Saturday diary from York including Laurens and Sky Bet Ebo

Laurens goes down on her sword to Shine So Bright
Laurens goes down on her sword to Shine So Bright

Our diary from the track at York on Saturday with comment from connections of Laurens, Mustajeer and more.

Saturday's York action

Shrewd purchase...

Owner David Spratt enjoyed a financial windfall through Mustajeer even before he landed a share of the £600,00 first prize for the Sky Bet Ebor.

But there could be much, much more to come.

"Australian Bloodstock bought a big chunk of him before the race, a few weeks ago. They own just over half and he goes for the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup now," he said in the Melbourne-like sunshine at York on Saturday.

"The plan was to win here then go there. We've done our bit and it's over to Kris Lees who takes over the training now!

"This day last year was our best ever day's racing even though we only finished fourth. It's such a good track and special place and the minute he finished last year Ger said he'd be a different horse this time around. Fair play to him.

"I knew four furlongs out he was going to win. He was going so well and when you know the horse well you know that's a good sign. Colin Keane said his only problem was not getting there too soon."

Mustajeer wins the million pound Sky Bet Ebor
Mustajeer wins the million pound Sky Bet Ebor

The road begins...

The 2019 Sky Bet Ebor was missing one thing and that was a horse who had qualified via the 'win and you're in' system.

Ghostwatch had disappeared like... a ghost, First Eleven suffered a summer setback while Gold Mount was rerouted with a crack at the Melbourne Cup prioritised over York's million-pound puzzle.

So what chance we see Hamish on this day next August?

Well, he came into the Sky Bet Melrose with a rating of 92 so will need to scale much greater heights to be at the kind of level required to win a modern-day Ebor. But he is effectively now in, no matter what happens between here and there, although it would seem unlikely William Haggas and the team would target it if he was badly out of his depth - 'Road to The Ebor' qualified horses would have to carry the same at the bottom-rated animal in the race.

"It's brilliant - that'll do (as a long-term target)!" said Haggas' wife and assistant, Maureen.

"We needed that as it's been a bad week until now.

"He's a nice horse and he's getting better. He's by Motivator and they can be silly and he's been a little bit silly in the past. But today he was pretty good and you couldn't fault him in the race.

"He ran at Newbury last time and the trip was a bit short, this is what he's bred for. We were very worried about the ground.

"But he's quite closely related to Val who wanted fast ground and we thought going the extra four furlongs would negate the ground issue.

"He's a light horse and light on his feet. I don't think he needs much more racing this year."

The sponsors make him 33/1 to scoop the big one in 12 months' time and given the penalty-chasing bun-fight to make the cut this year, there are probably worse antepost positions to be taking.

Traveller going overseas

Having options is absolutely essential in the world of racing - to pigeon-hole a horse at an early stage of its career can be a dangerous business.

Which goes a fair way to explaining Richard Fahey's broad smile following Space Traveller's staying-on third to Zaaki in the Sky Bet & Symphony Group Strensall Stakes over the extended mile.

"We feel he'll learn from that race," said Fahey of the Jersey Stakes winner.

"It could help him and Danny (Tudhope) was happy with a good, solid run. It gives us a few more options now that he stays.

"I'd say he'll got for the race Steve (Parkin, owner) sponsors at Leopardstown. He'll go there for the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes."

And Space Traveller's jaunts may not yet stop in Ireland, with an upbeat Parkin seemingly apparently set about trying to convince the trainer that a trip to California for the Breeders' Cup Mile might be the way forward before the year is out.

Space Traveller wins the Jersey Stakes
Space Traveller - could be heading for the States

Sense of what could have been

Enable got the British send-off she truly deserved after winning the Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday but it wasn't to be for local heroine Laurens.

Karl Burke's six-time Group One winning-mare has built up a real following over the past three seasons - much of that down to effervescent owner John Dance, no doubt - but it seems she's held in higher regard by the French media and paying public.

That makes sense, given only two of her top-class haul have arrived on British soil, but it still rankles with those closest to her.

Burke said: "You're always disappointed when you get beat.

"But she's done nothing wrong in defeat as she's given a lump of weight to a very progressive horse in Shine So Bright, who's had that break and gone again. He's a good horse, we had him as a two-year-old before he went to Andrew's and he always showed us plenty.

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

"It wasn't to be. She's got a great, high cruising speed - he just had a better turn of foot on the day. PJ (McDonald) said he thought he got ahead but fair play to the winner.

"The Matron was always the main target but we need to have a discussion now as to whether we then go for the (seven furlong) Foret or the Sun Chariot (mile) again but this race fitted perfectly with her training programme and it's on our doorstep. There's nothing lost in defeat."

If the Matron, Foret and Breeders' Cup are to be Laurens' final three races of her career, British racegoers may well have cheered her on for the very last time. Racing can be cruel, but a day on from the announcement of Roaring Lion's death it was great to see Laurens' connections looking to accentuate the positive in spite of defeat.


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