'She couldn't have been any more impressive' - Love a class apart in the Oaks
In one of his most famous terse responses to a post-race question, Ryan Moore declared "it’s not the Derby" when asked how he felt about winning the Oaks.
If he still held that view going into Saturday’s fillies’ Classic it was easy to sense afterwards that his opinion this year could not have been any more different. Love had conquered.
Those unable to attend Epsom were robbed of witnessing in person an outstanding performance from a filly who is starting to make this truncated 2020 season her own. A summer of Love is far from being out of the question based on what has happened so far.
As the two pacemakers tore off across the deserted downs, Moore bided his time on the 11-10 favourite. However, as the pack closed in after the fillies had navigated Tattenham Corner, Love was ominously poised to strike.
Nudged past her stablemate Ennistymon to lead with a quarter of a mile to go, Love relentlessly powered on, and on, and on. Such was her dominance over her opposition, Moore was perhaps afforded time to ponder just what it meant to win the Oaks in such a fashion on a filly who had swatted aside her rivals in the 1,000 Guineas a month ago.
“She was exceptional today,” he said. “You never expect to win the Oaks like that. I’m not sure how far she won but it felt like a long way to me. She was exceptional. Hopefully she’ll be one to look forward to and she’ll be a threat for anything.
“For me, she took another step forward [from the Guineas]. She loved the trip and for me her best furlong was her last furlong. She’s got a great temperament and is a lovely mover and, for me, she couldn’t have been any more impressive.”
Love became the 49th filly to complete the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks double, a feat Moore and winning trainer Aidan O’Brien achieved with the brilliant Minding in 2016. There was a yawning gap of nine lengths back to stablemate Ennistymon in second, although Sun Princess’s 12-length record winning distance would have been threatened if Moore had not gone easy in the closing stages.
It was an eighth Oaks winner for O’Brien – and his fifth in the last nine years – but his enthusiasm overflowed like rarely before for Love.
“She’s very special,” O’Brien said from the now familiar site of his office at Ballydoyle. “It’s hard to say that you would ever have a filly better than that. We saw what she did in the Guineas and she doubled it today, and it’s only her second run of the year. It’s amazing really.
“We always thought she’d get a mile and a quarter well and she’s by Galileo and has a lovely long stride and sticks her head out and really tries. We were always hopeful the extra distance in the Oaks was going to improve her and Ryan gave her a lovely ride.
“She was working incredibly well and her last few canters through the week were incredible.”
The Juddmonte Irish Oaks in two weeks is likely to be the next stop for Love, while Paddy Power and Betfair slashed the filly to 5-1 (from 20) for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, just behind 9-2 favourite Enable, who gets her 2020 campaign underway in Sunday’s Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.
What appears less likely for Love is an attempt to emulate 1985 fillies’ Triple Crown winner Oh So Sharp by having a crack at the St Leger, with O’Brien unsure whether Doncaster and Longchamp would be in the filly’s best interests.
“The Lads [owners] will decide her next race but the Irish Oaks is a possibility,” O’Brien said. “As for the Arc, you’d have to think about that in the autumn and we know what three-year-old fillies do in the Arc, so we’d definitely have to think about it.
“The Lads will decide [about the St Leger] but she has an awful lot of class. It’s possible but we have to see if it’s the right thing to do. I think the Leger comes three weeks or a month before the Arc, so if she's going for that is it too tough for a filly to take in that race and then go for the Arc?”
Wherever she heads next, there will be plenty of people looking for Love through the rest of this year.
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