The Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes - the centrepiece of Newbury Racecourse’s richest race-day
The £350,000 Group One Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes is the centrepiece of an outstanding seven-race card, worth a prize pot totalling £750,000 - Newbury's richest race-day of the year - Saturday, May 20.
Named after a former parish located to the north of Newbury, the Al Shaqab-sponsored Lockinge Stakes was established in 1958 over the straight mile at Newbury Racecourse.
The first running was won by a three-year-old, Pall Mall, owned by Her Majesty the Queen, fresh from Classic victory in the 2,000 Guineas over at Newmarket. He went on to win the 1959 Lockinge Stakes too, becoming the first of three dual winners of the famous Newbury race.
The Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes has been won by some of the greatest racehorses in the history of the turf. In 1972 Brigadier Gerard was an authoritative winner of the race on his seasonal reappearance as a four-year-old.
Arriving at Newbury on the back of a faultless campaign the year before which heralded four major victories, he subsequently only tasted defeat once and retired as the winner of 17 of his 18 starts, including 10 races which now hold Group One status.
Forty years later in 2012, it was the unbeaten Frankel who stole the show, winning by five lengths in effortless style at the start of what was to be a momentous four-year-old career. At the end of that year, unbeaten Frankel was given the highest official rating (140) of any racehorse in modern history, and retired with 14 straight victories - the defining equine hero for a generation of racing fans.
The Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes has seen countless other memorable performances. Lester Piggott's six victories spanning 33 years, Hawk Wing's remarkable and record-breaking 11-length victory in 2003 and a resurgent Frankie Dettori guiding Olympic Glory to victory in 2014 are just a few.
Marlborough trainer Richard Hannon has saddled two of the last three winners of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes - Olympic Glory, who carried the colours of Al Shaqab to victory in 2014 - his first year as a trainer - and the 2015 winner Night Of Thunder.
His father, Richard Hannon Senior, won the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes three times - with Swing Low (1993), Paco Boy (2010) and Canford Cliffs (2011).
The Newbury race was promoted to Group One status in 1995, the year the conditions were changed to make the Lockinge Europe's early-season mile highlight for older horses.
In 2015 Al Shaqab took over as sponsor of the whole card for Al Shaqab Lockinge Day, providing a significant prize money boost that brought a record turnout of 16 runners and a revised race programme of the highest quality.
Racecourse officials say that this investment on Newbury's richest raceday has produced an increase in the quality of racing on offer, with the European Pattern Committee upgrading the opening Al Rayyan Stakes to Group Three status ahead of the 2016 renewal.
Al Shaqab Lockinge Day - Saturday, May 20, 2017: Gates Open - 11.00am. First Race - 1.50pm. Last Race - 5.10pm. Live music after racing.