Love Is You will put its Classic credentials to the test in next week’s Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes in Newmarket.
Roger Charlton’s undefeated 1000 Guineas prospect is set to race in the Group 3 seven furlong event en route to the Classic at HQ in early May.
The filly Kingman continued her victorious start at Ascot over a mile with a tenacious second success last seen six months ago in a seven furlong Listed action over rough ground at Newbury, for her only other juvenile start.
She got the better of Keeneland’s recent sophomore finalist gift list that day, and takes pride of place in the Guineas ante-post market as one of Britain’s top prospects behind Santa Barbara, the famous favorite of Aidan O’Brien.
“Everyone seems happy with her at this point,” said the Wiltshire coach.
“So far the preparation has gone smoothly, and the plan is to take place in the Nell Gwyn.
“The winter was nice – luckily we had no snow to hold us back. She ticked.
“It’s pretty miserable and cold for fillies right now, but it’s also normally happening at this time of year. It’s never easy or ideal, but it’s the same for everybody.”
Charlton is aware of the strong opposition likely to be displayed at Guineas by Santa Barbara, among others, but is happy with Love Is You at this point.
“I think she has developed well,” he said.
“The main competition normally comes from across the Irish Sea – and they also have quite a few reserves, I guess.”
Both Love Is You victories have been dropped, but Charlton is not concerned about the current drought.
He added: “Her last race was on pretty terrible terrain – I don’t think that’s what she needed, in particular, but she did it well.
“We’ll find out more when she runs in Newmarket, I guess.
“She was running the pitch (in Newbury). I don’t think leaving is a problem for her.
“It was an extreme situation – no one would choose to run on it, but there weren’t too many other choices.”
Charlton will soon be formulating plans for two of his oldest – Sleeping Lion, winner of Monday’s Kempton, and 2018 Northumberland plaque hero, Withhold.
Sleeping Lion scored on his stable debut, having been a constant performer for James Fanshawe.
“It gave us a lot of fun,” Charlton said.
He’s a gentle horse, but he’s six – and he’s done everything one could hope for for the first time, I thought.
“It wasn’t really (a surprise). We’ve had it since about November – it’s working well.
“I didn’t know what to expect especially in the races, but I would have been disappointed if he hadn’t won or wasn’t there.”
Sleeping Lion could try to emulate Withhold at Newcastle this summer – with a return to the pitch possible first.
“I think he’s a horse that doesn’t want to be over-run,” Charlton said.
“We’ll see what the handicapper does, but something like the Northumberland plate is a possible target.
“He’s an owner-bred horse, and he’d love to try a black guy at some point.
“He still looked like he needed every two mile meter – but yesterday I thought he was showing enough zipline to run slightly shorter distances if needed.
“I don’t have a plan yet for where he will go next, but he will have this kind of program.”
Charlton will also be taking his time with Withhold, who is expected to return for his sixth campaign at the age of eight – and could compete in the Group 3 Henry II Stakes from Sandown at the end of next month.
He added: “Withhold is still there, but he’s a little on the bad side of handicap these days – compared to where he was when he won (the Northumberland plate).
“He held his last year, and a mile and six to two miles and more is his kind of trip.
“I guess it’s a bit more Listed races than handicaps right now for him.
“There’s not really much going for him at this point. We’ll just have to hang around – maybe that two mile run at Sandown (is) a possibility.”