Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes
Betway Casino
Group 1, Newbury 15:30
£350,000 added,
4yo plus,
1m, Class 1    
Saturday 20th May 2017

1 Ribchester 7/4F
2 Lightning Spear 9/2
3 Breton Rock 25/1
8 ran NR: Dutch Connection
Distances: 3¾l, 2½l, ¾l Time: 1m 43.00s

Ribchester wins the Group 1 Lockinge for Richard Fahey and William Buick at Newbury, making all

Ribchester
© Racehorse Photos
Ribchester

Top miler Ribchester continued Godolphin’s domination of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes with a decisive all-the-way success in the first British G1 of the season for older horses, run over the straight mile at Newbury.

The Richard Fahey-trained colt, successful over the same trip in the G1 Jacques Le Marois last season, broke smartly and immediately led for William Buick as stable companion and intended pacemaker Toscanini (Paul Hanagan) missed the break.

The four-year-old son of Iffraaj quickened well under William Buick to open up a clear advantage passing the two-furlong marker and soon had the rest of his rivals in trouble, despite drifting right to the stands’ rail, with only Lightning Spear (David Simcock/Oisin Murphy, 9/2) able to mount any serious challenge.

After straightening up inside the final furlong, Ribchester ran on again for to score impressively by three and three quarter lengths over Lightning Spear in 1m 43.00s, with another two and a half lengths back to the third home Breton Rock (David Simcock/Andra Atzeni, 25/1).

Al Shaqab Racing’s Galileo Gold (Hugo Palmer/Frankie Dettori, 9/2) had drifted in the betting and raced very keenly towards the stand’s side in second. He was taken wide by his rider to try and settle but weakened to fifth inside the final furlong.

Somehow (Adrian O’Brien IRE/Ryan Moore, 100/30) was the best backed in the race but the four-year-old filly could only stay on for fourth.

John Ferguson, Chief Executive and Racing Manager of Godolphin, said: “Ribchester proved here in the Mill Reef Stakes as a two-year-old that he would go on the soft ground and he has gone and really done it again today.

“The thing about this horse is that he appears to be getting better and better. It is so exciting when you have got a really top miler who is getting better and better.

“It is dead exciting – his run in Dubai definitely gave us encouragement and something we have to talk about is the distance he races over.

“My first reaction is that we remain at a mile but he is a horse that William has always said would get a mile and a quarter. So we have the Queen Anne and Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot to think about.

“While he is winning over a mile like this, it is hard to change but I think he will definitely get further. I think he is one of those very special horse who go on any ground. We are thrilled with him.”

Fahey commented: “I was quite nervous today – I don’t do nerves but it was a big day and you want to perform and, thank God, he did.

“It was a huge performance. We felt that there was one in him and it has all come together.

“Toscanini missed the kick, so it was plan B for Paul Hanagan, but I always felt that Ribchester could do something like he did today, which was grand. Paul was clever enough to let the race go along and these things happen.

“Mentally, Ribchester is maturer and getting better physically. We have always liked him – he won a Mill Reef here as a backward two-year-old – and we feel that he is getting better, better and better.

“He excites me at home. He has just gone a little bit lazy on me at home – he used to work with a lot more enthusiasm last year – but we spent our time getting him to settle and then we want him to gallop well!

“We are happy with where he is. He is good in his mind and today would have done him the world of good.

“If we could get his mind right, we always felt that Ribchester would be special – that’s a strong word for a trainer to use but that was a special performance today.

“It’s a huge relief for me because I have always been ranting and raving about this horse. He got beat in the Sussex and was third in the 2000 Guineas last year but we always felt that he would get stronger.

“The thinking behind his run in Dubai was that, if he got that trip, it would give us more options. I have to speak to Sheikh Mohammed and John Ferguson and we will work from there but I would love it in my mind to think that he would stay a mile and a quarter one day. We don’t need to go there at the moment, but it looks the obvious step now.

“I thought he would win in Dubai so I was disappointed but he was probably a bit fresh. Since Dubai he has thrived and mentally it did him the world of good going there and he picked up £500,000 for third.

“Today has to be one of the best performances of a horse from our place – Ribchester is special.

“Ribchester relaxed fine in front today. I wasn’t disappointed when Ribchester went into the lead – but a straight mile is very lonely and there was a bit of a headwind so it was not surprising that he came over to the rail.

“It looked to me that he went away at the end and this was solid form – he could mature more and I feel he will get better.”

Buick declared: “Ribchester is a very good horse and very versatile.

“Richard and the team at home have done a fantastic job. He ran so well out in Dubai, where things probably didn’t quite work out for him, and he is just getting mentally better and physically stronger with every day that goes by.

“You would have to be very happy with that performance. He was in front the whole way basically and the ground is very testing. I am very, very happy to ride him.

“If you are going to compete in these G1 races and be successful, you have to be the complete package. The team at home have helped him become the complete package, which he is now.

“Sheikh Mohammed loves to win G1 races, he loves good horses, and this is what it is all about.”

It was a third consecutive victory for Godolphin in the mile contest, which is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, following on from Night Of Thunder (2015) and Belardo (2016), and eighth win in total.

David Simcock, trainer of the second and third, remarked: “I am very proud of both of them – they ran really, really well.

“Lightning Spear did get tired in the last half-furlong because of the round and it being his first run of the year. We were beaten by an exceptionally good horse, who probably did have a fitness advantage over us.

“Breton Rock has probably run to his best mark and he is a lovely horse to have around.”

Hugo Palmer, trainer of Galileo Gold, said: “It was a disappointing performance by Galileo Gold who got a bit lonely racing wide of the others.

“We will keep to the plan of going for the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot and then the Qatar Sussex Stakes.”

Frankie Dettori added: “Galileo Gold did not like the ground at all – it was very testing. He was fresh and I knew he wasn’t going to finish.

“I stayed away from the others, otherwise he would have been beaten further. It was one of those things – it rained and it can’t be helped.”

Mathematician Betting

Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes
(British Champions Series) (Group 1)
£350,000 added, 4yo plus, 1m, Class 1
8 ran
Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places)

Pos Dr D Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st (5) Ribchester (IRE) 7/4f W Buick
9-0
R A Fahey 4
2nd (4) Lightning Spear 9/2 Oisin Murphy
9-0
D M Simcock 6
3rd (9) Breton Rock (IRE) 25/1 Andrea Atzeni
9-0
D M Simcock 7
4th (1) ¾ Somehow (IRE) 10/3 R L Moore
8-11
A P O'Brien 4
5th (7) 3 Galileo Gold 9/2 L Dettori
9-0
H Palmer 4
6th (2) 3 Aclaim (IRE) 9/1 J P Spencer
9-0
M Meade 4
7th (3) ¾ Mitchum Swagger 25/1 T P Queally
9-0
D R Lanigan 5
8th (8) Toscanini (IRE) 50/1 P Hanagan
9-0
R A Fahey 5
NR (6) Dutch Connection Non Runner
9-0
C Hills 5