olympic glory racing

Lockinge Stakes 2014 – Runners & Odds

With the ground at Newbury drying out by the hour, Saturday’s Group 1 Lockinge Stakes over 1m (3.50) looks set to attract a top-class field. David Myers discusses the runners and odds and his best bet.

The top-class field could include Richard Hannon’s colt, Olympic Glory (Evens), a champion two-year-old in 2012, he had to wait until last October for his next Group 1 victory in the QEII Stakes at Ascot (1m, soft) where the application of first-time blinkers did the trick. However, the headgear lost its effect a few weeks later at the Breeders’ Cup when beating only one home.

While Olympic Glory has won first time out for the last two seasons, and is officially rated the best horse in the race (125), he was described as being “lazy” by connections at Ascot last autumn, and he’ll need to be at the top of his game if justifying odds of evens.

Although 8lb inferior on ratings (117), Aidan O’Brien’s 7/2 shot, Verrazano, looks an interesting runner on his debut for the yard.

Formerly in the States where he was a dual Grade 1 over 1m1f winner on dirt, his form flattened out a touch in the second half of last season, where his final outing saw him beaten just over 3l in another Grade 1. That final race was also his tenth on dirt, but he is unraced on turf, and it will be interesting to see how good this 4yo colt is on the green stuff at Newbury.

One who is proven on turf is Mike De Kock’s Soft Falling Rain (6/1), a triple 1m winner in Group 2 and 3 company last year on both dirt and turf, before a close 1l second in a Group 2 in Dubai six weeks ago (1m, Tapeta). This 5yo won a Group 1 in South Africa two years ago, but whether he can win a Group 1 in Europe is another matter.

All bar one of the last 18 Lockinge winners returned at 9/1 or shorter, which puts the likes of Tullius at 8/1 into the mix, but this 6yo is another who may come up short in what will be his Group 1 debut. There will be many punters impressed with his win in the Group 2 Sandown Mile on soft ground last month (Top Notch Tonto was beaten 7l), but it’s worth noting that only one of the last 18 winners of that Sandown race followed-up here (Paco Boy in 2010).

Montridge was beaten over 3l by Tullius when second at Sandown, and this Group 3 winner needs to improve if reversing form, while Montridge was also beaten the same distance by Soft Falling Rain at Newmarket in September (1m, good to firm). As for Tullius, he has each-way claims, but will need to defy recent trends being a 6yo, as 4-5yos dominated the Lockinge.

Of the remainder, Chopin (10/1) won a Group 3 in Germany a year ago, and arrives having been beaten 1l in a similar race last month, while Sruthan (16/1) took a Group 3 at the Curragh over 7f last month.

It has traditionally paid to stick with those who had tasted Group 1 success earlier in their career for this race, which could be a good omen for Olympic Glory, who may well give his jockey, Frankie Dettori, a welcome big-race winner.

Here are the full trends covering the last 18 Lockinge winners…

17 of the 18 winners returned 9/1 or shorter.
16 took a Group or Listed race over this 1m trip.
16 were four or five-year-olds – six-year-old winners were rare.
Those boasting a Group 1 victory have a good record, as do front-runners, who came out on top seven times.
Fillies performed well – Red Evie was the third winner since 2004 to take advantage of a 3lb allowance.
Six of the seven not making their reappearance ran in Dubai or at Sandown last time – four made the top three of the Sandown Mile, although Paco Boy was the first of 17 Sandown Mile winners since 1996 to follow-up.
Saeed Bin Suroor trained five winners, Sir Michael Stoute four.