On Saturday 19th May, Newbury Racecourse will host the Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes – the second leg of the Mile category in QIPCO British Champions Series – at 3.40pm after the midday Royal Wedding celebrations.
Henry Candy, trainer of Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes contender, Limato is very happy with his horse who he fondly describes as “an action-man, a proper racehorse”. Henry is seeking his first Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes win having only had two previous runners in the race, including Limato in 2016 when he finished a credible fourth.
Video courtesy of QIPCO British Champions Series
Dual Group One winner Limato cantered at a media visit to trainer Henry Candy’s Kingston Warren stables, north of Lambourn, organised by Newbury Racecourse ahead of the £350,000 G1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes.
Limato, who runs in the familiar colours of owner Paul Jacobs, has not raced since posting an easy three and a half-length victory in the G2 Challenge Stakes over seven furlongs at Newmarket in October.
The six-year-old’s CV also includes two impressive G1 victories during the 2016 campaign, in the six-furlong July Cup at Newmarket and the Prix de la Foret over seven furlongs at Chantilly, France.
Following the morning’s exercise under big-race jockey Harry Bentley, Candy said: “It is hard to judge when the horse is working on his own a long way away from you. The relevant thing is what Harry says and he is very happy with him, so I’m happy.
“Limato’s preparation [since turn of the year] has been remarkably good really considering how the weather has been.
“Mr Jacobs and I decided that we would like to try a mile again, with mainly me pushing it, and once we decided that, the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes is the obvious place to start.
“He has done an awful lot of work on the carpet gallop, which is far too easy for getting a horse fit, but it just keeps them ticking over.
“We have had odd days when it has been OK to work on Kingston Warren bottom [grass], which is where he did his first canter this morning. We picked bits of ground there and he has been able to do that every week or 10 days.
“I think he is probably fit enough – he has had three or four mornings up where we finished this morning.
“I had to take the precaution of starting him in plenty of time. I think if you had left it five or six weeks to start work, he would have been up against it, but he has plenty of work under his belt.”
Limato will be tackling a mile for the third time in his career at Newbury on Saturday. He finished fourth behind Belardo in the 2016 renewal of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes and sixth in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita, USA.
Candy commented: “It is still guess work really. 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.
“Santa Anita was a nightmare because the horse boiled over saddling and in the pre-parade ring. They went off at record-breaking pace and we told Harry to be handy. Had we known how fast they were going to go, we would not have done. That race told us nothing.
“The previous time he ran in the Lockinge, the ground was on the sticky side and our horses were not firing at that stage. I thought the horse ran on pretty well to be fourth and I am pretty optimistic he will get a mile, although you can never be sure until you try when all factors are right.
“It would open up a lot of doors for the horse [if he gets the mile]. It is tricky one because a lot of horses tend to get quicker as they get older, especially sprint handicappers who seem to be quicker when they’re eight.
“I just get the feeling this horse is not quite as sharp as he was when he was running in Nunthorpes and things like that, but maybe if you wound him up, he could possibly go and do it again.
“The object of having the sprint entries is that if gives us an option with the ground, given Newbury has been soft at this stage before with no prospect of drying out. If that was the case this year and York was dry, he would have gone for the Duke Of York Stakes, which may sound like complete nonsense to most people. But I think the horse is capable of switching codes if needed.
“Fran [Berry] has been riding him a fair bit when Harry has not been able to come down and Fran said it is hard to believe that this horse nearly won a Nunthorpe and won a July Cup. He said he really rides like a middle distance horse now, though I think the horse is so intelligent he just adapts himself to what you ask him to do.
“He is not quite as ferocious as he used to be, but you still have to be pretty careful. He is ultra-competitive and I think that is what it is all about. He just wants to get on with things all the time and does not like people fiddling around with him. He is his own man, but he is a proper racehorse and wants to do what he is bred to do.
“He boiled over in America and has been pretty close to it a couple of other times. When he won the Foret and the July Cup, it was touch and go whether you could get a saddle on him. Hopefully, he will be a little bit quieter on Saturday!
“The ground at Newbury should be perfect. I think Richard [Osgood] is aiming for the slightly easier side of good to firm on Friday, so on Saturday it should be proper fast ground.”
The opposition on Saturday is set to be headed by Addeybb (William Haggas), who is two from two so far this year following impressive two and a three-quarter length victories in the valuable Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster in March and the G2 Sandown Mile on 27th April.
The Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes is the second race in the mile division of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
Candy continued: “I think this year’s Lockinge is very similar to the one he ran in a couple of years ago.
“I think it is winnable if everything goes right, although we don’t really know how good Addeybb is going to be.
“He is the one you fear because he is improving whereas the others are all fairly well known. He has been winning with cut in the ground and perhaps the ground will work in our favour.”
Regarding future plans, Candy added: “I haven’t really thought further ahead than Saturday and we will take one step at a time, but I think we would certainly consider travelling him again at some point.
“He travelled really well to the Breeders’ Cup and trained really well over there. He was in great form, it was just in the last hour before the race that things went wrong.
“Dubai was a complete nightmare. I was trying to train him here in January and February on heavy ground, which was never really going to work. OK we took him to Kempton a time or two and kidded ourselves that he was OK, but I just looked at him when I put the saddle on in Dubai and thought ‘mistake’, and he ran like it.
“You could blame the ground to a degree, but I don’t think he would have won whatever the ground was. I kept kidding myself the whole way through that we’re OK, but it is not his time of the year. He loves sunshine on hard ground.
“I thought it was quite incredible that he came back from Dubai and ran as well as he did in his first two races. He wasn’t far behind Harry Angel in the July Cup and was perhaps a bit unlucky.
“Then I think it got to him a mid-season little bit. Whether he was a bit quiet at Goodwood I don’t know, but the ground was atrocious and, like so many things, in hindsight it was a mistake running him. We walked the track and talked ourselves into running, but it was a bad idea.
“After that, it was very frustrating because he just never got the ground. He kept having entries and eventually the Challenge Stakes was just OK [ground-wise] and he was back to his best. 2017 was a frustrating year in many ways and Dubai may have just taken the edge off him, but it was mainly the weather.”
Harry Bentley has ridden Limato in nine of his last 10 races, including his latest victory in the G2 Challenge Stakes at Newmarket in October, plus his two G1 wins in 2016 and holds high hopes for a big performance from the six-year-old on Saturday.
Bentley said: “We are very happy with Limato. He is in really good form and that was his last bit of serious work – we’re very pleased with how it went.
“Henry has been very happy with how he’s been throughout the winter. I have been coming into the yard for the last five weeks and each time I’ve been very happy with how he has worked, so he is definitely fit going into Saturday’s race.”
Regarding questions mark surrounding his stamina for the mile trip, Bentley continued: “I tend to think that the trip will be fine for him. He has run over a mile in America (sixth, Breeders’ Cup Mile, Santa Anita, November 5, 2016) and here in the Lockinge when fourth in the race in 2016 and he certainly didn’t run badly over the mile at Newbury in that race.
“He is older and I think the mile is definitely on his radar. He is very relaxed in his races and there is no chance of him over-racing.
“I think with age, horses tend to be able to stay that little bit further, so that’s why I think he will be alright with the mile this time.
“The ground is very important to him, possibly the most important thing of all. He likes quick ground and we have made that very clear in the past.
“Any sort of ease in the ground is unfavourable, but conditions are looking great and he should really like the ground on Saturday.”
Limato is the joint-favourite along with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Rhododendron with Paddy Power for Saturday’s G1 event, but, like Candy, Bentley is fearful of the progressive Addeybb, who steps up to G1 company for the first time.
Bentley explained: “Addeybb is probably the dark horse in the race. He has been progressive this season by winning the Lincoln at Doncaster and then a G2 at Sandown.
“He is now stepping up to G1 level and is rapidly rising through the ranks. He looks a very good horse and he is certainly one of the horses to watch in the race.
“Limato has been a brilliant horse for me. He’s put me on the map in these big G1 races which are not easy to be involved in.
“He usually comes out and puts in a great performance. He is a straightforward ride and on his day, he is a seriously good horse and very hard to beat.”
Age: 6 (born February 8, 2012)
Breeding: b g Tagula (IRE) – Come April (Singspiel (IRE))
Owner: Paul G Jacobs
Trainer: Henry Candy
Jockey: Harry Bentley
Breeder: Seamus Phelan
Dual G1 winner, with top-level successes coming in the 2016 Darley July Cup over six furlongs at Newmarket and in Prix de la Foret over seven furlongs at Chantilly, France, in early October of the same year.
Enjoyed another good campaign in 2017, finishing third in G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and runner-up in the G1 Darley July Cup. Ended the campaign with impressive three and a half-length victory in G2 Challenge Stakes over seven furlongs at Newmarket in October.
Has yet to win over a mile. Two previous efforts at the distance came when fourth in 2016 G1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, not having the clearest of runs, and when sixth in 2016 G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita, USA.
Only other outing at Newbury came when successful in Listed Rose Bowl Stakes (6f) as a two-year-old in July, 2014.
Unbeaten in four starts as a two-year-old, culminating in victory in the Listed and valuable totepool Two-Year-Old Trophy (6f) at Redcar.
Harry Bentley has ridden Limato in nine of the horse’s most recent 10 races.
The name is an amalgam of Li (Paul Jacobs’ wife Linda), Ma (Jacobs’ mother Marjorie) and To (Jacobs’ father Tom).
Limato was purchased by bloodstock agents Peter & Ross Doyle from the draft of Weylands Stud at the 2013 Doncaster Premier Yearling Sale for £41,000 and went into training with Richard Hannon, but never ran for him.
Limato was bred by Seamus Phelan, formerly of Weylands Stud in County Kildare, Ireland, and now Tetrarch Stud. He is the second foal out of Come April.
Race Record: Starts: 19 1st: 9 2nd: 5 3rd: 1 Win & Place Prize Money: £1,209,227
Paul G Jacobs
Born in Plymouth in 1946, Paul Jacobs was brought up in Kenya and had his first introduction to racing at Ngong Racecourse, where his parents worked at weekends. Jacobs became a partner in a City of London law firm, where Lesley Graham was recruited as an articled clerk. He subsequently purchased Coronation Sables in Newmarket along with Graham and her then husband Neil in 1989. His first win as an owner was Neil Graham-trained Gay Glint in a Leicester maiden on March 26, 1990. Jacobs has had horses in training ever since, on the Flat and over jumps. They are trained by Henry Candy, Simon Dow, Emma Lavelle and Harry Whittington. Neil Graham still acts as an advisor. The owner’s dark green, black and white colours are inspired by his favourite football club – Plymouth Argyle.
Born on 28th October 1944, Henry Candy has been a trainer for over 44 years and involved for much longer as his father Derrick trained. Following working spells as a pupil assistant in Australia (Tommy Smith) and France (Mick Bartholomew), not to mention eight years as assistant to his father, Candy took out his first trainer’s licence in 1974 on his father’s retirement, taking over Kingston Warren stables, to the north of Lambourn, his home as a child. He saddled 23 winners in 1974, his first runner was a winner Kambalda, who went on to win the Ascot Stakes. He has since trained top-quality horses such as Master Willie, second in the 1980 Derby, Wind And Wuthering, winner of the 1981 Dewhurst Stakes, and Time Charter, who capped a golden period for Candy with four G1 victories – 1982 Investec Oaks & 1982 Champion Stakes, 1983 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond and 1984 Coronation Cup. Despite his proven ability to train middle-distance performers, it is sprinters, most of them bought cheaply, who have kept Candy in the limelight, such as 2002 Nunthorpe Stakes winner Kyllachy, 2002 Cheveley Park Stakes heroine Airwave, 2010 Haydock Sprint Cup victor Markab, 2015 Haydock Sprint Cup & 2016 Diamond Jubilee Stakes winner Twilight Son plus Limato, successful in the 2016 Darley July Cup and Prix Prix de la Foret. He sent out 31 winners in Britain during 2017.>
Born on 10th June 1992 in Storrington, West Sussex, Harry was educated at Dorset House & Eastbourne College. He started riding aged three and joined the Crawley and Horsham Pony Club at five. Trainer Gary Moore encouraged him to get an apprentice licence after finishing school at 16. Rode first winner on Moore-trained Prince Valentine at Lingfield, 20th January 2010. Burst on to the scene during the UAE season of 2011, with 17 winners as an apprentice. Rode as second jockey to Qatar Racing Ltd & Pearl Bloodstock in 2013 and 2014. Best British season with 60 wins in 2017. He was multiple champion jockey in Qatar, where his major victories include the Qatar Derby (2013 Dubday), Qatar Gold Cup (2014 Dubday) & H H The Emirs Trophy (2016 & 2018 The Blue Eye). Other Major Wins include: Darley July Cup (2016 Limato), Challenge Stakes (2017 Limato), Prix de la Foret (2016 Limato).
Candy is also planning to run Sovereign Duke (9st 2lb) in Saturday’s £70,000 Al Zubarah London Gold Cup Handicap over 10 furlongs. Recent winners of the three-year-old contest include future G1 performers Al Kazeem (2011), Cannock Chase (2014) and Defoe (2017).
Sovereign Duke, a son of Jukebox Jury, won a mile maiden at Kempton Park in January and was not disgraced when fifth, beaten just under six lengths, in the G3 Classic Trial at Sandown Park on 27th April.
Candy said: “Sovereign Duke ran well at Sandown in what looked quite a good race. We were very happy with that.
“Saturday will be a bit sharp for him as the race we are aiming him for is the Queen’s Vase. If there was a mile and five race somewhere before Ascot, he would have gone there, but there isn’t.
“I think the Queen’s Vase distance [1m 6f] is what he wants. There is plenty of stamina in the pedigree. I don’t think he has quite got the class for the St Leger, but we will bear it in mind.”