Brilliant in winning the Oaks at Epsom, the Irish Oaks at the Curragh and the Yorkshire Oaks earlier this summer, Snowfall has long been considered a major contender for Europe’s premier middle-distance contest.
And while the daughter of Deep Impact suffered a shock defeat at the hands of the Roger Varian-trained Teona in the Prix Vermeille earlier this month, O’Brien remains optimistic ahead of the ParisLongchamp showpiece.
“She came out of the Vermeille very well – we’re very happy with her,” said the Ballydoyle trainer yesterday.
“It was lovely for her to go round the track and we saw the way she coped with it. The ground was quick and we know that she’s very comfortable on soft ground.
“She’s a filly who gets a mile and a half well and it [Vermeille] was more of a trial.
“Frankie [Dettori] was very happy with her. Obviously she didn’t win, but I think her last six furlongs were the quickest of any horse in the race – she was really quickening and was going forward. Often in the trial, you’re better to get beat and things not go right than win and everything go right.
“She worked well this morning and we’re very happy with her at the moment.”
Love was in a similar position to her stablemate Snowfall 12 months ago, having won the 1000 Guineas, the Epsom Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks, but missed out on a run in the Arc owing to the prevailing testing conditions.
A year on, the Galileo filly is set to line up with plenty to prove following three successive defeats – most recently being touched off by La Petite Coco in the Blandford Stakes at the Curragh.
“We were delighted with her run [in the Blandford],” added O’Brien.
“The winner was rated 110 and she gave her 9lb, so it was a serious run – on ratings, it wasn’t far off her best.
“We went to the Curragh as a trial for the Arc and we think she’s really gone the right way since then.
“If the ground was nice, we were always planning on going to the Arc with her.”
Meanwhile, Godolphin stars Benbatl and Master Of The Seas will lock horns in the Joel Stakes at Newmarket tomorrow.
Benbatl was a runaway winner of Friday’s Group Two contest in 2019, and finished third behind Kameko when defending his crown 12 months ago.
Saeed bin Suroor’s charge, one of the most consistent performers of recent seasons, was denied narrowly by Lavender’s Blue on his return from almost a year on the sidelines in last month’s Celebration Mile at Goodwood Racecourse, and bids to get back on the winning trail on his return to the Rowley Mile under dual champion jockey Oisin Murphy.
Bin Suroor also had the option of saddling the improving Real World, but he has not been declared.
The biggest threat to Benbatl appears to be the Charlie Appleby-trained Master Of The Seas, to whom he must concede 4lb.
The Dubawi colt won the Craven Stakes over the course and distance in the spring, but has been sidelined by injury since being beaten a short head by Poetic Flare in the 2000 Guineas in May.
Group Two honours are also up for grabs in the preceding Rockfel Stakes, for which 10 juvenile fillies are set to go to post.
Leading contenders include Andrew Balding’s Majestic Glory, who bids to complete a Newmarket hat-trick following successive wins on the July Course – most recently landing the Group Three Sweet Solera Stakes.