Minding, Ribchester and Galileo Gold star among 28 entries for the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes

Seven-time Group One winner Minding headlines 28 thrilling entries for the £350,000 Group One Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Al Shaqab Lockinge Day, Saturday, May 20.

The very prestigious contest is the early season mile highlight for older horses in Europe and has been won by stars Frankel, Canford Cliffs and Farhh in recent years.

Minding was crowned Europe’s champion three-year-old filly of 2016, and Horse of the Year at the Cartier Racing Awards, thanks to a wonderful campaign that started with Classic triumphs at Newmarket and Epsom Downs and culminated with a decisive victory over Ribchester (Richard Fahey) and Lightning Spear (David Simcock) in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in October.

RibchesterGodolphin’s Ribchester, successful in last year’s Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville, has Newbury firmly in his sights after finishing an excellent third on his comeback in the nine-furlong G1 Dubai Turf at Meydan on March 25.

Galileo Gold had Ribchester back in third when providing trainer Hugo Palmer with his first British Classic success in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in May last year. The Al Shaqab Racing-owned four-year-old also defeated The Gurkha in the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Cheveley Park Stud has two promising contenders this year for the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes in Zonderland (Clive Cox) and Persuasive (John Gosden) as it bids for a sixth victory in the race.

Zonderland, a four-year-old colt by Dutch Art, captured the G3 Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury on August 11 before going down by a length and three-quarters to Lightning Spear in the G2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood later the same month.

Four-year-old Dark Angel filly Persuasive, successful on five of her six starts, progressed throughout 2016, winning the Listed Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot and the G3 Atalanta Stakes impressively at Sandown Park, and ended her campaign with a good second to Alice Springs (Aidan O’Brien) in the G1 Matron Stakes at Leopardstown in September.

Chris Richardson, managing director of Cheveley Park Stud, said: “Zonderland looks fine. He has wintered well and we are very happy with him.

“I think he will probably go for a Listed race before we consider the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes. He ran so well in the Celebration Mile last year that we felt he warranted an entry.

“Similarly, Persuasive looks fantastic and has strengthened well. John Gosden is very happy with her. Both look very nice prospects going forward.

“Mr & Mrs Thompson like having entries and runners in the Lockinge – the race has been very lucky for us.

“The stud has won it five times so far and Mr & Mrs Thompson won it with Safawan and Polar Falcon. We also bred Soviet Line who was a dual winner in the mid-1990s.”

Minding’s trainer Aidan O’Brien has seven of the nine Irish-trained entries, the most of any handler. O’Brien’s septet also features three-time G1 scorer Alice Springs, Cougar Mountain and twice-raced four-year-old De Coronado, who is a full-brother to the great Zenyatta.

Mutakayyef (William Haggas) was an authoritative winner of the G2 Summer Mile at Ascot in July prior to taking third behind Postponed and Tepin respectively in the G1 Juddmonte International at York and Canada’s G1 Woodbine Mile.

John Gosden is also responsible for Richard Pankhurst, winner of the G2 Hungerford Stakes over seven furlongs at Newbury in August, and the returning Tashweeq.

Other eye-catching entries include Dutch Connection (Charlie Hills), recent G3 Winter Derby hero Convey (Sir Michael Stoute), Doncaster Listed scorer Kool Kompany (Richard Hannon) and Italian G3 winner Dicton (Gianluca Bietolini ITA).

The scratchings’ deadline for the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes is at noon on Tuesday, May 2.

A fantastic seven-race card on Al Shaqab Lockinge Day also features the £100,000 G3 Al Rayyan Aston Park Stakes and two £70,000 Listed contests.