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Lockinge Stakes: Audience shocks with Newbury Group One victory at 22/1 as Big Rock and Inspiral are beaten

Anticipated clash between Inspiral and Big Rock underwhelms as Audience lands the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury

Audience lands the Lockinge
Image: Audience lands the Lockinge

Audience was a shock winner of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

The 22-1 shot was very much the second string for John and Thady Gosden, with stablemate Inspiral considered the real chance for Cheveley Park Stud, who own both horses.

Big Rock was another obvious major player on his first run for Maurizio Guarnieri, but the runaway Queen Elizabeth II hero never got involved as Audience - trying a mile for the first time having been a proven Group Two/Three performer at seven furlongs - was sent to the head of the field under Robert Havlin to set the fractions early on.

The sizeable lead he had built up then began to look insurmountable, with only Roger Varian's Charyn able to give valiant chase, crossing the line a length and a quarter in arrears.

"When you know what this horse is and what he's done, then don't leave him alone," said John Gosden.

"He's been working very well and I didn't think Rab would be left in splendid isolation out in front, but I knew he would get a hell of a run out of him. I told Rab to go straight and he followed his line of mowing and no one came near him. It's wonderful for Rab as he puts all the work in with him.

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"He's a wild boy, but he's a horse with ability - look at the Kinross race, the City of York.

"He's got solid Group form and he's learnt to relax more with age, if you leave a horse like that alone he's going to be very dangerous. We always knew he was going to be part of it and I thought he could maybe finish in the first four or five. As it was they ignored him and all got racing on the other side.

Rab Havlin celebrates winning the Lockinge, his second Grade 1 win
Image: Rab Havlin celebrates winning the Lockinge, his second Grade 1 win

"The idea was he was there with Big Rock and softens up Big Rock, but he never really saw Big Rock. He thoroughly enjoyed himself and is a grand horse. Mrs (Patricia) Thompson kept him in training very kindly rather than him going to Hong Kong so he could be a lead horse for Inspiral and I think he has covered himself in glory."

Thompson added of the winner: "That was amazing, we're getting very good with geldings I think!

"He's the half-brother to Esquire, the gelding who won the Group Three the other day (Greenham). It must be a fiery family, he was very fiery."

Neither owner nor trainer was disappointed with the performance of Inspiral, who was fourth under Kieran Shoemark having started as the 2-1 favourite.

"The filly will come on a bundle for that, the trainer is so hopeless he couldn't get her fit at home. I didn't want to take her away for gallops at racecourses, that's not her game," Gosden said.

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"She was always going to need it, but there will be another day with her and we're on the road with her. She's run a lovely race and has rather come across right across which is what she did in the Jacques le Marois last year with Frankie (Dettori). She's come to make her run and has just got tired - she's 'blown up' as they call it.

"In her work at home, she's a lot older and wiser and I'm not going to tell her what she's got to do, so she's been quietly doing what she's happier doing and she needed this race to bring her on for Ascot and I'm delighted with her run. She's carrying rather a lot of condition.

"The Queen Anne would probably be the aim, as it would be for Audience as well, but talking to Mrs Thompson we would also look at the mile-and-a-quarter race (Prince of Wales's Stakes) because when she won at the Breeders' Cup - and I know it's an easy mile and a quarter at Santa Anita - Frankie could not pull her up. He came back and said I think we've been running her over the wrong trip all the time. So we will leave our options open and see how she is over the next week."

Thompson opted to give Inspiral another season in training instead of sending her off to stud, and added: "Inspiral always tells us when she wants to win, nobody knows before her!

"So rarely one gets a filly like that so you want to enjoy them as much as you can. We can wait until next year for the covering."

Elite Status nicely won the Carnarvon Stakes
Image: Elite Status nicely won the Carnarvon Stakes

Elite Status confirmed in Carnarvon Stakes victory

Elite Status blew the rest away and set himself up for Royal Ascot in streaking to success in the Highclere Castle Gin Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury.

Karl Burke's 13-2 chance was ridden by Clifford Lee for the six-furlong Listed feature and travelled well from the off.

At the head of the field from an early stage, the Sheikh Obaid-owned colt pulled further and further away from his rivals and although Relief Rally, the 3-1 favourite, challenged behind him she could not get close and was two and three-quarter lengths adrift on the line.

"I've always thought he was a high-class horse and I think if we can keep him on the right track, the world is his oyster," said Burke from his Middleham base.

"He is a very good horse with a massive engine, we just lost our way with him.

"He's one of these horses that just catches the point of his sesamoid at the back of the joint there. They are horrible and when they start catching them they catch them every time and they go sore really quickly. It's like having a stone in your shoe or a bad nail in your foot and you keep catching it.

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"A few performances last year were disappointing, but it was probably Deauville in the bad ground last summer where it started and we never really got him back properly at the backend of the year.

"He was electric in the National Stakes and after that performance it was hard to step up to six furlongs, so we went for the Norfolk (at Royal Ascot). Sheikh Obaid was always very keen to step him up and probably rightly so, but when we did eventually step him up he was never quite right for us.

"He's proved there today he stays six very well. He's a horse with a big future, I think, and the Commonwealth Cup will definitely be his next run barring accidents.

"It wasn't a question of us wanting to make the running today, but what we didn't want to do was pull him around and take a chance of him banging himself.

"Clifford was under instruction to get into a nice rhythm, let him use his big, long stride he's got and sit comfortably. Clifford pulled it off to perfection and he doesn't have to make the running - if he jumps and sits second or third that's fine. He showed in the National Stakes the turn of foot he has got."

 King's Gambit impresses in London Gold Cup
Image: King's Gambit impresses in London Gold Cup

King's Gambit impresses in London Gold Cup

King's Gambit appears to be Royal Ascot-bound after enhancing the Charlton family's fine record in the Trade Nation London Gold Cup Handicap at Newbury.

Roger Charlton has won the valuable 10-furlong handicap with the likes of subsequent Group One performers Time Test and Al Kazeem in the past, but his son Harry was winning it for the first time since taking over the licence at Beckhampton.

Charlton said after his 7-2 favourite had obliged by four lengths from Poniros in the hands of William Buick: "Every horse that has won this has been a good horse and Ed Walker said to me in the week, if you are going to win this off 92 you will need to be a Group One horse, you need to be 20lb well-in.

"80 per cent of the winners are stallions now, it's a proper race.

"We always thought he was a proper horse, but he was exceptionally raw last year and has taken time. The lad who rides him at home would fall off him once a month, he's a tough ride, but he's growing up every day and didn't put a foot wrong there.

"I don't know if he will be a Group One horse, we will see, but if he progresses again we will dare to dream.

"It will hopefully be the Hampton Court next."

He added: "This was the plan for Hand Of God until he won the Esher Cup, so we switched horses and King's Gambit has come here and Hand Of God will wait for the 10-furlong handicap at Ascot. They are two nice horses."

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