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Champions Series stars back for more: Laurens

15 Feb 2019

In the latest of our series we consider what might be in store for the five-time Group 1 winner in 2019.

Laurens made it five Group 1 wins with victory in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes. Picture:

Five-time Group 1 winner Laurens could have been sold for a small fortune at the end of 2018 but John Dance, her owner, has committed to another year of action on the racecourse with her before she starts her second vocation as a broodmare.

One of her few disappointing runs last season was when failing to make an impact in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks over a mile and a half at York.

Stamina looked an issue that day – it was the first time she had tried a mile and a half – and her schedule this time seems certain to revolve around races run over a mile or ten furlongs.

She will not be short of options, especially with the races exclusively for fillies and mares options for her.

Where to start?

The Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes over a mile at Newbury would look a fair launch pad. Rhododendron, another filly, won it on her reappearance last year, and seven of the past eight winners have been making their seasonal reappearances in it.

The exception during this period was the Godolphin-owned Ribchester, who ran in Dubai before landing the 2017 renewal.

Laurens has yet to run at Royal Ascot and no doubt Dance, plus trainer Karl Burke, will be keen to put that right.

The first race of the meeting, the Queen Anne Stakes, has her name all over it, with bet365 quoting her at a best price of 10-1. Incidentally, Paco Boy (2009), Canford Cliffs (2011), Frankel (2012) and Ribchester (2017) all won it having landed the Lockinge beforehand.

No doubt she will also have the option of contesting the Prince of Wales’s Stakes over two furlongs farther, but the Queen Anne is likely to be the easier assignment with the latter race a possibility for such as Enable and Masar.

How Laurens fares over a mile, assuming the Lockinge and Queen Anne are targets, will no doubt determine the middle half of her season.

If she is carrying all before her, then her next two steps could be the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes, against her own sex at Newmarket on July 12, followed by the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on July 31.

But if a mile is looking on the sharp side, then the French Oaks winner could revert to ten furlongs and instead head for the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on July 6 followed by the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood on August 1.

It will be a surprise if the Juddmonte International Stakes at York on August 21 is not strongly considered.

Then, perhaps, she might seek repeat triumphs in the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes and Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes.

Last year, her team flirted with the idea of running at the Breeders’ Cup but instead she was supplemented for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes onQIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot. It looked like her long but rewarding season had taken its toll, as she was not at her best a couple of weeks after her Sun Chariot success.

Perhaps, this year, the Sun Chariot will be sacrificed to keep her fresher.

So many big-race options to ponder, but fun ones for Burke and Dance to juggle.


May 18: Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes

June 18: Queen Anne Stakes

July 6: Coral-Eclipse OR July 12: Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes

July 31: Qatar Sussex Stakes OR August 1: Qatar Nassau Stakes

August 21: Juddmonte International Stakes

September 14: Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes at Leopardstown

October 19: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes or QIPCO Champion Stakes

November 2: Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita