Top commentator Simon Holt previews today's top quality racing action from Newbury and he has two selections.
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So far, it's a score-draw between old rivals RIBCHESTER and Galileo Gold with the honours even after four meetings between these two high class milers, so Saturday's Group One Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury forms something of an early-season decider.
When winning last year's 2000 Guineas and later finishing second to The Gurkha in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, Galileo Gold had Ribchester behind him on both occasions, but the latter looked more progressive as the season went on and was well on top when winning the Prix Jacques le Marois before chasing home Minding in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Champions Day.
Upped to nine furlongs in the Dubai Turf at Meydan in March, Ribchester saw plenty of daylight and was worn down in the closing stages by the Japanese-trained Vivlos and Heshem, but that form has since been boosted by fourth-placed Zarak (narrowly beaten in the Prix Ganay) and by the seventh Deauville, a winner at Chester last week.
While Galileo Gold's fragile temperament finally seemed to get the better of him at Deauville and Ascot in his last two races in 2016 - and he now goes to post here with something to prove - Ribchester looks well placed to follow up his juvenile course win in the Mill Reef Stakes.
However, this is by no means a two-horse race with Lightning Spear, just a length back in third at Ascot promising to win a big race one day while Aclaim was a big improver last September and October when rattling up a three-timer culminating in victory at Group Two level in the Challenge Stakes at Newmarket on his final start.
And Aidan O'Brien's filly Somehow, while facing a stiffer test now, comes here at the top of her game following quick-fire victories at Gowran Park and at Newmarket in the Dahlia Stakes.
Earlier, MY DREAM BOAT is taken to appreciate a step up to a mile and a half in the Group Three Al Rayyan Stakes.
A Group One winner last season in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Clive Cox-trained five-year-old also ran solid races behind the brilliant Almanzor in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown and the Champion Stakes at Ascot (both 1m2f) in the autumn, on both occasions keeping on well in the closing stages.
On his reappearance behind Ulysses and Deauville (winner since) at Sandown last month, My Dream Boat again gave the impression that he needed more ground and, with going conditions set to suit him, he can prove the point here.
One blip in the selection's 2016 campaign came in the Eclipse at Sandown where he could finish only fifth behind Hawkbill but perhaps he was feeling the effects of his Royal Ascot win that day and the two horses have gone in different directions since.
Hawkbill failed to reproduce that form in three later efforts and was again unconvincing on his recent reappearance in the Prix Ganay when racing too freely.
Sir Michael Stoute's two runners, Across The Stars and Midterm, are both decent performers and the former could certainly improve as a four-year-old while Midterm is now fitted with a visor after a somewhat lacklustre reappearance here last month when sent off favourite and finishing only fifth behind Muntahaa and the re-opposing Chemical Charge in the Group Three John Porter Stakes.
Posted 1250 BST on 19/05/2017