O’Meara considering Custom options as 27 go forward for Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes
Custom Cut could bid for a first Group One victory in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Al Shaqab Lockinge Day, Saturday, May 16.
The David O’Meara-trained six-year-old is one of 27 going forward for the mile contest after making a winning return to action in the Group Two bet365 Mile at Sandown Park on April 24.
Custom Cut won five races on the trot last season, including the mile Group Two Joel Stakes at Newmarket, before ending the campaign with an eighth in the Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on heavy ground at Ascot on British Champions Day.
O’Meara said: “Custom Cut has been left in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes but nothing has been decided yet. He could go there or to France for the Prix d’Ispahan (Longchamp, May 24).
“He still has to prove he is up to Group One standard. He was well beaten at Ascot but I don’t think that was his true running. He was drawn badly and it was at the end of a long season. It was well below the standards of his Group Two wins.”
Other notable acceptors include last year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas hero Night Of Thunder and Toormore, who was the European Champion Two-Year-Old of 2013. Their trainer Richard Hannon took the spoils with Olympic Glory in 2014 (pictured right).
Sir Michael Stoute has left in dual Group One winner winner Integral, while Clive Brittain could saddle Rizeena, who has also captured two Group One contests.
Breeders’ Cup Mile victor Karakontie headlines four the French-trained contenders. His trainer Jonathan Pease has also left in potential pacemaker Maximum Velocity. Prestige Vendome (Nicholas Clement), runner-up to Karakontie in the French 2000 Guineas, and Group Three scorer Bawina (Carlos Laffon-Parias) complete the quartet.
Ireland’s champion trainer Aidan O’Brien is responsible for Cougar Mountain and Oklahoma City, while there is US interest in the shape of the Todd Pletcher-trained Mshawish, successful in the Grade One Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February.
The Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes boasts a prize fund of £350,000 in 2015, a 64 per cent up on last year’s £214,000.
A fantastic seven-race programme on Al Shaqab Lockinge Day also features the Listed Haras Du Bouquetot Fillies Trial Stakes (3yo, 10f, £70,000) and the Listed Toronado Carnarvon Stakes (3yo, 6f, £70,000), both previously run the day before.
The Al Zubarah London Gold Cup Handicap (10f, £70,000), the Listed Al Rayyan Stakes (12f, £100,000), the Olympic Glory Conditions Stakes (2yo, 6f, £50,000) and the Planteur Handicap (1m, £40,000) complete the card.
There is a £16,000 supplementary entry stage for the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at the five-day confirmation stage on Monday, May 11.
Win the Golden Ticket
In celebration of Newbury’s richest every raceday, those who book tickets for Al Shaqab Lockinge Day before midnight on 4th May will be entered into a draw for a VIP day at the races.
The prize includes arrival by helicopter for two, a luxury dining package for eight, a meet and greet with Frankie Dettori and a chauffeur-driven car home. Full information is available at: http://www.newburyracecourse.co.uk/racing/competitions/