The Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes sees a field of nine go to post for the Group One contest at Newbury on Saturday afternoon.
Horses that have run in the previous season’s Prix du Moulin, QEII Stakes, St James Palace, Greenham Stakes and Prince Of Wales Stakes are certainly the ones to watch as they either win or place in this contest.
Here are some trends and statistics to bear in mind over the past ten years followed by a runner-by-runner summary of all the participants.
As you can see the last ten winners have been aged either four or five. This year that trend would rule out five of the sixteen runners, those being Dutch Connection, Librisa Breeze, Lightning Spear, Limato and Suedois.
Fillies & Mares
Only three females have won since 2004. Rhododendron is the only filly in the field this year.
Six of the last ten winners had won at Newbury before.
The last ten winners were all officially rated 113 or higher.
Six out of the last ten winners were having their first run of the season.
Charles Hills has run three previous runners in this race and all of them have finished unplaced.
Aidan O’Brien won this race in 2003 with Hawk Wing but has only gained two places in the last ten years.
The starting price trends have been absolutely on the button over the last ten years. The winner has always been 9/1 or less and has come from the first four in the betting. The most likely top four in Saturday’s betting are: Rhododendron, Addeybb, Limato and Beat The Bank.
7 of the last 10 winners were favourites/joint favourites.
Accidental Agent progressed into a very smart handicapper last season, winning the Challenge Cup at Ascot. He was below form on his return in a listed race at Ascot earlier this month and will need to improve upon that to figure here.
He recorded a facile victory in the Group Two Bet365 Mile at Sandown Park at the end of April. Owned by Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum, he was the impressive winner of the Lincoln Handicap over the straight mile at Doncaster at the start of the season and took the transition over to Group company in his stride with a decisive two and three-quarter length victory at Sandown.
50/1 winner on debut at The Curragh in 2016 and he beat a nice field in the Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown last season. This is a much tougher task for Fozzy Stacks’ Irish raider.
Beat The Bank
Andrew Balding’s Beat The Bank has won four of his six starts to date including successes at Group Three and Group Two levels last season. The Lockinge has been his early-season target for some time.
A former winner of the Belmont Derby International Stakes, Aidan O’Briens’ five-year-old has won four of his career starts.
Second in the Earl Of Sefton last time out and is entitled to come on for that run.
Godolphin, with eight winners, are the most successful owner in Lockinge Stakes history and are represented by multiple Group race victor Dutch Connection trained by Charlie Hills. He is likely to be upstaged by younger rivals here however.
This Elusive Quality colt was making his first start for the Clive Cox at Leicester after being switched from Roger Varian’s stable. He travelled well that day but looks totally up against it in this field.
Aidan O’Brien believes Lancaster Bomber is good shape for the weekend saying he thinks he is a miler who will maybe get nine furlongs on fast ground. He certainly cannot be left out of calculations given the stable he hails from.
Dean Ivory's Librisa Breeze has a similar profile to Limato in that he can also perform at his best over six and seven furlongs, as shown when he bounded to victory in the British Champions Sprint Stakes at the end of last season. He looks a little too big in the betting.
Lightning Spear will attempt to go one better than in last year's renewal when he beat all bar Ribchester. However, at the age of seven the age trends for this race are certainly against him.
Trainer Henry Candy is hoping Limato can make it third-time lucky over a mile trip on Saturday. The six-year-old, who finished fourth in the Group One in 2016, has not run over the trip since finishing down the field at the Breeders’ Cup later that year.
Having ended last season with victory in a Group Two at Newmarket, the son of Tagula continued his Lockinge preparations earlier this week with a short racecourse gallop under Harry Bentley.
Shadwell Turf Mile victor Suedois, trained by David O'Meara, takes another trip down south to try and land another valuable prize. The seven-year-old had a great season last year and looks the best placed of the “oldies” to score here.
Prix du Jockey Club fifth War Decree has been somewhat of a globe trotter so far in his career and will go off the outsider of the Aidan O’Brien quartet. His runner-up finish in the recent Huxley Stakes at Chester gives him a little bit of a squeak.
The Sheikh Mohammed Obaid-owned colt created quite an impression with a Listed prize win on his reappearance at the Lincoln meeting at Doncaster. This is a step up in class but he has won four of his last five races.
Clive Cox’s five-year-old only made it to the racecourse twice last season, the latter of which was a Goodwood where he just got touched off by Lightning Spear in the Celebration Mile. Has plenty to do on seasonal reappearance this year.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Rhododendron is the one and only filly in the field and gets a weight allowance for being so.
Winner of the Prix de l'Opera at Chantilly last season, she was fourth on her seasonal reappearance behind Cracksman in the Prix Ganay at ParisLongchamp and she should put up a bold show in this contest on Saturday.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*