Thu, 07 May 2015
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.
In some ways, the 2014 edition of the Lockinge Stakes also celebrated a number of firsts. Richard Hannon, trainer of Olympic Glory, was in his first season as a trainer, following in the illustrious steps of his father, who had won Newbury’s greatest mile on three occasions.
The owners of Olympic Glory, Al Shaqab Racing, were having their first ever runner in the race and as it turned out, their first winner. That victory had a direct impact on the future of the race, as His Excellency Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, the man behind Al Shaqab Racing, enjoyed the day so much that a few months later he agreed to sponsor Al Shaqab Lockinge Day for the following five years, making Lockinge Day 2015 Newbury’s richest ever raceday, with £750,000 of total prize money up for grabs in the seven races and the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes itself worth an incredible £350,000.
For racegoers and punters however, the hero of the hour in 2014 was the ebullient Frankie Dettori, rider of three previous Lockinge Stakes winners, and a man enjoying a resurgence in his career at the age of 43. Olympic Glory was sent off the 11/8 favourite and the race went almost exactly to plan, with Dettori moving the horse up to challenge with a quarter of a mile to go and slipping clear of his rivals for a comfortable win.
After a successful season in 2014, Olympic Glory was retired to stud, and he is now based in North Western France. We may even see some of his offspring in this race in years to come, but given his performance in May last year and his connection to Al Shaqab, Olympic Glory will always be inextricably linked with Newbury, the scene of his finest hour on a racecourse.
Watch Newbury Racecourse's special preview for the Lockinge Stakes 2015 below.
Al Shaqab Lockinge Day is on 16 May 2015 at Newbury Racecourse.