Laurens on target for French comeback after minor injury

STAR filly Laurens has been given an upbeat assessment by her trainer as she recovers from a minor injury and prepares to add another Group 1 victory to her glittering career.

Karl Burke, based near Leyburn, was speaking today at the launch of the Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival.

The Spigot Lodge trainer reported that John Dance’s brilliant filly had suffered a minor injury when sixth in Royal Ascot’s Queen Anne Stakes but she is now on target for the Group 1 Prix Rothschild at Deauville in July 28.

“It’s very frustrating but it’s a small strain on the tendon below the hock on her hind leg so we’ve been very cautious with her,” said Burke.

“She’s been walking round free as a bird and cantering great and I’m sure we can get her back. We’ve got a couple of weeks ahead of the race in Deauville and there’s still four or five more chances to get another Group 1 before she retires. She owes us nothing.”

After Deauville, the plan is to defend her crown in the Group 1 Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on September 14, and connections hope she will end her career with a tilt at the Breeders Cup Mile.

Laurens was the star turn at the launch of the 14th Go Racing In Yorkshire Summer Festival, which is now in its 14th year, with ten meetings over nine days at eight racecourses: Ripon, July 20; Doncaster July 20 (evening); Redcar, July 21; Beverley, July 22 (evening); Catterick, July 24; Doncaster, July 25 (evening);  Thirsk, July 26; York, July 26 (evening);  York, July 27; Pontefract, July 28.

“It’s a great initiative to showcase the Yorkshire racecourses,” said Burke, who is in his 18th year at Spigot Lodge, having moved north from Newmarket. “I honestly wouldn’t want to train anywhere else now – the quality of life in Yorkshire is great, and the facilities at Middleham are as good as anywhere.”

This year’s festival is sponsored by Sky Bet with a £1,000 prize up for grabs for the champion jockey in the series.

Jockey Ben Curtis, who regularly rides for Burke, said: “Danny Tudhope won it last year so there’s a bit of banter between the lads because it creates a bit more interest. We’ve got some brilliant courses in Yorkshire and anything that encourages people to come racing is great to see.”

Asked for horses to watch out for at the festival, Burke nominated Gin Gembre, who is scheduled to run in a Ripon seller on the first day of the festival, and three-year-old filly Divinity, described as “a very good handicapper”.

Meanwhile, Burke expects a big run from two-year-old colt Classy Moon in the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket tomorrow (Thursday). “He’s a lovely horse who could run very well. The bare form of his last run at Carlisle looks nothing special but he could make up four or five lengths on that performance at Newmarket. He’s shown us a high level at home.”

The trainer also thinks another two-year-old, Miss Lucy, is also capable of running well at a big price in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes tomorrow.

Further ahead, Burke is hoping for a tilt at the Ebor Handicap at York in August with Kelly’s Dino,  comfortable winner of the Old Newton Cup Handicap at Haydock on Saturday.

“He won with his ears pricked so we think there’s plenty in the tank,” he said.

Kelly’s Dino is entered in the Group 3 John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes over 1m 6f at York on Saturday and the trainer explained: “He’s rated 102 at the moment but it might need a bit more than that to get into the Ebor this year so the idea is that if he runs well in a Group 3 on Saturday, he might get the extra couple of pounds from the handicapper that he needs.”

Dubai Station, third in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, could also be destined for the York Ebor Festival, with connections keen to go for the Gimcrack Stakes.

“He’s a progressive horse and he’s done really well since Ascot,” said Burke.

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