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Lockinge Stakes: Audience pulls off major Newbury shock as Big Rock disappoints

Audience was a shock winner of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

The 22-1 shot was very much the second string for John and Thady Gosden, with stablemate Inspiral considered the real chance for Cheveley Park Stud, who own both horses.

Big Rock was another obvious major player on his first run for Maurizio Guarnieri, but the runaway Queen Elizabeth II hero never got involved as Audience – trying a mile for the first time having been a proven Group Two/Three performer at seven furlongs – was sent to the head of the field under Robert Havlin to set the fractions early on.

The sizeable lead he had built up then began to look insurmountable, with only Roger Varian’s Charyn able to give valiant chase, crossing the line a length and a quarter in arrears.

“When you know what this horse is and what he’s done, then don’t leave him alone,” said John Gosden.

“He’s been working very well and I didn’t think Rab would be left in splendid isolation out in front, but I knew he would get a hell of a run out of him. I told Rab to go straight and he followed his line of mowing and no one came near him. It’s wonderful for Rab as he puts all the work in with him.

“He’s a wild boy, but he’s a horse with ability – look at the Kinross race, the City of York.

“He’s got solid Group form and he’s learnt to relax more with age, if you leave a horse like that alone he’s going to be very dangerous. We always knew he was going to be part of it and I thought he could maybe finish in the first four or five. As it was they ignored him and all got racing on the other side.

“The idea was he was there with Big Rock and softens up Big Rock, but he never really saw Big Rock. He thoroughly enjoyed himself and is a grand horse. Mrs (Patricia) Thompson kept him in training very kindly rather than him going to Hong Kong so he could be a lead horse for Inspiral and I think he has covered himself in glory.”

Thompson added of the winner: “That was amazing, we’re getting very good with geldings I think!

“He’s the half-brother to Esquire, the gelding who won the Group Three the other day (Greenham). It must be a fiery family, he was very fiery.”

Neither owner nor trainer were disappointed with the performance of Inspiral, who was fourth under Kieran Shoemark having started as the 2-1 favourite.

“The filly will come on a bundle for that, the trainer is so hopeless he couldn’t get her fit at home. I didn’t want to take her away for gallops at racecourses, that’s not her game,” Gosden said.

“She was always going to need it, but there will be another day with her and we’re on the road with her. She’s run a lovely race and has rather come across right across which is what she did in the Jacques le Marois last year with Frankie (Dettori). She’s come to make her run and has just got tired – she’s ‘blown up’ as they call it.

“In her work at home, she’s a lot older and wiser and I’m not going to tell her what she’s got to do, so she’s been quietly doing what she’s happier doing and she needed this race to bring her on for Ascot and I’m delighted with her run. She’s carrying rather a lot of condition.

“The Queen Anne would probably be the aim, as it would be for Audience as well, but talking to Mrs Thompson we would also look at the mile-and-a-quarter race (Prince of Wales’s Stakes) because when she won at the Breeders’ Cup – and I know it’s an easy mile and a quarter at Santa Anita – Frankie could not pull her up. He came back and said I think we’ve been running her over the wrong trip all the time. So we will leave our options open and see how she is over the next week.”

Thompson opted to give Inspiral another season in training instead of sending her off to stud, and added: “Inspiral always tells us when she wants to win, nobody knows before her!

“So rarely one gets a filly like that so you want to enjoy them as much as you can. We can wait until next year for the covering.”

Chris Richardson, managing director of Cheveley Park Stud, was delighted to see the bloodline come to the fore and had Royal Ascot on his mind for the winner.

“It’s a family we’ve nurtured for 32 years, it’s extraordinary how we can go back to the fourth or fifth generation,” he said.

“There’s plenty of speed in the family and it’s a family that, as they can do, has just come alight again.

“Now we’ll seriously have to consider the Queen Anne for him, whether we step up in trip for Inspiral – that will be a decision we’ll make.

“We’ll enjoy the moment and it’s just fantastic, we can’t really believe it!”

For Havlin the success was a second at Group One level, and on a horse he knows well as he has ridden him in nearly all of his career starts.

“It’s a nice surprise, last year we ran him over sprinting trips at the start,” he said.

“He’s a little bit of a thug, he ran some great races last year and really stayed on at the end.

“This was always going to be a starting point, I didn’t think he’d be good enough to beat Inspiral but he’s always threatened to have a good one in him.

“He gave himself a breather, you’re a little bit of a passenger on him. You just let him get on with it, we’ve learnt from experience that you don’t try to organise him.

“You let him do what he wants. He’s super talented. It’s his first run over a mile and last year he would never have got a mile, he was just too much like a bull in a China shop.

“He’s had good horses around him and if he can improve over a mile, which he obviously has, there’ll be some nice races to win with him.”

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