As the Beatles once sang, all you need is Love – or is it?
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 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.
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 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.
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.