3:40 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (Class 1) (Group 1) (1m)
The Lockinge takes centre stage this Saturday afternoon at Newbury and it’s a Group 1 contest that’s ridden over a mile and was won last year by the impressive Ribchester for Richard Fahey.
This year has thrown up quite possibly one of the most competitive renewals to date and a big field filled with quality. Rhododendron heads affairs for AP O’Brien and Ryan Moore on the back of her fourth placed effort on reappearance behind Cracksman over in France.
Addeybb is likely to be a warm order here and a popular selection for William Haggas and James Doyle following his exploits so far this season when following up his dominant Lincoln victory with a win in Group company at Sandown the last day. Roger Varian is represented here by Zabeel Prince who looks a typically progressive sort for connections on the back of his reappearance victory at Doncaster which he did in nice style, he’ll need to step up again here but it’s certainly likely. Andrea Atzeni takes the ride on him and he’s a best priced 11/1 shot.
Beat The Bank makes his return here for Andrew Balding who hasn’t been having the best of spells but this horse developed into somewhat of a winning machine last term before finding it a little too hot on Champions Day at Ascot when last seen, he’s a general 8/1 shot and Jim Crowley looks to take the ride. Dean Ivory is represented by Librisa Breeze who didn’t give his true running the last day at Meydan the last day but is a very smart performer over shorter trips and if handling this distance as he did earlier in his career could well be a player at around the 10/1 mark.
Aiden O’Brien’s other runners feature Lancaster Bomber, Deauville and War Decree who all bring a decent level of form in top contests to the table so each of them could well pose somewhat of a threat if on a going day.
My fancy here though comes in an old favourite and that comes in the form of LIMATO for Henry Candy and Harry Bentley. He’s obviously no longer as progressive as some of these but I still believe he has something to offer at this level. He got back to winning ways when we last saw him at Newmarket in a Group 2 and I think he can get involved once again here. He tried a mile here in this race a couple of years ago and finished fourth but didn’t get the best of runs, if getting a clear run here I think he’s a player.
LIMATO - (9/2) (Jockey: Harry Bentley - Trainer: Henry Candy)