KARL Burke is confident Laurens will be the “one to beat” when she goes for a repeat victory in the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday week.
While last year’s French Oaks heroine has only won one of her four races this season, the John Dance-owned four-year-old did add to her Group One tally at Deauville in the Prix Rothschild. Last time out she was just denied over seven furlongs at York and, despite defeat, Burke feels she is even quicker this term.
“This time last year she came to Leopardstown after running over a mile and a half at York and she was a 10-1 chance. This year she is the one to beat if she goes there in her usual form,” said the Leyburn trainer.
“We dropped her back to seven furlongs last time to test her speed with a view to running in the Prix de la Foret on Arc weekend, but Leopardstown has always been the big target for the second half of her season.
“She is a bigger, stronger mare this season and in my view, she has become that bit quicker,” he said.
“She has been an amazing mare for us all, our first Classic winner, and with the welcome we got in Ireland last year, we always wanted to go back.”
Meanwhile Martyn Meade’s triple Group One winner Advertise – the mount of Frankie Dettori – heads the field for tomorrow’s Group One sprint at Haydock.
He said: “We were delighted with his performance at Deauville and it highlighted what a classy performer he is.
“He didn’t break very well in the July Cup at Newmarket and the fact that he wasn’t able to be prominent meant that the race got away from him. We will see how the race unfolds, but it is going to be an exciting race and we are looking forward to it.”
Last year’s winner The Tin Man is in line to defend his crown for James Fanshawe, Hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan has confirmed Brando, Major Jumbo and Hello Youmzain and Sir Michael Stoute’s Dream Of Dreams – the mount of Danny Tudhope – could bid to bounce back from his July Cup flop.
Roger Charlton believes the track at Leopardstown will play to the strengths of Headman when he makes his Group One debut in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes on Saturday week. The son of Kingman will bid to enhance his progressive profile by recording a fourth straight success in the mile-and-a-quarter prize.