Karl Burke looks ahead to York Ebor Festival chances including Laurens and Kelly's Dino in the Sky Bet Ebor

Laurens wins the Fillies' Mile at Newmarket
Laurens wins the Fillies' Mile at Newmarket

Middleham trainer Karl Burke looks ahead to the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival and guides us through his team, featuring six-time Group One winner Laurens.

How significant is the Ebor Festival and what do you make of the developments to the Sky Bet Ebor itself?

It is an important meeting, we're all looking forward to it as York do such a fantastic job, not only with the course and the infrastructure but the prize money and the way they look after the owners, trainers, staff and the general public too.

So it's a big meeting for Yorkshire and one we all thoroughly enjoy and look forward to.

I think the Ebor will start to become hugely influential as far as international races go, especially with this level of prize money. I must admit when I first heard I wasn't totally convinced it was the right thing to do but now we're in it I'm delighted!

Kelly's Dino qualified for the Sky Bet Ebor with a win at Newmarket - how has he developed this season?

The wind operation he had late spring time has worked wonders - Ben (Curtis) who knows the horse so well was adamant that the last furlong or so was catching him out and I think it was after his Musselburgh run at the start of the season when he travelled well and didn't finish off was when we did the wind op and it's worked brilliantly.

He won the Old Newton Cup at Haydock off a mark of 97, went up to 102 and I thought that might be enough to get into the Ebor but after speaking to a few people the handicappers thought 105 would be the figure to get in so I hatched a plan then to run in the Listed race against higher rated horses at York, not thinking we'd win it but hoping to run well and go up a little bit more in the ratings.

He did that, finishing fourth, and went up to 105 so I thought that was job done but low and behold it still looked like we'd struggle to get in. So we went again to get the penalty (at Newmarket) and we're in now. He showed a good attitude to win at Newmarket, but he never does a lot. He hits the front and doesn't do a lot so he wouldn't want to go to the front too soon in an Ebor.

He does travel very well in his races, though, and he should improve for fitness after Newmarket as he's quite a gross horse who takes a lot of work and he'd had a couple of easy weeks as we thought we'd done enough to get him into the Ebor.

There's some great horses in there and he's off a career-high mark of 109 and he's never quite won over the trip but if he can finish in the first four then it'll be a job well done and with the prize money as it is that will hopefully finance a trip to Australia in the autumn.

Everything you need ahead of the Ebor Festival at York
Everything you need ahead of the Ebor Festival at York

Stable star Laurens drops to seven furlongs for the Sky Bet City Of York Stakes - what was the rationale behind this as a target?

After she won the Prix Rothschild at Deauville last month we studied the splits of that and all of her races and she covered the first 1000m in 58.8 seconds so that's sprinting fractions. And she had some good fillies stone cold three furlongs out.

So John (Dance, owner) mentioned the Prix de la Foret after that as an option rather than the Sun Chariot in October. The Matron Stakes was always the main autumn target but it's seven weeks from the Rothschild to the Matron and there was this valuable Group Two at York - it's on our doorstep, could potentially be the last time she runs in England if she goes for the Foret and it will show us whether she warrants going for the seven furlong Group One in the Foret.

How important has Laurens been to the Spigot Lodge operation over the past few seasons?

Laurens has obviously been huge for us - to win six Group Ones with one horse is massive and you'd have to put her at the top of the tree when it comes to horses we've had. That's not to take anything away from Havana Grey, Quiet Reflection and Libertarian.

She's just a beautiful animal and she has been from day one when we bought her as a yearling. She's done nothing but impress us since she came into the yard.

It's a slight shame, given her style of running, that the handicapper has her rated 117. She's never going to win races by wide margins so it's hard for the handicapper to give her a high rating. She's a six-time Group One winner rated 117, which doesn't seem quite right to me. Especially when you look at Kelly's Dino who is now rated just 7lb behind her. They're two different animals.

This is likely to be Laurens' final season but that's obviously John's call. I'd be surprised if she was around at the yard next year and she's a filly who has huge value now at the paddocks.

The swansong plan has been for her to go to the Breeders' Cup, as long as she's in good health still. At the moment the Breeders' Cup Mile would be the plan as we purposefully left off her to start a little later this season in the Lockinge. She's fresh and well and hopefully that will pay off with a trip to California.

With a look to the future, who are the pick of the younger horses bound for the Ebor Festival?

The Gimcrack has been the target for a while for Dubai Station. His owner won the race with a horse of Kevin Ryan's last year so when I told his this horse was of a certain level this race was always on his mind.

We went to try and win the Prix de Cabourg at Deauville last month but he bumped into a very good horse of Andre Fabre's (Earthlight). Thankfully he's come out of that race fine and he goes there with a fighting chance.

Lord Of The Lodge has the Gimcrack option too but he could run in the nursery. He's rated 95 now after winning visually impressively at Haydock. The time wasn't fantastic which was a bit disappointing but he wasn't stopping and I think he'll be better over seven furlongs. He could go the nursery route with Harrison Shaw taking off 5lb.

Living In The Past is going for the Sky Bet Lowther and she's a horse I've been very pleased with. She won well second time out at Beverley and I was delighted with her third in the Princess Margaret at Ascot.

She wears a hood in her work and also in the preliminaries but we take it off for her to race. That's something to keep an eye on at York as she can get wound up but otherwise she's ok and we think quite a lot of her.

Another two-year-old I'm hoping to run at York is Wonderwork in the Roses Stakes on the Saturday, which could be a big day for the yard with the three runners.

He's a very exciting horse. He's got a lot of natural speed, he's by Night Of Thunder who is one of the leading first-season sires and he won as he liked at Thirsk. He could be a high-class horse.

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