Doyle hopes for last Laugh
Jockey James Doyle is in confident mood ahead of Laugh Aloud’s bid for Royal Ascot glory in Wednesday’s Duke of Cambridge Stakes.
John Gosden’s filly was a shade disappointing on her first start of the campaign at Kempton, but has significantly raised her game back on the grass with a Listed success at Goodwood followed by victory in the Group Three Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom.
The four-year-old faces an even tougher assignment in Berkshire, but Doyle is hopeful she will prove up to the task.
He said: “She was brilliant at Epsom. I think she might have hinted in her work that she might do something like that.
“She’s a typical John Gosden filly in that she’s kept progressing. She took a bit of time to get the hang of things, she used to race a bit gassy, but she’s settled down now and proved at Epsom she doesn’t have to lead.
“We were able to take her back, get her to relax and then finish off, which she did beautifully, showing a good turn of foot.
“She’s short in the betting, but quite rightly so. It’s been a while since I’ve had one quicken like that.
“I have no hesitation in putting her in my top three of the week.”
Gosden also saddles Argentinian import Greta G, while Laugh Aloud is one of two major contenders for the Godolphin team, with last year’s winner Usherette travelling over from France to defend her crown.
The Clarehaven handler said of Laugh Aloud: “Laugh Aloud came out of Epsom in great nick. She is coming up against a very good French runner in Qemah and it looks a high-quality renewal of the race.
“We have been happy with our filly and the ground won’t be a problem for her.”
Andre Fabre’s Usherette has failed to get her head in front since her triumph of 12 months ago, but lost nothing in defeat when a close-up third behind Mekhtaal in last month’s Prix d’Ispahan at Chantilly.
“Usherette is in great form,” Fabre reported.
“She has run well this year and has come on again for her run in the d’Ispahan.
“She worked over six furlongs last Tuesday just to sharpen her up. The quick ground is not a concern.”
Usherette was joined on the trip across the Channel by Furia Cruzada, Aim To Please and last year’s Coronation Stakes heroine Qemah.
The latter, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, suffered a surprise defeat on her seasonal reappearance at Lingfield, but connections are confident she will show her true colours on Wednesday.
Harry Herbert, racing manager for Qemah’s owner Al Shaqab Racing, said: “Lingfield was a bit of a disaster.
“There were no suitable races for her in France and Jean-Claude liked the idea of heading over to Lingfield, but in the race she was too fresh and Frankie (Dettori) couldn’t get cover.
“It was a disappointment, but it took the buzz out of her and she has been training really well.
“As a dual Group One winner going into a Group Two, you’d have to hope she would run very well.”
Qemah’s conqueror at Lingfield was Chris Wall’s stable star Mix And Mingle, who is once again in opposition after being supplemented.
“We thought we’d have a go as she’s in such good form,” said Wall.
“Now she’s another year older she might stay a mile, on pedigree she should anyway.
“If she stays she’s not without a chance, given the form she’s in.
“She beat Qemah pretty comfortably at Lingfield, but I’m not sure what sort of form Jean-Claude Rouget’s horses were in at the time and it was her first run.
“I’d expect her to be more of a threat, but I’m only going to worry about my horse.”
Other contenders include the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Smart Call and Jim Bolger’s Turret Rocks, who is the only Irish-trained runner.