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Laurens set for farewell run in Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes

3 Oct 2019

The Karl Burke-trained mare has won six Group 1 races and will be defending her Sun Chariot crown.

Laurens returns after winning the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes last year. Picture:

Reigning champion Laurens heads a fabulous field of nine runners for Saturday’s £266,875 Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.

The mile showpiece includes the past two QIPCO 1000 Guineas heroines and five different winners of Group 1 mile races.

This prestigious Group 1 fillies and mares event is the sixth leg in the Mile category of the 2019 QIPCO British Champions Series.

It is likely to be Laurens’ final start before she retires to the breeding paddocks.

“As far as I know the Sun Chariot will be her last run, though there is no physical reason why she can’t go on,” said Karl Burke, trainer of Laurens. “I joked with John the other day that if he kept her in training next year he could prove us wrong about what is her best trip!

“She has been a privilege to have in the yard and a privilege to train, we’ve been very, very lucky to have her.

“I don’t think I will really appreciate what she has done for us for a while. One thing that struck me was when I found out that, before Frankel came along, the most prolific Group 1 winner in Sir Henry Cecil’s incredible training career was Midday with six wins – that’s the same total as Laurens.”

He added: “I have been delighted with Laurens since her run in the Matron Stakes. She’s in great form and my daughter, Lucy, who does a lot of the work with her, couldn’t be happier with her.

“She was beaten fair and square last time so it will be interesting to see if she can turn the tables on Iridessa and Hermosa. She did come back from Ireland with a little bruise on a corn on her foot, and P J [McDonald, her jockey] did mention after the race that she was changing her legs more often than usual, so that could have been a factor.

“We have chosen the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes rather than Sunday’s seven furlong Prix de la Foret at Longchamp because in my opinion she is a miler and P J is on the same lines. John Dance [her owner] is not so sure and was keener to go to France but has kindly let me have my way and hopefully it is the right decision.

“John points out that it took a course record time and a Group 1 penalty for her to be beaten over seven furlongs at York [in the Group 2 City Of York Stakes] but I feel that, despite her high cruising speed, she just lacks a turn of foot over the shorter trip. She was always flat to the mat at York and the rhythm of races over a mile suits her better.

“P J has not race-ridden since he had a fall at Wolverhampton on Monday evening but he’s coming to ride out for me tomorrow [Friday] morning and is confident that everything will be okay to ride her on Saturday. He’s a very professional guy, so I’m sure he will let us know if he doesn’t feel quite right.
If she is to go out on a high, she will have to reverse last month’s Group 1 Matron Stakes form with two superb Irish fillies, Iridessa, trained by Joseph O’Brien, and Hermosa, trained by Joseph’s father, Aidan.

Iridessa, successful in last term’s Group 1 bet365 Fillies’ Mile over this track and trip, beat Hermosa (winner of the QIPCO 1000 Guineas here back in May) by three-quarters of a length in the Matron with Laurens two lengths back in fourth.

Sir Michael Stoute’s Veracious is the fifth Group 1 winner in the line-up. The only member of the field trained in Newmarket, she has not run since landing a home victory in the Group 1 Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes on the July Course during the Moët & Chandon July Festival.

This race has been a happy hunting ground for French raiders over recent years, with five victories in its last ten runnings. On Saturday the Tricolore will be flown by Alex Pantall, who is venturing all the way from his yard at Beaupreau in western France to saddle both last year’s Group 1 Prix Rothschild runner-up, Crown Walk, and the recent impressive Listed scorer, Madeleine Must, who has been supplemented for this race at a cost of £20,000.

The field is completed by Aidan O’Brien’s second string, the Group 2 winner I Can Fly, and the Amanda Perrett-trained Lavender’s Blue, successful in Group 3 company at Sandown Park in August and owned and bred by Benny Andersson, a member of the world famous Swedish pop group, Abba.