Laurel on course to return from lengthy absence at Royal Ascot

John and Thady Gosden’s Laurel will have her first run for over a year in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The lightly-raced five-year-old has not been seen since disappointing when well fancied for last year’s Lockinge at Newbury.

As a three-year-old she was beaten less than a length in the Sun Chariot Stakes, on what was just her third ever run, and connections are keen to see what she is capable of given the chance.

“Laurel is on target for Ascot when I was talking to John on Friday,” said Barry Mahon of owners Juddmonte.

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“Unfortunately she didn’t get to have a prep run, but John and Thady just felt there was nothing suitable in the last few weeks so they decided they were happy to go straight to Ascot.

“She’s very lightly raced, but we always felt she had high-class ability. She’s been off a long time so it’s going to be a remarkable training feat to turn up at Ascot and win after over 12 months off, but they have done it before.”

On Friday at Doncaster the famous colours filled the first two places in what looked a hot novice race, with a Shamardal filly out of Midday, the Ralph Beckett-trained Indelible, beating Amphius (Harry Charlton), a Kingman brother to Sangarius.

“We don’t really have a definitive plan. I suppose we’ll see what handicap mark she gets and she could be a possible for the Sandringham at Ascot,” said Mahon of the winner.

“If not she could step up in class if she doesn’t get a normal handicap mark. You could see her getting 10 furlongs definitely, 12 I’m not so sure.

“She’s a nice filly, she’s won two of her three and she can progress as the year goes on, her work at home has always been of a nice level so hopefully she keeps going forward.

“She was in the Guineas and the Irish Guineas but she’s just taken an age to come to hand, she’s had no setbacks or anything, she still had her winter coat on about a week ago and the wet spring took its toll on her.

“It looked a good race, we like the second horse Amphius with Harry Charlton, I think he’s a nice colt.”

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On Sunday Kassaya, a half-sister to last year’s Guineas winner Chaldean, easily went one better than on debut and booked her Royal Ascot ticket.

“Kassaya has a load of ability, she shows plenty of speed at home and Andrew (Balding) has been excited by her for the last couple of weeks,” said Mahon.

“She ran well on debut when the ground was on the soft side and she hit the front plenty early before getting mugged late on.

“She’d come forward nicely from that, I thought she still looked green and she can take another jump forward. All being well we’ll have a look at something at Ascot for her.

“I think we’ll stick at five for the minute, the way she hit the line yesterday suggests she could go up to six after that.”

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