FRANKEL, Canford Cliffs, Paco Boy, Farhh, Ribchester… the list just goes on and on. Tomorrow’s big race, the Group One Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (3.40pm), part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, has a remarkable roll of honour.
These top class milers have all won the highlight of Newbury’s Flat season in recent years and it is always a brilliant race on probably the fairest track in the whole of Britain.
However, this year’s renewal is genuinely one of the most open I can remember, with almost every horse in the 16-runner field having a question to answer.
Rhododendron is Ladbrokes’ current 4/1 favourite, but surely she is going to find things happening too quickly over a mile.
The daughter of Galileo won last year’s Prix de l’Opera over 1m2f at Chantilly and that trip looks to be her ideal.
Addeybb is the big improver in the field and literally could be anything.
He was one of the most impressive winners of the Lincoln in recent memory back in March and then followed up in last month’s Group Two bet365 Mile at Sandown on his most recent start.
The main worry with him is that he is yet to run on ground quicker than good and it’s set to be good-to-firm tomorrow.
That could obviously be a red herring, although you have to wonder if a horse so comfortable in soft conditions can replicate the form on ground this fast.
With 16 runners, this race has a completely different complexion to it and I think SUEDOIS can cause a big upset at 20/1.
David O’Meara admitted after his charge won the Grade One Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes at Keeneland in October that he’d been running him over the wrong trip and on the wrong ground.
He thought he was a six furlong horse that liked soft ground, but came to realise that he’s a miler who wants it quick.
Suedois went on to the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar in November and did remarkably well to finish fourth seeing as he was trapped out wide for most of the race.
It was firm on both of those starts in America, so he clearly has no problem hearing his hooves rattle, and he was mightily consistent last season, especially when stepped up to a mile.
O’Meara’s horses are in good form and in a wide open race Suedois offers excellent each-way value.
Another I’m keen on at a big price is Aidan O’Brien’s DEAUVILLE who looks to be the stable’s third string and can be backed at 18/1.
He ran a blinder to be third to Ribchester in last year’s Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, proving that a mile on quick ground suits him very well.
Considering the Ballydoyle horses hadn’t worked on grass ahead of his reappearance in last month’s Earl Of Sefton Stakes, he actually put in a great performance to be second to Forest Ranger who followed up in the Huxley Stakes at Chester last week.
He has generally done very well on his trips to the UK in the past and he looks overpriced tomorrow.
The one at the head of the market Suedois set to cause huge upset in the Lockinge that I find hardest to rule out is LIMATO, who will have his ideal conditions.
Henry Candy’s classy son of Tagula won the July Cup in 2016, with Suedois in second, but his trainer has always thought he’d turn out to be a miler.
Admittedly, he was well beaten in this race two years ago, but the ground was against him that day, while Candy’s horses were also out of form.
He then got really worked up when going for the Breeders’ Cup Mile later that year, so I think it’s wise to put a line through that run.
Harry Bentley should be able to get plenty of cover in a big field like this and you can be sure that Limato will be travelling really well two furlongs out.
It’s obviously a question of whether he gets home, but he’s never going to have a better chance on this ground.
BILL ESDAILE’S LOCKINGE STAKES 1-2-3