Injury has ruled St Mark’s Basilica out of Wednesday’s Juddmonte International but Aidan O’Brien still hopes Love is all he needs to secure a record seventh success in the York feature.
O'Brien currently shares the Juddmonte record of six wins with Michael Stoute after winning the race with names ranging from Giants Causeway in 2000 to Japan in 2019.
All six were recorded by colts but circumstances have conspired this time to have the Ballydoyle team reaching for a ‘super-sub’ in the filly, Love.
A gallops setback on Sunday has ruled out the world’s current joint top-rated thoroughbred St Mark’s Basilica who will now be aimed at next month’s Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
Instead Love has been switched from an original Group One target at Deauville on Sunday to take on half a dozen opponents at York, including Jim Bolger’s Irish Guineas winner Mac Swiney.
“It’s four or five days earlier that we’d planned for her,” O’Brien confirmed after Monday’s final declaration stage.“The plan was to go for the [Prix Jean] Romanet on Sunday. When St Mark’s came out, we decided we’d let her run here instead.”
Last year’s Guineas and Oaks heroine will be joined in Wednesday’s feature by the triple-Group One winning three-year-old Alcohol Free, who steps up in distance past a mile for the first time.
Initial bookmaker reaction to St Mark’s Basilica’s defection was to make Mishriff a new and general 2-1 favourite. Love is rated his most likely danger by layers with Alcohol Free next best.
The shock 50-1 winner in 2015, Arabian Queen, is the only filly to win one of the world’s highest rated contests in the last 22 years.
She memorably got the better of Golden Horn but it is the absence of this season’s impressive Eclipse winner St Mark’s Basilica that has robbed the Juddmonte of its biggest name.
“Yesterday morning he lost a front shoe and it came back and hit his hind leg – his near-hind joint,” explained O’Brien.
“We didn’t think a lot of it but this morning there was a little bit of swelling on it and when we took bloods off him, his bloods came back and it was a little bit infected.
“We were a bit taken aback when we saw it this morning but when we did the bloods then we didn’t have any choice as he needs to go on antibiotics, and the antibiotics that he’s going to go on obviously he couldn’t run on.
“Hopefully we’ll be back on target towards the end of this week and if we are we’ll be able to train him for the Irish Champion.”
That holds the prospect of a mouthwatering clash with the Breeders’ Cup winner Tarnawa, who impressively returned to action with a recent victory at Leopardstown.
Alcohol Free races in the same colours of owner Jeff Smith that were successful with Arabian Queen six years ago.
Her jockey Oisín Murphy won the Juddmonte on board Roaring Lion in 2018 and has described the Juddmonte as “a very special race” and one that regularly produces performances to rank with the world’s best.
“I don’t draw comparisons because Alcohol Free is a very light-framed, athletic, feminine type of horse and Roaring Lion was the opposite, very strong and a very different character. But she’s been a superstar for me,” said Murphy.
“You don’t have easy races at Goodwood [Sussex Stakes] but she came out of Goodwood very well.
“She’ll either stay or she won’t and whatever happens won’t detract from what she’s already achieved. There will be plenty of time afterwards to freshen her up for Qipco British Champions Day.
“She’s not a difficult ride once she’s in behind and I’ll hopefully be able to get her in and switch her off although she can be quite electric from the gates even when I don’t want her to be.
“Arabian Queen was a Queen Mary type at two and there were stamina doubts with her as well. With a filly there’s nothing to lose and I would imagine we could be seeing her next year as well.”
The Ballydoyle team will be triple-handed in Wednesday’s Group Two Great Voltigeur Stakes.
The one-time Derby favourite High Definition will try to get his season back on track in the traditional St Leger trial under Ryan Moore.
The partnership started favourite for the Irish Derby in June but flopped spectacularly with High Definition beating only one home behind Hurricane Lane.
Frankie Dettori will partner Sir Lucan in the Voltigeur while Wayne Lordan teams up with The Mediterranean.
The last of O’Brien’s previous three winners in the Voltigeur was Idaho in 2016. He trained Milan to complete the Voltigeur-Leger double 20 years ago.