2018 Newbury Lockinge Stakes Preview

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The UK flat racing season is now well underway and it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2018 renewal of the Lockinge Stakes (Sunday 20th May), which is one of Newbury’s biggest contests. Our ante-post market is already live, so let’s take a look at some of the horses that are getting backed to win this prestigious Group 1 encounter.

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Le Brivido (FR)

Age: 4 (Foaled April 3rd, 2014), Sex: Bay Colt, Breeding: Siyouni (FR) – (Dr Fong (USA)), Trainer: A Fabre, Owner: Hrh Prince Faisal Bin Khaled/mrs Magni

This French challenger from Andre Fabre’s stable comes over with an excellent record. He won his only race, as a 2-year-old, on the artificial surface at Chantilly. Le Brevido was then mothballed and came back to the same course in April last year – securing victory, on the same surface. Following that run, his next race was at Deauville (the French 2000 Guineas) and he was just beaten a short head by Brametot in a fighting finish.

After these promising runs, connections decided to send the colt to Royal Ascot for the Jersey Stakes where he was backed down to 2/1 before the off. He took that contest by a neck, beating Spirit Of Valour from Aidan O’Brien’s stable who was a 66/1 outsider. Le Brivido was not seen at a racecourse, on either side of the Channel, during the rest of 2017 – finally emerging in the Abernant Stakes, in April, where he was beaten by Brando. He was sent-off as the 6/5 favourite in that encounter and connections will have been disappointed with the performance. However, the outing should have done him some good and Le Brivido can be expected to run a big race.

Rhododendron

Rhododendron (IRE)

Age: 4 (Foaled February 11th, 2014), Sex: Bay Filly, Breeding: Galileo (IRE) – Halfway To Heaven (IRE) (Pivotal), Trainer: A P O’Brien, Owner: Mrs John Magnier & Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith

She’s a beautifully proportioned filly from Aiden O’Brien’s yard that runs in the Tabor/Magnier colours. The 4-year-old won at Glorious Goodwood, then also in the Dubai Fillies Mile at Newmarket as 2-year-old and started as the warm favourite for the 1000 Guineas at the same course last May. She was very unlucky in not getting a clear run and had to to be switched sharply left, a couple of furlongs out. However, she stuck to her task and took 2nd behind another O’Brien horse – Winter. Rhododendron then went to Epsom for for the Oaks and again was the bridesmaid, when well beaten by Enable, but she finished well clear of the rest of the field.

The filly then ran a poor race in Ireland but bounced back to win the Prix De L’Opera at Chantilly, before heading for the USA to run in the Breeders Cup Filly And Mare Turf. She finished a very creditable second behind Wuheida. Most believe she will be better suited by the flat course at Newbury, rather than the undulations of Newmarket. Rhododendron appears to take any going in her stride, having won on good to firm twice – once on soft and once on yielding to soft, O’Brien believes she is in excellent form, she has wintered well and looks ready to prove her class.

Beat The Bank

Age: 4 (Foaled March 27th, 2014), Sex: Bay Gelding, Breeding: Paco Boy (IRE) – Tiana (Diktat), Trainer: A M Balding, Owner: King Power Racing Co Ltd

This Paco Boy-sired gelding had a great campaign, last year, firstly winning a modest race for Darren Bunyan at Dundalk. He then crossed the Irish Sea  and joined Andrew Balding’s yard. Under his new trainer he first appeared at Newmarket and won by a neck from Salsabeel.

Beat The Bank was then sent to Royal Ascot for the Jersey Stakes, but was well-beaten. His next race saw him stepped-up from 7 furlongs to a mile again (at Newmarket). Victory in the Henry Cecil Stakes was followed by wins in both the Thoroughbred Stakes and the Joel Stakes. His last outing was in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes where Jim Crowley’s hold-up ride failed to pay dividends and the horse finished 10th of 15. However, Balding feels confident enough for the horse to make seasonal reappearance in the the big race at Newbury.

“The likelihood is that Beat The Bank will probably start off in the Lockinge Stakes and we’ll take it from there. He’s an exciting horse, and King Power have some very exciting young horses, as have many of my other owners. We’re quite lucky to have a very nice intake this year.”

Limato

Limato (IRE)

Age: 6 (Foaled February 8th, 2012), Sex: Bay Gelding, Breeding: Tagula (IRE) – Come April (Singspiel (IRE)), Trainer: H Candy, Owner: Mr Paul G Jacobs

Henry Candy’s charge finished the season off in style, winning the Challenge Stakes at Newmarket –  seeing off Massaat by 3.5 lengths. Limato had previously run 4th in the Lennox Stakes and had every chance of winning but ran out of gas in the final furlong. Prior to that, he was runner-up in the July Cup at Newmarket (a race he won in 2016, when he beat Suedois by a couple of lengths), losing out to Harry Angel. Harry Bentley had him well-placed to challenge, but he was carried right and badly hampered. Limato still ran on well inside the final furlong and missed out by just over a length. Candy must now feel he is stronger and able to step-up to a mile in, top class company.

Zabeel Prince (IRE)

Age: 5 (Foaled March 7th, 2013), Sex: Chestnut Gelding, Breeding: Lope De Vega (IRE) – Princess Serena (USA) (Unbridled’s Song (USA)), Trainer: R Varian, Owner: Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum

This 5-year-old certainly made his presence felt, last term, rattling up a 3-timer in quick succession. His maiden success at Nottingham was at the expense of the favourite Cape To Cuba, who he put firmly in his place when winning by 3 lengths. Zabeel Prince went on from that score at Yarmouth in a handicap, winning easily from London. Then once again in handicap company at York, he picked-up another easy win – beating Bravery by almost 3 lengths.

Following these successes, Roger Varian decided to up the stakes and try him in the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot on British Champions Day. The race came only 8 days after his York victory and although he was sent off 4/1 2nd-favourite he was not up to the task, finishing 11th of 20. The race probably came too soon after his previous exertions and he can, perhaps, be excused that poor run. Zabeel Prince made his 2018 reappearance in the Doncaster Mile and absolutely hacked-up – beating Born To Be Alive by 2.5 lengths and putting in a performance that will surely have connections feeling bullish again.

“I was pleased with Zabeel Prince at Doncaster and he will improve massively for the run. I think he was fit enough, but only to the level where I thought there would be a good chunk of improvement to come… I’m not going to rush him. I would happily go straight to the Lockinge as he goes well fresh. I think he can have a very good year.” said Varian, after the win.

Andre Fabre

Inns Of Court (IRE)

Age: 4 (Foaled April 9th, 2014), Sex: Bay Colt, Breeding: Invincible Spirit (IRE) – Learned Friend (GER) (Seeking The Gold (USA)), Trainer: A Fabre, Owner: Godolphin 

Inns Of Court has run 7 times altogether in France and has won on 4 occasions, earning over a quarter of a million euros. His first outing was at Saint Cloud and although he raced keenly and was outpaced 2 furlongs out, he made good headway and asserted his superiority close to home and got the better of Degrisement.

He then went to Deauville for the French 2000 Guineas and led briefly at halfway but didn’t stay and finished 6th. Following this defeat he was dropped down in class for a Group 3 at Maisons-Laffitte, where he asserted his authority over the final furlong and was driven out to hold-off the challenge of Attendu. He followed this victory with another at Deauville, winning a shade cosily from African Ride in a Group 3 encounter.

The following month he ran at Deauville again and was beaten a short-head, by Al Wukair. In his final race at Chantilly (Prix Du Moulin De Longchamp) he finished 5th in a race won by Ribchester. Inns Of Court had an excellent season in France as a 3 year old and connections will have high-hopes for the 2018 campaign.

Suedois (FR)

Age: 7 (Foaled May 15th, 2011), Sex: Bay Gelding, Breeding: Le Havre (IRE) – Cup Cake (Singspiel (IRE)), Trainer: D O’Meara, Owner: Mr George Turner & Clipper Logistics

This much-traveled 7-year-old gelding takes his place in the Lockinge on the back of a great end to his 2017 season, which saw him win a brace of notable contests. He was originally bred in France and owned by his breeder Mme Elisabeth Vidal, until the beginning of 2016, when he was bought by George Turner as a 5-year-old.

In his early career, he was mostly raced on all-weather tracks at Chantilly and Deauville. Suedois moved to David O’Meara’s stables in March 201. During his first season he didn’t make the winners enclosure, however he gained plenty of place money – only losing out to horses of the like of Limato, Quiet Reflection, Twilight Son and Magical Memory. Last season he began sprinting and went down to Tasleet, Gordon Lord Byron and The Tin Man against which he ran 7th in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

O’Meara then moved him up to 7 furlongs and he ran 3rd to Breton Rock at Goodwood and also to Talaayeb at York. The trainer then moved him up to a mile and that was the making of him. He went to Leopardstown and took the Boomerang Stakes, narrowly beating True Valour. The Le Havre-sired gelding then crossed the Atlantic to Keeneland and landed the valuable Shadwell Turf Mile. He finished the season at Del Mar coming 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, but he did not get a clear run that day and can be considered a little unlucky.

O’Meara admiringly describes him as a ‘proper street fighter’.

Lightning Spear

Age: 7 (Foaled April 5th, 2011), Sex: Chestnut Horse, Breeding: Pivotal – Atlantic Destiny (IRE) (Royal Academy (USA)), Trainer: D M Simcock, Owner: Qatar Racing Limited

David Simcock’s 7 year old has had 21 races under rules and won 6 of them. Originally trained by Ralph Beckett, he was passed to Olly Stevens before reaching Simcock in April 2016. Under his watchful eye he had 5 runs in his first season, mainly at Ascot and Goodwood where he beat Zonderland in a the Celebration Mile.

Lightning Spear started last season, by finishing runner-up in a race that was won by Ribchester. He did not have the pace to genuinely challenge, but kept on well enough. He then went to Royal Ascot for the Queen Anne, but made no impression and it was a similar story in the Eclipse at Sandown.

Next up was the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood and he gave a better account of himself, finishing just a length behind Here Comes When with Ribchester finishing 2nd. Lightning Spear then returned to Goodwood to defend his Celebration Mile crown and he inflicted more pain on Zonderland’s connections by doing just that. The victory was by just a nose and came as a huge relief to jockey Oisin Murphy..

“I just about got it right. I made no secret about how tactical the race was going to be. It was impossible to know what was going to happen, but you have to have confidence you have chosen to do the right thing and thankfully I just about got it right.

The horse finished his season with a poor run at Chantilly in the Prix Du Moulin De Longchamp and a middling effort in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes – won by Persuasive. In December he went to Sha Tin and finished 10th of 14 in the Hong Kong Mile. We’ll soon see if the Winter has been kind to him.

Librisa Breeze

Age: 6 (Foaled February 6th, 2012), Sex: Grey Gelding, Breeding: Mount Nelson – Bruxcalina (FR) (Linamix (FR)), Trainer: D K Ivory, Owner: Mr Tony Bloom

The horse has a record of 6 wins from 17 runs and 4 of those wins have come under Dean Ivory, since he took over the training of this grey gelding in February 2016 from Jeremy Noseda.  His first run for Ivory was at Wolverhampton on the all-weather, where he was held up, switched right, hung left and then ran on well to lead inside the final furlong and win by a length – beating Capo Rosso.

That was in April 2016 and his trainer had seen enough to send him to Ascot for the Royal Hunt Cup, where he ran second to Portage. He came back to Ascot in July to win the International Stakes from Squats and then finished 4th in the City Of York Stakes. Last year he started slowly with mediocre performances at Ascot, Goodwood and Newbury. In October he returned to Ascot and landed the British Champions Sprint Stakes – squeezing through a narrow gap to secure the win. Lightning Spear’s last outing was in the Hong Kong Mile, but he could only manage 10th place.

“He’s better over 7 furlongs, though in saying that he has done very well over 6, as he has a huge turn of foot when they go a fast pace. I would think this could be a big year for him.” says Ivory.

Lancaster Bomber (USA)

Age: 4 (Foaled March 14th, 2014), Sex: Bay Colt, Breeding: War Front (USA) – Sun Shower (IRE) (Indian Ridge), Trainer: A P O’Brien, Owner: Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith & Mrs John Magnier

Another of Aidan O’Brien’s 4-year-old colts who has been highly tried in his races but this one has only once visited the winners enclosure and that was at Leopardstown as a 2-year-old in 2016. The War Front colt has run in some amazing races, particularly as a 2 year old when 2nd to Churchill in the Dewhurst at Newmarket. He went to Meydan to start his 3-year-old career and ran 4th in the UAE Derby, where he finished just 2 lengths behind Thunder Snow.

After that he went as a pacemaker for Churchill in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and that has largely been the story of his career. He was asked to do the same at The Curragh, in the Irish Guineas and in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot where he secured runner-up spot behind Barney Roy with Churchill only 4th. Connections then decided he was worthy of racing in his own right instead of just being a pacemaker but he flopped in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood  and was then sent across the pond to Woodbine where he finished a creditable 2nd.

Lancaster Bomber was then brought back to Ascot for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (again as a pacemaker for Churchill) but finished well-tailed-off and Persuasive proved to be too good for Churchill on the day. O’Brien put him in the Breeders Cup at Del Mar USA, Sha Tin Hong Kong and Meydan UAE, all without success. Will he ever be more than a water carrier?

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