Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes – Early Entries



Big Rock produced a devastating front running performance to demolish his rivals in the 2023 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day. He is one of four previous Group 1 winners to feature amongst the 21 entries in the first older horse Group 1 of the British Flat Turf season. The Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, the feature race of Newbury’s flat season on Saturday, 18 May, is the second of the QIPCO British Champion Series mile races. For the first time in 2024, the Al Shaqab Lockinge has an increased prize fund on offer of £400,000.


Trained in Chantilly by Christopher Head, Big Rock was last seen finishing six lengths clear of Facteur Cheval at Ascot back in October to become the fourth French-trained winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in the last decade. Not since 2002 when Keltos won under Olivier Peslier for trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias has a French trained horse won the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes. The Andre Fabre trained Tribalist, a comfortable winner of the Group 3 Prix Edmond Blanc on April 1, is the only other French trained horse to be entered this year.


Of the remaining entries, only three others have previously landed success at the highest level, Inspiral,Nashwa and Lord North, all of whom represent the yard of John and Thady Gosden. The Gosden team, who trained Palace Pier to win the straight mile contest in 2021, also have Laurel and Audience entered.


Others among the 21 quality entries include Charyn (R Varian) who made a winning seasonal reappearance in the Doncaster Mile Listed contest. Elegant Man (A Murray) looked very impressive in the All-Weather Easter Classic Middle Distance Handicap for Amo Racing. The unexposed four-year-old son of Arrogate has only been beaten in one career start by subsequent Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic winner Rebel’s Romance. Hi Royal (K Ryan) and Royal Scotsman (P & O Cole), second and third respectively in last year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas will both be seeking to return to that same level of form. The winner of the 2022 Group 2 German 2000 Guineas, Maljoom only had one start in 2023 and is the sole entrant for William Haggas. The winner of 6 of his 11 career starts, Poker Face (S & E Crisford) had a successful autumn campaign winning the Group 2 Qatar Prix Daniel Wildenstein, beating 2023 Greenham Stakes winner Isaac Shelby.  Locally trained by Andrew Balding, The Foxes, the winner of the 2023 Group 2 Dante Stakes and narrow second in the Group 1 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes, returns from a disappointing run in the Howden Neom Turf Cup earlier in February.


George Hill, Clerk of the Course at Newbury Racecourse commented on the entries: “We are very pleased to see a strong list of entries for the first older horse Group 1 of the season. To see proven Group 1 performers including the likes of Big Rock, Inspiral, Nashwa and Lord North amongst the entries indicates we could have a very competitive renewal. There are a number of unexposed horses and those needing to bounce back to a level of form shown previously so we could see some big performances. The Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes is one of several races throughout the season to benefit from an increased total prize fund in 2024, an increase from £350,000 to £400,000, therefore we are encouraged by not only the calibre of horse entered but also attracting some overseas runners.”


The first scratching stage is by noon on Tuesday 30 April with final confirmation stage by noon on Monday 13 May.


Full entries for the Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes – Saturday 18 May