Newbury preview: Lockinge Stakes (15.45)
Night Of Thunder is the class act in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury (15.45), and looks a worthy favourite to land the 1m feature contest on a cracking seven-race card.
The Richard Hannon trained colt is a proven Group 1 performer, who showed a terrific turn of foot to beat the brilliant Kingman by 1/2 a length in last year’s 2000 Guineas, despite veering badly across the track in the final furlong and forfeiting a huge amount of ground.
Night Of Thunder then got beat two lengths by Kingman in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, but lost little in defeat and was not helped by being forced to make the pace in muddling run affair.
The son of Dubawi then seemed to find the step up to 1m 2f against him when well beaten in the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, and showed that running to be all wrong when an unlucky in-running third to Charm Spirit in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin at Longchamp.
Night Of Thunder rounded of the campaign with a fine 1/2 length second to Charm Spirit in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions’ Day at Ascot, and the form of his runs last year sets a clear standard in this race.
An official rating of 121 also gives Night Of Thunder 4lbs and upwards in hand on his rivals, and that is going to make him very hard to beat in the hands of James Doyle.
Hannon also saddles Toormore is his bid to win the race for a fourth time in the last six years, and the colt finished just 1/2 a length behind Night Of Thunder when third in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
The four-year-old got slightly hampered at a crucial stage before rallying well, and that run makes Toormore a big player.
It could also be that first time up is the best to catch Toormore as the son of Arakan easily beat The Grey Gatsby by two lengths in the Group 3 Craven Stakes on reappearance last year, and the runner-up went on to develop into a top class dual Group 1 winning performer.
This Sir Michael Stoute trained Integral is a classy sort capable of running a big race is primed to go at the first time of asking, whilst Custom Cut seems sure to give it his best shot.
The latter has taken his form to a new level since joining trainer David O’Meara and looked better than ever when landing the Group 2 Sandown Mile on return to action, finding plenty to beat Here Comes When by a cosy 1 1/2 lengths.