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Laurens to bow out with defence of her Sun Chariot crown at Newmarket

Thu 3 Oct 2019

Last year’s winner Laurens is set to face eight rivals when she bids to defend her crown in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.

Karl Burke’s stable star claimed the fifth of her six Group One victories to date in Saturday’s event 12 months ago when getting the better of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Happily by a head.

She added to her top-level tally in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville during the summer, since when she has been narrowly beaten in the City of York Stakes before finishing fourth when defending her crown in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.

The Matron Stakes featured Iridressa, Hermosa, Laurens and I Can Fly

It is likely to be her final run.

Burke said on Thursday: “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. 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 One1 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] did mention after the race that she was changing her legs more often than usual, so that could have been a factor.

 Laurens is set to bow out on Saturday (Focusonracing)
Laurens is set to bow out on Saturday (Focusonracing)

“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 One penalty for her to be beaten over seven furlongs at York 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."

Laurens will renew rivalry with the first and second from the Matron, in Joseph O’Brien’s Iridessa and Aidan O’Brien’s dual 1000 Guineas heroine Hermosa.

O’Brien senior has also declared Matron fifth I Can Fly for a contest that forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

Lavender’s Blue is an interesting contender for Amanda Perrett, following an impressive Group Three success on her latest appearance in the Atalanta Stakes at Sandown in late August.

There are two challengers from France, after Alex Pantall supplemented Madeleine Must to join stablemate Crown Walk.

The field is completed by Sir Michael Stoute’s Falmouth Stakes winner Veracious and Richard Hannon’s 1000 Guineas heroine of last season – Billesdon Brook.

The only two fillies not declared from Monday’s confirmation stage are Happen and Twist ‘N’ Shake.

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