Burke seeks perfect Laurens swansong in Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket

Laurens - fine second in QIPCO 1000 Guineas
Laurens - fine second in QIPCO 1000 Guineas

Karl Burke is confident Laurens can bow out in a blaze of glory by successfully defending her crown in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.

The four-year-old is set to make the 17th and final appearance of a glittering career that has yielded six Group One victories on the Rowley Mile on Saturday - a tally that includes a thrilling success in this race 12 months ago.

She extended 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 bidding for back-to-back triumphs in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.

Burke is hopeful his stable star can get back on the winning trail on Saturday.

"Laurens is in great form. I couldn't be happier with her going into the race and my daughter Lucy, who knows the filly inside out, is delighted with her," said the Spigot Lodge-based handler.

"John (Dance, owner) was fairly keen to run her back over seven furlongs in the Prix de la Foret (at ParisLongchamp on Sunday), but personally, I think a mile is her best trip. John slightly disagrees with me, but he's let me have my way, so I hope she proves me right.

"We know she likes the track - the only time she's been beaten on the Rowley Mile was when she finished second in the 1000 Guineas. We're going into the race with plenty of confidence."

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A trip to California for the Breeders' Cup was mooted as a possible end-of-season target for Laurens earlier in the summer, but Burke expects her to be retired after this weekend.

He added: "As far as I'm aware, this will be her last run. I don't think the Breeders' Cup is on the agenda. I did say to John the other day that maybe he should keep her in training next year so he can prove us wrong about the trip!

"She has been 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."

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, who has also declared Matron fifth I Can Fly, said of Hermosa: "She's good form and she won't mind the ease in the ground.

"She hasn't done an awful lot since Leopardstown, but what's she has done we've been happy with. It was her first run back in a while last time. We gave her a break after she ran disappointingly at Goodwood.

"We were very happy with the run in Leopardstown and have been happy with her since."

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.

"She's in good form and her preparation for the race has gone very well," said the Pulborough-based trainer.

"She's a course-and-distance winner, albeit at maiden level, but hopefully that will stand her in good stead. She deserves to be there and we're looking forward to it."

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

He said: "Crown Walk had a little problem at the beginning of the year, but she is better now and should improve a lot for her run in the Prix Quincey, which was only a comeback race.

"It was only a Listed race that she (Madeleine Must) won last time, but that was a much improved effort, a very pleasant win, and the filly that she beat into third place, Imperial Charm, has lots of Group One form."

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Veracious bids for her second successive Group One victory at Newmarket, after breaking her duck at the highest level in the Falmouth Stakes on the July Course almost three months ago.

The field is completed by Richard Hannon's 1000 Guineas heroine of last season - Billesdon Brook.


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