Lockinge Stakes clash on cards
Richard Fahey feels Ribchester has thrived since his trip to Dubai ahead of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.
A Royal Ascot winner last season in the Jersey Stakes, he ran well in the Sussex Stakes before winning the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
He final run saw him narrowly fail to catch the brilliant Minding on Champions Day at Ascot, before he put up another solid display at Meydan in March, failing by just a length in the Dubai Turf.
That was over nine furlongs, but he will drop back to a mile this weekend and have the aid of a pacemaker in Toscanini.
"We're very happy with him. I don't know what it is, I was happy with him in Dubai and since he has come back he has really thrived," said Fahey to www.sportinglife.com.
"He's had a couple of easy days but we're very happy with him. Physically and mentally he is getting stronger, as we always felt he would do and his work in very good.
"The beauty of Ribchester is you could sell him as a sports car, he can go very quick in a few strides.
"He just needs a decent pace to get him to drop his head and William (Buick) has been riding him really well, running the pacemaker just means we are guaranteed a good pace."
Galileo Gold, one of Ribchester's oldest rivals, will be taking him on, but Coral make Fahey's charge the one to beat as the 9-4 favourite. Galileo Gold is quoted at 11-4, ahead of Lightning Spear and Somehow, both 5-1.
Spokesman David Stevens said: "Ribchester and Galileo Gold are closely matched on last year's form, and that has been reflected in the ante-post betting on the Lockinge, although in the last 24 hours punters have sided with the former, and the Godolphin colt is now clear favourite for a second Group One success."
Galileo Gold, last year's 2000 Guineas winner, will be making his seasonal reappearance for Hugo Palmer in a race sponsored by his owner.
While Aidan O'Brien has taken out Minding and Alice Springs, he has left in another classy filly in Somehow, an easy winner on Guineas weekend at Newmarket. Cougar Mountain is another Ballydoyle contender.
Martyn Meade's Aclaim steps up in class having won his last three starts at the end of 2016, signing off with a Group Two win.
"He came out of that race very well and he's spent a good winter," Meade said.
"We're bringing him back slowly and we haven't rushed because the first race we want to go for is the Al Shaqab Lockinge so I didn't want him to peak too quickly, but so far I'm very, very pleased with him."
"There's no reason why he can't keep progressing. Once we took him down and got his confidence going and allowed him that time to mature he has just kept on progressing.
"If you look at his last race at Newmarket in the Group Two, there was no stopping him. This was a horse who was improving and was on the up – it wasn't a fluke that he won and he won quite convincingly. I think there's more to him and more to come.
"He's come back, he's strengthened up. He's taken a bit of time and it took his three-year-old career to really get him going but as a four-year-old he's noticeably strengthened up now.
"We're determined to win a Group One somewhere with him. So whatever it takes and wherever we have to go for it, we'll go."
David Simcock's Lightning Spear, third to Minding in the QEII, could be joined by stablemate Breton Rock, with Dicton, Dutch Connection, Ennaadd and Mitchum Swagger all still in the mix.
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