THIS has been another excellent season for Karl Burke as he continues to establish himself as one of the top trainers around.
Leading the way for his Yorkshire yard has been Laurens, a dual Group 1 winner this year, including the Prix de Diane, the French Oaks, on her most recent outing.
Little Kim was also successful for Burke in France last time out when winning the Group 3 Prix du Bois, and she bids to add to that in Saturday’s £250,000 Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury.
Little Kim landed a Group race on her last start and goes for the Weatherbys Super Sprint on Saturday. How do you think she will get on?
She goes there with a great chance. The 8lb penalty won’t help but a couple of the fancied ones aren’t running so that’s a plus. She’s giving weight to a few decent horses but she’s in really good form.
Why have you opted to go for this race instead of another Group race with Little Kim?
We had her in the Prix Robert Papin on Sunday as well. It was a 50-50 call, but True Mason goes there and it was always his target. As well as that, the owners are happy to go for the money at Newbury as they did not want to take on the Queen Mary winner again in France.
Talking of True Mason, how are things with him ahead of the Prix Robert Papin?
He’s a very smart colt and I like him a lot. He’s only won a maiden at Nottingham but he won it very well on ground he didn’t like – it was firm that day. The Papin has broken up nicely, albeit we have to take on the Queen Mary winner Signora Cabello and Norfolk second Pocket Dynamo. He goes there in really good order and I think he can run a big race for us.
Sticking to Saturday, Copper Baked in the 1m2f handicap at Ripon (3.30). Can she score?
If the ground’s not too fast then I think she can run a good race. She may well be at the top end of her handicap rating though.
Havana Grey runs in the Sapphire Stakes on Sunday. Do you think he can step up on his performances so far this season?
He’s in top form and we’re hoping he can run well and set himself up for a stronger second half to the season. It’s tough for three-year-olds at the start of the year when they’re 5f horses, which we’re adamant he is. We’ve had to take the older horses on and it was tough, but now it’s the time of the year where it’s better for the three-year-olds to take on the older horses.
Laurens has been a superstar for you this season. What is next for her?
She’s in really great form. I couldn’t be happier with how she is, or what she’s done, and she’s being prepared for the Yorkshire Oaks at the Ebor meeting next month.
And what are your hopes for her for the rest of the season?
The aim is to go back to France for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at the start of October. The Yorkshire Oaks is going to tell us whether she’ll be able to perform as well at 1m4f as she has done over a mile and 1m2f.
Laurens comes on the back of another star filly for you, Quiet Reflection. What does it mean to have another filly with such talent in your yard so soon?
It’s brilliant. It’s such a bonus to have a filly like her come here off the back of two or three other good ones and it’s such a boost for the yard. It’s tough to compete at the top and stay there, but we’ve had two Group 1 winners for the last four years and hopefully we can keep that going.
Unfortunately has not quite matched his juvenile form this season. What is the plan for him?
We’re targeting the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville with him. That’ll mean a step up to 6½f and we think that’ll help him. I’m also pretty sure at some stage before he’s retired at the end of the season that he’ll try 7f, possibly in the Prix de la Foret on Arc weekend. He’s also got the option of the Haydock Sprint Cup if the ground comes up slow. He ran a good race in the Commonwealth Cup on ground that was too fast for him.
And, finally, plenty of the horses we have discussed have raced and won abroad. Is that something you are always keen to do with your horses?
It’s something we’ve done since I first started training. Daring Destiny went to France for a Listed race in the early nineties and I think that was the first horse we travelled abroad. But we’ve had runners in America, Canada, Sweden and all sorts of other places since then. If the horse’s are good enough and the races are there then why not?