Burke lauds stable's finest day yet

KARL BURKE believes his dual Group One successes on Irish Champions Weekend with Laurens and Havana Grey surpass his stable's previous successes.

The grey Havana grey, ridden by Richard Kingscote, won the Flying Fifth Stakes at the Curragh and completed a Group One double for trainer Karl Burke.
The grey Havana grey, ridden by Richard Kingscote, won the Flying Fifth Stakes at the Curragh and completed a Group One double for trainer Karl Burke.

He was speaking after the progressive sprinter Havana Grey booked a place in America’s Breeders Cup after winning the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh.

That win came 24 hours after stable star Laurens made all to record her fourth Group One success when landing the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.

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Owned by John Dance, she will now stick to a mile and bid to add to her burgeoning big race record and reputation in Newmarket’s Sun Chariot Stakes.

Laurens (right) outbattles the now retired Alpha Centauri in Leopardstown's Matron Stakes.

“To get two Group Ones was fantastic,” a delighted Burke told The Yorkshire Post. “I always said Libertarian’s second in the Derby in 2013 was our best day.

“The Prix de Diane (French Oaks) was special earlier this summer when Laurens won because it was our first Classic.

“But to go back to Ireland and win two Group Ones at their big meeting of the year was particularly special.”

Though Leyburn-based Burke trained the now retired Quiet Reflection to win two races at the highest level in 2016 – Royal Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup and Haydock’s Sprint Cup – he says it is particularly pleasing that this success has continued.

Karl Burke celebrates the fourth Group One success of Laurens with jockey Danny Tudhope who replaced the horse's regular rider, the injury sidelined PJ McDonald, in the saddle.

He and his wife Elaine have 120 horses in training at their Spigot Lodge stables and a team of 40 staff whose pride in the successes of Laurens and Havana Grey has been self-evident on social media.

“Good horses and staff is very, very important,” said Burke. “You can’t do the job on your own and training racehorses is very labour intensive.

“Every year we’ve managed to hit lucky with some nice horses at the sales. It’s what dreams are made of. If someone said at the start of the year that you’ll have two Group One winners on a weekend, you’d think they were dreaming.

“As far as Havana Grey is concerned, he deserved it, as he’s been so consistent. He’s turned up to every gig and he’s only three as well, he’s only a baby.

“There is plenty of interest in him to go to stud, so we’ll have to sit down with the owners and see what we do, whether he stays in training next year or whether he’s sold now.”

Meanwhile Burke’s promising prospect True Mason could line up in Newbury’s Mill Reef Stakes on Saturday. The trainer has previously won the race with Lord Shanakill and Toocoolforschool and said the plan is to run the two-year-old provided the ground is not too firm at the Berkshire track.

“He is in great form and is a high-class colt,” added Burke.

“We think we haven’t seen the best of him yet as he hasn’t really had his ground on his last two or three runs. Being by Mayson, I am pretty sure he will be better with a bit of juice in the ground.

“I would say he is definitely up to the level of our two previous Mill Reef winners.”

The Newbury card could also feature veteran 11-year-old Take Cover who was a creditable fifth, beaten just a length and a half, behind the aforementioned Havana Grey in Ireland.

He’s trained at Bawtry by David Griffiths who confirmed the horse could make a quick reappearance after being handed a provisional entry in the Group Three Dubai International Airport World Trophy which the ever popular sprinter won last year. “

“He’s fine. I’m delighted with him. The ground was too soft in Ireland,” reported Griffiths.