Although lacking the star appeal brought to the race by Frankel last year, this year’s running of the Lockinge Stakes could be no less exciting.
Sir Henry Cecil’s superstar colt came home five lengths in front of Excelebration to confirm his quality 12 months ago, ensuring that there was yet another popular winner of this 1m battle following Canford Cliffs and Paco Boy in the last two years.
This time around, Aidan O’Brien appears to hold the key with the 2/1 priced Declaration Of War.
Hugely popular in the betting all week, the four-year-old comes to Newbury having won five of his six races, including the Listed contest at Leopardstown upon his return to action last month when he came home two-and-a-half lengths in front of Bold Thady Quill to record an impressive victory.
The unheralded colt is sure to face competition from the four-time Group 1 runner-up Farhh, but given that O’Brien has entered him in all of the top mile and mile-and-a-quarter races there is a strong feeling that he has been showing plenty throughout the spring and can impress in this big field of 13.
Godolphin horse Farhh looked strong in coming second in four Group 1s between July and September last year, losing by just half a length at Sandown and a head at Longchamp.
The two other are negligible losses given that they were against the great Frankel, but there must be question marks over Saeed Bin Suroor’s five-year-old as he makes his first return to racing in eight months following ankle surgery.
Should Farhh struggle then competition for Declaration Of War could come from the 9/2 Cityscape, who like Frankel is owned by Khalid Abdullah.
He ensured that they were always kept apart last season, and the well-travelled seven-year-old will be looking to repeat his 2012 Dubai Duty Free success at Newbury, where Declaration Of War looks the one to beat.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication