Record field of 18 for richest-ever Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury this Saturday
The Group One Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (3.45pm) has attracted a record field of 18 for the 2015 renewal at Newbury on Saturday, May 16. The previous highest number of runners for the famous mile contest was 15 in 2004.
This year’s renewal of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes boasts record prize money of £350,000.
Richard Hannon jnr won the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at his first attempt in 2014 with Olympic Glory and supplies the favourite this time around in Godolphin’s Night Of Thunder (James Doyle), winner of last year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. Hannon also runs Toormore (Richard Hughes), a Group One winner as a two-year-old in 2013.
Cheveley Park Stud is jointly the most successful owner in Al Shaqab Lockinge history with five wins and this year its colours are set to be carried by Integral (Ryan Moore), who is trained by Sir Michael Stoute – the most successful handler in the contest with seven successes. The five-year-old mare is making her seasonal reappearance, having won two Group One contests at Newmarket in 2014.
A horse set to make his second appearance in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes is Aljamaaheer (Roger Varian/Paul Hanagan) who finished third over Newbury’s straight mile behind Farhh in 2013.
The six-year-old enjoyed his biggest victory when taking the Group Two Summer Mile at Ascot the same year and put up his best performance in 2014 when dropping down to six furlongs for the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, where he came home third to Sole Power.
He made his reappearance at Leicester on April 25, when going down by a nose in the Listed Richard III Stakes over seven furlongs after not enjoying a clear run in the closing stages.
Angus Gold, racing manager for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, said today: “Aljamaaheer is fine and came out of his run at Leicester in good shape according to Roger Varian. He didn’t get a clear run at Leicester that day – he seems to be a horse who is good at being unlucky!
“He retains plenty of ability and could run very well in the Lockinge. He has run well over every trip in the past couple of years and I have no doubt he has a big win in him if things fall in his favour.
“He is by Dubawi and most of them like a bit of cut but he himself always appears to have been better on top of the ground. But as he is getting older, with a few aches and pains, he might handle softer ground better if there is some rain.
“I think seven furlongs to a mile these days is probably his best distance as it just gives him a bit more time.”
David O’Meara’s stable is in tremendous form at present and he runs Custom Cut (Danny Tudhope), successful in the Group Two Sandown Mile on April 24.
Trainer Andrew Balding is doubly represented with dual Group Two scorer Here Comes When (Jim Crowley), runner-up to Custom Cut at Sandown and Tullius (Jimmy Fortune), who was second to Olympic Glory last year.
Moohaarib (Marco Botti/Martin Harley) looked a horse on the upgrade when landing a Listed race at Ascot last month, while two other interesting contenders are Arod (Peter Chapple-Hyam/Andrea Atzeni), who drops down in trip after finishing fourth in last season’s Investec Derby over 12 furlongs and Yuften (William Haggas/Frankie Dettori), a lightly-raced four-year-old who ran well in Group One company last season.
The fabulous seven-race card on Al Shaqab Lockinge Day boast a total of £750,000 in prize money, making it the richest day’s racing in Newbury’s 110-year history, and strong supporting action is provided by three Listed contests.
A field of eight goes to post in the £100,000 Listed Al Rayyan Stakes (2.00pm) over 12 furlongs, headed by last season’s Hardwicke Stakes winner and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes runner-up Telescope (Sir Michael Stoute/Ryan Moore). There are also two runners trained in Qatar lining up in Dubday (Jassim Al Ghazali/Frankie Dettori), a five-time Group One winner in Qatar, and Peter Anders (Zohere Mohsen/Silvestre De Sousa).
Jassim Al Ghazali said: “Dubday is the best horse we have had in Qatar for the last two years. He is unbeaten in six races there, winning the Qatar Derby and Emir’s Trophy (twice).
“He ran OK in the Dubai Gold Cup on World Cup night at Meydan, being beaten only six lengths by Brown Panther, but the trip of 3,200 metres stretched him, and he’ll be much happier at Newbury back over 2,400 metres.
“We know that Dubday is number one in Qatar, but we are going into the unknown at Newbury. It looks very competitive, but provided the rain does not get into the ground I hope he will do Qatar justice. He did a super piece of work this week, and we are now ready for the challenge.”
The £70,000 Listed Toronado Carnarvon Stakes (2.35pm) over six furlongs for three-year-olds has 14 runners including Group Two winner Baitha Alga (Richard Hannon/Frankie Dettori). There is also Qatari representation in this contest with Bwana (Majed Seifeddine/Pierantonio Convertino).
The third Listed event is the 10-furlong £70,000 Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes (4.20pm). Seven of the 13 declared runners are currently engaged in the Investec Oaks, including Crystal Zvezda (Sir Michael Stoute/Ryan Moore) and Pamona (Luca Cumani/Andrea Atzeni), who were both impressive maiden winners last year.
Al Shaqab Lockinge Day also features the ultra-competitive £70,000 Al Zubarah London Gold Cup Handicap (3.10pm, 13 runners) over 10 furlongs, plus the six-furlong £50,000 Olympic Glory Conditions Stakes (1.25pm, eight runners) for two-year-olds and the concluding £40,000 Planteur Handicap (4.55pm, 17 runners) over a mile.
Free entry & other offers
There is a chance for racegoers on Saturday to win a fabulous holiday for two to the 2016 Qatar Racing Festival next February. The trip includes return flights to Doha, a week’s hotel accommodation and tickets to every day of the Festival.
Racegoers need to complete an entry form, available in the official racecard and elsewhere on site, predict the winner of the 2015 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes and return their entry to one of the boxes located in the Grandstand or Berkshire Stand receptions before 3.40pm. The winner will be drawn in the Parade Ring at approximately 4.30pm, after the Haras de Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes.
Al Shaqab Racing and Newbury Racecourse have teamed up to offer free Grandstand entry to all racegoers aged 22 and under, to celebrate Al Shaqab’s sponsorship. Racegoers who wish to take advantage of this offer should bring Photo ID on Saturday, May 16 and head for the Grandstand entrance. This offer is in addition to the BHA-approved initiative announced last week that offers free entry for all stable staff with a stable pass on Al Shaqab Lockinge Day.
The first 1,958 racegoers to arrive at Newbury on Saturday will be given a free Al Shaqab Lockinge Day cap, to mark the start of Al Shaqab’s sponsorship and to celebrate the fact that the Lockinge Stakes was first run in 1958.
Newbury also races tomorrow Friday, May 15, which is Starlight Charity Raceday. Starlight is a charity which grants wishes to seriously and terminally ill children by entertaining over half a million children every year in hospitals and hospices throughout the UK.