Shine So Bright just denied Laurens, and set a new course-record time, in a thrilling renewal of the Sky Bet City of York Stakes on a sun-drenched Knavesmire.
James Doyle, a late substitute to ride the winner following Friday night’s injury for King Power’s retained jockey Silvestre De Sousa, led throughout and held on by nose as Laurens edged ever closer but just ran out of time.
With De Sousa expected to be out for up to six weeks after his fall at Chelmsford, Doyle set a scorching gallop on Andrew Balding’s 6-1 winner in a race which was carrying enhanced Group Two status for the first time.
Shine So Bright had employed similar tactics under De Sousa to win the Listed European Free Handicap, before finishing sixth in the 2000 Guineas on his return to Newmarket a month later.
The grey was unraced since – but York’s speedy seven furlongs saw him prove just too tough a nut to crack for Karl Burke’s admirable multiple Group One-winning filly Laurens.
She was back to seven for the first time since her juvenile campaign two years ago and did little wrong in defeat, as the 2-1 favourite, with Cape Byron a further two lengths back in third.
Balding was at Goodwood, where he said: “It’s really pleasing. He ran great in the Guineas and he won his trial very well. He is a high-class horse and those are his optimum conditions. We will have a think about what we do next, something like the Foret might be an option.
“If the ground held for a fortnight, the Sprint Cup is a possibility, but as you know there is always a danger of the bounce factor when you run a brilliant race like that after a long lay off.
“I’m sure he will stay in training next year, so we are not under any pressure to get the Group One this year, but I will discuss things with the owners and we will come up with a plan.
“The Foret would work better, but the only danger is if the ground goes against us, as he loves fast ground. He is a very handy horse and he was unlucky not to win a Group race last year.
“He could get a mile on a turn at some point.”
Karl Burke said of Laurens: “She’s lost nothing in defeat giving weight (7lb) to a very progressive horse.
“He’s a very good horse. We had him as a two-year-old before he went to Andrew’s. He always showed us plenty. I was always hoping we would beat him, obviously, but it wasn’t to be.
“She’s got a great high cruising speed. He just had a better turn of foot on the day. PJ (McDonald) thought he’d gone a head up on him and he outbattled her. Fair play to the winner.
“The Matron is, and has been, the main target. Now we’ve got a bit of a discussion whether to go for the Foret or the Sun Chariot again.
“We’ll discuss that later. This race fitted in perfectly with her training programme for the Matron. York is on our door step. There’s nothing lost in defeat.”