Guineas and Oaks winner Love heads a stellar cast for York’s prestigious Ebor Festival

YORK officials are looking forward to superstar filly Love lining up at next month’s Ebor Festival on the Knavesmire.

2000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks heroine Love is due to line up in the Yorkshire Oaks at the Ebor festival next month.
2000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks heroine Love is due to line up in the Yorkshire Oaks at the Ebor festival next month.

It comes after Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien signalled the Group One Darley Yorkshire Oaks as the next race for the 1000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks heroine.

She skips this weekend’s Irish Oaks at the Curragh and O’Brien said: “Love doesn’t run this weekend. She is perfect.

“What we are thinking at the moment is that she is probably going to go straight to York for the Yorkshire Oaks, and then on to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe after that.”

This was Frankie Dettori celebrating Enable's win in the Yorkshire Oaks last year.

Continuing the tradition of many of the world’s best horses lining up at York’s flagship fixture, including all-time greats like Sea The Stars, Frankel and Enable, the trainer’s comments on Monday night were a timely – and welcome – tonic to the Yorkshire track after a challenging year due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

“She is clearly the best three-year-old around on current form,” said chief executive William Derby. “For Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore to identify the Darley Yorkshire Oaks as her next target is a thrill for us.

“With the Juddmonte International likely to feature the 2000 Guineas winner Kameko, and Eclipse winner Ghaiyyath, it looks like being a stellar Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.”

Love’s long-term objective is the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp in early October and a potential clash with John Gosden’s dual winner Enable. She won the 2017 and 2018 renewals under Frankie Dettori before being narrowly beaten last year.

Signs like this obscure viewing of racing at York during the lockdown. Photo: James Hardisty.

Runner up in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown earlier this month to the frontrunning Ghaiyyath who was given a tactically astute ride by William Buick, Prince Khalid Abdullah’s superstar will head to Ascot on Saturday week to defend the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes that she won last year.

It is then anticipated that the six-year-old will head here for the mile-and-a-half Yorkshire Oaks, which she landed last year in spectacular style, or the 10-furlong Juddmonte International.

However Teddy Grimthorpe, Prince Khalid’s racing manager and chairman of York, indicated that talk of a clash with Love on the Knavesmire was premature for now.

“She has come out of the Eclipse really well. Barring the result, it was everything we wanted in terms of her performance and the way she has come out of it,” he told The Yorkshire Post.

“From that point of view, we are very happy with her leading up to the King George, She seems in very good form. With her, we have got to plan it one race at a time.

“Both the Juddmonte and Yorkshire Oaks are possible parts of her schedule – but the main target is the Arc and how she gets there will depend on John (Gosden) in conjunction with Prince Khalid.”

Meanwhile, York is gearing up for a two-day meeting this weekend, featuring the historic John Smith’s Cup on Saturday, following the successful resumption of racing last Thursday.

The aforementioned Derby said the feedback from racing professionals and stable staff had been positive after special protocols were put in place to restrict public access.

He said that the inclement weather meant there were few people trying to watch the racing on public land around the historic track.

However this could prove more challenging this weekend if the weather is warm and dry, as currently forecast. “We have gone to great lengths to ensure the Knavesmire remains open for our neighbours who want to use it as public open space,” he added.

“We’re discouraging anyone from coming down to the Knavesmire to see the racing. There will again be fencing in place to obscure the key sight lines and we are relying on people to exercise common sense and watch the action on ITV Racing.”

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