Saturday 19th May, 3:40pm, Newbury, 1m (Str) Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (4yo+)

The Lockinge Stakes was run for the first time in 1958. It is the third Group 1 race of the season after the two Guineas classic races. It is named after a former civil parish to the North of Newbury and has been run over several grades during its history. In 1971 when the present race grading system was introduced the Lockinge was designated as a Group 2 race. It was relegated to Group 3 status in 1983 before becoming a Group 2 race again in 1985. In 1995 it achieved its current Group 1 status at which time it was restricted to older horses (four years old and up).

The race is part of the British Champions Series Mile races and the prize money for the race has been £198,485 for the last four seasons which is a reasonable increase on the £99,347.50 available in 2011 at the inauguration of the British Champions Series.

Since the race was elevated to Group 1 status in 1995 some decent horses have won the event including Cape Cross in 1998 and of course the unbeaten Frankel in 2012. During its previous guises the race was won by horses such as Brigadier Gerard who was successful in 1972.

There are some very strong recent statistics surrounding the race. Since attaining Group 1 status the race has been won by four year olds 15 times (65%), five year olds have won the race six times (26%) while six year olds have only won on two occasions (9%). Four year old runners have won nine of the last 11 renewals.

The race has been kind to favourite backers in recent times with eight of the last 12 renewals being won by the favourite. Ten of the last 12 winners were in the first three in the betting. The biggest odds to win the race over the period is 8/1.

Experience over the race distance of 1 mile is important with all 12 of the last 12 winners having previously run over the trip at least four times.  All 12 had at least one win over the distance and eight of the winners had won at least two wins over 1 mile.

Winning form at Newbury has also been a factor as seven of the last 12 winners had previously won at the course. A recent run is not as important, as only five winners in the last 12 years had a previous run earlier in the season and only two winners had won earlier in the same season.

Previous Group 1 winning form can be an important factor with nine of the last 12 winners having at least one win at the highest level. An Official Rating of at least 114 has been required to win 11 of the last 12 renewals.

Aidan O’Brien has perhaps somewhat surprisingly only won the race once previously with Hawk Wing winning in 2003. He has the favourite in this year’s renewal in Rhododendron. The four year old bay filly has been running over longer distances recently and is undoubtedly a high class horse. Rated 116 she has won at Group 1 level, taking the Prix de L’Opera at Chantilly on Arc day last year over 1 mile 2 furlongs. She also has Group 1 winning form over 1 mile as she won the Dubai Fillies Mile at Newmarket as a two year old. The going will suit and she has Ryan Moore riding so appears to have plenty going for her. However, she is dropping back down in trip for the first time in three races.

For those who would prefer to back a specialist miler Beat The Bank at a bigger price may fit the bill. The four year old bay gelding who is trained by Andrew Balding has run six times in his career with his last four runs at 1 mile. He has not won at Group 1 level yet but did win the Joel Stakes (Group 2) at Newmarket over 1 mile last September. He has won three times from four starts at 1 mile and is undoubtedly open to further improvement even off his mark of 118.

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