Racing shifts to Berkshire on Saturday afternoon, with all eyes on the Lockinge Stakes at 3:35, the first all age Group 1 of the 2023 season in the UK. Don’t forget to check out our YouTube Channel and other social media posts for our teams’ thoughts on the feature race, but there is also a very strong undercard at Newbury and our team have looked through some of the other races to find their best bets this Saturday.
On paper, this looks to be a relatively strong renewal of this race, which has thrown up winners like Creative Force and Adaay in recent seasons. We have a couple of improving types to consider, most notably the Novice winner Rabbah and Shaquille, who made a striking impression when winning at Newmarket on Guineas weekend. We will start with Rabbah, who is a half-brother to a couple of smart types (Tanmawwy and Rewaayat) and although it is relatively easy to pick holes in the form of his victories at Lingfield and Wolverhampton, he won those races without being fully extended and the move into a Listed race would seem to be the logical next step with him.
He needs to improve to trouble the principles and there is a chance that he may find this a step too far so early in his career, but he looks like a 3-year-old to keep on side and is not without a hope of landing a blow here and possibly at Royal Ascot next month.
Shaquille has won his last 3 starts and he returned from an absence to win a Newmarket handicap a fortnight ago with relative ease. This is another step up in class, but he is an improving son of Charm Spirit, and his pedigree would suggest that he may well do even better over slightly further. He looks to be the likely pace angle in this field and the time figure of 104that he recorded at Newmarket makes him well worth a try at this level. However, this race will be run on much better ground and the suspicion is that he may well set the race up for one or more of his stronger travelling rivals.
If this race was being run in 2022, then Noble Style would be a clear form selection. He won the Gimcrack at York in August and looked to be a very progressive juvenile. Making his comeback in the Guineas and to be fair to him, he travelled reasonably well for a horse whose stamina for the mile was far from confirmed, especially on deep ground. He remains a hugely exciting Colt and the return to 6-furlongs would look to be the right move for him, especially on better ground and there is a good chance that he could outclass this field. However, the 2,000 Guineas was just a fortnight ago and after such a hard race in testing conditions, there is a risk that the race may have left its mark, especially as he came into that race on the back of a 9-month absence. At a relatively short price, those doubts are enough to put us off this time.
Having eliminated a fair few, we are left with AESOP’S FABLES. Aiden O’Brien’s 3-year-old has done very little wrong and brings a solid level of juvenile form to the table. He was no match for Al Riffa in the National Stakes, but he won the Futurity well enough the time before and this will be the first time since that day at the Curragh that he will encounter better ground. He made his return in a Listed race at Navan where he travelled extremely strongly before being unable to pick up in the closing stages. Although that could be conceived as a disappointment, he was clearly unsuited by the Heavy going, which was definitely in favour of the winner, and he did at least keep on, holding off his stablemate The Antarctic for second place. If building on that run, this race should setup perfectly for him and he looks to be fair value to win.
There is a chance that Haskoy may outclass this field. Although a lot has been made of her subsequent demotion to fourth in the St Leger, she still ran a very good race that day and if she repeats that form, it may well prove to be enough to win this. She is very lightly raced after just 3 starts and although she has clearly had one or two issues, she remains a highly exciting filly and in a stayer’s division that could be there for the taking in the absence of Kyprios. However, given those issues and the absence, it is debatable whether there is much value in taking a relatively short price about her in this field.
It is not easy to oppose Haskoy. Bolshoi Ballet, Yibir and Kemari have all shown glimpses of form to suggest that they are more than capable of winning a race like this, but they have generally saved their best form for the international scene, and it is not easy to rely on any of the 3 to run their race. It is a similar picture with Israr, who is a son of the great Taghrooda. He has run well in high level handicap company, but he hasn’t looked the most straight forwards and it is debatable whether he is really capable of taking this step up in grade. With those doubts in mind, we feel there is some each way value in backing the unexposed OLD HARROVIAN.
He missed his intended engagement at Chester last week due to the heavy going, but he remains a very exciting prospect after a pair of victories on the All-Weather during April. He has a lot to find on the bare figures, but he recorded a time figure of 99 when winning at Wolverhampton last time and looks at least worth a try in this company. With the Balding yard operating at 21% strike rate so far this season he is worth chancing to at least hit the frame if he carries on improving.
Although this is a Handicap, it has developed into one of the best 3-year-old races of the summer in recent years. Winners like Al Kazeem, Time Test and Bay Bridge have all gone on to win at the highest levels and this year’s renewal looks very competitive. With 16 runners going to post it is hard to have a confident view about any of the horses, although the draw bias may help to eliminate a few who are drawn out on the wing. However, there is a horse in this field who caught the eye last time and if there is a potential Group contender lurking in this field, it is perhaps ROYAL RHYME. He is a half-brother to some smart winners and after a promising return he seemed to relish the step up to 10-furlongs at Newmarket when winning with something in hand a fortnight ago.
Having travelled strongly, he had the rest of the field in trouble from a long way out and powered away from them on the run up to the line. The handicapper has reacted by raising him 10lbs, but he was good value for that and may still be fairly treated on a mark of 95.
He could be drawn better, but stall 12 is not a disaster and his strong travelling nature should be ideally suited to this big field scenario. He will be doing his best work in the final 2-furlongs and looks good value to at least hit the frame if he gets the necessary luck in running.
This has the potential to be the race of the day, with several classy unexposed prospects to look at. Sea of Class won this race in 2018 and last year Nashwa took this on her route to glory in the Prix de Diane and the Nassau Stakes. Whether there is a horse of that quality in this field remains to be seen but there are several runners who fit into the “could be anything” bracket at this stage of their careers. Top of that list would be Bluestocking, who looked very classy when winning a Salisbury Novice last month, quickening clear with ease in the closing stages.
She is exciting and you could also make a case that inner Space and Queen of Fairies also fit that bracket, especially if we put their below par runs at Newmarket down to a disliking for the track. One or all of them could develop into top class fillies this season, but if there is an angle into this race it may come from the pace, or lack of it.
With no obvious front runner in the field, Ryan Moore may be able to make the running with WARM HEART, who looked to benefit from a more aggressive ride when winning at Leopardstown last time. She holds entries in the Oaks and the Ribblesdale and has a lot of improving to do if she is to realize those lofty ambitions, but she did improve for the greater test at Leopardstown, and her pedigree would suggest that she will carry on improving with time and distance. Drawn in stall 3 she may well be able to lead and if she can turn this into a test of stamina, her experience and staying pedigree should see her to best effect.
- 1:50 – Aesop’s Fables – 5/1
- 2:25 – Old Harrovian (EW) – 11/1
- 3:00 – Royal Rhyme (EW) – 5/1
- 4:45 – Warm Heart – 3/1
*Prices subject to fluctuation.
Newbury 20/05/2023 – Top Picks Preview
Keep an eye out for our Racing Blog next week when our team will be back with their best bets for the Brigadier Gerard meeting at Sandown on Thursday and the Novibet IE Sponsored cards at the Curragh next weekend, including both Irish Guineas.