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Newbury is the place to be on Saturday. The local racecourse to Lambourn’s trainers hosts the Juddmonte Lockinge Stakes, the first all age group one race of the UK flat season. With more than £100,000 on offer to the winner, the Lockinge deserves to attract a stellar line-up. This year’s renewal can boast a competitive field of ten, though frankly very few of the runners are proven group one performers.
On form the race ought to revolve around the admirable Soviet Song. However, in a four-year career she has only won once before July and once on her seasonal debut (that success coming in her maiden race as a two-year old). The suspicion must be that connections are using the Lockinge as a steeping stone to other prizes in the summer.
If you put a line through her, Majors Cast looks the percentage bet. He ran impressively last term and just missed out on the coveted “black type” awarded to pattern company winners. His second in the Celebration Mile at Goodwood, third in the Prix du Moulin and fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, is better form than every other horse bar Soviet Song. Kieran Fallon’s decision to ride Peeress ahead of Rob Roy for Sir Michael Stoute is interesting and she could pose the main threat.
Earlier on the card, Distinction is the class act in the Paddy Power Stakes. This bay gelding was second in the Ascot Gold Cup and has won a group two so has the outstanding form. However, he has to give a lot of weight away in tacky ground and is opposable with Avalon. He flattered to deceive on the flat last term for Aidan O’Brien, but should strip fitter than most after a spell over hurdles for his new connections.
The London Paddy Power Gold Cup looks like a race that will provide plenty of form pointers for later in the season. A highly competitive field of three-year olds compete in this handicap and the suspicion has to be some will prove better than this class. High Command is a well-bred colt but was immature at two and now looks like he may be getting his act together.
2:10 Newbury Avalon (win)
2:45 Newbury Majors Cast (win)
3:20 Newbury High Command (win)
*The Investor scored a win double in last week’s Classic trials at Lingfield with Linda’s Lad and Sindirana obliging.