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18/05 Newbury Preview: Crystal Ocean is the place banker on a cracking card

Al Shaqab Lockinge day at Newbury has developed into one of the best day’s racing in the first half of the flat season and the 2019 card is certainly up to standard.

Relatively big fields provide the enticing prospect of a potentially big dividend on the Place 6, which has been boosted to a starting guarantee of £10,000. My Syndicate is after a chunk of that!


1:50 – Shalaa Carnarvon Stakes (Listed Race)

Several of these will have the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot on their radar and the antepost market for that Group 1 sprint is an interesting angle from which to consider this race.

Calyx and Shine So Bright have both put up impressive performances this season and I would prefer to focus on a couple of horses in here with recent form against that pair, rather than be taken in by some more fashionable types.

Come the end of the season KONCHEK may be one of those to get closest to Calyx, having been beaten only 4.5 lengths last time. Similarly SPACE TRAVELLER wasn’t far behind Shine So Bright at the Craven meeting and the latter franked the form in the 2000 Guineas before stamina gave out.



2:25 – Al Rayyan Stakes (Group 3)

Only two places here but CRYSTAL OCEAN looks like place banker material in a race he won last season. He has never been unplaced in 13 career starts to date and should win this comfortably before going on to better things.

Place 6 picks: CRYSTAL OCEAN


3:00 – Al Zubarah London Gold Cup Handicap

A plethora of unexposed horses from top yards always turn up in this, with Al Kazeem probably being the highest profile winner in recent times.

Solid Stone looks likely to be well selected but with WAR TIGER reopposing on identical terms for a half-length beating last time, I’ll take this regally bred son of War Front to at least hit the frame. His dam’s progeny often excel as 3-year-olds so a mark of 91 could be generous.

This is a race in which to fire a few darts and I’m adding topweight HEADMAN, who will love the quicker ground, alongside DUBAI INSTINCT. Brian Meehan’s charge was fourth in the maiden of the year behind Bangkok and Telecaster at Doncaster in March, both of those being Group winners since.



3:40 – Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (Group 1)

Given that the older milers were a weak group last year, I had intended to focus on the current crop of four-year-olds coming through. However I don’t think they are much cop here either, with Laurens the most obvious one I’d want to leave out on account of the forecast quick surface.

For place purposes, LORD GLITTERS must be included. He’s an unlikely winner but we just need him to hit the frame, which he regularly does.

Andrea Atzeni has chosen Sharja Bridge over OSTILIO but I am not deterred by the latter finishing last of seven at Longchamp last month, as he looked in need of the run and blew up after setting fast fractions. I’d take him to improve hugely on that.

BEAT THE BANK is also added as a solid horse at this level.



4:15 – Olympic Glory Conditions Stakes

Wesley Ward-trained 2-year-olds are often short but his strike rate is surprisingly low in the UK over the past five seasons at 18%. I’ll be hoping Joker On Jack goes off like a greyhound and fades out of the places to set up FIREPOWER and TEMPLE OF HEAVEN.

Firepower won despite greenness at Salisbury for Clive Cox and can perhaps progress here more than the obvious Fort Myers, who represents Aidan O’Brien and the tremendous family of Giant’s Causeway, Gleneagles and Happily.

The Richard Hannon stable tends to run their best early season juvenile in this and I’ll take the chance they are doing so again with my second selection.



4:50 – Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes (Listed Race)

Last year’s renewal unearthed the brilliant Sea Of Class and her sire, Sea The Stars, has nearly half the field for this Oaks trial. Two of the four have the perfect profile as unexposed maiden winners and I’m struggling to split them so will take both.

LAVENDER’S BLUE was impressive on debut at Newmarket last month, coming to win her race in the final furlong, whereas STAR CATCHER did it from the front over course and distance the same week.

This may cover us regardless of how the race pans out tactically. I’m also adding SEA OF FAITH who came through the field under tender-handling, having missed the break on debut and is pitched straight into Listed company without a win.

Sea Of Class, from the same connections, followed an identical path before cruising to victory in this race last year.


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