The Group 1 Lockinge Stakes run over a mile at Newbury for horses aged four and over is the highlight of Saturday’s card (3.30pm, live on ITV). Ribchester leads the Lockinge betting market at 13/8 but this is an interesting renewal with three runners rated within a couple of pounds of each other.
Ribchester was described as a ‘big baby’ by his trainer Richard Fahey two years ago but he has always been impressed with the colt’s talent. This rangy four-year-old son of Iffraaj won the Mill Reef Stakes at this course as a juvenile and progressed well through his classic season. He took the Group 3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot and had his first success at the top level in the Jacques Le Marois on the straight mile at Deauville in August. Next time out in October only Aidan O’Brien’s superstar filly Minding was too good for him in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. He was beaten half a length.
Owned by Godolphin, Ribchester has already had a run this term in the Group 1 Dubai Turf over a mile and a furlong at Meydan at the end of March. He tried to win the race from the front but was headed in the final 100 yards, getting beaten a length by two outsiders who were held-up on the yielding ground. Ribchester picked up a handy consolation prize of £488K for finishing third and beat the prominently ridden favourite, Alain De Royer-Dupre’s Zarak, nearly two lengths.
Having the benefit of a run under his belt has to be a positive for Ribchester as he won third time out in both his previous seasons. Fahey also saddles Toscanini (66/1) for Godolphin as a pacemaker for him. As the highest rated runner in the line-up Ribchester has solid claims and will be partnered by the reliable William Buick.
The 4/1 second favourite Galileo Gold, last year’s 2000 Guineas winner, is rated just 1lb inferior to the favourite. Saddled by Hugo Palmer, this quirky son of Paco Boy can be a handful at home but did beat Ribchester three and a half lengths into third on his seasonal debut in that 2016 Guineas for Al Shaqab. Next time out he was beaten on bottomless ground by Awtaad in the Irish 2,000 Guineas but his regular pilot Frankie Dettori blamed himself for the defeat. In his subsequent run Galileo Gold benefited from a particularly canny ride from Dettori at Royal Ascot, beating the odds-on favourite, O’Brien’s The Gurkha, in the St James’s Palace in the mud.
Galileo Gold met The Gurkha again on his next run in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in July and was beaten a neck. Ribchester was a short head further back in third but Galileo Gold was disappointing thereafter. In his next run in the Jacques Le Marois he started as the favourite and was beaten three lengths by Ribchester, finishing eighth. In the Sussex Stakes he got bumped and carried right and was beaten seven lengths.
Harry Herbert, racing manager for Al Shaqab, is bullish about his chances. He admitted that the colt had a rather long season as a three-year-old but he has reportedly wintered exceptionally well, putting on muscle and strengthening. Galileo Gold demonstrated his wellbeing by putting in an impressive piece of work in his final preparation for this race. Unlike the favourite, Galileo Gold is proven first time out and should also enjoy the soft ground. We can trust Dettori to give him every chance to shine.
David Simcock’s six-year-old Lightning Spear (5/1) has realistic claims too. His rating of 120, 2lb below the favourite, puts him right in the mix if the handicapper’s views are to be trusted. Simcock’s wife Jenny rides him at home where he shows plenty of ability but he can be rather unreliable when denied his preferred good to firm ground.
Last season this son of Pivotal won the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood in August on a fairly quick surface and was third in the Queen Elizabeth, finishing a length and a half behind Ribchester on good ground.
Lightning Spear did well to finish third to Tepin on his debut last season in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot on unsuitably soft ground but he has never claimed a Group 1 and is not attractive at his current price in testing conditions.
The only filly in the line-up, O’Brien’s Somehow (7/1) will definitely be race fit. She has already had three runs this term and has not been out of the first two since acquiring a visor in August. This season she was a beaten favourite on her debut in a Group 3 over a mile at Naas in March, finishing half a length behind Mick Channon’s Czabo in the mud. She has started as favourite in her two subsequent runs and rewarded her followers, most recently winning the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes run over a mile and a furlong at Newmarket a fortnight ago under Ryan Moore. She has been patiently ridden recently and did not get the clearest of runs but still won by over three lengths.
This ultra-relaxed four-year-old daughter of Fastnet Rock acts on any going and, benefiting from her 3lb fillies’ allowance, could do well here. She has the stamina for further which should come in handy and it would not be a surprise if she overcame her more fancied rivals under Moore.
Martyn Meade’s four-year-old Aclaim (9/1) shares a rating of 114 with Somehow, giving him a bit to find with the market leaders but is worth a look. He was progressive last season, winning a listed race on this course over seven furlongs on soft in September under Jamie Spencer. Next time out he scored in a Group 2 over the same trip at Newmarket on quick ground in October, running on well when it mattered to beat Mark Johnston’s Lumiere a length under Dettori.
This son of Acclamation has already repaid his €130,000 purchase price as a yearling and has won over a mile. This is his first try at the top level but Dettori was very positive about the colt and thought he would be better with more cut in the ground. He will get it but further progression is needed in this company and unfortunately Jamie Spencer will be on board again.
Our Lockinge Preview’s Betting Tip
It would not be a shock if any of the horses mentioned were to take this race but it is difficult to get away from the two market leaders. The soft ground in prospect leads us to favour GALILEO GOLD as he has proved his ability on it at the top level under Dettori who can be trusted to give him the perfect ride. Galileo Gold is also the type to go well fresh, back him to win best priced at 4/1 with Paddy Power or their sister brand Betfair.
Fiona Derek is our Reality TV and horse racing expert. The only time you won’t find her riding or mucking out a racehorse is when she is watching Reality TV or racing on the box.