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 Group 2 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.
So close!— Racing TV (@RacingTV) August 24, 2019
But it's Shine So Bright, under a fine front-running ride from @the_doyler, who lands the @SkyBet City of York Stakes for trainer Andrew Balding
Laurens, by the barest of margins, is second@yorkracecourse #ClassicEbor pic.twitter.com/L1cNzc8ENu
Balding’s wife, Anna Lisa, said: “He’s like a pocket rocket. He’s not very big, but he’s got a huge heart and he’s a star. All credit to the team at home to get a horse as fit and ready to go like that. He just had a little niggle (reason for absence). That was pretty impressive.
“It was a good run in the Guineas. James Doyle hadn’t sat on him before and he said he really did give me a nice feel. He’s got a big heart.
“It looks like seven is his trip. The trainer will decide where to go next, but it was lovely to see him back so well. Thrilled.”
Zaaki returned to form stepped back up in trip with a solid performance in the Group 3 Sky Bet & Symphony Group Strensall Stakes at York.
Twice a winner over a mile earlier in the season, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained four-year-old disappointed over seven furlongs last time and was suited by every inch of the extended nine furlongs on the Knavesmire.
Forest Ranger made the running with the evens favourite Wissahickon handy and Zaaki just off the pace in fourth.
Ryan Moore looked to have plenty in the tank on Zaaki and the 7/2 shot went on – but had to hold the challenge of Bangkok who was just a neck down at the line.
Moore said: “He showed enough ability as a three-year-old last year. He’s had the wind operation and has been in great form all year.
“His last run over seven at Goodwood, he was drawn wide and it was just a disaster. It was longer today. It suited him better and he has beaten some good horses.
“The pace was a bit slower and they built it up in the straight and kept quickening up.”