Can Love Conquer All In the King George?

Features | 22nd July 2021

The Aidan O'Brien-trained flyer, Love, is aiming to join an illustrious list of fillies to win the prestigious race at Ascot this Saturday. 

It appears that all you need is Love for this year’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes. Aidan O’Brien’s star attempts to join an elite band of fillies to have won the glittering Ascot summer showpiece.

This prestigious prize 1 has only been won by a female horse on 11 occasions in it’s 70 year history; but five of the last nine winners of the King George, as it is often shortened to, were fillies or mares with three of those victories down to superstar Enable.

Racing Queens of the Past

Enable (2017, 19 and 20)

Possibly the greatest of them all. The dual Arc de Triomphe heroine’s three King George triumphs will all live long in the memory.

As a three‐year‐old, fresh from victory in the English and Irish Oaks, she took apart a quality field with breath-taking ease. It was much closer two years later when she got the better of Crystal Ocean in a tremendous tussle that will go down as one of the finest Ascot races.

Enable, who ran in the Frankel colours of owner Khalid Abdullah, completed her hat‐trick last year by beating her two rivals without breaking sweat. She stands alone as a three‐times winner of the King George. Beaten just four times in her 19‐race career, she is a true great.

Taghrooda (2014)

There was no doubting the talent of Taghrooda. She went into the King George unbeaten after three races having been brilliant when winning the Oaks at Epsom. 

Telescope was a well‐named runner‐up as his jockey Ryan Moore would have needed some eyewear to catch a glimpse of Taghrooda as she whizzed clear in the closing stages.

Taghrooda and Paul Hanagan winning the 2014 King George for trainer John Gosden
Taghrooda and Paul Hanagan winning the 2014 King George for trainer John Gosden

Taghrooda’s only raced six times but her King George victory was the performance of a fantastic filly.

Danedream (2012)

Globetrotting German‐trained filly Danedream had already won the Arc de Triomphe when she made her first – and only – trip to Britain for the King George.

She went toe‐to‐toe with the previous year’s winner, Nathaniel, in the closing stages and edged out the reigning champ by a nose. Danedream had her head down at the right time to win by the minimum distance to ensure she went down as one of the greatest German racehorses.

Danedream and Andrasch Stark (orange) winning the 2012 King George from Nathaniel (dark blue)
Danedream and Andrasch Stark (orange) winning the 2012 King George from Nathaniel (dark blue)

Love conquers all?

This year’s King George Love story looks likely to have a happy ending. Everything Love has done over the last 12 months or so has been pure class.

She won the QIPCO 1000 Guineas by more than four lengths on her first start of the season last year. That first Classic victory was impressive enough but the second was mind‐blowing.

With her trainer Aidan O’Brien’s stable jockey Ryan Moore again in the saddle, she stormed home down the Epsom straight to win the Oaks by a staggering nine lengths.

Her third race of last season followed a similar pattern with Love cruising home to land the Yorkshire Oaks. Few fillies are as dominant in winning Group 1 races so to be so impressive in three of the summer’s top prizes was sensational.

With expectations already sky high, Love was clearly the one to beat going into the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month. Taking on colts for the first time on her seasonal return, she was sent straight to the front in the early stages.

The 1 mile, 2 furlong distance was quarter of a mile shorter than her Oaks wins and Moore was clearly in no mood to let any of her rivals get first run. It proved a masterstroke as they all came to have a crack at Love but none managed to pass.

Love wins the 2021 Prince Of Wales's Stakes from Adayar

Her lack of race‐fitness might have made her vulnerable but she battled on in tremendous fashion to claim victory. With that run behind her she is going to be very hard to beat in the King George. That’s not to say the competition isn’t going to pose a stiff task.

The competition

It’s headed by Cazoo Derby winner Adayar. He looked so good when winning the Epsom Classic by four‐and‐a‐half lengths last month.

The Godolphin star, trained by Charlie Appleby, showed real bravery to surge up the inside rail at Epsom; but the heatwave and resulting faster ground might be against him at Ascot this weekend.

Wonderful Tonight is another filly to head to the King George having been successful at Royal Ascot. She looked very good in beating Love’s stablemate Broome in the Hardwicke Stakes. That win – like her four previous victories ‐ came on very soft ground and she won’t have appreciated the recent hot spell that has dried out the track.

Lone Eagle almost clung on in the Irish Derby. He couldn’t quite hold off the strong challenge of Hurricane Lane, who had finished third in the Derby at Epsom. Martyn Meade’s star likes to make the running so he might be hard to master.

Mishriff enjoyed a massive payday when landing the Saudi Cup – the world’s most valuable race – in February. He was beaten in the Eclipse last time out but remains a seriously talented competitor.

Bringing up the rear in the market is Broome, who is by no means making up the numbers with five Group race wins to his name and he’s going into Ascot with great form having claimed his first Group 1 race in Saint Cloud earlier this month.

It is shaping up to be a cracking contest but everything points to Love being all around the Ascot winners’ enclosure this weekend.