A dual Classic winner last season having left her rivals trailing in her wake in both the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Oaks at Epsom, Aidan O’Brien’s Love made a successful return from 10 months off the track in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
O’Brien has also left in Broome, Japan and Mogul as he goes in search of a fifth King George success following the previous triumphs of Galileo (2001), Dylan Thomas (2007), Duke Of Marmalade (2008) and Highland Reel (2016), but Love is very much his chief hope.
Love’s biggest threat appears to be the Charlie Appleby-trained Adayar, who was a brilliant winner of the Derby at Epsom in early June.
That form has been well advertised since by his stablemate Hurricane Lane, who was third in the premier Classic and has subsequently won both the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris.
Love will have to concede 8lb to Adayar due to the weight-for-age allowance.
Martyn Meade is set to saddle the narrow Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle, while the William Haggas-trained Addeybb and John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff could renew rivalry after finishing second and third behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.
Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal, said on Monday: “I talked to John after Mishriff worked on Saturday and John was very happy with him. It has very much been left up to John where he runs next and, having discussed it with the Prince, Ascot looks the likely target.
“I thought Mishriff was a bit gassy at Sandown in the first half of the race, which happens to a lot of horses after some time off, and I just wondered whether he needed a race under his belt to get him spot on. He seemed to run very well backing up from Saudi to Dubai.
“St Mark’s Basilica is clearly a very good horse and I think it is going to take a very good horse to beat Love on Saturday. We want to win a Group One in England with Mishriff and you can’t win one unless you run in them. He has beaten some very good horses from around the world and now is the time to see what he can do against the big battalions from England and Ireland in particular.”
The potential field is completed by David Menuisier’s stable star Wonderful Tonight, who enjoyed successive Group One wins last autumn and looked as good as ever when making a winning start to the current campaign in the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal meeting last month.
Ascot anticipates a crowd of 14,000 following the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.
Nick Smith, Director of Racing and Public Affairs at Ascot, said: “We will probably be at half capacity for the King George. We are expecting something around 14,000 or 15,000 depending on how sales go this week.
“We have had a very short sales window in terms of the final confirmation restrictions would be lifted on 19th July and actually being able to proactively market the race."
Coronation Cup winner Pyledriver has been ruled out after suffering a minor setback.
Trainer William Muir told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast: “He worked superb on Saturday, we went to Charlie Hills’ and he worked stunning with a very good miler.
“I walked over to meet him coming back – he was bouncing – washed him down and what have you and all was fine, but that evening I just thought he was slightly wrong behind on his off hind.
“My vet came, his testicle was pulled right up so he thinks he might have rolled in his box and tweaked his groin.”
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