Top five Lockinge Stakes winners of the 21st Century including Frankel, Ribchester and more

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The Lockinge, a wonderful spectacle at just about the fairest track in the land, Newbury. Who couldn't love a race down that has delivered some of the greats of the past couple of decades, and perhaps the greatest of them all. The race was inaugurated in 1958, when the 2,000 Guineas winner Pall Mall won it for the first time, repeating the feat a year later. Since then, it has only been missed in 1975 due to torrential rain and in 2020, due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Planet Sport's Jonathan Doidge selects its five best winners since the turn of the century...it wasn't easy.

Hawk Wing

For me, the first outstanding performance of the 21st Century came in 2003, when Hawk Wing. He'd lost by a neck in the 2,000 Guineas to Rock Of Gibraltar a year earlier, when he also finished second to High Chaparral in the Derby, before winning the Eclipse. His 2003 Lockinge success was a true jaw-dropping watch. Taking it on from the front under Mick Kinane, after the likely pacesetter Desert Deer had to be withdrawn at the start, Hawk Wing was majestic. So confident was his pilot that he asked him to quicken again as they got to the 'two pole' and he lengthened to win by a whopping 11-lengths. You couldn't even blame heavy ground for the wide margin, as it was a sound surface that day. Sadly, it proved to be Hawk Wing's last success. He finished down the field and was found to be lame after the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot on his next start and was duly retired but the memories of his Lockinge win have never faded.

Paco Boy

While there had been other notable winners of the race (Russian Rhythm, 2004; Rakti 2005), without knowing it, Paco Boy initiated a kind of 'Golden Age' of the Lockinge with his win, in 2010. Trained by the Richard Hannon (senior) and partnered in the saddle by the brilliant former champion, Richard Hughes, Paco Boy had been a useful juvenile but it was from three years and upwards that he made his real mark. Having started his three-year-old campaign with a Listed win in Lingfield's Spring Cup, Hannon took the bold step of going straight to Group 1 company and he was proven right to do so. A 6/1 chance on the day (Sir Michael Stoute-trained Confront went off as favourite), he was the only runner to be able to keep tabs on the 33/1 chance Bobs Surprise, who for long enough looked like he might spring a surprise and make all. As it turned out, Hughes had plenty up his sleeve and in typically cheeky fashion, he waited until 100 yards out to let his mount have his head. He duly won readily. It was the first of four Group 1 wins for a talented 7f-1m colt, who has since gone on to enjoy a successful career at stud, Galileo Gold being his star progeny.

Canford Cliffs

While Paco Boy won him one Lockinge, Richard Hannon was already eyeing up a second with a horse that had won the 2009 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in fine style. It might not have seemed possible at the time but Canford Cliffs ended up being rated officially 3lb superior to Paco Boy (BHA mark 127) and he truly was an outstanding miler. Although his three-year-old campaign had met with defeats in both the Group 3 Greenham Stakes at Newbury (second) and then the Group 1 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket (close third), he was still improving. He showed that by winning three successive Group 1s, the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the St James's Palace Stakes and the Sussex Stakes to mark an impressive season. As with Paco Boy, Hannon was keen to keep him in training at four and got his wish. He reappeared in the Lockinge when, during a dry spring, the fast ground was perfect for him. Travelling like a dream from just off the pace, he parted those in front to move through and lead at the furlong marker. Asked to go about his business, Canford Cliffs lengthened impressively and was always in command for a comfortable 1¼ length success from Worthadd, Hughes again proving super cool in the plate. He went on to record another breathtaking win, this time at the main expense of Goldikova, in Royal Ascot's Queen Anne next time, before he met a certain Frankel in what proved to be his final start in the Sussex Stakes. Unsurprisingly, he finished second best.

Frankel

It's hard to believe that it is already 10 years since one of, if not the greatest racehorses we have ever seen won the Lockinge. Books have been written by learned racing writers about Frankel but probably none can truly explain his brilliance. He won 14 times from as many starts, 10 of those being in Group 1 company. Not only did he win them, so often he left top performers trailing in his wake. I was lucky enough to be there to witness the first of those annihilations, when he pulled 13-lengths clear of Rainbow Springs to win over 7f at Doncaster in 2010. I recall leaving that day, scratching my head but with no little excitement that we might have witness something special. Did we ever! The son of Galileo just kept on winning. As a juvenile, he bagged the Group 1 Dewhurst and at three he was simply phenomenal. His six-length rout of the 2,000 Guineas field of 2011 remains one of the most remarkable performances in the history of the sport but then you could argue all night in the pub whether it was that, his Sussex Stakes win, or his Queen Elizabeth II Stakes win that was the best! Poor old Excelebration. He finished a comfortably held second to our hero on four occasions, including in the 2012 Lockinge. This must surely have been greatest ever Lockinge performance. Sitting in behind stablemate and pacemaker Bullet Train as is he was just out for a hack canter, and with Excelebration behind him and taking aim throughout, Frankel was asked to quicken by Tom Queally two furlongs out. The response was immediate. Cruising past Bullet Train, he left Excelebration in a matter of strides and although the latter put daylight between himself and the remainder, Frankel simply drew away for a magnificent five length success. He hadn't broken sweat. The great horse went on to race four more times, extending his winning dominance over Excelebration to 11-lengths next time in a monumental effort to win the Queen Anne, before winning the Sussex Stakes at odds of 1/20, the Juddmonte International at York and being retired after landing the Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Ribchester

He may have needed binoculars to see Frankel, had he raced against him, but Ribchester was nonetheless and exciting, and at time frustrating, talent. He was good enough to win four Group 1 races and finished placed in several others but he saved his best for the 2017 Lockinge. The Richard Fahey-trained colt had taken a spring trip out to Meydan and finished a close third in the 1m1f Dubai Turf, before arriving in Berkshire for a tilt at the Lockinge as a four-year-old. Making all, he had the 2016 2,000 Guineas and St James's Palace Stakes winner Galileo Gold in pursuit, as well as joint third-favourite Lightning Spear.

Given a wonderful ride up front by William Buick, he wasn't asked for any effort on the soft ground until two furlongs out, when his jockey cleverly asked him to ease clear.

He did it brilliantly, drifting towards the stands rail to kick on in the final half furlong for an impressive three and three quarter length success from Lightning Spear.

He would go on to win both the Queen Anne and the Prix du Moulin, before being retired after finishing fifth in the Breeder's Cup Mile.

Jonathan Doidge's top five Lockinge performances since 2000:

  1. Frankel (2012)

  2. Canford Cliffs (2011)

  3. Hawk Wing (2003)

  4. Paco Boy (2010)

  5. Ribchester (2017)

The article Top five Lockinge Stakes winners of the 21st Century including Frankel, Ribchester and more appeared first on Planetsport.com.

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