The master of Ballydoyle has had a whole host of top-class equine females pass through his hands over the past couple of decades – with 2016 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine Found preceded by the likes of Alexandrova, Peeping Fawn and Minding.
But while wary of not getting ahead of himself, O’Brien is of the opinion that Love could just be the greatest of them all after becoming the first filly since Mysterious in 1973 to add the Yorkshire Oaks to back-to-back Classic triumphs in the 1000 Guineas and Oaks.
Watch how Love romped home at York
“She was always very exciting – I don’t know if we’ve ever had as an exciting a filly at this stage. I can’t name one that has been as exciting as her at this stage ever,” he said.
“When you’re training them and they’re your own, you don’t ever want to get carried away, but it’s her movement and her pace and her action and her attitude – that’s the makings of those great horses and she seems to have all that.
“She has looked very special from the minute she ran in the Guineas. We thought she was a very good filly last year, but we thought she’d be a middle-distance filly, so when she did that in the Guineas we weren’t sure what would happen in the Oaks.
“But when she went up in trip she was very happy and for her to do that today, after having a break since the Oaks, was very good.”
O'Brien tells Gary O'Brien about his four previous Yorkshire Oaks winners
While three wins from seven juvenile starts was perfectly respectable, few would have marked Love down as the superstar she has become at the start of 2020.
However, after putting her rivals to sword by a shade over four lengths in the Guineas at Newmarket, she destroyed the opposition by nine at Epsom to set up the hat-trick bid on the Knavesmire.
With Ryan Moore in the saddle, the 4-9 favourite sat in the slipstream of the pacesetting Manuela De Vega until early in the home straight, when she cruised to the lead and the race was over as a contest in a matter of strides.
Rank outsider Alpinista made late progress to lead the chasing pack, but Love was away and gone and passed the post with five lengths in hand – setting up a mouthwatering clash of the generations with the mighty Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Most bookmakers make the younger filly the marginal favourite ahead of John Gosden’s dual Arc heroine, but O’Brien is taking nothing for granted.
He added: “It’s so hard to win any race. I always think there are so many horses to beat you, especially in a race like the Arc.
“We were nervous about today because of the ground, but know now we could run on good to soft.
“We couldn’t be happier with what she’s done. We were delighted with today and if she comes out of today well and goes on to the Arc, we’d be looking forward to it.”
O’Brien will not be the only one looking forward to it if the top two do indeed turn up in Paris in the autumn.
Throw in superstar stayer Stradivarius and possibly Juddmonte International hero Ghaiyyath, and it could well be the race of a year. Roll on October 4.
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