Laurens will attempt to follow her dominance over the fillies last year by becoming the leading miler in Europe this season – starting off with victory in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.
Leyburn trainer Karl Burke senses a gap for a pre-eminent miler to emerge from the pack, and in the shape of his five-time Group One winner he believes he has the perfect candidate.
Laurens did take on the boys on Champions Day last season – and disappointed – but Burke can cite valid reasons for that display.
“Whatever we’ve done with her at home, I’m sure she’ll improve a little bit,” he said.
“She’s a heavier filly this year.
“We were obviously disappointed with her final run, and I put it down to it being at the end of a long season. But in hindsight, she’d just had her Herpes jab not long before it because of a new ruling, and I’ve a feeling it just knocked the edge off her.
“She bossed the females last year, and I think she can do the same to the boys. I think the mile division probably lacks a star and I hope she can fill that gap.
“She’s a high-class horse, and we think she’s improved again. She certainly has improved physically – she’s probably got quicker as she’s got stronger.
“I think the programme of races over a mile suits her better. Arguably the Lockinge and the Queen Anne will be her two toughest races, because after that she can go back in against fillies – apart from the Breeders’ Cup if we end up there.
“That’s a strong possibility because John (Dance, owner) was keen to go last year, and it would be lovely to finish her career out there.”
Aidan O’Brien fields two against Laurens on Saturday – the filly I Can Fly and former Andre Fabre inmate Le Brivido.
“I’m very happy with I Can Fly,” said O’Brien.
“She ran disappointingly out in Dubai but she seems to be in good form since.
“I was happy with Le Brivido’s first run of the year (third), and that was his first run for us. Obviously we’ve never run him over a mile, so we’ll find out if that is what he wants.”
Andrew Balding is excited at seeing how Beat The Bank fares, after the five-year-old made a winning reappearance in the bet365 Mile at Sandown.
Balding said: “I’m really pleased with Beat The Bank, and he seems in great form at home, so I am looking forward to running him.
“I was really pleased he got the job done at Sandown. He hit a bit of a flat spot – which he tends to do – but he found generously for pressure, which was encouraging.
“He can be a lazy horse at home – but recently his work has been good, which is hopefully a good sign. Of course winning any Group One is special, but this horse thoroughly deserves one, and if he was to win it would be extra meaningful.
“I think Laurens is a very good mare when she is right, and I have utmost respect for her.”
Charlie Appleby’s Mythical Magic arrives on the back of a good win in Dubai.
The Newmarket trainer said: “His preparation has gone well and he is a horse that thrived out in Dubai.
“He was a horse that was a good second in the Al Fahidi, then he won when stepping him up to a mile seemed to suit him in the Zabeel Mile.
“He won’t look out of place in that line-up – and although there is Laurens and Le Brivido to beat, he is in good order. We feel he can run a big race.”
David O’Meara is hoping Lord Glitters can finally strike at the lop level after a series of notable efforts.
“You need a little luck on your side and things to go right in the Group One races. I think he’s capable of winning one somewhere along the way, and I hope it will be at Newbury,” he said, ahead of what is the latest leg of the Qipco British Champions Series.
“It was a fantastic run in Dubai last time.
“The Japanese filly (Almond Eye) was brilliant – and Vivlos, a former winner of the race, is very good around there. He was conceding 5lb to them, being fillies, and we were very pleased with him.”
Mustashry’s only previous run in a Group One in the Breeders’ Cup Mile did not go to plan, but connections feel the Sir Michael Stoute-trained six-year-old deserves a second chance.
Stoute’s assistant James Horton said: “He is a rock-solid horse that won two Group Three races and a Group Two last year.
“We thought enough of him to take him all the way to America last year for the Breeders’ Cup. Unfortunately it didn’t go to plan, because the draw and ground went against him.
“He is in good shape, and I thought his comeback run in the Earl of Sefton was solid. He is versatile trip-wise – you can run him anywhere between seven furlongs and a mile and a quarter.
“He probably went to the Earl of Sefton 80 per cent fit, and he has definitely tightened up for that, so I would like to think there is improvement from his Newmarket run to here.”
After a fair comeback at Naas, Ken Condon’s Romanised needs to return to the form that saw him win the Irish 2,000 Guineas last season.
“He didn’t get the clearest of runs – so all in all we were pleased,” said Condon.
“I liked the way he went through the line. It was important he didn’t have a gruelling race first time out – and he didn’t.
“The race is coming up at the right time – he seems to come to himself at this time of year. It will be a tough race, but one I’m very much looking forward to.”