Four To Follow: Between A Rock & A Hard Place

After a mixed week at the Dante Festival, we now move in to the first Group One for the older horses this season. The straight mile at Newbury sees the Lockinge Stakes return, with an international feel. A French raider is in town, can he stamp his authority? Plus a cracking undercard to complete Saturday’s Four To Follow.


A Hot Hero

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1:50 – Aston Park Stakes (Group Three) – Desert Hero @ 11/10 (William Hill)

We kick off Lockinge Day with the Aston Park and Desert Hero comes to Newbury looking to avenge his agonising defeat at Sandown in April. He was only beaten by a neck by Okeechobee, but was rallying all the way to the line and needed a few extra yards. From that warm up race he’s been stepped up to his usual mile-and-a-half and stepped down to a Group Three. His near odds-on price should come as a shock to no one.


Taking Relief

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2:25 – Carnarvon Stakes (Listed) – Relief Rally @ 4/1 (William Hill)

Relief Rally was one of the impressive two-year-olds over the sprint distance. She certainly showed her speed both over the flying five in the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury and in the Group Two Lowther at York. Her reappearance was a little off over seven furlongs, but back down to the sprint distance, down in class and with a weight allowance, Relief Rally should kickstart what could be a terrific day for William Haggas.


King To Knight

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3:00 – London Gold Cup (Heritage Handicap) – King’s Gambit @ 9/2 (William Hill)

One of the hotly anticipated three-year-old handicaps of the season, this often dictates how this year’s crop are going to fair. King’s Gambit in particular is one of unique interest. He had a decent enough novice career, winning over a mile at the course as a two-year-old. But trainer Harry Charlton has been aiming this horse at the London Gold Cup all winter. Being high in the handicap is not a bad thing in this race, particularly if you’ve got a lot of ability.

Joanna Mason and Mick & David Easterby celebrated a shock winner at the Dante Festival this week. And they haven’t been bad recently, training four good winners in the process. Mason has had a few wins and places herself too. They team up and head down South with Spirit Of Acklam, who has improved stepping up in distance each time. His win at Ripon by three lengths is one to take note of. 10/1 (William Hill).

Form also counts in this race, particularly when you’ve finished behind a Classic winner. Persica was third behind Notable Speech at Kempton last time out, before he went and won the Guineas a couple of weeks ago. In his novice career, it looked as though he needed juice in the ground to be at his best. He looks like he’s got his ground here and form to match a nice weight in the race. 9/1 (William Hill).


What The Rock Is Cooking…

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3:35 – Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (GROUP ONE) – Big Rock @ 9/4 (William Hill)

I’ve been waiting, like many people have, to see Big Rock reappear. And when a horse who thrashed British horses by 15-and-a-half lengths, it’s a worry. He does have to contest with Inspiral, who can return well but will want the ground firm. Big Rock can go anything with juice in the ground. It will also be interesting to see how he performs for a new stable, four weeks after he moved in.

For the Brits, Charyn has had an excellent start to the season. He was dominant in both the Doncaster Mile and bet365 Mile at Sandown. Whilst they were both Listed and Group Two races, he showed a Group One ability that might see him hit the frame. Or even win and make it a stunning start to the season for Silvestre De Sousa and Roger Varian. 6/1 (General).

It’s also great to see Royal Scotsman reappear. Third in the 2000 Guineas last year, he had excuses of why he ran so poorly in the Irish 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes. We then didn’t see him run for the rest of the season, but he’s back and thrown straight into the deep end. The vibes are good from the Cole stable, and could run well and set up some nice prizes later down the line. 14/1 (Betfred, Boylesports).

The very best of luck!


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