Full preview and tips for Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes

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Rhododendron
Rhododendron

A look ahead to Saturday's Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes where a huge field of 16 goes to post for the Newbury feature.

Views from connections:

William Haggas gives Addeybb the chance to prove he is equally effective on a faster surface in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.

The four-year-old was a runaway winner of the Lincoln at Doncaster on his reappearance and posted another impressive victory in the Group Two bet365 Mile at Sandown last month.

However, both of those triumphs came with cut in the ground and the gelded son of Pivotal will tackle quicker terrain for the first in his career on his Group One debut.

Haggas said: "He surprised me in the Lincoln with how comfortably he won, because while his work had been good and I thought he was a nice horse, I didn't expect him to win like that. Having done that, I hoped he would do what he did at Sandown. He's a genuine horse. He's got much better opposition and much quicker ground to cope with this weekend, but he's done what he's done, so why not give it a shot? I'm not sure about the ground, but I don't think we'll know until we try. He's a decent horse and as a gelding we've hopefully got him for a few years."

Trainer Henry Candy and jockey Harry Bentley are optimistic dual Group One winner Limato can finally come good over a mile, having failed in his previous two attempts over the distance, including when fourth in this race in 2016.

Candy said: "Limato's preparation has been remarkably good really considering how the weather has been. Mr Jacobs (owner) and I decided that we would like to try a mile again, with mainly me pushing it, and once we decided that, the Lockinge was the obvious place to start. I think he is probably fit enough. I am pretty confident that he will get a mile, but you would be an idiot if you said you were 100 per cent confident."

Bentley added: "He feels great. I'm very pleased with how he is going into the race. He feels very fit and very well. I think a mile is probably on his radar. He is relaxed and easy in his races and I don't see why it won't be OK for him. I still see him as good as he was and he certainly has a good a chance on Saturday."

Dual Group One winner Rhododendron will spearhead a four-strong Aidan O'Brien team, with the Ballydoyle handler also represented by Deauville, Lancaster Bomber and War Decree.

Rhododendron drops in trip after finishing fourth behind Cracksman in the Prix Ganay three weeks ago.

O'Brien said: "It will be interesting to see if Rhododendron will have the pace for a mile. If she doesn't, we will have to change things again."

Andrew Balding believes Beat The Bank is fit enough to do himself justice on his first start since finishing down the field in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot last October.

Speaking ahead of the latest leg of the Qipco British Champions Series, Balding said: "It was pretty testing ground (in the QEII) and the end of a long season. He was also a bit keen and free and did not quite finish his race. He's better than that. I'm happy with the horse. It's his first run of the year, but I think we're sending him there as ready as we can get him without a run. It's a very strong race, as it should be, but it will be great to get him back out on the track and he's fairly versatile ground-wise."

Roger Varian is keeping his fingers crossed Zabeel Prince can handle the step up in grade after running out an impressive winner of the Listed Doncaster Mile on his seasonal bow.

The trainer said: "He is in good form and is training nicely. This has been the plan since he won at Doncaster. He has got to raise his game as we are pitching him into a Group One from a Listed race, but he is a very capable horse and we are looking forward to running him. The ground is not a worry and it is what it is. We've got to ask him the question if he will go on the ground, but I don't know the answer. He might love it, but it's very different ground to what he has run on in his whole career. I think he will have to prove he can be as effective on fast ground, but who knows - he might be."

Man On The Spot verdict

16
2
48-11OR: 116D
10/3
Last RunWatch last race

Not many fillies run in this but those that do boast a decent strike-rate. Aidan O’Brien saddled Somehow to finish fourth last year and RHODODENDRON has far more class. Her last nine runs have come at the highest level and she won last year’s Prix de l’Opera at Chantilly as well finishing second in the 1000 Guineas, Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. She only faded close home in her prep run in the Prix Ganay and the likely fast pace will help her cope with the drop back to a mile. Addeybb has won five of his seven starts and took the step up to Group 2 company at Sandown in his stride last time. He’s developing into a smart miler but the going is an unknown. This trip is probably too far for Limato and Librisa Breeze while the ground may be too quick for Zabeel Prince but last year’s runner-up Lightning Spear is a decent each-way bet again given he goes well fresh and finished ahead of Zonderland, Beat The Bank and Lancaster Bomber in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in the autumn. Alexios Komnenos is open to further improvement this year and is worth monitoring for future reference.

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