THE trouble with a ‘horse of a lifetime’ is that their racing life eventually has to come to an end. When it comes to Karl Burke, and his multiple Group-One winner Laurens, that end point arrived last weekend.

Having been the pride and joy of Leyburn trainer Burke and owner John Dance for the last three seasons, Laurens will head to the paddocks having provided a treasure trove of magical memories.

Group One wins in three successive seasons, triumphs in the Matron Stakes, Prix de Diane and Prix Rothschild, victories at some of Europe’s greatest courses including Longchamp, Chantilly, Leopardstown and Newmarket. Now a four-year-old, it is safe to say Laurens has come quite some way since starting her career in a Maiden Fillies’ Stakes race at Doncaster in July 2017.

She was unable to bow out with what would have been a seventh Group One success in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket at the weekend, finishing seventh of nine behind old rival Billesdon Brook, who also edged her out in last year’s 1,000 Guineas.

However, while Burke accepts that her last two runs confirm the time is right to head into retirement – she was also below-par as she failed to defend her Matron Stakes crown at Leopardstown last month – they do not diminish the scale of what she has achieved in her career.

She will be remembered as one of North Yorkshire’s great Flat queens, claiming lifetime earnings of almost £1.8m and catapulting Burke back into the big-time.

“There are not many colts or fillies that win a Group One at two, three and four - so for her to do that is fantastic,” said Burke. “It has been a long way from being a disaster keeping her in training this year.

“Maybe I could have turned the screw a little harder going into the Lockinge, but she was beaten on the day fair and square.

“I think the Matron and here (at Newmarket) show she has had enough. But she has been a brilliant mare.”

Her breakthrough success came in the Group Two May Hill Stakes in her third outing, and by the time she claimed the Fillies’ Mile at the end of her two-year-old season, her ability was self-evident.

She came within a length-and-three-quarters of landing a Classic, but Burke feels her two greatest moments both came overseas, in last year’s Prix de Diane, when she beat the Andre Fabre-trained Musis Amica by a neck at Chantilly, and Matron Stakes, when she lowered the colours of the previously unbeaten Alpha Centauri in Ireland.

“I think (they are ) the two that stand out,” said Burke. “They were fantastic. To go to Ireland and win, that was a great weekend. But if you asked me for one, the Diane would probably be it - because it was my first Classic.”

In total, Laurens ran in 17 races, winning eight and finishing second on four occasions, and plans for a swansong at next month’s Breeders’ Cup were quickly shelved when fears were raised about the safety of the track at Santa Anita.

“I always thought early in the year, and talking to John through the winter, that the Breeders’ Cup was on the agenda,” said Burke.

“That’s why we started quite late in the Lockinge. But I think the fatalities in America put John off of America.”

The only remaining question was whether Laurens would bid farewell at Newmarket or Longchamp on Arc day.

“To be fair to John, he was keen on the Foret (at Longchamp), and I know she put up a good performance over seven (furlongs) at York ,” said Burke.

“But to me, her best runs are at a mile, and she is a mile-two-and-a-half Classic winner.”

Laurens’ absence from Burke’s Spigot Lodge yard will be felt by all connections, but none more so than his daughter, Lucy, who has been closest to the filly throughout her racing career.

“Lucy has played a huge part in her career,” said Burke. “She has been with her from day one and has ridden her 99 per cent of the time. She deserves a lot of credit for her - and she will be a huge loss to her, and she will miss her more than anybody.

“That is the name of the game on the Flat, and we have been lucky enough to have a few good ones - but they do disappear pretty quick. Her last two runs have probably told us that the time has come to finish, and she is off to the paddocks now. I’m sure she will be every bit as good there as she was on the racetrack.”

Laurens’ second career as a brood mare will bring lofty expectations too - and understandably Burke will be absolutely delighted if Dance offers him any of her progeny to train.

“She is going to have a great life, and we hope she will breed some very good babies,” he said. “If I can keep John happy, hopefully he will send me one.”