Hannon holds key to the Lockinge
Channel 4 Racing commentator Simon Holt previews Saturday's card at Newbury and sees reasons to oppose Olympic Glory.
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Saturday's Group One JLT Lockinge Stakes looks a very good opportunity for Olympic Glory to successfully start a new season.
Richard Hannon's colt, the mount of Frankie Dettori in his role as first jockey to Al Shaqab Racing, was a brilliant winner of the Champion Stakes at Ascot in October when slamming the reopposing Top Notch Tonto by three and a half lengths.
That was on soft ground, however, and any drying in the going at Newbury would not perhaps be ideal - Olympic Glory was well beaten on a firm surface at the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita in November.
If anywhere near his best, this ought to be a formality but it is also worth bearing in mind that he was only a workmanlike winner (of the Greenham Stakes) here first time out last season and it is likely he will come on for this run.
In contrast, stable companion MONTIRIDGE would be well suited by fast ground and, although beaten by Tullius at Sandown recently, conditions were very much against him that day.
On better going, the son of Ramonti could easily turn those tables and, if all eight runners stand their ground here, the consistent Montiridge might just be worth a bit of each-way under Richard Hughes.
An interesting runner is the German challenger Chopin who had a big reputation back home before finishing seventh behind Ruler Of The World in last year's Derby. Andreas Wohler's colt has been beaten twice since - at Royal Ascot and when favourite on his reappearance at Dusseldorf recently (probably needed the run) - and remains a horse with plenty of room for improvement.
Whether Chopin has enough pace to trouble some classy rivals here over a mile is the big question.
The most difficult horse to assess is Aidan O'Brien's American import Verrazano, a dual Grade One winner in the States but unproven on grass. He is rated highly at Ballydoyle, who have a good record with foreign imports, but he will surely come on for this experience.
Earlier, MOUNT ATHOS looks the one to beat in the JLT Aston Park Stakes.
A course and distance winner in 2012 this fine stayer, who has run well in two Melbourne Cups, was not disgraced when beaten just three lengths into eighth behind Gentildonna in the Dubai Sheema Classic in late March.
The long home straight at Newbury should be ideal for the seven-year-old who may have most to fear from the progressive Battalion (best form with plenty of give in the ground) and Kieren Fallon's mount Forgotten Voice who was also in action in Australia in late 2013.