Integral can bolster Michael Stoute’s exceptional record in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.
The Newmarket handler is already the winning-most trainer of the coveted Group One, having claimed seven triumphs in the race.
Stoute now looks on hand to add to his haul with Integral, the only mare in the whopping 18-runner field. That she takes on the colts and geldings has to be a slight concern, of course, but recent history indicates that might not be too big a deal. Three fillies and mares in the last 11 years have won the Lockinge, two of which - Peeress and Russian Rhythm - were trained by Stoute and sport the same Cheveley Park silks as Integral.
Having reportedly made good progress over the winter, Stoute’s decision to head direct for the Lockinge, before presumably taking in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, can be vindicated in a race which should hold no terrors.
The Al Rayyan Stakes, or the Aston Park, as it is more commonly known, revolves around the much-discussed Telescope, but perhaps Scotland could throw a bit of a curveball for trainer Andrew Balding. The four-year-old threatened to win a big prize last year, but he always fell short in Pattern company and signed off with a horror show in the St Leger.
Scotland has since been gelded, though, and that appeared to have done the trick judged by his promising return in the John Porter over course and distance in April.
Balding’s inmate stayed on pleasingly to finish fifth, beaten just two and a half lengths, and it will be most interesting to see how he gets on dipping into Listed company.
He represents sound value against the market leader.