Ladies Are Forever will aim to light up York Racecourse on Sunday when she contests the Betfred Garrowby Stakes, a six-furlong Listed race that forms the racing highlight of a seven race schedule, that offers more than £100,000 in aggregate prize money.
The Geoff Oldroyd-trained six-year-old has achieved the superb feat of winning three of the last four renewals of the Group Three Summer Stakes over course and distance. She was also only beaten a nose by Hallelujah in the Betfred Garrowby Stakes a year ago.
No wonder, given Ladies Are Forever’s dazzling record at the Knavesmire course, that Oldroyd said: “She just enjoys York.”
Indeed, it could be that the scene of her finest moments, may also witness her final racecourse appearance. Oldroyd acknowledges that such a decision will lie with her owner, Reg Bond, but indicated that, if Ladies Are Forever were to once more emerge victorious on her favourite stomping-ground, perhaps stumps will be drawn on her fine career.
Based just thirty miles from the track in Brawby, the trainer said: “It’s not impossible. I suppose if we came to York on Sunday and she actually won again...maybe we would make a decision then. If she won there, you might say ‘Right, that’s it.’ I don’t know – it is up to Reg.”
Ladies Are Forever also has an entry for the Group Two QIPCO Sprint Stakes on British Champions Day at Ascot on October 18. But there is less likelihood of her getting her favoured fast ground at that time of the year.
There shouldn’t be any problems on that account on Sunday with the surface currently good to firm and a largely dry weather picture. With his charge in fine fettle, Oldroyd is positive about prospects.
“She is in great nick if things went right – and it looks like the ground is going to drop right. She is as good as when she won the (2014) Summer Stakes.”
He pinpoints the latest of her three Summer Stakes wins as the most memorable. Ladies Are Forever’s owner, Reg Bond, who has been a great friend to York Racecourse and Yorkshire racing in general, was able to savour the victory in the winner’s enclosure, joining family in the Winner’s Enclosure after a lengthy illness.
Oldroyd looks back fondly on Ladies Are Forever’s feat of winning a trio of Summer Stakes.
“To win it three times, you’re making a bit of history,” he said. “We’ve been very lucky with her really.”
“I think she is better racing closer to home. She just likes York and she loves fast ground, that’s the thing. We’ve been lucky every time she has gone there for that particular race it has been quick ground.”
When Ladies Are Forever is retired to the paddocks, whether that’s this weekend or in the future, Oldroyd still has her full brother to train. The progeny of Monsieur Bond, another great sprinter to carry the black and yellow spotted silks, out of the fine mare, Forever Bond, the unraced and unnamed two-year-old colt will hopefully uphold family tradition. “He’s a lovely horse,” says his trainer.
For this weekend at least, the eyes of Oldroyd and his team will be focussed on Ladies Are Forever, a classy and consistent performer. Her overall record of eight wins from 32 runs is more than respectable, as was her sole run in Group 1 company when she was seventh of 17 (beaten a mere three lengths) in the 2013 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes.
Oldroyd assessed: “She has a beautiful temperament, is easy to train and easy to handle. She is a star in our yard and keeps coming up for us every year. You’ve got to admire her.”