Superb Al Shaqab Lockinge Day at Newbury – News and Quotes

The first Al Shaqab Lockinge Day at Newbury today was a huge success, with Godolphin’s Night Of Thunder winning the £350,000 Group One feature, the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes.

Trainer Richard Hannon only started training in 2014 but has now won two Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, the first with Olympic Glory last year.

Night Of Thunder, ridden by James Doyle, held off the late challenge of Toormore, also trained by Hannon and with Richard Hughes up, in a thrilling finish.

He was Godolphin’s sixth Lockinge Stakes victory, a new record for an owner in the famous race.

A crowd of 13,343, up on the 12,916 attendance last year, came to the richest day in Newbury Racecourse’s 110-year history, with £750,000 of prize money on offer.

Ryan Moore, who finished fourth on Integral in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, won the other five of the first six races on the card. He did not have ride in the last and his five-timer came to 1,961.6/1.

Julian Thick, CEO of Newbury Racecourse, said: “We have had a fabulous day of racing at Newbury and our thanks go to Al Shaqab for all their support and help.

“Racegoers have enjoyed themselves on a lovely day and we witnessed a great finish to Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes plus once again seeing what a genius Ryan Moore is in the saddle.”

 1.25pm £50,000 Olympic Glory Conditions Stakes 6f 8y

The eight-runner Olympic Glory Conditions Stakes looked a strong race, with some excellent two-year-olds lining up for the six-furlong event.

There were five previous winners among the runners and it was one of the two unbeaten colts, Birchwood, trained by Richard Fahey in Yorkshire, who came out on top at 11/1.

Fahey was surprised that the Dark Angel colt, who won his debut at Doncaster earlier this month, was such a big price when beating Beaverbrook (12/1) and Eltezam (8/1) by a length and a half, and a neck in 1m 13.36s on good going.

He said: “I was delighted with that performance as when I saw the opposition as it looked a warm race. It is nice to come down here and win.

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“Ryan (Moore – jockey) liked Birchwood and thought he wanted seven furlongs. I don’t think he will be going to Royal Ascot.

“I don’t think he is a Coventry horse, more of a seven-furlong performer so I will be looking at the Acomb (York) or the Newmarket race. I will have to speak to David (Armstrong – owner).

“I was surprised he was such a big price, not that I backed him or anything. I have 80 to 90 two-year-olds and he has been working well with all the winners.

“Birchwood was the early two-year-old we really liked which is why we brought him here. We have had plenty of two-year-old winners but we are bit behind with some of them and there are still some nice ones to run. We are just struggling to get them ready – it has been a bit cold up north.”

2pm £100,000 Listed Al Rayyan Stakes – 1m 4f 5y

Telescope, the 8/13 favourite owned by the Wavertree syndicate of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by Ryan Moore, celebrating a quick double on the day, was the easy winner.

Unlucky to be beaten on his seasonal debut, the five-year-old Galileo horse romped away with this valuable prize and now has some bigger targets, the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and the Group One King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot at the end of July.

Stoute said: “Telescope came out of Newmarket well and the problem there was that he was bit race-fresh. They kept slowing the pace down, he got keener and keener and then dissipated a little bit too much energy for the final rush up the hill.

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“Today’s performance was very smooth and very impressive – I am delighted with him. I think that he is Group One and a half at the moment but I suppose we will go Hardwicke and then plan the second half of the season. He is a great traveller and we have got many options.

“Telescope is a very honest, consistent horse and a big, rangy fellow who has got a little bit stronger again from four to five. He had a greyhound look about him, even last year, and you would hope that we could progress a little bit but he doesn’t have to do too much more to win a really good pot.

“I would have been disappointed if he couldn’t have beaten them today.”

Moore added: “”We have gone very slowly for the first seven furlongs and it’s not ideal for him because you are taking him back the whole time. He has got such a big, long stride and you would rather that horses were going on.

“It wasn’t a very deep race and he is a lot better than them but he has destroyed them. He is a very good horse and hopefully he will progress again. It was a quick turnaround (from Newmarket) and I would say that he would go to Royal Ascot with a good chance.”

Telescope won by six lengths from the best horse in Qatar, Dubday, who is trained by Jasim Al Ghazali for Al Shaqab Racing, sponsors of the entire Newbury card today.

Dubday (14/1), ridden by Frankie Dettori, finished strongly in second and came home six lengths adrift of the winner but four lengths ahead of the third, Windshear (11/1).

Harry Herbert, racing advisor to Al Shaqab Racing, said: “It is really exciting for Qatar-based horses to come over to England and compete here.

“Dubday has run a blinder and loved this beautiful ground. He stays further as he showed in Dubai. He will remain here, plus a few others from Qatar, and campaign during the summer.

“They were based initially with Oliver Sherwood at Lambourn but are now moving to Saffron House Stables which we have just leased in Hamilton Road, Newmarket.

“We are getting more horses for Jasim, so this may be an annual thing, bringing horses over to England for the summer. This is very important element of our operation. The Sheikh (Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani) wanted these Qatar horses to compete against the best in Britain.

“It was a very good performance today by Dubday, who is the champion and unbeaten in Qatar – the horse of the year.

“Today marks Al Shaqab’s first sponsorship in Britain and we are delighted with how the day is going.”

Alex Smith, racing manager for Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, added: “We are thrilled with Telescope – it looked a good spot for him today, the right race with perfect ground.

“He will go to the Hardwicke Stakes, in which we had had some luck before, and then hopefully for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes back at Ascot. Telescope loves Ascot.”

2.35pm – £70,000 Listed Toronado Carnarvon Stakes 6f 8y

Ryan Moore gained his third consecutive winner of the afternoon on the William Haggas-trained three-year-old Adaay, the 4/1 favourite who is owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum.

William Haggas said: “I thought that Adaay went off a bit last year so we didn’t run him after Newbury in July and he came back well at Ascot (on April 29 this year when third to Limato), when he ran a good race and got tired, and has come on for that.

“Angus (Gold – racing manager to the owner) told me not to think of this horse just as a two-year-old and he said “let’s give him a chance – he has obviously got some talent” so we put him away a bit. Then we were going bring him back later on last year but it poured with ran and I don’t think he likes soft.

“We were hoping he would go on this year but you never know. The Commonwealth Cup, a new Group One for three-year-olds only at Royal Ascot – is fantastic. The race has been a long time coming but it looks like Limato vs Tiggy Wiggy and a few others making up the numbers, of which Adaay will be one of them.

“He is a useful horse and you never know what might happen. He may go for the Sandy Lane Stakes as well but that might be a bit greedy, so we will see.”

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Ryan Moore declared: “This is a smart colt. Adaay ran a very good race at Ascot and had good form as a two-year-old – he was a nice ride to pick up.

“I was going to go to the right because that’s where I thought I wanted to be going but I couldn’t get a run so I had to go back round on him. He has quickened up very well.

“He is a very straightforward horse and has got a fair bit of talent as well.”

The winning margin over the second Jungle Cat (15/2) was a length and three quarters, with 5/1 chance Salt Island a further length and a quarter back in third of the 12 runners. The winning time was 1m 12.33s on good ground.

3.10pm £70,000 Al Zubarah London Gold Cup Handicap 1m 2f 6y

This handicap has produced some good winners over the years and Time Test, one of 13 three-year-olds to take part in the 10-furlong race, could be another after coming from second last to first.

The Dubawi colt, the 7/2 favourite trained by Roger Charlton for Khalid Abdullah, scored well on his seasonal debut by a length and a quarter from Dissolotion (9/2), with 15/2 chance Dutch another two and a half lengths back in third.

Roger Charlton said: “Time test had been immature and you saw that immaturity again when he jammed on a furlong or two from the start. We have done a lot of work with this horse and the people who have been riding and involved with him have been fantastic.

“There has been a lot of patience and we have been backwards and forwards to Kempton with him. He has actually been working with Al Kazeem and we couldn’t believe that he was working as well as he was with Al Kazeem – this was way back in March.

“He has always been talented. I said to Ryan to ride him like a good horse and, as usual, Ryan gave him a fantastic, confident ride. It was a bit rough early on and perhaps lacking a bit of pace. It looked as if there were plenty of front runners but that often translates into a lack of pace.

“He is a nice horse and Ryan said to take our time with him, not to make any great plans just yet and don’t be in a rush to say definitely Ascot or definitely anything else.”

Ryan Moore declared: “He has a beautiful pedigree and showed a lot of talent last year. He has done it well – on the first bend, the Godolphin horse didn’t turn, ran out and put me across heels with James (Doyle), so we were a slot further back than we needed to be.

“We were getting slower and slower and we didn’t have a lot of room but he has plenty of pace and, as the gaps were coming, he kept taking them.”

3.45pm £350,000 Group One Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, 1m straight

Night Of Thunder, having his first start of the year, gave Godolphin a record sixth victory in the Group One Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, worth a record £350,000, at Newbury on Saturday, May 16

The four-year-old Dubawi colt, trained by Richard Hannon and ridden by James Doyle, was always going well in the record 16-runner contest over the straight mile at the Berkshire, England course.

Night Of Thunder, the 11/4 joint favourite with the fourth Integral, was well away and raced in sixth towards the far side before moving up to get into a challenging position with three furlongs to race.

He reached the front with more than a quarter-mile remaining and went a length or so ahead.

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Night Of Thunder was closed down towards the line by Toormore (10/1), also trained by Richard Hannon with Richard Hughes up, but won more comfortably than the eventual neck verdict suggests, with Arod (16/1) three quarters of a length back in third.

Richard Hannon, winning the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes for the second consecutive year after sending out Olympic Glory in 2014, said: “We are delighted. Toormore has run a super race and Night Of Thunder looked to me that he was going to go and win very well and has probably just got tired after a long time off the track. I couldn’t be more pleased.

“I think both horses will improve. Toormore has been a little bit heavy all this year – he doesn’t do much at home – and Night Of Thunder shows us a bit more at home but he too will also improve.

“Night Of Thunder doesn’t have anything to prove now. He has won a Guineas, he has won a Lockinge and he is obviously a very good horse who will make a very, very good stallion.

“These are the horses we get sent. I would love to train a Derby horse but we just don’t seem to get those horses. Both these horses today have speed and they get a trip – Toormore might get a mile and a quarter and we tried a mile and a quarter with Night Of Thunder – so nothing is impossible at this stage. Night Of Thunder will likely remain at a mile this year.

“They will probably both go to Ascot and go well in the Queen Anne. As the year goes on, the races open in Europe – after the Queen Anne there is the Moulin, the Jacques le Marois and lots of lovely races. They don’t have to go for the same races and it would be better for me personally if they didn’t but I am not the owners of these horses.

“Getting Godolphin and Sheikh Mohammed involved in our stable is probably the ultimate compliment. Night Of Thunder has gone and done the business and we are delighted.”

Jono Mills of Godolphin said: “The Queen Anne is the most logical next step for Night Of Thunder.

“We are absolutely thrilled that he has come out this year and won the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes. He was a bit unlucky in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot at the end of last year.

“He has won a great renewal of the Lockinge Stakes and I am sure he will come on for this his first run of the season. Al Shaqab have done a great job of sponsoring the race and we are very grateful for their support.”

James Doyle added: “This is just the start of Night Of Thunder’s campaign; he is a big type who went to win his race, had a puff and battled it out nicely. I am delighted with him, he has got a great attitude.

“He went to the start like an old hunter – he was loose on the rein and just lobbed down – and it’s great when they are like that because they save their energy for the business end and that’s what he has done there.

“It’s amazing and an honour to put on the Godolphin silks and ride horses like these. Hopefully, there is plenty more to come. Full credit to everyone and especially Mr Hannon, who has done a fantastic job with the horse.

“It was a solid performance. It was the first time that I have ridden him in a race so I am getting to know him as well. I just thought I would have got him on the move a bit sooner – we were running out of room against rail so I thought that I would secure my pitch and he has just got tired in the closing stages.

“I felt he took a blow half a furlong out and was getting tired but he is a hardy, tough horse who has had plenty of hard battles so he is ready for them. He didn’t stop and that’s what I liked – he got tired but still stretched all the way to the line.

“It’s a big team effort at Godolphin. With so many horses, we all have to stick close together, get your heads together and come up with plans for some of these animals. It’s so far, so good and I have had a wonderful time.

“This is important. It’s what you come into the game for and this is what I want, what John Ferguson wants and what His Highness Sheikh Mohammed wants. This is what all of the trainers and jockeys come into it for – days like today. There is pressure on days like this and, when it all comes together, it is a feeling of relief.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to join Godolphin. I had such a wonderful time with Juddmonte and I felt, as a jockey, it really brought me on nicely. I got to sit on some superbly-bred horses and get to know their families.

“I had a wonderful time with them but, with Godolphin, it is all about the global opportunities. It’s the chance to go to Australia and ride in Group One races down there. It’s the chance to go to America and ride in the Grade Ones there. It was the global aspect that was so attractive.”

Godolphin’s other winners in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes have been Cape Cross (1998), Fly to the Stars (1999), Aljabr (2000), Creachadoir (2008) and Farhh (2013)

4.20pm £70,000 Listed Haras De Bouquetout Fillies’ Trial Stakes 1m 2f 6y

Ryan Moore completed a magnificent 1,961.6/1 five-timer at Newbury today on Crystal Zvezda (7/2), who was making her seasonal debut for owner Sir Evelyn De Rothschild and trainer Sir Michael Stoute.

The three-year-old filly, who has an entry in the Investec Oaks at Epsom Downs on Friday, June 5, swooped late and fast on the outside of the field to triumph decisively by three and a half lengths from Montalcino (25/1), with 100/30 favourite Pamona half a length back in third.

Moore said: “It is great to get five winners today – I could do with more of them!

“It has been a good day – I thought this morning I should ride four winners and managed one more.”

Rothschild, who bred the filly at his Southcourt Stud, lost the 15-year-old dam Crystal Star a few days ago but has a Frankel foal out of her.

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The mare has produced Hillstar, Crystal Cappella and Sandor.

He said: “You have always got to be patient with horses. Let’s be optimistic, we have a Frankel foal out of the mare who unfortunately died.

“The mare did very well, with top winners like Hillstar and Crystal Cappella. We will see how Crystal Zvezda turns out – I have had 70 years in this game.”

Stoute commented: “We will get her home and see how she is and decided what is what.

“She is a half-sister to Crystal Capella and Hillstar. The owner lost the mare this week – she had a Frankel foal but she didn’t survive – and I am delighted for Sir Evelyn because we lost Mrs Robeson in the spring. She told me that she thought she was sending me the best horse she had ever bred.

“Crystal Zvezda is a quality filly with great acceleration. She has taken a long time to come to herself this spring – she hasn’t handled the bad weather and I only decided about a week ago that I would get her moving.

“We were drawn on the outside, so Ryan had to drop in, but there was no room – there’s too much money at stake today so the boys are tight!

“The Oaks is certainly a possibility. We will go home and discuss it. We wanted to get today over with to see where we stood. She is well entered and will continue to be.

“I think Integral got a little tired inside the final furlong of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes. She has been brought along sensibly rather than being really wound up as there is a long season ahead. I think we are going to enjoy her again this season.”

4.55pm £40,000 Planteur Handicap 1m straight

The Brian Meehan-trained four-year-old Spark Plug (9/2), now on target for the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, took the last race after showing a late burst of acceleration and then holding off the challenge of 5/2 favourite GM Hopkins by a neck. There was two lengths back to the third, Pastoral Player (14/1).

The winning trainer said: “I think Jimmy (Fortune – jockey) is fairly fond of this horse. I am very pleased with Spark Plug’s performance. He has a good turn of foot – he is a horse who keeps improving.

“He doesn’t like too much racing – he is best when fresh. He is very, very game and a lovely kind horse, with a super attitude. He looks all over a Royal Hunt Cup horse.

“There is a nice bit of time before that race and I am delighted for the owner, Lou Day, he is a great supporter, loves this game and loves this horse but could not get here today.

“Spark Plug goes on any ground and is best coming late on in his races.”

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