WE ALL have lucky races and Newbury’s Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (3.30pm) – the second leg in the Mile division of the QIPCO British Champions Series – has certainly been very kind to Sheikh Mohammed over the years.
His Godolphin operation has won it a record seven times, including three of the last four, and RIBCHESTER looks set to give the Sheikh an eighth victory tomorrow.
Richard Fahey has always loved this Iffraaj colt, who was snapped up by Godolphin just a couple of days before landing the 2015 Mill Reef Stakes at this course.
Although beaten by tomorrow’s rival Galileo Gold in last year’s 2000 Guineas, and again finishing close behind him in the Sussex Stakes, he turned the tables later in the season.
A comprehensive success in the Prix Jacques Le Marois was then followed by an excellent second to the top class Minding in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day.
Galileo Gold was well behind in fifth that day and with him not being seen since, you have to take it on trust that he simply hasn’t regressed.
In fairness to Hugo Palmer’s stable star, he won the Guineas on his reappearance, so he can’t be ruled out, but he has more questions to answer than Ribchester.
My selection ran a very good race at Meydan on World Cup night where nine furlongs may have just stretched his stamina slightly.
He was keen that day, which is why Fahey is running new recruit Toscanini as a pacemaker.
The rain that has hit the track over the past few days should make the ground absolutely perfect for Ribchester and he looks a solid bet at 2/1 with 188BET.
This isn’t really a race that Aidan O’Brien seriously targets – he has won it just the once – although he saddles Somehow.
She won Newmarket’s Dahlia Stakes in fine style earlier this month, but that race seemed to fall apart and I don’t think the form is strong enough.
A bigger danger is likely to come from Lightning Spear, who has some solid Group One form to his name and really deserves to win one of these.
He was a fine third behind Tepin in the Queen Anne last summer on his seasonal debut and ended the campaign just a length behind Ribchester in the QEII.
I’m sure the Queen Anne is the main target again, but he will be hard to keep out of the frame in this.
There has been some money for Aclaim over the past few days and he is certainly progressive having won his last three starts.
The ground won’t be a problem, but this is a big step up in class and may just be a bridge too far.
Fahey could be celebrating twice as I also fancy his PRIVATE MATTER in the six furlong Listed Carnarvon Stakes (2.20pm).
It normally pays to sit up and take notice when Fahey books Ryan Moore and that could be the case again.
Like his sire Mayson, Private Matter has shown his best form on soft, so conditions should be perfect for him.
It was very quick at Newmarket when he was fifth in the Free Handicap last month and the drop back to six furlongs should also suit.
Koropick looks the main danger, but he is making his reappearance and has to prove he can handle soft ground.
Private Matter 2.20pm Newbury
Ribchester 3.30pm Newbury