Ribchester lands the Lockinge
Ribchester was an impressive all-the-way winner of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.
The Godolphin-owned four-year-old, trained by Richard Fahey and ridden by William Buick, kept finding more in front and was far too strong for the opposition in the first domestic Group One race of the season for older horses.
The 7-4 favourite kept up the gallop in admirable style to score by three and three-quarter lengths from the David Simcock-trained Lightning Spear (9-2).
Breton Rock, a stablemate of the runner-up, was another two and a half lengths away in third at odds of 25-1.
Buick said: “He’s a very good horse, very versatile.
“Richard and his team at home have done a fantastic job with him.
“He’s getting mentally better and physically stronger every day.
“If you are going to compete in these Group One races and be successful, you have to be the complete package.
“He’s a horse I’m very, very happy to ride.”
While most pundits expected Toscanini to be the pacemaker for his stablemate, he was slowly away and was not asked to make up the ground quickly.
That did not worry Buick, who was happy to let Ribchester stride out in front, with his old rival Galileo Gold in second place.
That was until the race got serious inside the final quarter of a mile as last season’s 2000 Guineas winner wilted tamely out of contention.
In the style of a class horse, Ribchester found much more in the closing stages as he gave Godolphin an eighth Lockinge triumph.
Irish raider Somehow finished fourth, with Galileo Gold a disappointing fifth.
Ribchester was roundly cut in the betting for the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, for which he is trading as the 7-4 favourite with Paddy Power.
Fahey said: “It’s (a race) you’d liked to watch again.
“I was quite nervous as it was a big day and we wanted him to perform.
“He (Toscanini) missed the kick but I always felt Ribchester could do something like that.
“Ribchester is mentally mature and he’s physically getting better.
“We’ve always liked him. He’s gone a bit lazy on me at home, but we are happy where he is now.
“It looks like we will go there (Queen Anne) but I won’t say definitely as we’ve got to speak to John (Ferguson, Godolphin racing manager) and Sheikh Mohammed.
“We’ll see how he comes out of this, but the Queen Anne looks likely.
“I’ve got to say he’s the best horse I’ve ever trained.”
Fahey continued: “It was a huge performance. We felt there was one in him and it’s all come together.
“As he’s got older he’s got wiser. If we could get his mind right we always felt he’d be special.
“That’s a strong word for a trainer to use but when you see a performance like that, it was special.”
Frankie Dettori said of Galileo Gold: “He didn’t handle the ground, he didn’t like it like in Ireland (in last season’s Irish 2,000 Guineas).
“He ran a bit fresh and I knew two (furlongs) out the writing was on the wall.
“It rained, it’s just one of those things.”