped the ante the ball is in Adayar's court again. “It hasn't been done since Galileo, so to take Adayar there is a huge occasion,” his trainer said. “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 3-year-olds go into the big-boy division over a mile and a half,” Appleby added of the homebred, who is only the second runner for his sire in this and the first to trade at short odds. “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 3-year-old among the older horses.”

Ballylinch Stud and Aquis Farm's Lone Eagle was missing from the Epsom line-up due to a late setback and based on his impressive win under a penalty in the Listed Cocked Hat S. at Goodwood May 21 he would have been in the mix. Subsequently denied late on when second in the G1 Irish Derby at The Curragh June 26, the homebred has the scope to progress again. “It's all systems go and we hope he can go one place better, but if we learned anything at The Curragh it was to put up with disappointment,” trainer Martyn Meade said. “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.”

Prince Faisal's Mar. 27 G1 Dubai Sheema Classic winner Mishriff (Ire) (Make Believe {GB}) has the most weight to carry along with Broome, but he remains a colt with the quality to have a say shaping fitter for his comeback third in the G1 Eclipse S. at Sandown three weeks ago. “He's doing well. It's obviously a tough race–most of the top horses around seem to be heading there,” Thady Gosden said. “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.” Aidan O'Brien gave an indication that Broome could set the pace as he said, “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.”

Ballydoyle are also represented by the aforementioned Armory in the G2 Sky Bet York S., where he has to give 12 pounds to the sole 3-year-old Mohaafeth (Ire) (Frankel {GB}). Despite his Group 1 credentials, that is a tough task given that Shadwell's  G3 Hampton Court S. winner is held in such high regard by William Haggas. Racing manager Angus Gold said, “I'm very much looking forward to seeing Mohaafeth run. We've waited for this race particularly and William and his team have been very happy with him. Let's see if he can take the next step and go from there. He's an exciting horse and one to look forward to and obviously he's done everything right this year. Hopefully there will be no excuses and we can see how we get on.” Aidan O'Brien said of Armory, who was very much on the premises in the Prince of Wales's, “We thought this looked a nice race for Armory. It's 10 furlongs on hopefully good ground and that is what he wants. Hopefully he'll run well.”

Back at Ascot, the G3 Princess Margaret Keeneland S. over six furlongs for 2-year-old fillies sees the June 26 Listed Empress Fillies' S. first and second System (Ire) (Galileo Gold {GB}) and Desert Dreamer (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) renew rivalry. The latter has subsequently been back to Newmarket to finish runner-up in the July 9 G2 Duchess of Cambridge S. and trainer Stuart Williams is hoping she can gain due reward for her consistency. “We were very happy with her run in the Duchess of Cambridge,” he said. “She seems to have come out of the race really well, so we're looking forward to running her on Saturday. She's very tough and she takes her racing really well. I don't think she's ground-dependent really. She obviously goes on fast ground, but she won on good ground earlier in the year so I wouldn't mind it if it were good or even good-to-soft–it wouldn't bother her at all.”

Clipper Logistics' Attagirl (GB) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) scored by four lengths over this trip at Haydock July 2 and trainer Karl Burke said he is hopeful she can make an impact. “I think a lot of her,” he said. “She's a lovely filly and I'm looking forward to seeing her run–she seems in great shape. She was impressive and we think she can improve on that, so we're very much looking forward to it.” Imad Alsagar's Nazanin (Declaration of War) scored on her debut over this trip at Newbury June 22 and is another of the unexposed types looking to step up. In the seven-furlong Listed Pat Eddery S., Godolphin's New Science (GB) (Lope de Vega {Ire}) bids to put a disappointing seventh placing in the Listed Chesham S. at Royal Ascot June 19 behind him having beaten that race's runner-up Reach For the Moon (GB) (Sea the Stars {Ire}) on debut at Yarmouth May 28. “He was disappointing, but it was very soft ground at Ascot last time,” Charlie Appleby said. “William [Buick] said he wasn't happy even going to post on the ground. We've put a line through it. His homework has been good since, I'm pleased with his preparation and if he can bounce back to his Yarmouth maiden form he's a major player.”

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