Yorkshire trainer Karl Burke is set to saddle his first ever QIPCO 1000 Guineas runner as he has two candidates - Laurens and Ellthea - among the 64 entries for the 205th running of the £500,000 fillies’ Classic at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile Racecourse on Sunday, 6th May. Run over a straight mile, it is the second leg of the 2018 QIPCO British Champions Series
Laurens is undoubtedly the pick of the pair having beaten Ellthea by four and a half lengths into fifth place in the bet365 Fillies’ Mile over this very course and distance last October.
Yet while Burke holds a powerful hand, it is nothing compared to the strength of the multiple Irish Champion Trainer, Aidan O’Brien – his 16 representatives amount to exactly one quarter of the entire entry.
Top of O’Brien’s list is the easy Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes winner, Clemmie, alongside the dual Group 1 scorer, Happily, not to mention September, who suffered traffic problems before flashing home to be beaten a nose by Laurens in the bet365 Fillies’ Mile.
A fourth different Group 1 winner among the entrants is Wild Illusion, who gave trainer Charlie Appleby his second straight Prix Marcel Boussac triumph at Chantilly last October, while the unbeaten Wind Chimes could bid to give her French handler, André Fabre, a second QIPCO 1000 Guineas victory in the last five years.
Mark Johnston, responsible for one of the QIPCO 2000 Guineas favourites in the shape of Elarqam, has two entries here – the Group 2 Lowther Stakes winner, Threading, and Nyaleti, who landed the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes by five lengths.
Karl Burke trainer of Ellthea and Laurens, said:
“Laurens has wintered really well and couldn’t look any better, I am very happy with her. She has filled her frame and is still a beautiful-looking filly who is very light on her feet.”
“We have had no hold ups or setbacks with her and we are just starting to step up her work – she lengthened nicely yesterday morning which would be as much as she has done thus far.”
“We are not committed to running her in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas but it is the favoured option for both John [Dance, her owner] and myself.”
“It would only be if she began to train more like a mile and a quarter or a mile and a half horse that we might possibly wait and run her in the Musidora Stakes instead. She will tell us more about that over the next month or six weeks.”
“I am reluctant to turn the screw too tight with her at this stage of the season but at the same time if she does go for the Guineas I want her to be ready for it. So it is quite possible that we might take her down to Newmarket for the Craven Meeting (17th-19th April) and give her a racecourse gallop.”
“Ellthea is a different type of horse, more compact, who has already proved herself very effective on slow ground.”
“At one stage in the bet365 Fillies’ Mile it looked as if she and Laurens might fill the first two places so my first reaction when they crossed the line was that she didn’t stay, but Colm [O’Donoghue, her jockey] was adamant that she had got the trip, she had simply found the ground too fast.”
“She will probably go no further than a mile and she could start back in Ireland for one of the seven furlong trial races as she should definitely get her ground there.”
Mark Johnston, trainer of Nyaleti and Threading, said:
“Nothing came to light after Threading finished seventh in the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes but it was a bad enough run that it was clearly not her true form so we will just pretend it never happened.”
“She has not done any fast work yet but she could well run in one of the trial races.”
“Similarly with Nyaleti, I am a great believer that you should judge horses on their best form not their worst, so we will ignore her bet365 Fillies’ Mile run. On her best form she is certainly a Guineas candidate and we will look to run her in a trial too. She will probably go to Newcastle for the Burradon Stakes [on Good Friday, 30th March].”