Galileo Gold & Ribchester head acceptors for Newbury Racecourse’s £350,000 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes
Newbury Racecourse - main stands
Star four-year-olds Galileo Gold and Ribchester headline 12 confirmations for the £350,000 Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (3.30pm) at Newbury on Al Shaqab Lockinge Day, Saturday, May 20. The terrific mile contest forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
Galileo Gold was the leading three-year-old miler in the first half of last season. He provided trainer Hugo Palmer and owner Al Shaqab Racing with a first British Classic triumph in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and also captured the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Godolphin's Ribchester (Richard Fahey) has race fitness on his side, having finished third in the Group 1 Dubai Turf over nine furlongs at Meydan in March. He gained the biggest victory of his career in the mile Group 1 Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville in August, with Galileo Gold a well-beaten eighth, before taking second behind Minding in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over a mile at Ascot in October.
Lightning Spear (David Simcock) was third behind Minding at Ascot following a deserved success in the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood in August. Stablemate Breton Rock, a dual Group 2 winner over seven furlongs, is also engaged.
Ireland's champion Flat trainer Aidan O'Brien could be doubly represented by progressive filly Somehow and Group 2 Joel Stakes victor Cougar Mountain. Somehow looked as good as ever in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket on May 7.
Group 3 winner Dicton (Gianluca Bietolini FR) could fly the flag for France after finishing seventh in the Group 1 Audemars Piquet QEII Cup at Sha Tin, Hong Kong, on April 30. The four-year-old colt Lawman was much improved for current connections last season, finishing third in two Classics, the French 2,000 Guineas and the Prix du Jockey Club.
Rupert Pritchard-Gordon, racing manager for owner Robert Ng, said: "We have left Dicton in the Lockinge because we are looking for a bit of cut in the ground. He also has the option of the Prix d'Ispahan over nine furlongs the following week."
"The horse has come back from Hong Kong in great order. We wanted to leave him in at Newbury because he ran very well over the straight mile at Deauville last year and a reproduction of that would put him in the mix. We will see how the ground and weather are looking later in the week before making a decision."
The acceptors also feature Aclaim (Martyn Meade) and Dutch Connection (Charlie Hills), who were both Group 2 victors over seven furlongs last season.
Ennaadd (Roger Varian), Mitchum Swagger (David Lanigan) and likely pacemaker Toscanini (Richard Fahey) complete the line-up.
Al Shaqab Lockinge Day gets off to a cracking start with the £100,000 G3 Al Rayyan Stakes (1.50pm, 17 entries) over a mile and a half. Starring among the entries are My Dream Boat (Clive Cox), who captured the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2016, and Godolphin's Hawkbill (Charlie Appleby), successful in last season's Group 1 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park.
Other possible Al Rayyan Stakes starters include last year's Derby third Idaho (Aidan O'Brien), Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes winner Across The Stars (Sir Michael Stoute) and Baydar (Hugo Palmer), who could step up to Group company following a highly-progressive season in 2016, headlined by success in the valuable Dubai Duty Free Handicap at Newbury in September.
A trio of £70,000 contests includes the Listed Haras De Bouquetot Fillies' Trial Stakes (4.40pm, 13 entries) over 10 furlongs for three-year-old fillies, which could provide some clues for the Investec Oaks, at Epsom Downs on June 2.
Among the 13 possible starters are Prosper (Roger Varian) and Icespire (John Gosden), who were separated by a short-head when first and second respectively in a mile conditions race at Ascot on May 3. Al Shaqab Racing could be represented by Aljezeera (Luca Cumani), a daughter of Frankel who was a comfortable scorer on her only start at Doncaster last season.
The 10-furlong £70,000 Al Zubarah London Gold Cup Handicap (2.55pm, 25 entries) is always an ultra-competitive affair, while the 25 entries for the £70,000 Listed Shalaa Carnarvon Stakes (2.20pm), staged over six furlongs for three-year-olds, include Godolphin's Brian The Snail (Richard Fahey), an impressive winner of all his starts to date.
The two-year-olds face one of the first big tests of the season in the £50,000 Olympic Glory Conditions Race (4.05pm, 18 entries) over six furlongs. Entries for this contest include several unbeaten juveniles including Gold Town (Charlie Appleby), who was successful in the first two-year-old race of the year at Newbury on April 21.
Drawing the day to a close is the £40,000 Toronado Handicap (5.10pm, 38 entries) over a mile.