Continuing the British Champions Series, Saturday’s Group One Al Shaqab sponsored Lockinge Stakes, which was cancelled last year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, is the main event on the UK horse racing menu this weekend.
Previously won by greats like Frankel and Canford Cliffs, this prestigious race is for horses four years and up and run over a straight mile at Newbury, the going for which this year is expected to be good to soft.
The final 12 runners are made up of some of Britain and Ireland’s top older milers who have now been confirmed and it is last season’s champion miler Palace Pier who will go off as the hot, and short priced, favourite.
Palace Pier The Hot Favourite
Europe’s highest rated three year old of 2020 aims to add to his St James’s Palace Stakes and the Prix Jacques Le Marois crowns and continue his fantastic run of form.
The four year old son of Kingman was recently awarded the Cartier Champion Three year-old Colt title and followed that up with an impressive display when winning by eight lengths at Sandown last month.
The John Gosden trained colt has only lost once in Group One company in his career and that was in disastrous circumstances in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes last October.
That was back at Champions Day at Ascot where things didn’t go to plan as he got bogged down and lost a shoe, eventually coming home third, but excuses can be made for the unsuitably soft ground.
In his six other starts, he remains unbeaten which includes two Group Ones, the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2020 and the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, where the star studded field included Pinatubo and the 2020 2,000 Guineas runner up Wichita.
A third Group One victory is surely on the cards.
Frankie Dettori versus Ryan Moore
The chief challenge to Palace Pier, and certainly Aidan O’Brien’s only interest in the race, will likely come from Lope Y Fernandez despite no wins from seven last season.
He was raced exclusively in Group One company last term, however, and didn’t do his reputation any damage with strong showings in France in the Prix Jean Prat and the Prix Maurice De Gheest as well as the Breeder’s Cup.
This year is going better though and he did win comfortably over five lengths on his first run out of the year in Ireland last month. That was in the Listed Heritage Stakes at Leopardstown. This, though, is a far deeper run.
Essentially, this could be alternatively billed as Frankie Dettori versus Ryan Moore and, with 14 of the last 16 victors have come from the first three in the betting, bettors are advised to watch the market closely.
Best Of The Rest
We do expect Top Rank to reaffirm the Haydock form he displayed in Superior Mile where he destroyed My Oberon by 1 and a ½ lengths.
Top Rank has won on six of his eight starts and comes into this one on 5lb better terms and looks a decent outside chance.
The Group Three Earl Of Sefton Stakes winner My Oberon, with Tom Marquand on board, has largely disappointed when running with cut in the ground, such as when losing to Top Rank back in September.
David O’Meara’s grey eight-year-old, Lord Glitters has Group form and returns to the UK after a successful period in Dubai where he took down the Group One Jebel Hatta over 1800 metres, his second win in as many months at the Meydan track.
A case can be made for John Quinn’s eight year old Safe Voyage who went close in the Spring Trophy at Haydock before going on to claim back to back Group Twos last year after that. The only defeat coming at Longchamp in the Group 1 Prix De La Foret. He ended last season in terrific form and looks as good as any of the outsiders.
Group Two Dhalia Stakes winner Lady Bowthorpe, Century Dream and Happy Power help make up the field.
Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes final field
- Bless Him (Jamie Spencer)
- Century Dream (James Doyle)
- Happy Power (Silvestre De Sousa)
- Lope Y Fernandez (Ryan Moore)
- Lord Campari (Andrea Atzeni
- Lord Glitters (Daniel Tudhope)
- My Oberon (Tom Marquand)
- Palace Pier (Frankie Dettori)
- Pogo Kieran (Shoemark)
- Safe Voyage (Jason Hart)
- Top Rank (PJ McDonald)
- Lady Bowthorpe (Oisin Murphy)