Love conquers all in Yorkshire Oaks
Love took another step towards being crowned this year’s top threeyear-old when the chestnut with a white blaze, a 4-9 shot, sauntered to a five-length success in yesterday’s Darley Yorkshire Oaks. People walking their dogs on the Knavesmire probably expend more energy.
The immediate reaction after she had won the Epsom Oaks by nine lengths, having already won the 1,000 Guineas by 4½, was that she was better than the colts of this year’s Classic generation, and there was nothing about yesterday’s win to suggest otherwise – it will take a good horse of any age or sex, or heavy ground, to get to the bottom of her.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien paid her a compliment every bit as precious as a wide-margin victory when he said: “It’s hard to say we’ve had a more exciting filly at this stage. I can’t name one.”
Three furlongs out she took Ryan Moore to the front on the bridle and from that moment there was only one winner. Behind her, Alpinista, the 33-1 outsider, got the better of the battle to be bridesmaid.
Love has now won her three Group Ones this season by an aggregate of nearly 20 lengths and yesterday she became the first filly to win the same trio of races since Noel Murless won them with Mysterious in 1973. If there was a doubt beforehand it was the sticky going, not ideal for her good-ground action. But it made scant difference to the style of her victory and O’Brien will lose less sleep now if it comes up good to soft at Longchamp, after her defeats as a two-year-old had mostly come on slower ground.
“It was all pretty straight forward,” Moore said afterwards. “Realistically it was the easiest task she’s had for a while. She was running against some unexposed sorts but really they had to step up to her level – she was very professional. But it was really business as usual. The ground is a bit dead. I rode her when it was a bit dead last year, but she’s stronger this season and has gone up in trip, which has helped. But it wasn’t her ideal conditions.”
O’Brien expressed the hope she would improve for the run, having had a break since the Oaks.
“She was also a good bit heavier than when she won the Oaks,” he said. “You don’t like stopping their bodies developing, but it can catch you out when you run them again. She’s improved from race to race and, as that’s her first run since a break, you’d expect her to improve again. She’s bigger, wider, stronger.” Love is now 3-1 joint favourite for the Arc with Enable, who will have to concede 7lb to the Irish filly.
When Love returned to the winners’ enclosure yesterday it was to the sound of All You Need is Love. It is a sentiment that Enable, John Gosden’s six-year-old mare, might not entirely concur with as she goes in search for a record third Arc.
Today Battaash goes for a second Coolmore Nunthorpe and, though the ground will have dried out a bit, he loves it rattling fast. Last year he disproved the theory that he does not like York after two defeats in the race, by winning it in a record time. Although a fierce tailwind is forecast the ground will probably not be quick enough for a track record, but Battaash may be vulnerable to Tim Easterby’s Art Power.
Big-hearted: Jockey Ryan Moore and Love after winning the Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York