Yuesheng Zhang Expands String: Karl Burke To Train 20 Horses For Owner

Yuesheng Zhang: has a strong team of horses in Europe this season | Tattersalls

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Prominent owner Yuesheng Zhang has placed more emphasis than ever on his runners trained in Britain ahead of the new Flat season, with Karl Burke set to be the main beneficiary after receiving 20 horses to train for the Chinese businessman. 

Jessica Harrington, who has provided Zhang with the majority of his big-race success, including a breakthrough Classic victory in last year's Irish Oaks with Magical Lagoon (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), remains the number one trainer for the hugely-successful international ownership vehicle. Harrington also trained Zhang's Group 1-winning stallion Lucky Vega (Ire), who has been heavily supported by his owner since he joined the roster at the Irish National Stud, and those mating plans will be revealed in TDN Europe next week.

The remainder of this year's European crop of runners will be divided up between Joseph O'Brien and Michael O'Callaghan in Ireland while John and Thady Gosden, Archie Watson, Andrew Balding, Charlie Hills and William Haggas feature on the British roster.

Mick Donohoe | Tattersalls

“Jessie Harrington will train the majority of the horses this year but we're changing things a little in that we will be supporting a few other trainers as well,” explained BBA Ireland's Michael Donohoe, who manages the racing and breeding interests of the powerful owner.

The reason for the diversification, according to Donohoe, was borne through a desire expressed by Zhang not to have all of his horses housed in one stable. 

Donohoe said, “We have a little over 40 2-year-olds in training this season and, while Jessica will be the main trainer, it's important not to have all of your eggs in the one basket.

“Mr. Zhang has been closely following the career of Karl Burke in England. Karl, Eamonn Reilly [of BBA Ireland] and myself have a long association together, so it looks a good fit for everyone.”

He added, “Karl will train 20 horses for us this year, the majority of which are 2-year-olds, and we're looking forward to that. We've also spread a few out between Joseph O'Brien and Michael O'Callaghan in Ireland and then Andrew Balding, Archie Watson, Charlie Hills, William Haggas and John Gosden in England. 

“When you are dealing with the number of horses that Mr. Zhang now has in training, he is right not to be putting all of his eggs in the one basket. The big thing with racehorses is keeping them healthy and, no matter how much due diligence each yard applies, horses are bound to get sick sometimes. When you have your horses spread out between a few different yards, it's definitely a good thing. 

“All of those trainers we are supporting, they are some of the best at their trade, and Karl is a multiple Group 1-winning trainer who has been operating consistently to a high level for a number of years now. We also bought Alcohol Free (Ire) (No Nay Never) off Andrew Balding last year and Mr. Zhang had been taking notice of his achievements for a while now as well.”

Multiple Group 1 winner Alcohol Free and the Group 1-placed Gan Teorainn (Ire) (Saxon Warrior {Jpn}) were purchased at last year's Tattersalls December Mares Sale by Donohoe to join the powerful Yulong Investments racing string in Australia. Magical Lagoon charted a similar path down under after that famous Curragh triumph and made her seasonal return for trainer Chris Waller at Rosehill on Saturday. 

Of the 30 or so horses in training with Harrington this season, Danvers Gold (Ire) (Galileo {Galileo {Ire}}) was put forward by Donohoe as being one of the most exciting. However, the leading bloodstock agent admitted that there are a host of talented 2-year-olds bobbing their heads above the parapet in time for the new campaign. 

He said, “Jessica has a few nice Frankels (GB), Galileos and Dubawis (Ire) so it's a very exciting time. She also has Lucky Vega's sister by Phoenix Of Spain (Ire), who has been named Lucky Melody (Ire). The word on Phoenix Of Spain is very good and this particular filly is showing Jessie an awful lot already. 

“There's a very nice No Nay Never filly called With Style (Ire) who we bought at Goffs there as well. She is showing a lot and there's an exciting filly, Danvers Gold, who was second in her only start last year at Naas. We've high hopes for this filly and she might even run in one of the fillies' Guineas trials early in the season. There's a nice Showcasing (GB) colt called Imperial Magic (GB) who should also be out early. He looks quite precocious and could be one for one of those early-season maidens.”

Donohoe added, “Karl has a lovely Dandy Man (Ire) colt. I actually bought his brother, Show Respect (Ire), who ran in Hong Kong today [Saturday].  He also has a very nice Dark Angel (Ire) homebred out of Black Gold Fairy–this horse is showing a lot.

“He has another homebred, Lady Hamana (Aus), who is an I Am Invincible filly out of Lake Hamana. She was bred on Northern Hemisphere time down in Australia. She was actually trialled in Australia and, when she started to show a bit, Mr. Zhang decided to send her to England. She wasn't beaten far in a listed race in France last season so we're hoping she's a stakes sprinter to look forward to this year.

“Karl also has an Invincible Spirit (Ire) filly out of I Am Beautiful (Ire) who was bred by Lucky Vega's breeder Pat O'Kelly. We've had a lot of luck buying off Pat. There's also a nice No Nay Never colt out of Lady Corsica (Ire) with Karl while Archie Watson has a nice Frankel colt. Archie is already talking about the Chesham for that horse, which is exciting. We're really looking forward to the new season.”

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