Ribchester and Galileo Gold are closely matched on ratings and the two shortest priced horses for the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury today. Lightning Spear has something to find on form but is a viable alternative to the market leaders.
The race is part of the British Champions Series in the mile division so is one of the most important contests over the distance during the British Flat season. Former winners include Frankel and you don’t get a better pedigree. There is a guaranteed prize fund of £350,000 which has attracted a high-class field.
The Lockinge is a Group 1 contest run over the one-mile straight course at Newbury. The course has slight undulations and with only eight horses declared there will be no significant draw advantage. Place terms are one-quarter the odds for three places which means Lightning Spear is almost a bet to nothing.
The horse is around the same price as Somehow and they are joint third favourites behind Ribchester and Galileo Gold. Somehow has the benefit of a recent run and gets a three-pound allowance due to being a filly. The other runners are male which means they run off the same weight of nine stone.
On collateral form Somehow looks too short and will struggle to make the frame. Her run in the Oaks behind Minding suggests beating Ribchester and Galileo Gold is not possible. At a similar price Lightning Spear is a more attractive bet and looks booked for third place or better.
The key race as a form guide for the Lockinge is the Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes run at Ascot on Champions Day last October. Minding won that race but only beat Ribchester into second place by half a length carrying three pounds less weight. Galileo Gold was almost four lengths adrift of the winner and is rated not to beat Ribchester this time.
It could be said that Lightning Spear showed the best form. The horse was just one length behind Ribchester at the line but carried three pounds more than that horse. In theory at level weights, Lightning Spear would beat Minding and that horse was much too good for Somehow in the Oaks.
The BHA ratings put Ribchester four lengths ahead of Lightning Spear but on strict form interpretation, those figures look wrong. Ribchester finished third in the Dubai Turf at Meydan in March but the value of that form is questionable.
Tepin was only about two lengths too good for Lightning Spear in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot last season The winner enjoyed a three-pound weight concession so in theory Lightning Spear produced the best form. Newbury over one mile at Group 1 level is the acid test for the value of that form.
Lightning Spear has won a Group 2 race but not one at the highest level. The horse has not quite delivered in a Group 1 race but clearly, has the ability and form to compete in this sphere beginning at Newbury where he can win the 2017 Lockinge Stakes.
Tip: Lightning Spear to win the Lockinge Stakes (Newbury 3.30pm) at 5/1 with bet365.