Newbury’s Lockinge – The Big One This Weekend

Past winners include Frankel and Canford Cliffs

The Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes is the star billing on the UK horse racing menu this weekend. This prestigious race is the first Gr1 of the flat season for horses, 4 years and older.

Previously won by greats like Frankel and the Ridgemont/Highlands resident stallion Canford Cliffs, it is due off at 16h35 on Saturday.

Lockinge Stakes entry and recent Gr1 Jebel Hatta winner Lord Glitters seen victorious in Royal Ascot’s Gr1 Queen Anne (Pic- Mathea Kelley)

Run over the Newbury straight mile, sixteen runners have been nominated at Tuesday’s first acceptance stage. The clerk of the course has described course conditions as good to soft, and hopes the track stays on the easy side of good as the track is known to drain well.

Palace Pier, last season’s champion miler, will likely start a hot favourite after a comprehensive eight length win in the Bet365 Mile Gr2 at Sandown three weeks ago. John Gosden, who trains the son of Kingman, stated after the race that the Sandown success would bring him on for this contest.

The opposition includes My Oberon, highly rated from the inform William Haggas yard. He was a very easy winner of the Gr3 Earl of Sefton Stakes over 1800m at Newmarket last month.

The grey eight-year-old Lord Glitters represents the David O’Meara stable. This gallant multiple group winner has just returned from a successful stint in Dubai where he was successful in the Gr1 Jebel Hatta over 1800m.

Aidan O’Brien runs Lope Y Fernandez. Another to have won first up this season, he contested a listed event over a mile at Leopardstown where he travelled smoothly and won comfortably by over five lengths.

The Gr2 Dante Stakes is run on Thursday at York over an extended mile and a half. The last recognised trial for the Epsom Derby, the race has attracted eleven colts and all the top Newmarket yards are represented. The highly touted Royal Champion from the white-hot Rodger Varian yard takes on the William Haggas trained and Sandown Gr3 scorer Alenquer. Godolphin field the unbeaten son of Frankel Hurricane Lane and Gear Up (a three-time winner from four starts) represents the Mark Johnston stable making his seasonal return.

Aidan O’Brien is hopeful that his unbeaten Galileo colt High Definition will now be ready for this much-needed trial before his goal at Epsom. He was scratched from his intended reappearance in last weekend’s Lingfield Derby Trial due to high blood levels.

The O’Brien yard replaced High Definition with two runners, but Third Realm, the 14/1 outsider, won for the Rodger Varian yard.

The winner got first run on the Charlie Appleby trained 6/5 favourite Adayar around the turn into the straight. The two colts pulled many lengths clear of the balance on the run to the line, with Third Realm always in command holding the favourite by just over a length and a quarter.

The winning trainer said: “He ticks a lot of the boxes in that he’s won a recognised trial, it looks like he’ll get the trip and he’s won on good to firm ground at Nottingham and in pretty testing conditions today.”

Sherbet Lemon caused a major shock when winning the Lingfield Oaks Trial at 28/1. Trained by Archie Watson, the grey daughter of Lemon Drop Kid finished best to edge a bunched field.

Save A Forest also ran on from the back of the field for second with Ocean Road who looked to be travelling the best going into the last 300m staying on in third.

The winner’s racing manager suggested that Sherbet Lemon would run in the Cazoo Oaks next month. The bookies were not as impressed, still offering quotes of 28/1 for Epsom glory.

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