Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Spear can slay the layers in Lockinge

Simcock's son of Pivotal will have no issue with Newbury's easy terrain

Oisin Murphy, pictured here riding Lightning Spear (R, gold cap) to victory at Goodwood last August, is fancied to score again today for David Simcock at Newbury today. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Oisin Murphy, pictured here riding Lightning Spear (R, gold cap) to victory at Goodwood last August, is fancied to score again today for David Simcock at Newbury today. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Johnny Ward

Oisin Murphy rather made a fool of himself earlier in the week but he can enjoy headlines more flattering by taking the feature Group One Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury this afternoon.

The rider made a monumental mistake in the final race at Chepstow on Tuesday night when in full control on Sir Pass I Am, only to ease him long before the line. The pair just held on, meaning that Murphy avoided a 28-day ban.

Attached to Qatar Racing, Murphy will partner David Simcock's Lightning Spear, which has his first run of the campaign this afternoon. The Pivotal-bred has a modest record in stakes company, just one from nine - and that is hardly the profile of a potential Group One winner. But he is solid nonetheless.

Back at Royal Ascot last summer, the selection finished third to Tepin in the Queen Anne, with Toormore and Ervedya just behind. The ground was soft then, so prevailing conditions will not bother him today. He is bang there on ratings.

Somehow has won her last couple of starts for Aidan O'Brien, who is not blessed with top-class older horses over around a mile - his other possible runner here was Cougar Mountain. This ground-versatile filly is more than worth her place.

Somehow overcame traffic to win at Gowran, whereas it was all really straightforward for her on Guineas weekend at Newmarket. This, however, is much more demanding, and she may offer more value as a place play.

Ribchester has taken the biggest chunk out of the antepost market. The Iffraaj-bred, the highest-rated son of that stallion, is exceptionally reliable. He was prepped for Meydan in March, running a fine race, and there is no reason to suppose that he will do anything other than go close now.

Galileo Gold adds to the race's appeal. He was good enough to beat The Ghurka last year, though he is clearly held on subsequent form by Ribchester, and he has a little to prove now on reappearance for Hugo Palmer.

A classy Al Rayyan Stakes introduces the action to those on the couch this afternoon. Across The Stars was scratched before his intended reappearance at Newmarket in the race won by Seventh Heaven on Guineas weekend.

The Sea The Stars-bred is quite trip-versatile and also goes on ground with cut, while he should be pretty fit considering he was ready for Newmarket.

This could pass as a Group One race, with so many horses in it with ratings of 110-plus. Midterm now sports a visor, though it was not as if he was disgraced on his return here in April.

The Shalaa Carnarvon Stakes promotes the promising stallion in the name. Another sire to keep an eye on going forward, Casemento, is responsible for Barrington. This horse has to prove he goes on soft but the sire handled it well and, in a tongue-tie, he looks interesting under Frankie Dettori at around 10/1.

Newbury's other televised race is the ten-furlong handicap. Century Dream's only win at two came on good to soft ground at Nottingham, auguring favourably for his prospects now.

Moreover, he is bred to stay, and he ran a really pleasing race on his return at Sandown. Any progress at all brings Simon Crisford's colt into the reckoning now under Harry Bentley.

The Betway Fairway Stakes could go to the Queen's Call To Mind, a son of Galileo out of the Danehill Dancer mare, Memory. Though his rating of 82 implies that he has almost no chance, he is clearly better than that and that his trainer Willie Haggas already pitches him into this level, rather than go down the handicap route, is interesting. Stepping up in distance could be his making.

The King Charles II Stakes gives Seven Heavens another chance to prove that she has not gone off the rails. Not long ago, amid the hysteria about her sire Frankel, she was Guineas favourite. However, her Ascot run on latest was especially moderate.

Desert Frost, which did well to score easily at Doncaster considering how free she was, looks a really smart prospect and gets preference. She is one to go on to better things.

ITV's final race before the big one is the sprint handicap at Newmarket. Cheekpieces might help the concentration of Holmeswood, which was a little keen on his handicap debut at Doncaster when a pleasing third.

Luke Morris rides for the first time, though he will need to drop the bit in this company. David Egan, a son of Sandra, is making nice strides and takes a valuable 7lb off Esprit De Corps.

Irish Independent

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