STAR four-year-olds Galileo Gold and Ribchester headline 12 confirmations for the £350,000 Group One Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (3.30pm) at Newbury on Saturday. The mile contest forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
Galileo Gold was the leading three-year-old miler in the first half of last season. He provided trainer Hugo Palmer and owner Al Shaqab Racing with a first British Classic triumph in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and also captured the Group One St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Godolphin’s Ribchester (Richard Fahey) has race fitness on his side, having finished third in the Group One Dubai Turf over nine furlongs at Meydan in March. He gained the biggest victory of his career in the mile Group One Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville in August, with Galileo Gold a well-beaten eighth, before taking second behind Minding in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over a mile at Ascot in October.
Lightning Spear (David Simcock) was third behind Minding at Ascot following a deserved success in the Group Two Celebration Mile at Goodwood in August. Stablemate Breton Rock, a dual Group Two winner over seven furlongs, is also engaged.
Ireland’s champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien could be doubly represented by progressive filly Somehow and Joel Stakes victor Cougar Mountain. Somehow looked as good as ever in the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket on May 7.
Group Three winner Dicton (Gianluca Bietolini FR) could fly the flag for France after finishing seventh in the Audemars Piquet QEII Cup at Sha Tin, Hong Kong, on April 30.
The four-year-old Lawman colt was much improved for current connections last season, finishing third in two Classics, the French 2,000 Guineas and the Prix du Jockey Club.
The acceptors also feature Aclaim (Martyn Meade) and Dutch Connection (Charlie Hills), who were both Group Two victors over seven furlongs last season.
Ennaadd (Roger Varian), Mitchum Swagger (David Lanigan) and likely pacemaker Toscanini (Richard Fahey) complete the line-up.
Al Shaqab Lockinge Day gets off to a cracking start with the £100,000 G3 Al Rayyan Stakes (1.50pm, 17 entries) over a mile and a half.
Drawing the seven-race card to a close is the £40,000 Toronado Handicap (5.10pm, 38 entries) over a mile.
Newbury also races tomorrow, with the seven-race card held in support of the charity Starlight, which grants wishes to terminally ill children.