The Prince of Wales’s Stakes gives you defending champion Lord North with leading jockey Frankie Dettori and standout trainer John Gosden getting an assist from his son, Thady. What could possibly go wrong for the 5-year-old gelding in Royal Ascot’s Day 2 marquee race?
Well, that’s what Love’s got to do with it. The 4-year-old filly seized favorite status the moment Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien entered her in Wednesday’s sole Group 1 race at Royal Ascot. The Irish filly ran the table during her 3-year-old season, winning the 1,000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks, and Yorkshire Oaks. She was considered a threat to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but scratched due to soft turf.
Love makes her 4-year-old and Royal Ascot debut as the 6/4 favorite to capture the 1 ¼-mile Prince of Wales’s Stakes. That race headlines Wednesday’s Royal Ascot card and comes with a bonus for the winner: an all-expenses paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar in November. It’s one of four Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series races at Royal Ascot.
It also comes with a trap for Love: that pesky favorite status. Only two favorites in the last 10 Prince of Wales’s Stakes found the winner’s circle, Free Eagle at 5/2 in 2015, and 4/5 favorite So You Think in 2012. That latter victory came after So You Think finished second at 4/11 the previous year. Last year’s 5/4 favorite, Japan, finished fourth.
Prince of Wales’s Stakes sets up for Lord North
Lord North, meanwhile, returns at the top of his game to defend his 2020 Prince of Wales’s Stakes victory. He won the Group 1 Dubai Turf at Meydan by three lengths. When we saw him in this race last year, he beat fellow Irish gelding Addeybb by 3 ¾ lengths. Those two victories are a third of Lord North’s six wins in 12 events.
“He’s a great character, he’s in good form,” John Gosden told the Breeders’ Cup’s Jim Gluckson. “He’s back on quicker ground. I think it’s a fascinating race. Love has been waiting for this type of ground. She was exceptional last year, but she raced with her own sex.”
Your third favorite (7/2) is another O’Brien charge, Armory. The 5-year-old owns five victories, none of which are a Group 1. He won his 2021 debut at Chester in the Group 2 Huxley Stakes in May.
Ward returns seeking fourth Queen Mary Stakes title
Meanwhile, American trainer Wesley Ward is looking for Royal Ascot win No. 12 with Queen Mary Stakes 5/2 favorite Twilight Gleaming. This is the race that gave Ward Royal Ascot win No. 11 last year with Campanelle. The 3-year-old filly runs later in the meet in the Commonwealth Cup.
Twilight Gleaming won her Belmont Park debut by seven lengths. Seeking his fourth Queen Mary Stakes title in the last seven years, Ward imported insurance in the name of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez to ride the Day 2 opener. Awaiting her in the gates for the five-furlong sprint is fellow American, Artos (15/2). Trainer Rusty Arnold put his own insurance policy in the irons, enlisting Dettori to ride.
Dettori makes his Royal Ascot presence felt again
Ward sends both Ruthin and Golden Bell (8/1) out in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes. Ruthin, the 9/4 favorite, gets Dettori in the five-furlong juvenile sprint. Velazquez rides Golden Bell. Speaking of Dettori, he headlined Day 1 riding 2/7 favorite Palace Pier to a 1 ¼-length victory in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes. That was Dettori’s 74th Royal Ascot victory and seventh Queen Anne win.
“This is one of the best horses in the world, so you want everything to go right and everything did go right,” Dettori told reporters afterward.
Plump prices prevailed on Day 1
Things went right for the long shots on Tuesday, led by 66/1 Reshoun winning the Ascot Stakes. Hollie Doyle won her second Royal Ascot race in as many years aboard 33/1 Amtiyaz in the Copper Horse Stakes. Juan Elcano, at 14/1, took the Wolferton Stakes and 11/1 Berkshire Shadow captured the Coventry Stakes.
Poetic Flare added one for the favorites, taking the St. James’s Palace Stakes at 7/2. And 4/1 Oxted upset defending champion Battaash to win the King’s Stand Stakes. Battaash faded to fourth.
There was a royal sighting amid the 12,000 allowed in Royal Ascot, but there wasn’t a royal procession. Nor was there a Queen Elizabeth II sighting. In her stead, appeared the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. They watched the Queen’s horse, King’s Lynn, finish seventh in the King’s Stand.