Dual Classic heroine Love remains on course for a titanic clash with Enable after cruising to victory in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York.
Ryan Moore had Aidan O’Brien’s 1000 Guineas and Investec Oaks winner ideally placed in second almost throughout, behind the pace initially set by Manuela De Vega.
After ranging up into the straight, Love then moved swiftly to the front and eased clear to win by five lengths as the 4-9 favourite. Outsider Alpinista stayed on best of the rest late on to be second, with One Voice third.
Love’s victory extends her unblemished Group One-winning sequence to three this season – meaning a much-anticipated showdown with John Gosden’s brilliant mare Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp in October continues to loom large.
Moore said: “It was straightforward. Realistically, I thought it was her easiest task for a while. There were some unexposed fillies in the race, but they needed to step up to her level.
“She was very professional. The ground is a bit dead today and it was a worry as when I rode her in the Debutante last year (finished fifth), the ground was a little bit too slow for her. She’s obviously got a bit stronger and the step up in trip has possibly helped.
“She’s been exceptional on every start this year. The Arc has always been in the back of everyone’s minds and we’re six weeks away, so I suppose they’ll see how she is.”
Love has regained Arc favouritism with a number of firms, with RaceBets going 9-4 and Paddy Power 5-2. Betfair make Love and Enable the 11-4 joint-favourites.
Moore added: “I’d say Ghaiyyath’s stock has gone up and Enable’s has gone up, so the Arc will be a hard race.
“We haven’t seen the Derby winner (Serpentine) since (Epsom). Everyone has their own opinion on that race, but I still think he was a very good winner.”
Like Moore, O’Brien had concerns about the ground for Love – and confirmed the Arc would be the next target.
He said from his Ballydoyle base: “We were nervous about running her on that ground. If you look back through her form last year, when she got beat it was on slow ground.
“We spoke to Ryan after he rode in the second and he was very worried, but he said we needed to find out before the Arc – if the ground was soft (in Paris), what would happen? A lot of people say that ground in York is deader than anywhere else.
“She had thrived physically since the Oaks and was a good bit heavier. She’s bigger and stronger this year. We’re delighted with the filly and delighted with the way the race was run.
“The plan was always to go for the Guineas, the Oaks, to York for this race and then maybe the Arc.
“The timing was perfect, to run here and then go straight on to the Arc. If everything is well and she comes out of it well, that would be the plan I think.
“This was her first run back for the autumn and you would think and hope that she was going to progress on from today again.”