Horse-by-horse guide: Big Rock takes on Inspiral in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury | Racing news

The honor roll says more about a race than it ever could, and a look at the former winners of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (3.35) says a lot about the status and importance of the race.

This year he lives up to tradition, officially featuring the world’s best saddler from last year at Big Rock, as well as one of the few horses to beat him, the magical mare Inspiral. Add in some fit and firing upstarts and a couple of restarts placed in the Classic, and we have the makings of a memorable Lockinge. This is what the Group 1 races should look like, live on Sky Sports Racing.


Rider: R Havlin | Coach: J & T Gosden

He is neither a Group 1 horse nor a miler, which begs the question why is he here? Supporting his teammate Inspiral is the obvious answer, and practical support, to provide the pacing platform for her takeoff, not that that role is necessary in a race with Big Rock. He may, with an ulterior motive, be tasked with disrupting Big Rock’s railroad rhythm, but that’s a lot easier said than done: good luck getting your hand in Big Rock’s blender.

Big Rock

Aurelien LemaƮtre | Mauricio Guarnieri

In the 2023 Longines World Rankings, only three horses on the planet (Equinox, Ace Impact and Mostahdaf) were rated higher than Big Rock, after a spectacular performance in the QEII, where he ridiculously covered the first six furlongs in 76.4 seconds , faster than The Group One sprinters completed the Champions Sprint that day, before maintaining the hostile gallop to come home six lengths clear of (later Dubai Turf winner) Facteur Cheval, one of the few “surprise” moments from last season.

Big Rock is ready to face Inspiral

That was a supercharged version of the Big Rock that had succumbed to Inspiral in the Jacques Le Marois at Deauville, on a proving ground less large than Ascot, but it compiled an outstanding body of work in a year that highlighted the difference a stable switch can make. . And that’s back in the spotlight, just looking down rather than up, because just last month Big Rock was transferred from Christopher Head, Europe’s top operating trainer in 2023 (his 35 horses won 33 races with a 28 percent strike). -rate and won almost 4 million euros), to Maurizio Guarnieri, who so far in 2024 has had five winners with a ratio of five percent. Those hard facts are hard to ignore, thinking abstractly, but in terms of skill, Big Rock is the best miler in the world.


S De Sousa | R Varian

A winless 2023 at a pattern firm (including five Group 1s) has seemingly hardened rather than soured him, as he suddenly cultivated a final product this year, first suggested at Doncaster and then signed at Sandown, where he beat Poker Face , although he received 3 pounds.

There is more than a passing resemblance to Belardo, who won this for Roger Varian in 2016 having contested the same two races, although Belardo’s Lockinge favorite was Limato, by no means a heavy hitter like Big Rock and Inspiral, and Charyn He still doesn’t have the look (or shape) of a Group 1 miler.

Dear friend

J Fanning | C. Johnston

So far each year has followed the same pattern of starting with a bang before fizzling out, the bang lasts longer but the drop becomes steeper, this year he scored three handicap wins in the All-Weather only to ruin his lines as favorite on Finals Day. He has one of the longest strides in training and, in theory, should be fine at home in a straight mile and on turf, but this company is a world away from what he’s been facing in the all-weather season: too hot for him to handle.

Flight plan

D Tudhope | K. R. Burke

In last year’s Guinea camp, but the sharper he became, the more he was discovered, culminating in success in the Group Two mile at the Irish champions weekend, a perfect storm for him, dictating a turn, suitable for such emphasis on speed. He needs to up his game again for a Lockinge like this, and a straight, searching mile probably isn’t his perfect playing field to do so.

Hello real

R.L. Moore | KA RYAN

Located in the English and Irish Guineas, perhaps a false positive in retrospect as the miling generation was shown to be quite puny, but with a wind and a winter off, it steadied the ship somewhat when third on its return in the Earl of Sefton. , as Mustashry was before winning this in 2019.

There are reasons why it may arise, remembering the jump from race one to two (second in Guineas) last year, Ryan Moore’s booking and the fact that Kevin Ryan pulled a rabbit out of the hat to surprise Inspiral with Triple Time. at the Queen Anne last summer, but overall Hi Royal is 50/1 and rightly so.

Poker face

James Doyle | S&E Crisford

A solid, straight-up Group Two winner, but it’s hard to see him graduating to the next level unless he lands in one of the thinner Group One groups, which he certainly doesn’t. He has the right to reverse Sandown’s form with Charyn, without penalty and with that run behind him, but others will have to underperform for him to have any chance of making his first appearance at the top level a winning one.

Real world

Oisin Murphy | S bin Suroor

Five six-year-olds have won the Lockinge, but none older, and Real World appears to be coming to an end at the ripe old age of seven, needing to drop to Listed level to end a long sequence of defeats in Bahrain in March , before being safe and sound. truly put in his place in the Group One Dubai Turf. He came second to the brilliant Baaeed in the 2022 Lockinge, but that was his peak and he has now surpassed it.

royal scotsman

JP Spencer | P&O Cole

If the “big two” don’t fire, for legitimate reasons, then Royal Scotsman has the talent to take advantage of it, not that he showed it in the Irish Guineas (when favourite) or at St James’s Palace, but something was apparently right with him back then, hence the long layoff, and how well he did to come third in Guinea, coupled with his two years of work, indicates that he has Group 1 capability, which can’t really be said for him . anything in this race outside of Big Rock and Inspiral. Refreshed and revitalized, and fitted with a bridle for the first time, it’s now or never for Royal Scotsman to prove he’s still got it, but the stable is doing very well and Jamie Spencer knows a thing or two about winning big races in a straight line . tracks.

Witch hunter

SM Levy | R Hannon

If there’s an applecart he often upsets it: 12/1 when he springs an upset at Hungerford here and, before that, upsets his 50/1 odds at Buckingham Palace at Royal Ascot, last to first in both occasions. He’ll be in the market for any piece, and that’s not the worst policy in a race Big Rock is in.


Shoe brand K | J & T Gosden

I usually criticize those who say that this or that horse is “underrated,” because our sport, more than any other, relies on precise evaluation through cultivated calculations, intended for each and every horse to be evaluated in a refined manner. But I think Inspiral may be a little underrated: clinically underrated relative to her mark of 120, as well as appreciatively underrated as a six-time Group One winning mare.

Maybe it’s because of her occasional mistakes that she’s never been praised and applauded as much as her resume would justify, but she’s the best daughter of Frankel we’ve ever seen, and her second half of last season was pure perfection, dulling Big Rock in the Marois, embarrassing their own sex in Falmouth, and then taking the show on the American road to light up the Breeders’ Cup, courtesy of some crazy final splits. The terrain at Newbury might not be as fast as would be ideal, and they didn’t keep her training to be drilled for Lockinge, while who knows what her life will be like without her old ally Frankie Dettori – all reasonable reservations, but in simple terms, she beat to Big Rock once they met and is looking at the rest in the lineup.

Jamie Lynch’s verdict:

For a Group 1 of older horses with a wealth of knowledge and understanding of all 11 contenders, the truth of this year’s Lockinge is that the answer is abstract, amenable to being decided by a non-quantifiable measurement; First of all, how smart and sharp Inspiration and Big Rock are in favor of his comeback and secondly, what is the impact on the latter of the recent stable change?

With that in mind, the temptation is to deviate from both and take a flier on Royal Scotsman rekindling his fire, but then going back to over 2/1 on Inspiral against the likes of Charyn and Poker Face just seems completely wrong. Yes, Big Rock’s version of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes would be pretty unbeatable, even for her, but the chances of that happening are surely slim away from the mud and away from Christopher Head.

Watch the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 519) on Saturday 18 May.

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