Laurens is one of 14 declarations for Saturday's Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, the second race in the mile category of the 2019 QIPCO British Champions Series.
David O’Meara is hopeful Lord Glitters will gain a deserved first win in Group 1 company in the £350,000 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.
The mile showpiece, which forms part of the 35-race QIPCO British Champions Series, has drawn a final field of 14, with five of them – Accidental Agent, Billesdon Brook, Laurens, Romanised and Without Parole - having already won at least one Group One contest.
Lord Glitters announced himself as a smart performer when winning the Balmoral Handicap on QIPCO British Champions Day in 2017 and has since been knocking at the door at the highest level without quite being able to push through. The consolation for his connections is that he has amassed £1.2 million in prize-money.
The six-year-old grey was beaten half a length into second by Accidental Agent in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer and was also third in the Qatar Sussex Stakes in August last year. He continued his string of sterling Group 1 efforts in late March this year when third behind Japanese stars Almond Eye and Vivlos in the Dubai Turf at Meydan.
O’Meara said: “You need a little luck on your side and things to go right in the Group 1 races. I think he’s capable of winning one somewhere along the way and hopefully it will be at Newbury on Saturday.
“It was a fantastic run in Dubai last time. The Japanese filly [Almond Eye] was brilliant and Vivlos, a former winner of the race, is very good around there. He was conceding 5lb to them, being fillies, and we were very pleased with him.
“We’ve had the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes in mind since and his work has been good. He’s maybe slightly better on slow ground but he’s versatile and it was quick in Dubai. Neither the track or big field should be a problem for him.”
Lord Glitters may attempt to go one better in the Queen Anne after the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, but is also entered in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, run over two furlongs further only 24 hours later.
O’Meara said: “It’s one step at a time. He won the Strensall Stakes [at York] over nine furlongs last year and obviously Dubai last time was over that trip. Let’s see how Saturday goes and we will see after that.”
A deep field also features Beat The Bank and Sharja Bridge, who dominated the finish of the bet365 Mile at Sandown last month. It was the fourth Group 2 prize that the former has scooped and he will attempt to emulate his sire Paco Boy, who won the bet365 Mile in 2010 en route to landing the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes.
Sharja Bridge was beaten by half a length in this year’s race but his in-form trainer, Roger Varian, successful in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes with Belardo in 2016, is optimistic his challenger, who won the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day last October, will turn the tables.
“We were disappointed not to win at Sandown but it was a career-best and showed he’s up to this grade,” Varian said. “He’s in great condition and I think a straight mile in a truly-run race on a flat track will bring out the best in him. He will have his optimum conditions.
“He’s getting better with age and has every right to be in the field. He’s going to need everything to go right for him to win a Lockinge but I can see him holding every chance going into the final quarter and then let’s see what happens.”
Rhododendron became the first filly to win the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes since 2007 last year and her trainer, Aidan O’Brien, attempts to repeat the trick with I Can Fly, beaten by a neck by Roaring Lion in the QIPCO-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day.
The fillies are also represented by Laurens, already a five-time Group 1 winner, and Billesdon Brook, who finished ahead of her when landing last year’s QIPCO 1000 Guineas, in the line-up.
O’Brien principal contender looks to be Le Brivido. The 2017 Jersey Stakes winner, who had previously been beaten by a short head in the French 2000 Guineas, caught the eye when third in the Gladness Stakes at Naas last time on what was his first start for O’Brien.
Romanised won the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas last summer, while Without Parole scooped the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. The latter, whose sire Frankel was a brilliant winner of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes in 2012, is equipped with first-time blinkers.
The Charlie Appleby-trained Mythical Magic, emphatic winner of the Zabeel Mile at Meydan last time, seeks to provide Godolphin with a ninth Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes success. Sheikh Mohammed’s operation first struck with Cape Cross in 1998 and were last successful with Ribchester in 2017.
Sir Michael Stoute has trained a record-breaking seven winners of the race, although he has not struck since Peeress won in 2006 under Kieren Fallon. This time he relies on Mustashry, winner of the Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket last year.
Sir Dancealot, whose four wins last term included the Ladyswood Stud Hungerford Stakes at Newbury, and Ostilio, winner of the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer, complete an intriguing line-up.