Angus McNae
Angus McNae's Racing UK Blog
Tuesday 16th May 2017

Racing UK

Ribchester Ready for Lockinge Romp

Once again my selections last week were non-runners, which was a frustration.

© Racehorse Photos

I am pretty confident I’ve found a runner - and a winner - this week as my selection for Saturday is Ribchester in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

Barring accidents he will run and everything seems to be in his favour. Here are five reasons to back him.

1. In my opinion he brings the best form to the race. He won the Jersey Stakes and the Prix Jacques Le Marois last year and ended the season being beaten just half a length by the brilliant Minding in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. A repetition of any of those runs would see him in the winner’s enclosure here. As for 2017, his near-miss in the Dubai Turf shows us that he retains all of his ability.

2. That run at Meydan in the Dubai Turf, when a creditable third to Vivlos, needs marking up. It was run over nine furlongs on rain softened ground and his stamina was stretched. In addition, he got no cover and was forced to make the running. 

3. A decent pace is important to him as he is blessed with a lot of speed and he will always be at his best when held up with cover off a strong gallop. To that end a straight mile rather than one around a bend may always suit him best because over a straight mile the pace does not relent as it can when horses go into a bend. Crucially, he will also have the assistance of a pacemaker in the smart Toscanini.

4. Pedigrees can be revealing when it comes to trying to assess the ideal conditions and trip for a horse. Ribchester is by Iffraaj out of a Marju mare, which immediately identifies that speed will be his main asset. Iffraaj was himself by Zafonic, who was at his best on fast ground and possessed bags of pace. This pedigree and evidence from what he has achieved so far tells me that he may always be at his very best over a straight seven furlongs on fast ground. That said, he does stay a mile well enough to win top class races as long as he gets decent ground.

5. The one chink in his armour is his propensity to pull hard. To completely realise his potential he will have to settle a little better than has been the case on a number of occasions. That said I felt he relaxed pretty well in front in the Dubai Turf and he may be a more mature horse this year. If he settles and gets cover he will be very hard to beat.

Angus McNae’s Something for the Weekend

Back Ribchester to win the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (3.30) at Newbury.