SATURDAY’S £350,000 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury has attracted a record field of 18, beating the previous best of 15 in 2004.
Last year’s winning trainer Richard Hannon junior follows that success with Olympic Glory by providing this year’s likely favourite in Godolphin's Night Of Thunder, which will be ridden by Lambourn’s James Doyle and won last year's QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. Hannon also has Richard Hughes on Toormore while Ryan Moore will ride Sir Michael Stoute’s Integral as the potential flat stars of the season tackle their first major challenge.
Aljamaaheer finished third behind Farhh in the 2013 race and will run for trainer Roger Varian and jockey Paul Hanagan, and the horse prepped by losing by a nose in the Listed Richard III Stake at Leicester last month.
Angus Gold, racing manager for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, said: “Aljamaaheer is fine and came out of his run at Leicester in good shape according to Roger Varian. He didn't get a clear run at Leicester that day - he seems to be a horse who is good at being unlucky!
“He retains plenty of ability and could run very well in the Lockinge. He has run well over every trip in the past couple of years and I have no doubt he has a big win in him if things fall in his favour.
“He is by Dubawi and most of them like a bit of cut but he himself always appears to have been better on top of the ground. But as he is getting older, with a few aches and pains, he might handle softer ground better if there is some rain.”
Kingsclere’s Andrew Balding saw his Derby hope Elm Park finish third to John Gosden’s one-two of Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs in the Dante at York on Thursday, and he goes into the race double-handed with
Jim Crowley on Here Comes When and Jimmy Fortune riding Tullius, while Moohaarib, Arod and Frankie Dettori’s mount Yuften are others in the mix.
The seven-race card boats a record £750,000 in prize money, the richest day's racing in Newbury's 110-year history.
Newbury also has a packed card for Friday’s Starlight Charity Raceday in aid of the charity that grants wishes to seriously and terminally ill children by entertaining over half a million children every year in hospitals and hospices throughout the UK.