A BIG weekend lies ahead for Middleham trainer Karl Burke, who will saddle his beloved LAURENS for the last time when she runs in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.
The defending champion is a 7/2 joint-favourite with Carrigill’s and claimed the fifth of her six Group One victories to date in this event 12 months ago when getting the better of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Happily by a head.
She added to 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 defending her crown in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.
Burke has admitted this will be her last race unless there’s a dramatic change in the thinking of owner John Dance, who was in favour of giving Newmarket a swerve and taking her to the Prix de la Foret.
Burke also has TRUE MASON entered at Ascot today (Friday) and Saturday after Haydock’s meeting last weekend was abandoned.
He looks to be leaning towards the UK HiFi Show Live Rous Stakes where the Mill Reef runner-up will find the course and soft ground very much in his favour.
Burke feels his BHA mark of 95 is very lenient based on what he shows at home and he could crown a wonderful Saturday for Burke.
Last week’s nap BEDOUIN’S STORY was a late non-runner in the Cambridgeshire due to an abscess but the fact that he has remained among the entries for tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) Bet365 Challenge Cup looks promising, and the 10’s about him looks generous as he’s likely to get his preferred soft ground with showers forecast for the run up to the race.
He doesn’t boast any Ascot form but has been impressive in his last two starts and looks to have a bit in hand over many of his rivals.
ENABLE goes for a historic hat-trick in Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe where the lads from Coolmore will be looking to spoil the party.
They aren’t ones for sentiment and send a high-class trio to Longchamp, headed by the fast improving JAPAN. His form has continued to soar since finishing third in the Derby and we still don’t know how good this three-year-old really is.
John Gosden’s brilliant mare ENABLE became the eighth dual winner of Europe’s premier middle-distance contest last season and was kept in training as a five-year-old with the chief aim of becoming the first horse to win the race three times.
While she endured a troubled preparation last term, the current campaign has been faultless as she has stretched her top-level tally to 10 with a hat-trick of Group Ones wins in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, the King George at Ascot and the Yorkshire Oaks on the Knavesmire.
And Gosden believes she is at her peak ahead of her return to Paris.
“She’s got a great stride on her and a great head and a wonderful outlook. She’s always got her ears pricked and she’s very enthusiastic about everything,” the trainer told Sky Sports Racing.
“When she was younger, she would run with unhindered exuberance and was often winning her races well. Now she’s got a little older and wiser, she’s rather like a boxer who knows how to win on points – rather than going straight in for the immediate knockout.”
Richard Fahey’s colt SUMMER SANDS heads to Redcar’s Two Year Old Trophy on the back of a tremendous run as a 100 /1 outsider in the Middle Park Stakes when beaten by only two lengths by Earthlight, and should improve from that run.
Carrigill’s nap: (money back as a free bet if finishes outside top 4): LAURENS, Saturday, Newmarket, 3.25.
Augur’s best bet: BEDOUIN’S STORY (e/w), Saturday, Ascot, 3.10.