Newbury's big day on the flat: a Godolphin double and wins for local trainers Hannon & Charlton
William Buick signals his victory on Ribchester in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury
The weather may not have been perfect, but the 12,109 racegoers who attended Newbury's Racecourse's Al Shaqab Lockinge Day witnessed racing of the highest class. Rain had eased the ground from good to soft in places to soft later in the card.
Godolphin won the two biggest races of the day impressively. The feature Group One Al Shaqab Lockinge, worth £350,000, with the favourite Ribchester, trained by Richard Fahey. And the £100,000 G3roup Three Al Rayyan Stakes with another market leader, the Charlie Appleby-trained Hawkbill. Both were ridden by William Buick - a 10/1 double! But there were victories too for local trainers Richard Hannon and Roger Charlton.
Hawkbill gained an impressive victory in the Group Three £100,000 Al Rayyan Stakes, with the favourite making nearly all the running in the 12-furlong race.
Godolphin's four-year-old colt stepped back up in trip after coming home fifth in the Group One Prix Ganay over an extended 10 furlongs at Saint-Cloud, France, on May 1 - his seasonal return.
John Ferguson, Chief Executive and Racing Manager of Godolphin, was very happy with Hawkbill's performance over the soft ground: "William went out there purposefully into the lead. Hawkbill is proven on this ground and has gone and put up a good performance today."
"Hawkbill is entered in everything. I am not saying he is ground dependent but he is a better horse with ease in the ground. So we will just have to see what the weather does. He can go over 10 or 12 furlongs as long as he has his ground, which is the key thing."
"Hawkbill is one of the few horses that can actually quicken on soft ground and that is what he has shown today."
Top miler Ribchester continued Godolphin's domination of the £350,000 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes with a decisive all-the-way success in the first British Group One of the season for older horses, run over the straight mile at Newbury.
The four-year-old son of Iffraaj quickened well under William Buick to open up a clear advantage passing the two-furlong marker and soon had the rest of his rivals in trouble, despite drifting right to the stands' rail, with only Lightning Spear (David Simcock/Oisin Murphy) able to mount any serious challenge.
After straightening up inside the final furlong, Ribchester ran on again for to score impressively by three and three quarter lengths over Lightning Spear.
Al Shaqab Racing's Galileo Gold (Hugo Palmer/Frankie Dettori) had drifted in the betting and raced very keenly towards the stand's side in second. He was taken wide by his rider to try and settle but weakened to fifth inside the final furlong.
Al Shaqab Racing won the £50,000 Olympic Glory Conditions race over six furlongs for two-year-olds with Denaar. For Marlborough trainer Richard Hannon and Frankie Dettori, it was a repeat of the 2016 running which they won with Mehmas.
After the race Dettori said Denaar reminds him very much of Mehmas: "He coped with the ground, but it tested his stamina big time - his bravery got him there. I think that he will probably end up in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot."
"The best quality he has is that he tries very hard and I am sure that there will be a nice race in him."
Hannon added: "He looks a Royal Ascot horse now - we bought him at the breeze-ups. He has a heart like a lion - very like Mehmas."
The Listed Haras de Bouquetot Fillies' Trial Stakes over one mile and two furlongs with £70,000 in prize money, was won by the lightly-raced Natavia - trained by Roger Charlton at Beckhampton and ridden by Ryan Moore.
In just her second start after finishing runner-up at Newmarket last month, she ran away with this Listed race for three-year-old fillies, winning by three and three quarter lengths.
Roger Charlton was delighted with her victory: "Winning any race is great - winning a stakes race for a big owner like Juddmonte Farms, who actually bought this filly, is very exciting."
"I was, like most trainers, worried about the ground. We have seen some funny results and it is tough out there. Ryan might come in and say she loved it but it was very pleasing"
"Her work has been very good and it is not my normal pattern to go into a race like this with a maiden but I felt that, if she couldn't win this, we could always drop back to a maiden."
"The ground has affected the other a lot and they are well spread out. I think Ryan is one of the great judges - he spends a lot of his time riding very good horses - and he will say what I should do with this filly."
"We will consider what to do next. The Oaks is an option but I would prefer to run again over 10 furlongs next time rather than 12 furlongs."
Race photos by Newbury Racecourse photographers.