Review Of Saturday’s Lockinge Stakes: Rhododendron Blooms In Lockinge Stakes

The Ballydoyle stable of Aidan O’Brien netted yet another Group 1 contest when their filly Rhododendron took advantage of her 3lb sex allowance to just edge out Lightning Spear in the Lockinge Stakes.
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The all-conquering stable of Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien recorded their only victory in Newbury’s Group 1 Lockinge Stakes back in 2003 when Hawk Wing spreadeagled a field of top class milers. But the master of Ballydoyle has had to wait a further 15 years to follow up in the Al Shaqab-sponsored contest, this time courtesy of the four-year-old filly Rhododendron.

The daughter of Galileo took on the role of Classic bridesmaid last season, finishing runner-up to stablemate Winter in the Qipco 1000 Guineas and Enable in the Investec Oaks before getting her just reward with a Group 1 victory in the Prix de L’Opera at Chantilly. A respectable fourth behind Cracksman on her seasonal reappearance at Longchamp last month the mount of Ryan Moore was sent off the 100-30 market leader at Newbury with that run under her belt plus the handy 3lb she received from her 13 rivals.

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As it turned out that controversial sex allowance made all the difference to the outcome as Rhododendron and the Oisin Murphy-ridden Lightning Spear flashed past the line in unison with few prepared to call the result until the photo showed the Irish contender had prevailed by a short head with stable companion Lancaster Bomber two and three quarter lengths back in third place.

In a race where those drawn low appeared to hold a significant advantage ( second favourite Addeybb could never get competitive from stall 16 ) the winner was ideally berthed in two and is likely to head to Royal Ascot next, of which O’Brien said: “ Looking to future plans we thought we would come here and then on to Ascot. We have the option of a mile or a mile and a quarter. We’ll have a good chat with Ryan, the lads always talk after the races and we’ll see what they want to do closer to Ascot.”

Rhododendron is a best price 5-1 favourite with Ladbrokes for the one mile Queen Anne Stakes at the royal meeting and 12-1 with Betfair Sportsbook and Paddy Power for the two furlong longer Prince Of Wales Stakes behind even money favourite Cracksman.

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