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Palace Pier the pick as 12 head to Al Shaqab Lockinge

13 May 2021

Gosden colt looks set to go off strong odds-on favourite in Newbury showpiece

Palace Pier heads 12 declarations for the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes

Palace Pier sets the bar very high in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes declarations on Saturday, in which his official rating of 125 elevates him 8lb and upwards clear of his closest rival.

Newbury’s one-mile showpiece has drawn a final field of 12 and Palace Pier is set to go off a strong odds-on chance.

A top-level winner in the St James’s Palace Stakes and the Prix Jacques Le Marois as a three-year-old, he met the sole defeat of his career when third behind The Revenant in a Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO). The race was run on ground connections felt wasn’t ideal for him at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day last October.

Trainer John Gosden, who shares the licence with his son Thady for the first time this year, said that the son of Kingman was only 80 percent fit when running out an eight-length winner from Bless Him of the bet365 Mile at Sandown on his reappearance. 

William Haggas has opted to run recent Earl Of Sefton Stakes winner My Oberon here rather than take up an alternative target in France. The four-year-old, who carries the same colours as his grandsire Sea The Stars, seems to be progressing fast enough to suggest he will make his presence felt. Haggas admits the decision to run at Newbury was somewhat last minute, but he expects My Oberon to give a good account of himself. 

He said: “We wanted to go to France, but racing horses in France is so complicated these days that we decided in the end to run at Newbury. I think the ground might be a bit soft for him, but it’s a Group 1 and he’s entitled to have a go.”

The Saeed Manana-owned five-year-old Top Rank will be stepping up to Group 1 company for the first time. He beat My Oberon by a length and a half in a Group 3 over a mile on soft ground at Haydock last year. His reappearance defeat of What’s The Story in the Listed Doncaster Mile was arguably even stronger form. Tate said: “There were a couple of other options for Top Rank after Doncaster but we elected to go straight to the Lockinge and we’ve got lucky with the weather, as he doesn’t like it too firm and there’s no danger of that happening. 

Top Rank wins the Doncaster Mile under PJ Mcdonald

Aidan O’Brien, whose first Lockinge win with Hawk Wing in 2003 was probably the most stunning in the race’s history, relies upon Lope Y Fernandez from an original entry of five. 

Last year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas third went on to be placed three more times at the highest level as a three-year-old, including when third behind two stable-companions in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He enjoyed a smooth confidence booster in Listed company at Leopardstown on last month’s return to action. Veteran Lord Glitters ran too free and didn’t finish his race off when down the field in the Al Shaqab Lockinge two years ago, when the race was last run, but he won the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot just weeks later and confirmed that he remains a force to reckon with at the highest level when adding a second Group 1 success in the Jebel Hatta at Meydan in March. 

Al Shaqab Lockinge Declarations:

Bless Him, Century Dream, Happy Power, Lope Y Fernandez, Lord Campari, Lord Glitters, My Oberon, Palace Pier, Pogo, Safe Voyage, Top Rank, Lady Bowthorpe