Laurens tipped by Karl Burke to prove even stronger and faster
Even though the confident Leyburn trainer is slightly concerned about the form of his string, he said the reigning Yorkshire horse of the year, now four, will line up in the Lockinge Stakes – the first Group One race in 2019 for the older generation.
“The Al Shaqab Lockinge is wide open. More of a concern is our horses aren’t really firing, but they weren’t really last year when the 1,000 Guineas and the Prix Saint-Alary came around. We are having the odd winner but the majority are not performing as I would like,” said Burke.
“If we do get beat we won’t be looking for any excuses. We will be going there thinking our horse is fit and healthy, she has scoped clean. There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t run. We are going there quietly confident.”
Owned by stockbroker John Dance, and the mount of PJ McDonald, Laurens landed Group One honours as a two-year-old before finishing second in last season’s 1000 Guineas. She then added the Prix Saint-Alary, Prix de Diane (French Oaks), Matron Stakes and Sun Chariot Stakes to her big race tally.
Despite disappointing in the Queen Elizaneth II Stakes at Ascot last October when well beaten by Roaring Lion, Burke believes Laurens is a bigger and possibly quicker horse this year, hence the intention to stick to top level races over one mile.
“The mile division probably lacks a real superstar and hopefully she is there to fill that gap,” he said. “She is a high-class horse. She has proved that each year she has run. We think she has improved again. She has certainly improved physically and as she has got stronger she has probably got quicker.
“That’s why we are happy to start at a mile and we’ll make a decision after Saturday and the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot as to whether we stay at a mile. I would be surprised if we go back up, certainly to a mile-and-a-quarter. Maybe we would take on one mile, one furlong, but to be honest the programme of races over a mile suit her perfectly after the Queen Anne.
“Her first two races against the colts could be her hardest of the year, as the other races, if we stick at a mile, are probably going to be against fillies, apart from the Breeders’ Cup if we go there at the end of the year.”
Stillington trainer Ruth Carr reports miler Kylie Rules to be in top form as the filly bids to win at Beverley today for the third time this season.
Kylie Rules is now 11lb higher than when she first won at Beverley – but Carr is optimistic.
“She’s in really good form,” said the trainer. “She came out of those two races at Beverley in grand order and has been jumping around the field of late, wanting to get on with things.
“We just thought ‘It’s about time we get you back on a racecourse again, Missus’, and so here we are.”