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Fanshawe Happy with Audarya ahead of Prince Of Wales’s Stakes

14 Jun 2021

James Fanshawe's filly reported to be in great shape for her run in Wednesday showpiece

James Fanshawe does not underestimate the task his Breeders’ Cup winner Audarya faces first time out against last year’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes winner Lord North and the dual Classic winner Love, but he has her in great shape for her return and he is very much looking forward to it.

Fanshawe, whose ten Royal Ascot wins include the 2017 Diamond Jubilee Stakes with the recently retired The Tin Man, had the choice between running Audarya here or in the Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh, which was also an alternative for Love.

While the betting suggests that Audarya has plenty to find, she was a major improver at the back-end of last season, when she also won a Group 1 at Deauville, and she should relish conditions. Fanshawe is happy with the choice he has made and has booked William Buick to ride.

He said: “It’s a tough introduction for her. But it would have been tough going to Ireland first time out too; I wanted to keep her against her own age group.

“She seems really well and she’s very straightforward to train day to day, although she has a prickly personality and appreciates her own space. She’s very tough and hardy, as she showed on the long trip to Keeneland and back.”

Audarya is owned by Alison Swinburn, whose late husband Walter was just 19 when winning the 1981 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes on Hard Fought.

Fanshawe said: “Audarya is the first really good one that Alison has had with me and she’s loving it. She’s an outstanding looking filly with great presence, and we were excited by her early on. I thought she would win first time out (she was beaten a nose at 50-1), and although it took her a while she’s really stepped up since we went back to a mile and a quarter with her. 

“She outstayed them in the Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland, and that was just one of those days when everything went right. We thought she had a terrible draw, but Pierre-Charles Boudot gave her an amazing ride.”

Fanshawe is not concerned that Buick hasn’t sat on Audarya before. He said: “Pierre-Charles had never sat on her either, and nor had Ioritz Mendizabal before she won the Prix Jean Romanet. That won’t be a problem.”

Classic heroine Love returns

Those lucky enough to be able to attend Royal Ascot are in for an unexpected treat, as until late last week many expected Love to wait for the Pretty Polly.

No horse’s return to action has been more eagerly awaited, for she was sensational at three, when her wins in the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas, the Investec Oaks and the Darley Yorkshire Oaks were achieved by an aggregate of almost 20 lengths.

Aidan O’Brien reports that she has wintered very well and has said that we would have seen her sooner but for the wet spring.

Having already been taken out of last year’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe on account of heavy ground before the contamination scare that hit the O’Brien team at Longchamp, Love has still to encounter male opposition in ten races.

Lord North to lead the boys into battle

Many will expect Lord North to prove Love’s toughest opponent, but her stable-mate Armory needs every respect too. He ended last year with a good third behind Magical and Ghaiyyath in the Irish Champion Stakes and a cracking second to his former stable-mate Sir Dragonet in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, before returning with a stylish defeat of Sangarius in Chester’s Huxley Stakes. While Love had a choice or engagements, Armory was always heading here.

So too was Lord North, who was very strong at the finish when beating Addeybb nearly four lengths last year and returned to his best with a similarly convincing defeat of the Japanese five-year-old Vin De Garde in the Dubai Turf.

It was reported at Meydan that Lord North returned with blood present in one nostril, which in some circumstances would have been a serious worry, but Gosden has allayed concerns.

Gosden, who was the last trainer to saddle a dual winner of the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, with Muhtarram in 1994 and 1995, explained: “He bumped his head in the gate, and that’s where it came from. He can be tricky in the gate, but we’ve had all the top people work on it and must just hope he behaves himself.”

Although Addeybb misses the race this time on account of the likely quick ground, William Haggas will still be represented by My Oberon, who recently finished third behind last year’s QIPCO Champion Stakes runner-up Skalleti in the Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp.

A field of seven is completed by the veteran Desert Encounter, a dual Grade 1 winner over a mile and a half in the Canadian International at Woodbine but never successful at a level higher than Group 3 in his home country. Desert Encounter has been a great servant to David Simcock, but he has been a rank outsider in the Prince of Wales’s twice already and finished last both times.