The Second Summer of Love

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Love | Racingfotos.com

She has waited long enough, it seems, and the time has finally arrived for the rekindling of Love (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) at Royal Ascot. Denied outings in the Arc, the Breeders' Cup and the Tattersalls Gold Cup, Ballydoyle's G1 1000 Guineas and G1 Epsom Oaks heroine has everything in her favour at last as the sun beats down on the famed Berkshire strip. Successful in her three 3-year-old starts–which also included the G1 Yorkshire Oaks–by a cumulative margin of 18 1/2 lengths, the chestnut lines up against the colts for the first time in what is always one of the year's biggest tests. “She's been waiting to start back a while and while the ground is right, we're keen to get her started,” Aidan O'Brien said. “Her other option was the Pretty Polly and we could have waited for that against her own sex, but by then the ground could have gone again. She's in good form, she's ready to start again.”

Successful 12 months ago when upgrading his profile, Sheikh Zayed bin Mohammed Racing's Lord North (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) returns from a spell of international duty having finished fourth in Keeneland's GI Breeders' Cup Turf and won the Mar.  27 G1 Dubai Turf. Exactly what his capabilities are is yet to be ascertained, but this should answer some questions. “It will be exciting taking on Love,” John Gosden said. “She was exceptional last year, but she only raced against her own sex. I was thinking she was the one for the Arc, but that wound up on what the jockeys say was the deepest ground ever at Longchamp. I also like Armory a lot. It's a nice edition–one of those small but select fields.”

Love is joined by her talented stablemate Armory (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who took time to establish himself at the top table last season but came good when third in the G1 Irish Champion S. at Leopardstown in September before finishing runner-up in the G1 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley the following month. He looked prepped for a profitable campaign when brushing aside 'TDN Rising Star' Sangarius (GB) (Kingman {GB}) on his return in Chester's G3 Huxley S. May 7 and will relish this testing mile-and-a-quarter trip. “This race has always been the plan for Armory and that is why he went to Chester, to get ready for it,” his trainer explained. “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.”

Ryan Moore spoke of the Ballydoyle duo on his Betfair blog and said, “You clearly have to respect every horse in here and Lord North is a top-class operator on his day, as he showed when dismissing Addeybb in this race last season and winning in Dubai last time, but he will be need to be on a going day to deal with Love and Armory. We haven't seen Love since she won the Yorkshire Oaks last August, but Aidan has just been waiting for better ground for her and she will get that here. This will be the deepest pool she has swum in class-wise and her first run over this mile-and-a-quarter trip, but this is a wide-margin winner of an Oaks and a Guineas we are talking about here and it will take a good colt, or mare, to beat her. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Armory did though. His form took off at the back-end last season, when he finished third in the Irish Champion S. before going over to Australia for the Cox Plate only for the ground to [go] against him late. So to finish second there was some effort and I was really very impressed by his Chester win from Sangarius first time up. He is a very exciting colt with more to give and he will love this ground.”

Like Love, Alison Swinburn's Audarya (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) also marks her 2021 debut and last year's G1 Prix Jean Romanet and GI Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf heroine is an intriguing runner with James Fanshawe unaccustomed to sending horses here without merit. “It's a tough introduction for her, but it would have been tough going to Ireland first time out too and I wanted to keep her against her own age group,” her trainer commented. “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 10 kilos on that long trip to Keeneland and back, via Chicago.”

In the G2 Queen's Vase over the St Leger mile and three quarters, Aidan O'Brien is looking to equal the record eight successes of the late Sir Henry Cecil and saddles a Galileo (Ire) trio in Wordsworth (Ire), Arturo Toscanini (Ire) and Kyprios (Ire). The former is the pick of Ryan Moore stepping up from the 13-furlong trip over which he finished runner-up to stablemate Sir Lucan (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) in the Listed Yeats S. at Navan May 15. Arturo Toscanini was runner-up in the G3 Gallinule S. over 10 furlongs at The Curragh May 23 and it is interesting that he is tried over this far. From John and Thady Gosden's stable is Nat Rothschild's Stowell (GB) (Zoffany {Ire}), who scored over a mile and a half in a maiden here May 7, while Kingsley Park's Dancing King (Ire) (Free Eagle {Ire}) has won all four 3-year-old starts culminating in a Doncaster handicap over this trip June 5.

Ryan Moore said of Wordsworth, “He was second to High Definition in his sole start at two and I was impressed with him when he beat a subsequent winner in his maiden over a mile and a quarter at the Curragh in April, a race in which he was strong at the finish and shaped like a stayer. He couldn't follow up when stepped up to a mile five at Navan next time but the winner, stablemate Sir Lucan, is a very promising horse in his own right and I can definitely see Wordsworth being suited by this test. His brother Kew Gardens won this race back in 2018.”

After the confirmation of the prowess of Palace Pier (GB) (Kingman {GB}) in Tuesday's G1 Queen Anne S., Lady Bowthorpe (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) who was the only rival to give him a race in the G1 Lockinge S. sets the standard in the G2 Duke of Cambridge S. 24 hours later. Beaten just 1 1/2 lengths by the Gosdens' leading light in that May 15 Newbury feature, she drops a level back among her own sex renewing rivalry with Queen Power (Ire) (Shamardal) who she edged out in the nine-furlong G2 Dahlia S. at Newmarket May 2. “We've been very pleased with her since the Lockinge, that was a career-best,” Lady Bowthorpe's trainer William Jarvis said. “You never know until you turn up how much that race has taken out of her, but she appears to be giving us the right signals at home. No race at Royal Ascot is ever easy to win, we're going to be the favourite and we justify favouritism on her performance in the Lockinge, but it's a strong field. The ground is possibly going to be quicker than is ideal for us, but we're very hopeful and we're very much looking forward to it. There are some pretty good fillies in the line-up and we respect all of them.” Queen Power has subsequently won York's G2 Middleton S. over an extended 10-furlong trip by eight lengths at York May 13 and represents the Sir Michael Stoute stable successful in this on four occasions.

Both Lady Bowthorpe and Queen Power carry three-pound penalties for their Group 2 successes, while Teruya Yoshida's Champers Elysees (Ire) (Elzaam {Aus}) has the full five-pound extra having annexed the G1 Matron S. at Leopardstown in September. Easily forgiven her two efforts so far this term when fourth in both the seven-furlong G3 Athasi S. at The Curragh May 3 and in the G2 Lanwades Stud S. over this mile there May 22, the Johnny Murtagh flagbearer has quicker ground to suit and has yet to convince that she has lost any of her 2020 form. Ecurie Ama Zingteam's impressive June 5 G3 Princess Elizabeth S. scorer Parent's Prayer (Ire) (Kingman {GB}) is also in the mix along with Salah Fustok's progressive Double Or Bubble (Ire) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}), who needs to step up from her latest win in a seven-furlong Newmarket handicap Apr. 13 but who hails from the Chris Wall stable always to be respected.

Racing gets underway with the G2 Queen Mary S., where Stonestreet Stables' 'TDN Rising Star' Twilight Gleaming (Ire) (National Defense {GB}) represents the Wesley Ward influx after her 7 1/2-length win in a Belmont Park maiden special weight May 9. Adding spice is the George Arnold-trained May 21 Churchill Downs maiden special weight scorer Artos (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) with Frankie Dettori in the saddle. Currently first and second in the betting, the Stateside visitors will have to see off the sharpest of the European fillies headed by St Albans Bloodstock's May 14 Listed Marygate Fillies' S. winner Nymphadora (GB) (No Nay Never) and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' May 16 G3 Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies Sprint S. runner-up Quick Suzy (Ire) (Profitable {Ire}).

Ballydoyle's 'TDN Rising Star' Yet (War Front) beat the Donnacha-trained Orinoco River (War Front) by a neck in a Dundalk maiden over this trip May 12 and is a fascinating contender, while there is a buzz surrounding Clipper Logistics' June 4 Catterick novice scorer Illustrating (GB) (Showcasing {GB}). Ryan Moore said of Yet, “Her pedigree tells you she will get a fair bit further than this, but she clearly didn't lack pace to win over five furlongs at Dundalk and she showed a very willing attitude there. Being a War Front, you'd expect her to like this ground, too.”

Oisin Murphy took Tuesday's G2 Coventry S. and has a live chance of doubling up in the Queen Mary on the unbeaten Desert Dreamer (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) from the Stuart Williams yard. Successful over five and six furlongs at Newmarket Apr. 14 and May 13, she has an engine that will take her far. “The Queen Mary will be a tough race to win, with 22 going to post including Twilight Gleaming for Wesley Ward from stall 20, while Aidan O'Brien runs Yet,” Murphy said. “Artos is another American drawn in two, so the Stateside runners are wide apart and I'm drawn towards the far side in seven. I'm quite pleased about that as Desert Dreamer has loads of speed, she's going to jump and track them. I rode her in work recently and she's in great shape. I thought she did well to win at Newmarket on her second start under a penalty, she was impressive that day. This is a big step up, but she's quick.”

A total of 30 runners take part in the Royal Hunt Cup over a mile, which is followed by the Listed Windsor Castle S. where the key Ward runner is Stonestreet Stables' 'TDN Rising Star' Ruthin (GB) (Ribchester {Ire}). She beat the Queen Mary-bound Artos (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) by six lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Keeneland Apr. 22 and has the edge over her stable's Golden Bell (Macho Uno). Hat Creek Racing and Cheyenne Stable's bay registered her own wide-margin win over 4 1/2 furlongs at that venue on the same card, she commands respect taking on the colts including Ballydoyle's May 19 Cork maiden winner Amalfi Coast (Ire) (Showcasing {GB}) and Lit Lung Lee's impressive Newmarket and Chelmsford winner Dig Two (Ire) (Cotai Glory {GB}).

Tactical (GB) (Toronado {Ire}) won the Windsor Castle for The Queen 12 months ago and she has another contender this time in the Michael Bell-trained Spring Is Sprung (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}), a half-brother to the smart King's Lynn (GB) (Cable Bay {Ire}) who scored over this five-furlong trip at Windsor Apr. 26. Oisin Murphy rides and said, “I'm drawn in nine quite close to Ruthin, the Wesley Ward filly, so hopefully I get a tow off her. My colt is improving no end. He carries loads of condition and I think he'll run a big race.” The card closes with the Kensington Palace S. over a mile for older fillies and mares, where the feared combination of Cheveley Park Stud and Sir Michael Stoute are represented by the progressive Lights On (GB) (Siyouni {Fr}) who beat the re-opposing Dreamloper (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire}) by a short head in a course-and-distance handicap May 8. “We have a well-related and improving filly on our hands and one that is proven on the track and on the ground,” Lights On's jockey Ryan Moore said. “She is a filly we liked last season and she is really coming good now.”

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