Bobby Zen

Following Monday’s confirmation stage, Big Rock (Fr) (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}) and Inspiral (GB) (Frankel {GB}) remain on course for a blockbuster clash in Saturday’s G1 Al Shaqab Lockinge S. at Newbury.

Of the 11 possible runners, Big Rock and Inspiral are the only two who have previously been successful at the top level. Big Rock–who will be having his first start for Maurizio Guarnieri having recently left Christopher Head’s Chantilly yard–made the breakthrough in Group 1 company when winning the Queen Elizabeth II S. at Ascot on his final start of 2023, while Inspiral was last seen gaining the sixth top-level victory of her career in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita in November.

“Inspiral is in good form,” said John Gosden, who trains the five-year-old in partnership with son Thady. “I’m pleased with her going into her first run back and the plan is to run her in the Lockinge. It’s a good starting point.”

The Gosdens and owners Cheveley Park Stud could also be represented by last year’s G3 Criterion S. winner Audience (GB) (Iffraaj {GB}), while Roger Varian’s Charyn (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) is likely to have plenty of supporters as he tries to make it three from three this year following wins in a Listed race at Doncaster and the G2 Sandown Mile.

Poker Face (Ire) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}), who filled the runner-up spot behind Charyn at Sandown, is likely to be in opposition again on Saturday, along with the placed horses from last year’s G1 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, Hi Royal (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) and Royal Scotsman (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}).

“He’s all set for the Lockinge and is in good form,” joint-trainer Oliver Cole said of Royal Scotsman, who has been off the track since finishing down the field in last year’s G1 St James’s Palace S. at Royal Ascot.

“We couldn’t be happier with him at this stage. He got bone bruising and that was the reason we stopped [last year]. He never went forward in Ireland and he never went forward at Ascot. Hopefully, he will go forward on Saturday. He’s a very, very good horse, so fingers crossed.”

Real World (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), who chased home Baaeed (GB) in the 2022 edition of the Lockinge, is another notable entry, while the possible field is completed by a pair of Group 2 winners from last year, Flight Plan (GB) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}) and Witch Hunter (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}), plus Charlie Johnston’s prolific all-weather winner Dear My Friend (GB) (Pivotal {GB}).

The post Big Rock And Inspiral Remain On Course For Newbury Showdown appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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