TOP jockey PJ McDonald has described Laurens as “an absolute monster” ahead of today’s Darley Yorkshire Oaks, the Ebor Festival’s day two highlight.
The Leyburn rider has already won three landmark Group One races, the most recent being the French Oaks, on the John Dance-owned and Karl Burke-trained filly, who invariably makes the running and grinds her rivals into submission.
And, while today’s step up in trip to a mile-and-a-half is an unknown, McDonald believes Laurens will have sufficient resolution to repel her rivals, who are headed by Irish Oaks heroine Sea Of Class, trained by Skipton-born William Haggas.
Part of the Qipco British Champions Series, McDonald has been waiting for this race – won 12 months ago by Enable who went on to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – since he rode Laurens on the gallops recently.
“I’ve been half-wishing my life away ever since because she felt as good as she’s ever been,” said the 36-year-old. “The Yorkshire Oaks cannot come quick enough for her.
“You could go through your whole career and not find a horse like her. She’s a once-in-a-lifetime filly. It’s been a privilege to be involved with her, but the exciting and scary thing is that she’s still improving, still getting stronger.
You could go through your whole career and not find a horse like her. She’s a once-in-a-lifetime filly. It’s been a privilege to be involved with herPJ McDonald on Laurens
“I’m itching to ride her over a mile-and-a-half because if she improves again for stepping up in trip then she could be an absolute monster.
“None of us have a crystal ball and she might not get home, but I would be shocked if that was the case. The dam’s side of her pedigree is all stamina.”
The winner of five career races, Laurens has never won by a margin of more than a neck. However, this does not perturb McDonald who first came to prominence as a jump jockey when winning the 2007 Scottish Grand National on Ferdy Murphy’s Hot Weld.
“She only seems to do what she has to do, and at home it’s the same,” he added.
“You drop her in and she goes past horses as if they are not there and then, once she’s gets passed, she’s like ‘I’m here now, I’ve done it’. It’s just her style. She loves running and wants to please you.
“If you keep squeezing, she keeps lengthening and I’ve never got to the bottom of her. The only day I was glad to see the line coming was in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket last year because we were very wary about stepping her up in trip as a two-year-old as she was such a big filly.
“She loves to get out on the front end and York will suit her down to the ground. I tried to restrain her a little bit in the French Oaks and she wasn’t having any of it. She wanted me to drop my hands and let her do her thing.
“She’s got such a big stride and that’s why we let her do her thing because if you take that stride away then you are slitting her throat.
“That’s how she puts horses in trouble – the majority have to take two strides to her one. She doesn’t have to lead but she can cruise along at a high speed and then lengthen off it.”