Top Rank sights locked in on Lockinge glory

Top Rank is set to take on hot favourite Palace Pier in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes next month.

Newmarket trainer James Tate confirmed his impressive Doncaster winner will be his first runner in the Newbury Group One on May 15, as the prospective field was reduced to 23 at the latest forfeit stage.

Top Rank will be stepping up to the top level for the first time too, having begun his five-year-old campaign with a return to winning form in the Listed Doncaster Mile last month.

The grey defied a Group Three winner’s penalty on Town Moor, and Tate said: “We plan to go to the Lockinge.

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“Obviously it’s a big step up in class. He’s a Listed winner and a Group Three winner, so the obvious step would be Group Two – but with the lack of a suitable opportunity, we are going to have a go at Newbury.

“We did have a feeling that he might be bigger and better this year, so we were very pleased he could win at Doncaster giving 5lb to the rest of the field.

“He’ll have to leave that form behind again if he is to win the Lockinge – but we think the flat course at Newbury will suit him and, if it turned up something easier than good to firm, we would be hopeful of a good show.”

John Gosden’s Palace Pier sets a lofty standard, as a dual Group One winner last year and having recorded an eight-length success on his recent return in the bet365 Mile at Sandown.

Aidan O’Brien is also strongly represented too with a team which includes Order Of Australia and Lope Y Fernandez, first and third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and, intriguingly, top-class middle-distance performer Mogul.

Tate added: “I did watch Palace Pier on Friday, and he looked very good.

“That didn’t bother me too much. If you’d told me now that we were going to be second to Palace Pier, I’d take that.

“I’m a big believer in not fearing one horse. If I can get a career best out of my horse I will be happy.

“We have had a few Group One runners, and the closest we’ve been was a neck second in the French Guineas, but I’ve never had a runner in the Lockinge.”

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