Laurens team in confident mood ahead of Matron Stakes defence

Shine So Bright denies Laurens in a York thriller
Shine So Bright denies Laurens in a York thriller

Karl Burke is confident Laurens is in peak condition for the defence of her crown in the Coolmore "Fastnet Rock" Matron Stakes.

The four-year-old was a surprise winner of the Leopardstown Group One last season when she inflicted a shock defeat on Jessica Harrington's brilliant filly Alpha Centauri.

Twelve months on, Laurens journeys to Ireland as a hot favourite, having claimed her sixth top-level success in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville on her penultimate start before being touched off by high-class colt Shine So Bright in a Group Two at York.

Burke said: "She looks in fantastic form. She had a little breeze on Thursday morning before she left to catch the ferry to Ireland, and I couldn't have been happier with her.

"Last year she went there having run over a mile and a half in the Yorkshire Oaks. We thought she was quick enough for the mile, and she proved it on the day. This year we know we're quick enough.

"She's got a good draw. It will be interesting to see how Aidan O'Brien's four horses are ridden, but we'll just do our own thing and concentrate on ourselves, rather than worry about what anyone else is doing.

"She's in great form, and if she produces her A-game she's the one they all have to beat."

The O'Brien quartet is headed by English and Irish 1000 Guineas heroine Hermosa.

However, she lines up with a point to prove after trailing home last of nine runners in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood last month.

"Goodwood was a bit of a funny race - Frankie (Dettori) was riding a mile-and-a-half horse (Mehdaayih), and they went quick," said O'Brien.

"It doesn't mean we won't go back to a mile and a quarter again at some point, but we will go back to a mile at Leopardstown.

"We probably didn't learn a lot at Goodwood, with the pace and the track. It was a bit of a non-event really."

Hermosa is joined by stable companions I Can Fly, Happen and Just Wonderful.

Another horse coming back in trip is the Joseph O'Brien-trained Iridessa.

The daughter of Ruler Of The World was an impressive winner of the Pretty Polly Stakes over a mile and a quarter in June, but never threatened to land a blow over a mile and a half in the Yorkshire Oaks the following month.

"She seems in good form. It's a very good race, but we're hoping for a good run," said the trainer.

The seven-strong field is completed by John Oxx's Skitter Scatter.

A top-class juvenile for Patrick Prendergast last season, the Scat Daddy filly disappointed in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket in the spring, but was subsequently found to be suffering from a muscle injury.

She made her return from a near four-month absence in the Group Three Fairy Bridge Stakes at Tipperary a couple of weeks ago and shaped with far more encouragement - going down by just half a length to Joseph O'Brien's Waitingfortheday.

"We were happy with her going into the Guineas, but she took a bad step during the race and had a tear in a hamstring," said Oxx.

"It's made the whole year difficult for her. She had to walk for seven weeks afterwards and didn't do her first trot until the Saturday of Royal Ascot.

"We were aiming for the Matron all along. But she needed a prep race, and we had very little time to get her ready for the Fairy Bridge.

"We were happy to get her there. She had a good run for the six weeks before that and was fit enough for a race, but she wasn't obviously at peak fitness."


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