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The Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes

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Ribchester wins the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes
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History

The Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, run at Newbury, is the second of the British Champions Series mile (1,600 metres) races. The event, established in 1958, was upgraded to Group 1 status in 1995 and is open to four-year-olds and over.

Winning the Lockinge Stakes meant so much to Richard Hannon on his way to the 2010 Champion Trainer title that he could not hold back the tears after Richard Hughes rode Paco Boy into the winner’s enclosure (apparently his emotional outburst was sparked for the horse, one of his favourites and who retired at the end of that season).

If in doubt, though, back any Lockinge Stakes horse trained by Sir Michael Stoute. He can boast an unrivalled seven victories, including two by Soviet Line, one of only three horses to have won the race twice in a row.

Frankel’s flawless career included a Lockinge triumph in 2012, and since then Godolphin have won four runnings, including with Ribchester in 2017.

Current leading jockeys: Frankie Dettori, 4 wins (1994, 2000, 2008, 2014)
Current leading trainer: Sir Michael Stoute, 7 wins (1986, 1990, 1995-6, 2001, 2004, 2006)

Previous winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Prize money

Entries

Going/Track

Weather

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2018

Rhododendron blooms in Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes

Rhododendron pipped the luckless Lightning Spear by a short head in a gripping finish to the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

Lightning Spear looked like he just about hit the front under Oisin Murphy and was about to spring a 16-1 surprise in the QIPCO British Champions Series showpiece, but Ryan Moore had hit top gear aboard Rhododendron (100-30 favourite) in the centre of the course.

The photo finish revealed Rhododendron, trained by Aidan O’Brien, had won by inches. Lightning Spear had also been second a year earlier, to Ribchester, and was finishing placed in a Group 1 race for a fifth time.

Lancaster Bomber, also trained by O’Brien, who won with Hawk Wing in 2003, was two and three-quarter lengths away in third.

“I haven’t had the wind taken out of my sails like that for a while,” said David Simcock, the trainer of Lightning Spear. “I’m just a little gutted, but very proud of the horse. He was given a great ride – I thought he was going to win at one stage.

“We’re just fond of him and he’s never let us down. He’s been placed in so many Group Ones, you just feel we’d like to have won one with him, but he’s run a great race. Fair play to the filly.”

O’Brien said of Rhododendron: “We’ve been very happy with her since the last day and we were hoping she had progressed.

“Obviously we were going back to a mile and she hadn’t been back there since she ran in the Guineas last year. We thought that whatever she did today she would move up a bit.”

Looking to future plans, he said: “We thought we would come here and then on to Ascot.

“We have the option of a mile or a mile and a quarter. We’ll have a good chat with Ryan, the lads always talk after the races and we’ll see what they want to do closer to Ascot.”

If she sticks to a mile, then a rematch with Lightning Spear in the Queen Anne Stakes will be on the cards. Rhododendron is 5-1 favourite with Ladbrokes for that race, with Lightning Spear available at 14-1.

Results

Position Horse Jockey Trainer Owner
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The Course

Newbury may have a slightly shorter history than some of Britain’s other leading racecourses – give or take a few hundred years – but the Berkshire venue, which celebrated its centenary in 2005, has its own unique character.

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How many racecourses, for instance, can claim to have been used as prisoner-of-war camps in World War I? Newbury racecourse also boasts its own light-aircraft runway and a dedicated railway station, and was once a neighbour of the Greenham Common airbase, the home of US Air Force bombers, before it closed down at the end of the Cold War.

Newbury was founded shortly after the Norman conquest in the 11th century. Its racecourse, which also hosts celebrated jump races such as the Hennessy Gold Cup, earns its place in the QIPCO British Champions Series by staging the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes in May.

Getting there

The Racecourse,
Newbury
RG14 7NZ

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