Love Holds off Audarya to Win Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot and Gains Automatic Berth into Longines Breeders' Cup Turf
Photo courtesy of Megan Ridgewell
ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND (June 16, 2021) — Love (IRE), Europe’s dominant 3-year-old filly in 2020, began 2021 in impressive fashion with the most game front-running performance to capture the 1¼-mile US$991,000 Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1), a victory which guaranteed her a starting position in the US$4million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 84 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, California, on Nov. 5-6.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for Love to start in the 1 ½-mile Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. Breeders’ Cup also will provide a travel allowance of US$40,000 for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes was new territory for Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier’s homebred chestnut daughter of Galileo (IRE) out of the Pivotal (GB) mare Pikaboo (GB). Love had never raced over the 1¼-mile distance before nor competed against male horses.
She rose to the challenge with aplomb, holding off all comers under Ryan Moore to register trainer Aidan O’Brien’s 75th winner at Royal Ascot, equaling the number saddled by the late Sir Henry Cecil. The victory was also O’Brien’s fourth in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. He has also saddled six winners of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“We knew that her head was down and looking at Ryan’s body language he hadn’t gone for everything,” said O’Brien. “He was trying to let her win and give her as easy time as he could. She will come on a lot. We had prepared her two or three times and stopped and started again, which was far from ideal and we were delighted the lads [owners] decided to wait until the ground came right. There is nowhere better to start than Royal Ascot.”
Love completed a brief but unbeaten campaign last year in the style of an exceptional filly, winning the 1,000 Guineas (G1), Oaks (G1) and Yorkshire Oaks (G1) by an aggregate margin of 18¼ lengths. She was being pointed to the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) until a wet autumn knocked her off that schedule and soft ground in early spring left O’Brien unable to find a suitable warm-up race.
Sent off the 11/10 favorite for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, from which last year’s winner Lord North (IRE) was an absentee due to the good to firm ground conditions, Moore opted to set his own tempo in front, winding up the pace with a quarter-mile to run on Love, who responded willingly to beat 5-year-old Audarya (FR), winner of last year’s Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Keeneland, by three-quarters of a length with the O’Brien-trained Armory (IRE) third. Love completed the 1 ¼ miles in 2:06.86 over a course listed as good to firm.
“This is only about her,” said Moore. “She is a high-class filly. It’s her first run since last August. It’s great to get her back today. I am sure she will come on for the run. She is a very honest filly with a lot of ability. Hopefully she will be there as the year goes on.”
Love has numerous Group 1 engagements. With her first run out of the way, O’Brien indicated she was most likely to return to 1 ½ miles for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) at Ascot next month for her next start, which is also a “Win and You’re In” for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“We were worried coming here today because she was prepared for a few runs and didn’t get to run and to come into a race like this without a run was a big disadvantage,” he said.
“She was wonderful at the distance. As the race came together there was no pace and she was going to be vulnerable making her own running. I knew what Ryan was doing. He was trying to do enough for Love to win over a mile and a quarter and enough not to give Armory a chance to come at him late, because he knew that’s the way he likes to be ridden. It was a very fine balancing act and he did it perfectly.
“She has all the attributes of Galileo. I knew when Ryan asked, she would find for him. She gives all. It’s an unbelievable trait, and probably the most important trait in any Thoroughbred. She has it in spades, multiplied by ten. Whatever you want she is there to answer all the time.
“She has all the options, the King George and the (Coral)-Eclipse (G1) (at Sandown). You would think hard about the King George, if the ground was nice after being around the track here.”
Mrs. Alison Swinburn’s Audarya was also having her first run of the year and her performance delighted trainer James Fanshawe.
“We are all absolutely thrilled with the way she’s run,” he said. “She’s proved that she has progressed from last year and she is a really exciting prospect for this year. We are having our first run today so weren’t fully sure how she would run because Love is a very good filly. It looked at the furlong pole that we were going to give her a race.
“It is Love’s first run as well. William [Buick] said the pace wasn’t all that strong. Whether that made any difference I don’t know. We’ll go and have a think, but I am pretty sure we will go for the one of the Prix Jean Romanet (G1) or Nassau Stakes (G1). We will try and space it.”
ABOUT BREEDERS’ CUP
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred horse racing’s year-end Championships, as well as the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The Breeders’ Cup is also a founding member of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, an organization composed of industry leaders committed to advancing safety measures in Thoroughbred racing and improving the well-being of equine and human athletes.
The 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Championship races, is scheduled to be held on November 5-6 at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, California. The event will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media.
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