Named after a former parish located to the North of Newbury, the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes was established in 1958, to be run over the straight mile at Newbury Racecourse. The first running was won by a three-year-old, Pall Mall, owned by Her Majesty the Queen, and he took the inaugural Lockinge fresh from victory in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. The horse went on to win the 1959 Lockinge Stakes, becoming the first of three dual winners of the race.
There have been many stellar performances in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes in its 56-year history, but the most visually impressive undoubtedly came from Hawk Wing in 2003.
A horse of considerable talent as his victory in the 2002 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown had shown, Hawk Wing’s attitude had been called into question on several occasions during his career.
He was sent off favourite and beaten in the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby, the Irish Champion Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and many felt that he possessed a huge amount of talent but perhaps lacked the resolution to fulfil his enormous potential.
It was with these question marks surrounding Hawk Wing that he lined up on his seasonal reappearance as a four-year-old in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes in May 2003. He faced a high class field containing many top class horses, but his winning performance remains one of the best over a mile by any horse this century.
Under regular jockey Mick Kinane, Hawk Wing was sent straight to the front on the rain-softened ground, travelling powerfully as many of his rivals came under pressure. When asked to quicken, he surged clear to score by 11 lengths, still the widest winning margin ever recorded in the history of the Lockinge.
Surprisingly, it remains the only victory in the race for the all-conquering Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, and the last time the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes was won by a horse trained overseas. Hawk Wing was only to run once more, where he was sent off favourite and beaten in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, but it was his win in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes which defined his career.
To watch the 2003 Lockinge Stakes, click HERE
Al Shaqab Lockinge Day is on Saturday, May 16, at Newbury Racecourse.