Newbury Racecourse's Lockinge Day: some great racing, fine sunshine, no violence - and the wedding
Al Shaqab Lockinge Day (May 19) is Newbury Racecourse's most important day of the Flat season - this year it saw the royal wedding, sunshine, extra security, no violent scenes...and some remarkable racing.
The royal wedding was shown live on the racecourse's big screens with special picnics on offer, the crowd had unbroken sunshine and Ryan Moore won his first Lockinge - after ten attempts - and ended the day with a treble to boot.
The Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes over Newbury's straight mile - with a total race value of £350,000 - provided a thrilling finish with the Aidan O'Brien trained filly Rhododendron beating Lightning Spear by a short-head - the only filly in a field of fourteen.
Rhododendron's recovery from a near death experience is a remarkable tale. During the French Oaks last season Moore pulled her up as she started bleeding profusely from her nose. But good veterinary care got her back to health. And O'Brien expects her to improve further: "She hasn't been on the grass gallop yet!"
The favourite for the race, Addeybb could only finish eighth - apparently not liking he ground. And the Henry Candy trained Limato under Harry Bentley made tenth place.
The second richest race of the card - the Al Rayyan Stakes (registered as the Aston Park Stakes) with a value of £100,000 - saw five go to post. Three of them are trained in the Marlborough area.
Brian Meehan (Manton) ran the colt Raheen House who had successes last season, Alan King (Barbury Castle) ran the Sir Percy sired Scarlet Dragon and Roger Charlton (Beckhampton) ran the oldest horse in the field, Second Step.
But it was the favourite and top weight Crystal Ocean trained in Newmarket by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by Ryan Moore, who romped home - obviously loving the 'Good to firm' ground. Leaving the Charlton horse in second place and Scarlet Dragon third.
The crowd of 10,000 was slightly down on previous years - reduced, no doubt, by the royal wedding and the Cup Final and the weather.
Newbury had decided not show the Cup Final after racing ended - offering instead some musical entertainment.
The racecourse had extra security staff, more bar spotters, restrictions on the number of pints anyone person could by at a time, a police presence and sniffer dogs at the gates. In addition West Berkshire police cadets were handing out free bottles of water.
So thankfully it ended as a memorable day - for the wedding and the racing - and not as a day of unwelcome headlines.
LATER NEWS: Trainer Henry Candy has blamed pollen from the proliferation of oil seed rape in fields near his yard for a sudden downturn in the health of his horses. He told the Racing Post that other runners besides Limato's performance in the Lockinge at Newbury on Saturday (May 19), had run 'very poorly'. He told Racing Post: "I think it affects horses' breathing to an extent. It happens every year, but up to now they've been flying - only this week they've had the edge knocked off them a bit."