Tag Archive for: karl burke

Darnation back on home ground for Hoppings assignment

Karl Burke’s German Guineas winner Darnation turns her hand to the all-weather in the Jenningsbet In Delves Hoppings Fillies’ Stakes at Newcastle on Friday.

The daughter of Too Darn Hot was twice a Group winner as a two-year-old, taking the Prestige Fillies’ Stakes at Goodwood and the May Hill at Doncaster before finishing fifth at the top level in the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp.

She contested the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on her first run of the term and was well beaten, coming home ahead of only two rivals, but she bounced back when heading to Dusseldorf to win the German equivalent of the race by two and a quarter lengths.

Now back on home turf in Group Three company, the three-year-old will step up in trip from a mile to 10 furlongs ahead of a planned return to Dusseldorf for the German Oaks.

“She’s in good order and looks great. We’re stepping up in trip, mainly because we’re keen to go back to Dusseldorf for the German Oaks, which is over a mile and three (furlongs),” said Burke.

“She’s never run on the all-weather, but she works on it most weeks and certainly seems to work well enough on it at home. We’re looking forward to seeing her run and hopefully she can put up a good show.”

A key rival, and one with course and distance form, is Sir Mark Prescott’s Tiffany, who runs in the colours of the Elite Racing Club.

Second behind subsequent Neom Turf Cup winner Spirit Dancer in the Racing League last season, Tiffany finished her year with a Listed win in Germany and started 2024 with another when taking a Baden-Baden contest by over four lengths in late May.

Now returning to the all-weather, where she won over this trip last season, the four-year-old has been drawn in stall four and is well fancied ahead of the run.

“Tiffany is a course and distance winner, she’s been a prolific winner. On the official ratings she comes out best,” her Heath House trainer told Sky Sports Racing.

“Her last run was probably a bit better than we realised given how the race worked out. She’s there with every chance, but there are some very nice fillies there, I thought Sapphire Seas and Chic Colombine looked major dangers and I’d have liked to have been drawn wide.

“But if you are best in on the ratings for a Group race with a filly you are very lucky and you must have a pop at it.

“She’s won her last two Listed races and she’s not penalised for that. If I was looking through it as another trainer she’d be one you’d be hoping wouldn’t turn up.

“I hope she continues to progress and I’ve given her some fancy entries.”

Amy Murphy runs Miss Cantik, an all-weather debutant who was second in a Listed contest at Longchamp last season and was most recently seen finishing third when beaten three and a half lengths in the Brigadier Gerard.

“She’s in good form and I thought she ran very well in the Brigadier Gerard last time out,” said Murphy.

“We’re looking forward to running her, the all-weather will be a bit of a new task for her but I’m sure she’ll take it in her stride.”

Sure to be popular will be George Boughey’s Chic Columbine, a three-year-old last seen missing out by just a neck to Breege in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom on Derby day.

Charlie Appleby’s Sapphire Seas is also leading fancy, one of two runners for the trainer as he is also set to saddle Shining Jewel.

“We are applying a hood to Sapphire Seas, which will hopefully allow her to do everything the right way round,” the trainer said via the Godolphin website.

“She has been a little disappointing on her last two starts and not finishing her race. Dropping back to a mile and a quarter should suit and, if she can rekindle her best form, it will make her a player.

“Shining Jewel is having her first start since Dubai, where she ran consistently. Her preparation has gone well and we are hoping she can be competitive.”

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Burke hopeful of late-season campaign with Fallen Angel

Karl Burke is targeting an autumn campaign with Fallen Angel after injury ruled the Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine out of an intended appearance at Royal Ascot last week.

A Group One-winning two-year-old in last season’s Moyglare Stud Stakes, the daughter of Too Darn Hot disappointed as favourite for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, but showed her true colours on her return to Ireland to claim Classic glory last month.

She was all set to line up in what looked a stellar edition of the Coronation Stakes – and while a setback suffered the week before means she is now on the easy list, Burke fully expects to have his star filly back on the racecourse before the end of the campaign.

Karl Burke (left) with Fallen Angel at the Curragh
Karl Burke (left) with Fallen Angel at the Curragh (Healy Racing/PA)

“She’s got a small bit of bone bruising, but it’s nothing serious. We’ll leave her alone now and hopefully she’ll be ready for September and an autumn campaign,” he said.

“She’ll be back in steady work in the next week or so, but we won’t rush her back, we’ll prepare her from September onwards.”

While Burke enjoyed a Royal Ascot double courtesy of Shareholder in the Norfolk Stakes and Leovanni in the Queen Mary, Fallen Angel was not his only high-profile absentee.

Elite Status was considered a major contender for the Commonwealth Cup before he knocked a joint on the journey from North Yorkshire, while exciting juvenile Andesite had to miss the Coventry Stakes after suffering a freak accident in the box.

“With Elite Status, it’s exactly the same issue as we’ve had in the past with a knocked joint, but we’ve got him home and got on top of it and we’ve changed a couple of little things with how we train him day to day,” Burke added.

“I’m sure he’ll be back out sooner rather than later. He’s in the July Cup, I’m not sure the track will play to his strengths, the undulations there, but he is in it and it’s a possibility.

“Andesite was very lucky not to be seriously injured, he’s literally just back walking now.

“He must have kicked out with his hind legs and got his leg caught on the Anti Weave Grille on top of the stable door as he dragged it off, his leg was still stuck and he’s obviously gone berserk in the box trying to get it off – it was a nasty one.

“We’ll take our time with him. I think mentally he’ll be fine, but it’s just going to take a little bit of time as there’s a lot of superficial cuts, luckily no serious damage but it will be a few weeks before he’s back doing any serious work.”

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Prix Morny the ‘obvious’ aim for Shareholder

A move up in trip for the Prix Morny appears likely for Shareholder, with connections confident there is more to come from their impressive Royal Ascot hero as the season progresses.

Shareholder was one of the highlights of a successful week at the Royal meeting for owners Wathnan Racing as he blitzed the opposition in the Norfolk Stakes.

Both Shareholder and fellow Karl Burke-trained juvenile Leovanni obliged for the Qatar-based operation as their pre-Ascot spending spree at both the breeze-up sales and privately paid dividends over the course of the five-day meeting.

And having rapidly gone from exciting €460,000 purchase to Royal Ascot winner via a race at Beverley and in little over a month, the future appears bright for Shareholder.

A trip to Deauville for Group One action on August 18 has been described as “pretty obvious” by Wathnan racing adviser Richard Brown, who is excited to see how the son of Not This Time develops under the careful tutelage of the Spigot Lodge team.

“It was an amazing week and the horses did us proud.” said Brown.

“I think Shareholder was winning 40 days after being in the sales ring and he has gone from France to Newmarket, then to Karl’s and had a run in between and I think everything he has done so far has been done on pure ability.

“He is going to have to learn to race a bit more professionally and he’s seen plenty of daylight in both races. I think he is going to be much better when tucked in and given some cover over six furlongs and then showing that turn of foot coming from behind.

James Doyle aboard Shareholder after winning the Norfolk Stakes
James Doyle aboard Shareholder after winning the Norfolk Stakes (John Walton/PA)

“It’s pretty obvious, there is only really one race, and I would imagine he would go to the Prix Morny.

“I’m sure now Karl will have a bit more time with him, he will be able to bring him back and get him to a good place and he will have so much more time over six furlongs to race professionally and when he does, hopefully he can show he is up to Group One standard.”

Leovanni was equally as impressive when scorching to Queen Mary success a day earlier and having got Wathnan off the mark for the week, it will be a victory Brown will always be grateful for.

The daughter of Kodi Bear, who was a £190,000 Doncaster breeze-up buy, had impressed on debut at Nottingham, but found herself somewhat unwanted on the day of the race at Ascot and was sent off at odds of 22-1.

However, she made a mockery of that price to strike by almost two lengths and now has connections working back from Newmarket’s Cheveley Park Stakes later in the season.

“I was really impressed with Leovanni and her biggest asset is her temperament, she was so chilled before, during and after the Queen Mary,” continued Brown.

“You couldn’t help but be impressed by the way she quickened away from them and she did us proud.

“She got us out the blocks after a slightly frustrating Tuesday when we hit the crossbar a couple of times and it was great – she was a big pressure release for the whole team and I think I will forever be in her debt because there was a lot of pressure on.

Leovanni (right) winning the Queen Mary
Leovanni (right) winning the Queen Mary (David Davies/PA)

“The whole point of the team assembled was that it is not just about Ascot, but also the future and she will definitely be a big part of that now.

“I really haven’t had much of a chance to properly talk to the team yet, but I would imagine we will work backwards from the Cheveley Park. She will probably get a bit of a break now, she’s had a sale and two fairly quick runs.”

As well as the two to find the scoresheet, there was also plenty of excitement derived from the performances of Archie Watson’s Electrolyte and Richard Fahey’s Columnist, who were beaten a nose and a quarter of a length respectively in the Coventry Stakes.

With both Shareholder and Leovanni set for a short breather before returning to action, it is the vanquished Ascot runners who will fly the Wathnan flag in the coming weeks with Electrolyte on course for the July Stakes at Newmarket and stablemate Aesterius heading to Sandown on Friday week for the Dragon Stakes.

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Shareholder dividends boosted by smooth Norfolk success

Shareholder provided trainer Karl Burke and owners Wathnan Racing with a second two-year-old winner in as many days at Royal Ascot with a smart victory in the Norfolk Stakes.

The Spigot Lodge handler teamed up with the Qatar-based owners and jockey James Doyle to land the opening Queen Mary Stakes on Wednesday’s card with the impressive Leovanni and Shareholder was a 12-1 shot to follow suit for the same connections in the day-three curtain-raiser.

Turning out just 12 days after overcoming greenness to make a successful debut at Beverley, the €460,000 purchase travelled strongly throughout in the five-strong group that raced on the far side of the track and despite edging left late on, he passed the post a length to the good.

Tropical Storm filled the runner-up spot, with Arizona Blaze a close-up third and 10-11 favourite Whistlejacket in fourth.

Doyle said: “He’s still learning. I tried to keep a lid on him for as long as possible, until we got down to the inside pole, I just wanted to give him time to get organised.

“His debut was a bit messy at Beverley, it’s a hard place to teach a horse, but he learned plenty.

“He’s got a big engine. A big thank you to Karl Burke, he’s produced these horses lovely, which isn’t an easy thing to do.

“He was very confident, Karl, so when he is confident, you respect his opinion.”

Of the owners, Doyle added: “It’s great for British racing to have a superpower like this really getting behind British racing. It’s been a tough sell, our sport, hasn’t it, so we have to really take note when people want to invest and they deserve all the success.”

Shareholder strides away from the favourite, Whistlejacket
Shareholder strides away from the favourite, Whistlejacket (John Walton/PA)

Burke feels the best is still to come from Shareholder.

He said: “He is a very good horse I think, he did a lot wrong first time out when we’d only had him six weeks. That was his first run and we had to back him up quickly to come here, he took a huge step forward after that first run.

“Mentally, as well as physically, he improved and I think you saw that there. That was the plan and I’ll get home and discuss it with Richard Brown and the guys from Wathnan, but I’d see no problem stepping him up to six furlongs, maybe more.

“I’d be surprised if he’d be a Guineas horse – though I wouldn’t rule it out, I would be surprised.

“We’re still learning a lot about this horse but from what I’ve seen so far, I think he’s very good.”

Richard Ryan, racing manager to the owners of Tropical Storm, Teme Valley Racing, said: “He’s had an interrupted prep and a tiny, silly setback and fair play to Andrew (Balding), who has had a lot of belief in this horse for a long time.

Trainer Karl Burke was winning his second juvenile race of the week
Trainer Karl Burke was winning his second juvenile race of the week (John Walton/PA)

“He’s got a mind to die for and he’s like an old handicapper and this opens the door for all sorts of targets ongoing from here. He’s a very good horse and bar that little hiccup, I think they would all have sat up today – we will have our day, I’m sure. I think he might be a hot thing in a maiden!”

Adrian Murray said of Arizona Blaze: “We’re delighted and he ran an absolute blinder. When you are on the world stage here, it is tough.

“David (Egan) said he would be even better if we stepped him up a furlong to six – six on good ground, five on slightly slower. He’s won on soft and on good ground, he’s a very versatile horse.

“We’ve entered him in all the big ones, the top two-year-old races, so we will see how he comes out of today and pick and choose where we go.

“He’s a gorgeous horse and he would be very much on a par with Valiant Force (last year’s winner). But this fella would probably be that little bit more mature, he’s a bit like a three-year-old and has a lot of strength about him.”

Aidan O’Brien said of Whistlejacket: “Ryan (Moore) felt he was a bit relaxed and maybe I didn’t have him sharp enough. His last run was on soft ground and Ryan said he finished off well but was just a little bit relaxed through the middle of the race.”

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Karl Burke continues good run with Chantilly success

Karl Burke was on the board at Chantilly on Sunday when Arabie surged to a taking success in the Prix du Bois.

The son of Dandy Man was second at Thirsk on debut but soon got off the mark on his second start at York last month.

Now stepped up to Group Three level, he follows in the footsteps of Royal Ascot bound Ramatuelle and Andre Fabre’s Belbek who have won this for the past two seasons.

Always in a handy position in the hands of Jim Crowley, Arabie was soon fighting things out with French hope Daylight at the head of proceedings and after kicking clear of the market leader, had plenty in reserve to run out a handy winner.

“It went smoothly and I rode him at York last time and he took a step forward,” said Crowley, who was banned in the UK on Sunday, but with it being a Group One day in France was able to scoop a valuable race overseas.

“He’s a lovely stamp of an individual and he was always doing just enough in front. He got there quite easily and he then sort of just found himself in front and just doing enough.

“He’s a lovely type of horse and hopefully he will keep progressing.”

Elsewhere on the French Oaks day card, Jean-Claude Rouget’s Delius maintained his unbeaten record with a stylish victory in the Group Three Prix du Lys Longines.

The Coolmore-owned son of Frankel holds entries for both the Grand Prix de Paris and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and his rider Christophe Soumillon was impressed with his mount.

He told Sky Sports Racing: “I didn’t have a nice draw but Jean-Bernard (Roth, assistant to Rouget) asked me to give him a nice run in the middle of the pack depending on the pace.

“He jumped well out of the gates and I had to find my position after 700 metres in the race and once he was settled into the race he was really relaxed.

“He was a bit unbalanced in the last turn and when I asked him to come on the bridle he was still a bit green and is a very immature horse.

“The way he quickened was quite amazing and I think he has everything under his belt to get a Group One win soon I’m sure.

“The Grand Prix de Paris could be good depending on how he returns home, but for me he deserves to go there, he is a very nice horse. He’s tall and very good mentally, he was still a bit green today but I think he has a brilliant future in front of him.”

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Burke sure Fallen Angel ‘the one to beat’ in Coronation Stakes

Karl Burke is confident his Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Fallen Angel will prove a tough nut to crack when she bids to follow up in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

A Group One-winning two-year-old in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, the daughter of Too Darn Hot disappointed after going off favourite to provide her trainer with a first British Classic success in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, but showed her true colours on her return to the Curragh three weeks later.

She will face another stern test on day four of the Royal meeting, with Roger Varian’s 1000 Guineas heroine Elmalka and Aidan O’Brien’s Opera Singer, who will be expected to improve significantly after finishing third in the Irish Guineas on what was her belated reappearance, both in opposition.

Burke, though, feels his star filly is the one to beat.

“She’s in great form, came back from Ireland in good order, she did a nice piece of work on Tuesday and we couldn’t be happier with her,” he told Sky Sports Racing.

“I thought it was a fantastic performance (at the Curragh), to be honest. She got into a great rhythm early and watching from the stands from halfway, I was pretty relaxed, I thought we had them all covered and I knew she’d keep galloping right to the line.

“It will be an interesting race, there’s some great fillies in there and obviously Aidan’s filly that was behind us at the Curragh is going to step forward, but they need to step forward, we only have to maintain our form from the Curragh for us to be the one to beat and, if anything, I don’t see why she can’t improve again.

“I don’t think she’s ground dependent whatsoever, if it’s good ground or on the easy side of good or just on the quicker side of good, it will make no difference to Fallen Angel.”

Fallen Angel and Danny Tudhope after winning at the Curragh
Fallen Angel and Danny Tudhope after winning at the Curragh (Healy Racing/PA)

Whatever happens over the round mile at Ascot, Burke is already looking forward to stepping his filly up to a mile and a quarter later in the summer.

He added: “I would be strongly saying that she’ll stay further. We toyed with the idea of going for the Prix de Diane on Sunday, but we’ll save the step up for later in the year – there’s only one Royal Ascot.

“The Nassau is one (possible race) at Goodwood, but I’d say she’ll have a short break after Ascot. She’ll have a short break after this, as she’s had three quickish runs and been prepared all winter for a Guineas, so she’ll have a short break and we’ll bring her back in August, I’d imagine.”

Comparing Fallen Angel to his former stable star Laurens, Burke said: “She’s got a little bit to do to catch Laurens up, Laurens was a superb horse and I felt she never really got the credit she deserved.

“She won six Group Ones and was second in a Guineas and finished second in a couple of other Group Ones that could easily have gone her way.

“Fallen Angel is on her way to emulating her, but let’s go and win this Coronation and then we can start talking about that.”

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Ascot not the aim for Woodcote scorer Teej A

Connections of Teej A are content to skip Royal Ascot with their Epsom champion, harbouring other big-race ambitions later in the season.

Trained by Karl Burke, the daughter of Mehmas followed up her impressive Chester success in game fashion in the Woodcote Stakes, keeping on to score by a length and a quarter over Ralph Beckett’s Megalithic.

However, she will not attempt to follow in the footsteps of owners Nick Bradley Racing’s previous Woodcote winner Oscula and will bypass the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot ahead of alternative targets both home and abroad.

Newmarket’s Empress Stakes and the Prix du Bois at Deauville are both options for Teej A to dip her toe into deeper waters, while her team are aiming for the progressive youngster to be competing in races such as the Cheveley Park Stakes on the Rowley Mile later in the season.

“At the moment I would like to go to the Prix du Bois, while Karl is eying the Empress and we’re going to discuss it soon,” explained Nick Bradley.

“I’m not going to take too many horses to Ascot and it is very hard to win there. Do I think she’s very good? Yes. Do I think she’s good enough to win at Ascot? Well, you genuinely know when you are going to win at Ascot, I have found in the past, and I haven’t got that feeling.

Teej A on course to Epsom victory
Teej A on course to Epsom victory (Adam Davy/PA)

“Don’t get me wrong, I think she could go there and run a very big race, but I just think we’ll go somewhere else with a bit more confidence.

“I would much rather aim for a race like the Cheveley Park later in the season where it’s a Group One with around eight runners, whereas at Ascot there will be lots of runners. I think we will do the opposite to what everyone else does.”

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Bradley in the hunt for trophy riches at Beverley

Nick Bradley is set to launch a two-pronged assault on Beverley’s Hilary Needler Trophy, with the Yorkshireman keen to land a telling blow at one of his local haunts.

The conditions event is one of the highlights of Beverley’s season and has been farmed by local handlers in recent years, with the race often used as a stepping stone to more lofty targets at Royal Ascot.

And Bradley – managing director of the popular syndicates that bare his name – links up with Middleham handler Karl Burke who will saddle both Larchill Lass and Invincible Annice on behalf of the owner.

The two fillies both opened their accounts at the third time of asking recently and have been backed to be involved at the finish once again.

“I’ve had a discussion with Karl and both are going to go, I’m just waiting to hear from Sam James (jockey) which one he would like to ride,” explained Bradley.

“I’ve said if it comes up quick he should ride Invincible Annice and if it is soft to go for the other one. I think they both go there with good chances depending on where they get drawn.

“I thought it was a monstrous performance from Larchill Lass when she won at Carlisle. I’ve watched her win alongside the Hugo Palmer horse that won the six-furlong race on the card and I think she would have won that race by about 12 lengths. I thought it was a huge performance.”

Although Larchill Lass is shorter in the betting than Invincible Annice, the latter impressed when winning a Musselburgh seller only seven days ago and has since seen a timely boost of her debut second to Francisco’s Piece when the Adrian Keatley-trained runner scooped Listed honours in France.

Bradley went on: “We only ran Invincible Annice in a seller because it was £10,500 to the winner and we’ve had plenty of faith all the way through, Karl had said before her debut at Pontefract she was a very good filly.

“The Keatley horse that beat us that day won the Listed race at Chantilly Sunday and I think if the horses were drawn the other way round at Pontefract the result would definitely have been close.”

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Coronation crown on Burke’s radar for Fallen Angel

Karl Burke would love to head to Royal Ascot with his Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Fallen Angel, but a decision on her next outing is still to be discussed with connections.

The daughter of Too Darn Hot was a beaten favourite in the Newmarket equivalent, but made no mistake at the Curragh as she romped to a clear-cut Classic success in the hands of Danny Tudhope.

It proved a special afternoon for the Burke team, with Darnation also scooping the German 1000 Guineas at Dusseldorf, and the Spigot Lodge handler has outlined possible options for both of his fillies.

Darnation was a big-race winner in Germany for Karl Burke
Darnation was a big-race winner in Germany for Karl Burke (John Walton/PA)

Burke said: “We haven’t had a sit down and chat with either owner yet, but I can’t see Darnation going to Royal Ascot, I think the ground will be too quick for her and she is very much dictated by that.

“She’s in the German Oaks back at Dusseldorf which is a valuable race and a possibility.

“Fallen Angel, obviously the Coronation Stakes is pretty high on the list but she is still in the French Oaks and again ground will dictate.

“I would love to go to Ascot with her if there is good ground. I think that would be a great race for her up the hill on the round mile.”

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Fallen Angel secures Guineas redemption on famous day for Karl Burke

Fallen Angel bounced back from Newmarket disappointment to provide trainer Karl Burke with a second Classic success in the space of an hour in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

A Group One winner at the Kildare track in last season’s Moyglare Stud Stakes, the daughter of Too Darn Hot finished only eighth as favourite for the 1000 Guineas three weeks ago, but showed her true colours on Irish soil just 45 minutes after stablemate Darnation had won the German 1000 Guineas in Dusseldorf.

Fallen Angel was the 11-4 market leader to reward those who kept the faith and after a smart start raced on the pace from the off in the hands of Danny Tudhope.

The challengers were stacked up in behind entering the final three furlongs, but Burke’s grey found another gear once asked to do so and was well on top as she passed the post with two and three-quarter lengths in hand over the previously unbeaten A Lilac Rolla, with Opera Singer also running with credit in third on her first start since her scintillating display in the Prix Marcel Boussac in October.

“I was confident we would see a different filly from Newmarket. I was pleased when the rain came, to be fair. She just keeps galloping and stays very, very well,” said Tudhope.

“She is very versatile ground wise and takes everything that comes in her stride.”

Fallen Angel and Danny Tudhope (left) in full flight
Fallen Angel and Danny Tudhope (left) in full flight (Healy Racing/PA)

Burke said: “She showed last year that she’s top-class. Obviously we were disappointed with the Guineas, but I find it hard with three-year-olds – you just don’t know where you are with them.

“We sent her down to Newmarket fit and she didn’t blow that much afterwards. The ground maybe was a bit quick on the undulations, but that’s looking for excuses – we were beaten fair and square on the day.

“I knew coming out of the Guineas coming into this race that mentally she was in the right place. She just sparked up, especially in the last week or 10 days, and physically she looked fantastic.”

Coral cut Fallen Angel’s odds for the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot to 4-1 from 10-1, making her the joint-favourite alongside Newmarket Guineas heroine Elmalka – but she is not certain to line up in Berkshire next month.

Trainer Karl Burk at York
Trainer Karl Burk at York (Mike Egerton/PA)

On claiming his second Classic win of the day and third overall after Laurens’ victory in the 2018 French Oaks, the trainer added: “Amazing, that doesn’t happen very often. This is what we work for.

“I had cancer late last year and an operation and a bit of chemotherapy. I finish the chemo in December and since then it’s been back to work, we keep going and hopefully we’re all square.

“I never took a backwards step, you have to face what’s happening to you and worse things happen to a lot of other people, so you’ve just got to get on with it.

“I don’t know (about Royal Ascot), we’ll have to have that discussion. We’ve got the option of the French Oaks as well and as you can see she stays very well. We’ll enjoy today and worry about that later.”

Of Darnation, Burke said: “I’m delighted with her. I was hopeful today, and she will improve again.

“We were very lucky that she got her ground. It was heavy.

“I haven’t seen the race, but Adrie de Vries is a master around Dusseldorf and I’m told he rode a great race. He’s had four rides for me, two Group One winners and a Group Three before today and now a Group Two.

“It’s been a great day.”

Opera Singer ran well on her return to action
Opera Singer ran well on her return to action (Brian Lawless/PA)

Aidan O’Brien was thrilled with Opera Singer’s comeback effort and an appearance at Royal Ascot is now on her agenda.

“I was delighted with her, I couldn’t believe she ran so well. She was never away, only in full work less than a month,” he said.

“It was an incredible run really. I was very nervous running her, hoping that she wouldn’t get too tired, but she has run some race.

“We were hoping to run with a view to coming back for the Coronation Stakes so that’s where she’ll go now, but there could be massive improvement in her.”

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Ground will be a factor in plans for Royal Rhyme, says Burke

Ground conditions will dictate future plans for Royal Rhyme following his impressive return to action in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown on Thursday.

The Karl Burke-trained four-year-old dominated his rivals in handicap company at Goodwood last summer and went on to win a Listed prize at Ayr before finishing fifth behind King Of Steel in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Making his first appearance since Champions Day, the Lope De Vega colt was a short price to dispatch of three rivals at Group Three level and did so with the minimum of fuss under Clifford Lee.

Royal Rhyme holds an entry in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot next month, but he would appear unlikely take up that engagement unless there is some ease underfoot.

Reflecting on his comeback victory, Burke said: “It wasn’t the strongest Group Three in the world, but they’re all there to be won and he did it nicely.

“He improved with every run last season and I think it will be the same this year. He wasn’t fully wound up by any means.

“Obviously ground is key with him, but he’s a very useful horse on his day on the right ground.”

Elite Status impressed at Newbury
Elite Status impressed at Newbury (Steven Paston/PA)

One Burke-trained and Sheikh Mohammed Obaid-owned runner who definitely has the Royal meeting on his agenda is Elite Status, who was a most impressive winner of the Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury.

The son of Havana Grey finished third as a hot favourite for the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot last year and is set to get a second chance to secure victory at the showpiece meeting in the Commonwealth Cup.

Burke added: “I was very, very happy with him, he’s a high-class horse and he came out of that race fine.

“We’re heading for the Commonwealth with him, barring accidents.”

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Fallen Angel seeking Classic redemption at the Curragh

Karl Burke is optimistic Fallen Angel can show her true colours when she gets a second chance at Classic glory in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas on Sunday.

The Too Darn Hot filly is already a Group One winner at the Curragh, having signed off an excellent juvenile campaign with victory in the Moyglare Stud Stakes in September.

She was sent off favourite to provide her trainer with a first Classic success on home soil on her seasonal reappearance in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket three weeks ago, but finished only eighth of 16 runners, albeit beaten less than five lengths by the surprise scorer Elmalka.

While keen not to make excuses for his star filly’s underwhelming performance at Headquarters, Burke is quietly confident of an improved effort on Irish soil this weekend.

Karl Burke has high hopes for Fallen Angel
Karl Burke has high hopes for Fallen Angel (Mike Egerton/PA)

He said: “She came out of Newmarket really well, she’s in great shape and I’m very happy with her, so fingers crossed she can run a bit better for us on Sunday.

“She just wasn’t good enough on the day in the Guineas, it’s as simple as that, but she looks in really good form and she’s obviously proven on the track (the Curragh). Hopefully the ground will be decent and we’ll see what happens.

“We’ll learn a little bit more about her and I’d be very hopeful she can run a big race for us.”

The likely favourite is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Opera Singer, who has not been seen in competitive action since her scintillating display in the Prix Marcel Boussac at ParisLongchamp last October.

With a spring setback having delayed the Justify filly’s three-year-old debut, the Ballydoyle handler has warned she will not be at concert pitch, with a trip to Royal Ascot for next month’s Coronation Stakes already identified as her next objective.

“Opera Singer will run but she will improve a lot from it. She didn’t have a straightforward spring, but we’re hoping if we got her started, we would have her right for Ascot,” said the Ballydoyle handler.

“She’ll run a nice race, hopefully. She has done very well physically, but she did have a setback in the spring which cost us three weeks and if you get cost three weeks, it usually costs you two months, so that’s where we are with her.

“She’s in good form, Dean (Gallagher) is riding her every day and seems happy, so she is coming.”

O’Brien also saddles Buttons, Pearls And Rubies and the supplemented Everlasting, as he looks to add to his record haul of 10 victories in Ireland’s first fillies’ Classic of the year.

Paddy Twomey fires a twin assault, with the unbeaten A Lilac Rolla joined by stablemate Purple Lily.

A Lilac Rolla (left) on her way to victory at Leopardstown
A Lilac Rolla (left) on her way to victory at Leopardstown (Brian Lawless/PA)

A Lilac Rolla made it three from three in a Group Three at Leopardstown on her most recent outing, while Purple Lily steps back in trip to a mile after being narrowly beaten over 10 furlongs in the Salsabil Stakes at Navan.

Twomey said: “They’re two nice fillies with two nice profiles, they’ve ran three times each and progressed every time. We’ve got two good riders and we’re looking forward to Sunday.”

The once-raced Leopardstown maiden winner Azada bids to provide Dermot Weld with a third successive victory in the race following the recent wins of Homeless Songs and Tahiyra, while the Willie McCreery-trained Vespertilio turns out just two weeks after finishing a close third in the French 1000 Guineas.

“She seems in great form and when it’s on your doorstep, you have to take a chance,” said McCreery.

“I hope they don’t get too much rain, I think she’s better on better ground, but she won’t mind as long as it’s not too soft.

“We’re hopeful that if she puts in the same run as she did in France, we’ll be there or thereabouts.”

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Elite Status confirmed in Carnarvon Stakes victory

Elite Status blew the rest away and set himself up for Royal Ascot in streaking to success in the Highclere Castle Gin Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury.

Karl Burke’s 13-2 chance was ridden by Clifford Lee for the six-furlong Listed feature and travelled well from the off.

At the head of the field from an early stage, the Sheikh Obaid-owned colt pulled further and further away from his rivals and although Relief Rally, the 3-1 favourite, challenged behind him she could not get close and was two and three-quarter lengths adrift on the line.

“I’ve always thought he was a high-class horse and I think if we can keep him on the right track, the world is his oyster,” said Burke from his Middleham base.

“He is a very good horse with a massive engine, we just lost our way with him.

“He’s one of these horses that just catches the point of his sesamoid at the back of the joint there. They are horrible and when they start catching them they catch them every time and they go sore really quickly. It’s like having a stone in your shoe or a bad nail in your foot and you keep catching it.

Elite Status winning the Highclere Castle Gin Carnarvon Stakes
Elite Status winning the Highclere Castle Gin Carnarvon Stakes (Steven Paston/PA)

“A few performances last year were disappointing, but it was probably Deauville in the bad ground last summer where it started and we never really got him back properly at the backend of the year.

“He was electric in the National Stakes and after that performance it was hard to step up to six furlongs, so we went for the Norfolk (at Royal Ascot). Sheikh Obaid was always very keen to step him up and probably rightly so, but when we did eventually step him up he was never quite right for us.

“He’s proved there today he stays six very well. He’s a horse with a big future, I think, and the Commonwealth Cup will definitely be his next run barring accidents.

“It wasn’t a question of us wanting to make the running today, but what we didn’t want to do was pull him around and take a chance of him banging himself.

“Clifford was under instruction to get into a nice rhythm, let him use his big, long stride he’s got and sit comfortably. Clifford pulled it off to perfection and he doesn’t have to make the running – if he jumps and sits second or third that’s fine. He showed in the National Stakes the turn of foot he has got.”

Tom Marquand took the ride on Relief Rally for William Haggas and said of her performance: “It was nice to see her back to last year’s self there, I thought, and she came with a real strong run.

“The winner was very fast on the front-end, he really kicked and went on.”

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Upwardly mobile Ice Max has Sandown option

Karl Burke is undecided as to whether to let the progressive Ice Max take his chance in the Chasemore Farm Stud Staff Heron Stakes at Sandown on Thursday.

The three-year-old began the season rated 89, but two wide-margin victories at Bath and Musselburgh have left the handicapper with no choice but to raise his mark to 109, a full 20lb higher.

Burke and owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum are planning to step Ice Max up in trip at some stage, but the Leyburn handler is minded to give him one more run over a mile before heading to Royal Ascot.

Burke said: “I’m not sure if he’s going to run or not yet. Sheikh Obaid is keen to step him up in trip. I’d like to run him once more over a mile and then maybe run him in the Group race at Royal Ascot over 10 furlongs (Hampton Court Stakes).

“He’s progressed rapidly and he was very impressive last time out. I just need to have a think.”

Ice Max is one of 13 entries for the Heron Stakes, with Richard Hannon’s Son, the William Haggas-trained Remaadd and Kikkuli from Harry Charlton’s yard among his potential rivals.

Kikkuli at Newmarket under Ryan Moore
Kikkuli at Newmarket under Ryan Moore (Bradley Collyer/PA)

The latter is a Kingman half-brother to the great Frankel and having opened his account at Newmarket’s Craven meeting last month, could now test the water at Listed level.

Several unbeaten juveniles are in contention for the Orbital Veterinary Services National Stakes, including Hannon’s Hawaiian, the Dominic Ffrench Davis-trained Enchanting Empress and a couple of potential Irish raiders in Make Haste (Diego Dias) and Rock N Roll Rocket (Jessica Harrington).

John and Thady Gosden’s pair of Sweet William and Trawlerman and Alan King’s veteran stayer Trueshan are among the likely contenders for the Group Three Henry II Stakes, while Charlton’s Gordon Richards victor Okeechobee is one of seven in the mix for the feature Brigadier Gerard Stakes.

Okeechobee narrowly denied Desert Hero over the course and distance four weeks ago and could lock horns with Isle Of Jura following his profitable winter campaign in Bahrain for George Scott.

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Andesite shows Royal Ascot potential in York victory

Andesite may have earned himself a place on Karl Burke’s Royal Ascot team after making a winning debut in the Frank Whittle Partnership ebfstallions.com Novice Stakes at York.

A half-brother to the stable’s 2022 Queen Mary heroine Dramatised, the 7-2 chance showed plenty of tenacity to go with his undoubted talent to deny Yah Mo Be There by a short head under Danny Tudhope.

As well as being a notable winner in his own right, Andesite is also a first winner for former champion two-year-old Pinatubo as a sire.

Burke said: “If I’m honest I was quite surprised he battled back because he hasn’t been off the bridle at home so that’s the first time and I thought we were beaten, so fair play to him.

“He’s a lovely horse, but I heard Richard Fahey say the other day that a lot of good horses do things easy at home and then first time out they often don’t know what to do and Newmarket horses have often been on the grass a lot more, especially with the wet winter.

“I’ll speak to Steve (Parkin, owner) about Royal Ascot, but he’s certainly worthy of going there.”

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